U•C Coatings Corp. chief executive officer, Norm Murray, displays the company’s products at the LIGNA show in Hannover, Germany.
U•C Coatings Expands Global Sales, Adds Two Distributors In China
Buffalo, New York—In 1987, U•C Coatings Corp.’s (UCC) owners Norm and Thuy Murray visited the LIGNA trade exhibition in Hannover, Germany. LIGNA is the largest wood trade show in the world, with more than 1,500 exhibitors, 1 million square feet of exhibits and 100,000 attendees. This was U•C Coatings’ first serious venture into the international market.
As early as 1980, U•C Coatings was exporting modest amounts of BATES Glue Release, the protective coating for gluing equipment. BATES helps keep equipment clean by making it easy to remove dried glue mess with a scraper—instead of a hammer and chisel. Like Pam® cooking spray, BATES Glue Release protects surfaces so that adhesives, paints and finishes don’t stick and are easy to clean up.
ANCHORSEAL, the wax end-sealer for logs and lumber, was introduced to the hardwood industry in 1981. ANCHORSEAL sales grew in North America as the hardwood business found it profitable, and environmentally responsible, to decrease waste and increase yield by end sealing valuable logs and lumber. “Nowadays there is little waste,” Norm Murray, chief executive officer, said. “The North American lumber industry uses every part of the tree ‘except the shadow’.”
In 1987, Murray decided to investigate the possibilities of selling ANCHORSEAL and BATES overseas. He started
International traffic manager, Paulette Welker, arranges container and LCL shipments to more than 25 different countries.
with the LIGNA show in Germany. In 1989 Murray traveled to the WOODMAC show in Singapore, where he first met representatives from an international adhesive manufacturer. Within a few years, the manufacturer began supplying BATES to its customers throughout Southeast Asia. Today they sell nearly 20,000 liters of BATES annually in Asia and Europe.
“We have found that doing business internationally requires patience and a long-term commitment,” says Murray. “You have to spend important time investigating new markets and understanding how the wood businesses in other countries operate. And the people are just as important as the technical aspects of the business.”
At the 1997 LIGNA show, Murray met Peter and Renate Czerny of WORAM AG, Switzerland. “We were exhibiting in the same hall and met during the set-up time,” remembered Murray. “We hit it off instantly, and Renate Czerny was very excited when she heard about our LogSaver® System.”
LogSavers are the patented I’s made of special plastic that are used instead of metal S-irons. LogSavers prevent end splits in quality logs from growing larger and reducing the value of high grade veneer logs and saw logs. LogSavers
Peter and Renate Czerny, owners of WORAM AG, are the European distributors for ANCHORSEAL, LogSavers and FlitchSavers.
do not damage slicing or sawing equipment, do not create black iron stains in the log ends, and are safer to use because they keep hands away from the striking area. “After dislocating my fingers – for the third time – while hammering in s-irons, I believed there must be better way,” recalled inventor Jim Higgins, a career log buyer and land manager. “LogSavers were created to eliminate the three major problems of using steel s-irons.”
More recently, U•C Coatings developed and patented the FlitchSaver® System, which has become even more popular than the LogSavers. U•C Coatings has also obtained patents for the FlitchSaver System in Europe, China, Australia, New Zealand and Africa.
By 1999, WORAM AG became the European distributor for ANCHORSEAL and LogSavers. Since that time, the Czernys have sold millions of LogSavers throughout western and eastern Europe and they supply ANCHORSEAL to dozens of European sawmills and logging operations.
After developing additional business in South America and Africa, Murray set his sights on China. “I went to China in 2003,” said Murray, “with the intention of spending two years learning about the wood products industry in China and developing the personal and professional relationships that would be so important for success in that country.
“The first Chinese trade show I attended was the 2003 WOODMAC show in Shanghai,” continues Murr
Jinshui “Walter” Zhu, general manager of Internet Wood Glue Co., and Murray at IWG’s offices in Guangzhou, China.
ay. “In 2004 I attended more shows and conferences and gained valuable insights about how the Chinese wood products market differs from ours in North America. I also began developing the relationships that led to U•C Coatings having sales and an ongoing presence in the Chinese market. One of my biggest surprises was discovering that one company, Guangzhou Internet Wood Glue Co. (IWG), was already selling our BATES Glue Release in China. IWG was purchasing BATES from Franklin International, one of our largest North American distributors, when they purchased container loads of Franklin’s adhesives.”
Since that meeting in Beijing in early 2004, Guangzhou Internet Wood Glue has become a direct U•C Coatings’ distributor of BATES and ANCHORSEAL. Murray has made numerous trips to China that included supporting IWG at trade shows and training IWG’s inside and outside sales staff. “With offices and warehousing in many regions of China, IWG is able to serve a diverse customer base in the wood products industry,” says Murray. “They were already offering BATES to their customers, and were very excited to be able to sell ANCHORSEAL to the timber market throughout China.”
Frequent trips to China, attendance at trade shows, and advertising in Chinese trade journals has raised the awareness about U•C Coatings’ products. It also helped that Murray is able to speak basic Mandarin Chinese.
Xiaosong “Valerie” Zhang, U•C Coatings’ Beijing representative, Jianbin Liu, Ye Liu and Murray, in Harbin, China, toasting the company’s new distributor agreement with Harbin Shunlin Import and Export Co. Ltd.
“A little bit of language goes a long way,” said Murray, who speaks half a dozen foreign languages, including Vietnamese. “People are willing to be patient and helpful if you can speak some of their language and make a real effort to communicate.”
In 2005 the Harbin-Shunlin Import Export Co. contacted U•C Coatings about selling ANCHORSEAL in the northern China provinces, where so much wood is imported from Russia. Harbin-Shunlin is a family business, run by Liu Ye, his sister Liu Xiangjun, and her husband, Liu Jianbin. Visiting their Harbin, China, offices in December 2005 (when the temperature was about 0°F/-18°C), Murray reached an agreement with Harbin-Shunlin to have them distribute ANCHORSEAL in northeastern China. Harbin-Shunlin imported their first 20-foot container and began selling ANCHORSEAL in early 2006.
“We have containers of ANCHORSEAL, LogSavers, FlitchSavers, and BATES Glue Release being shipped all over the world,” stated Murray. “We are excited about the prospects for growth in the international markets. We are also helping the timber industry in many countries whose technology is where the North American industry was 20 to 30 years ago. In more and more countries they are increasingly interested in conserving natural resources and improving their yield and profitability. That’s why our products exist and that’s where we can help the people and the industry.”
FlitchSavers keep end checks from growing larger in a valuable veneer log.