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Polyurethane Foam Association Fall Meeting Provides Forum For Issues Discussion, Technical Advances

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Pictured from L to R: Van Delk, Tom Robitaille and Jake Barnhardt.

The Polyurethane Foam Association (PFA) recently concluded its fall meeting, which spotlighted key regulatory issues and new technical developments.

PFA’s two-day meeting in early November was attended by more than 150 executives from foam manufacturers, chemical suppliers, and other companies supporting the industry. Attendees saw presentations on key industry issues including recycling, flammability, and regulatory developments.

Keynote speaker, Dr. Sharon Kerrick of the University of Louisville Business School, shared insights on how established companies in mature industries continue to innovate. She was joined by executives from Yum! Brands and Brown-Forman, both of which are headquartered in Louisville.

In addition, a Technical Program featured presentations on innovations and best practices on topics ranging from bismuth catalysts, additives to minimize compression set, pour line technologies, plant security, and a recent CertiPUR® evaluation of VOC emissions from foam in Europe.

Jane Kniss of Evonik won the Herman Stone Technical Excellence Award, as her technical presentation was voted best by those attending the Technical Program. “The quality of the technical presentations was exceptional this year,” noted Bill Gollnitz, Past President of PFA and Moderator for the Technical Program. “Congratulations to Jane for standing out in a prestigious field.”

Copies of the technical proceedings are included in registration fees for all attendees, and will soon be made available for order at www.pfa.org.

PFA also recognized three individuals for outstanding accomplishments in the flexible polyurethane foam industry.

Van Delk of Dow Chemical and Tom Robitaille of Lonza were honored with Lifetime Achievement Awards, while Jacob “Jake” Barnhardt, Jr., longtime President of NCFI Polyurethanes, was inducted into the Flexible Polyurethane Foam Hall of Fame.

Delk spent more than 33 years at Dow, working as a Technical Service Manager. He was widely recognized among Dow customers for his technical expertise, and as a teacher and a mentor within the company. Robitaille’s 36-year career in the flexible polyurethane foam industry included numerous technical achievements, including patents in the application of lasers and for novel uses of antimicrobial compounds for commercial and industrial use. Many of his applications can be found in common household items and footwear.

Barnhardt began his more than 50-year career in the industry in 1964, when he became part of the management team of the newly-formed North Carolina Foam Industries, now NCFI Polyurethanes. NCFI perfected the “one shot” flexible foam manufacturing process that is the industry standard today, and expanded its business to include technologies that found their way into far-flung applications including the Space Shuttle. Barnhardt was at the first meeting that led to the creation of PFA, and was a long-time supporter of the organization.

“PFA is focused not only on the future, but it also recognizes the contributions of people who have led the industry to where it is today,” said Chip Holton of NCFI Polyurethanes, PFA’s President.



About The Polyurethane Foam Association: The Polyurethane Foam Association is a trade association founded in 1980 to help educate foam users, allied industries and other stakeholders. PFA provides facts on environmental, health and safety issues and technical information on the performance of FPF in consumer and industrial products. FPF is used as a key comfort component in most upholstered furniture and mattress products, along with automotive seating, carpet cushion, packaging, and numerous other applications.

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