Building a reputation

Grace has been serving the needs of the international construction industry for more than half a century

Although most people do not know it, Grace products are all around them and they are used by millions of people every day. As a leading speciality chemical and materials company, the organisation’s silica based products are used in paints, toothpastes, rubber compounds and insulated glass, whilst its line of construction products has helped to build some of the world’s largest structures.

Founded in 1854 by William Russell Grace, the organisation has grown to become an international company operating in over 40 countries around the world. Today, the company has over 150 years of product innovation and business growth, and strives to meet the changing demands of its customers. Currently, the group has two operating segments – Grace Davison and Grace Construction Products.

Grace Construction Products (GCP) is the leading producer of cement additives, concrete admixtures, products for decorative or aesthetic concrete, waterproofing products and fire protection solutions. The company also has a number of other supporting services, which help to improve the overall customer experience. This business segment operates on a worldwide basis with a large presence in the US, Europe, the Middle East andSouth Africa as well as Asia Pacific. GCP is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts and accounted for 36 per cent of Grace’s overall sales in 2007.

Andrew Kelly, vice president and Concrete Products Business Unit director for GCP for Europe, Middle East and Africa comments: “Our lifeblood is our ability to provide higher added value. This allows our customers to increase the value of their products and extend their lifetime. Our leading brands in the concrete admixtures and cement additive areas produce the highest quality and strongest products. Furthermore, as we continue to develop more sustainable and environmentally friendly solutions for aesthetic concrete, we are seeing an increasing interest from architects andspecialist producers for high value aesthetic concrete. We have the ability to improve the appearance of concrete way beyond its normal grey scuffed surface.”

Grace is continually developing its product range to meet the challenging demands of its customers. Amongst these developments, the company has launched a large number of new superplastisisers under the ADVA brand – these provide the ready mix industry with the ability to have much greater workability, improved flow and higher strengths. In addition, Grace has workedclosely with the cement industry since 2005 to develop its range of Synchro products. These new solutions help reduce the levels of chromium in cement.

These are just two developments Grace has recently undertaken. The company is continually innovating and looking for ways to improve its products for the benefit of its clients. Andrew comments: “One of Grace’s main strengths is its strong customer relationships. This is achieved throughthe technical expertise and understanding our employees have in the niche areas in which they operate. They have the ability to support our clients and help them achieve growth and project delivery.”

Grace is also dedicated to safety, as Andrew explains: “Our aim within this area is to lead the industry in terms of our safety performance. We begin every internal meeting with a review on health and safety. Using US metrics, our recordable incident rate has reduced from 1.39 to 0.83 during 2007. These figures are considered world class both in the chemical and construction industries.”

Grace’s forward thinking attitude with regards to product development has helped the company to achieve a number of high profile projects. For example, Grace was involved in the development of the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar. The Museum’s foundation rests below the water table therefore the concrete was subject to highly aggressive chloride and sulfate conditions. Grace’s Prepufe 300 R and Bituthene 8000 HC waterproofing membranes were selected to protect the concrete, whilst Bituthene Liquid Membrane and Servipak protection boards rounded out the system solution.

The organisation has also been involved in the architectural milestone of the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany. The building contractor on this project needed an innovative, long lasting solution to produce a polished concrete effect, which resembled marble terrazzo. Grace’s Eclipse Floor shrinkagereducing admixture was chosen.

This product reduces concrete’s tendency for drying and shrinkage, cracking and curling, giving the floor enhanced durability and a longer life, whilst also providing an aesthetically pleasing look.

With a constantly evolving product range and through the successful completion of some challenging projects, GCP’s future looks bright. Andrew concludes: “The main vision for the company is to continue to drive and deliver added value to our customersthrough innovation, technology and service. To help us achieve this, we are committed to the industry and involved in a number of associations, which help us identify the changing demands of the construction market. Through this dedication, we have grown significantly over the last few years, especially in Europe, and now we want to expand our presence further in our main markets, which consequently will benefit our customers and provide further opportunities to our employees.”