COO, SES Foam
With their high-yielding, high-R-value, Appendix- X-passing, bio-based spray polyurethane foams, SES Foam has made an important contribution to green bio- content technology in the spray polyurethane foam industry. Not content, however, they continue to innovate and to support the industry with focused customer training and contractor education. SprayFoam Magazine spoke to Charles Valentine, SES Foam’s Chief Operating Officer, about his role as a leader in such a dynamic corporation and in the industry he so proudly champions.
A CONVERSATION WITH
BY JEN KRAMER
18 MARCH/APRIL 2016 • SPRAY FOAM MAGAZINE
Spray Foam Magazine: How did you get your start with SES Foam?
Charles Valentine: Although I am a chemical engineer by training,
I have worked in just about every position in the industry – sales,
sales management, technical service, research and development,
production, marketing, and business management. And I have
worked at just about all the major corporations, so I truly know this
industry and this marketplace. In 2010, Howard Scoggins found
out about a new technology and asked if we could start a business
around this technology. We then started SES Foam from scratch,
based on this new technology. Scoggins, a contractor, believed that
sucrose-based foam was the future of the industry and I believed
that we could build a business around that product. Scoggins
directed the company to always have a strong focus on contractor
support and success.
SFM: Foresight and knowledge help, but so does technical ability. Given
your background, how quickly were you able to engineer a success?
CV: The initial technology involved didn’t work. So, with my
chemical knowledge, we went back to the lab and tried a new
approach with sucrose and urethanes. By 2011, we had a new
product, which eventually became SucraSeal, our ½-pound,
sucrose-based foam. To this day, SucraSeal is the backbone of our
company. SucraSeal has been copied many times and we are proud
to state that none of our competitors have been able to reproduce
the performance of this superior product.
SFM: A green foam that early on? That must have been successful from
CV: It took a lot of pounding the pavement, a lot of trials by our
growing base of contractor partners, before we gained momentum.
In fact, it wasn’t until we increased the yield and continued to pass
the Appendix-X Fire test – as a high yield product, without a top
coating – that’s when we really started to be separated from the rest
of the crowd.
SFM: You mention “contractor partners.” How do they fit into the SES
CV: As mentioned above, Mr. Scoggins started the company to
always be cognizant of the contractors and the effects our decisions
would have on their businesses. As a supplier, we can be the
difference between success and failure. Many SES employees are
former contractors. We understand the challenges that contractors
face. We know just how hard it is to try and succeed in this
industry without being given the proper tools. Take a look at other
urethane applications such as car seat manufacturers or mattress
manufacturers. These industries use urethane and employ chemical
experts to try and make the final outcome the best that it can be.
For years the spray polyurethane industry did not do this, but rather
tried to minimize the complexity involved with using chemicals.
The contractors were typically given very little training. This is all
changing now – thanks to the hard work of industry organizations
such as the SPFA (Spray Polyurethane Foam Association), ACC