Innovations
Published: February 09, 2022
Innovations
Published: February 09, 2022

Gareth: Sailing the Seven Seas in His Fight Against Corrosion

To say that somebody has an ocean of knowledge is truer than you may think for some of our colleagues. It’s time to meet Gareth Berry, our European market specialist, Industrial Coatings, based in the UK. Let’s learn about the XYLAN® range he is passionate about and discover why he keeps visiting a mysterious site in the middle of the deep blue sea!

An Expansive and Exciting Role

Prior to joining us during the Whitford group acquisition in 2019, Gareth had been with the company for 12 years, working in a business development technical sales role for the energy sector. He became our European market specialist and key account manager for our newly acquired Xylan range of coatings.

He provides commercial support to our legacy Whitford teams dealing with Xylan coatings globally. And he also spends a lot of time in Norway, England, Scotland and a mysterious site on the Orkney Islands!

It's quite an expansive role. It's challenging and keeps me busy. But I'm a people person – I like dealing with people.

“Why Didn't You Talk to Me First?”

Gareth spends most of his time in front of engineers talking about what they can do with our coatings in their specific environments.

I like the challenge of facing a group of engineers who say: ‘We've got an issue. What can you do to help us?’

He also deals with coating failures, which are usually caused by the applicator simply not applying it correctly or engineers choosing the wrong grade of Xylan. He finds it very frustrating having to deal with an issue like that after the fact, always wondering: “Why didn't you talk to me first?”

It’s very easy to choose the wrong coating, so education is my favorite part of the job; getting involved early and stopping a disaster before it happens.

Frequent Visits to the Nordic Seas

When performing corrosion testing, there is a disconnect between lab data and the real world. There is no way of judging how well a corrosion-resistant product will actually perform off the coast of Norway, in the Gulf of Mexico or the China Sea. The factors (salinity, temperature, depth, etc.) affecting the rate or level of corrosion are different in each location.

We wanted some correlation between lab data and real-life test data. That is why we now have the test site at The European Marine Energy Centre.

Testing here helps Gareth truly understand how our products perform under real-life conditions. It also reduces the “open development of new coatings” by quickly revealing those that don’t live up to their lab indications.

Xylan – a Coating Thinner than Human Hair

Xylan is a dry lubricant created by Whitford in the early 1970s and is now part of our Industrial Coatings offering. It is resistant to wear, heat and chemicals thanks to its various polymer technologies.

What makes it so unique is its thickness. Typical protective coatings are between 300 and 500 microns thick. But Xylan is just 50 microns thick – half the diameter of an average human hair!

Xylan as a product has developed over the years and its portfolio has grown significantly, moving into entirely new sectors (like non-stick kitchenware). It is now recognized as a corrosion-resistant coating as well.

Sometimes, we don't even know Xylan has been used in a third-party product. It's very commercially sensitive because companies gain a commercial edge by using it.

An Appreciation for Our Planet

Green energy is of interest to Gareth as he is passionate about the environment. He currently lives in the north of England with the Pennines and the Lake District on his doorstep. He loves “appreciating environments” through walks and treks.

He is particularly proud of the sustainability efforts our company makes. By developing products that make components last longer, not only do you save on the number of replacements, but you save on inspection visits – which can add up to a lot of fuel at sea!

It makes me #PPGProud that we are willing to go that extra mile as an organization, that we’re able to influence best practices, which can ultimately have a dramatic (and sometimes unrecognized) environmental impact.

Things Don't Happen Overnight

Gareth actually got his sea legs in the Royal Navy and has a keen interest in military history.

There are many things I use from my military career in my professional career. Discipline is important – your approach to work has to be disciplined. You have to understand how people work.

But he also recognizes the importance of experience.

Experience counts for a lot, whether in your professional or personal life. But that experience doesn't come overnight. You have to build it up.