LEADING THE PACK

Mexico 2016 | INDUSTRY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Luis Rebollar González, President of Chemours Company Mexico & Director General of Titanium Technologies for America, on the split from DuPont and Chemours' investments in boosting capacity.

Luis Rebollar González
BIOGRAPHY
Luis Rebollar González was born in Tampico, Tamaulipas. He is a chemical engineer from the Universidad Iberoamericana (UIA), Mexico and has an MBA from the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de Mexico-ITAM. He joined DuPont Mexico in 1986 as a shift supervisor in the agricultural products business, and rose through the ranks until he was named President of Chemours Company Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean in January 2015.

Why did DuPont decide to split off its chemical businesses into Chemours?

DuPont had always been recognized and was born out of developing chemical applications and chemical products for several industries. That has been the story for just over 200 years; however, as the world continues to evolve, the CEO and management of DuPont decided that the future of the company was more in nutrition, food, and biotechnology, but at the same time the chemical segment still represented a major part of the company turnover and growth. Therefore, the strategic decision was to separate the company into two. Chemours was created as a spin-off of all the chemical businesses. Today, DuPont does not have any shares or own any stock in the Chemours Company, and vice versa. They are totally separate and independent companies.

What business areas does Chemours now have?

We have 8,000 employees and a $6.5 billion annual turnover. Chemours' businesses were organized into three business units. One is the Titanium Technologies business unit, where we manufacture mainly a white pigment called titanium dioxide, used mostly in the coatings industry. It grows as the middle class and GDP grows, because infrastructure needs to grow and that means more roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, and houses, and all of that drives the consumption of TiO2. We are the global leader in the TiO2 industry with the largest producer and the highest market share. We have the largest TiO2 manufacturing plant worldwide located in Altamira, Tamaulipas, where we are finalizing an investment of over $600 million. The second business unit is the Fluoroproducts business, where we have a number of applications; we are also a number-one global maker of Fluoroproduct. Recently, we announced an invest of $230 million over three years to construct a new facility at the Chemours Corpus Christi site in Ingleside, Texas, with start-up expected in the third quarter of 2018. The third area of business is the Chemical Solutions business, where we have six smaller business units. The market for these products was not growing; therefore, we are reviewing our strategic approach in this business and will probably divest some of these operations and concentrate on areas where we see growth.

What is the significance of Mexico for Chemours globally?

Mexico is a key country for Chemours. Currently, we are finishing a $600 million investment in a TiO2 plant in Mexico. This project began three years ago and construction was completed in December 2015. We target commercial production by April and now export from Mexico to Europe, South America, the US, and the rest of the world. We produce around 150,000 tons of titanium oxide, and the new line will more than double our capacity. From being one of the lowest performing manufacturing sites within our segment, we have grown to be the best performing plants, around safety, quality, consistency, and costs. The first investment that Chemours is making outside the US is also in Mexico. With all of the integration that is growing every year between North America and Mexico, it makes this plant a strategic location for us.

Given your work with many potentially hazardous chemicals, how are environmental concerns integrated into your operations?

Safety obsession and unshakable integrity are two of our core values. If we step back a little bit, chemistry touches our lives in many ways, and it will not go away. It would be difficult to maintain the quality of life that we have without chemistry and chemical products. What is important here and what we have identified and recognized for many years now is that chemistry serves society, chemistry serves quality of life, and it can be well used if we do it safely and in a responsible way. This is at the core of our DNA.