John Glass, vice president of sales for Amcorr Products and Services, joined the NACE Publications podcast series on COVID-19 to discuss how his company is maintaining support for in-field workers during the pandemic.
In the podcast, Glass shares some thoughts on how the pandemic may change the industry moving forward, including the use of virtual tools for troubleshooting problems in the field in real time. The company, based out of San Antonio, Texas, has been implementing parameters to their newer and bigger facility.
[This podcast was recorded on May 21, 2020.]
Stephanie Chizik: John, thanks so much for joining us today.
John Glass: Thank you.
SC: Do you want to start by giving us a little bit of background regarding your own experiences or Amcorr’s background?
JG: I joined Amcorr in 2009 to launch our Viscotaq product line. At the time, I was living in Los Angeles. We launched the Viscotaq products in ‘09 and have been steady growing ever since. I’m in charge of sales for the U.S.
SC: What is the Viscotaq? Can you explain it to me? I was looking on your website, and it looks like a very interesting type of coating. Can you tell us what it is?
JG: Yes, we manufacture viscous elastic coatings and sealants. They’re a synthetic, inert product that stays in the exact same state. It’s in a semi-solid state, so there’s not a drying or cracking effect over time. It’s a whole different style of technology.
SC: In CoatingsPro, we just ran a coating failure discussion about a pipeline where the liquid applied coating didn’t cure properly on the bottom I think because atmospheric temperatures and dew points weren’t necessarily taken into consideration. Sounds like something like that, because it doesn’t have to “cure,” you wouldn’t have those kinds of problems?
JG: Exactly. Just due to the nature of the products, they bond into what’s called Van der Waals forces, where they’ll actually penetrate into the pores and nominally to the substrate. It has what we call a continuous wetting characteristic. It continues to wet the substrate, so it stays in that state. A whole different style of protection.
SC: On pipelines and those kinds of assets?
JG: Pipelines. A large portion of our business is pipelines. The products are also used for sealing bell-and-spigot joints. Actually, even sealing prefab faults from sealing the seams, things of that nature. Basically, you’re dealing with a product that bonds at a molecular level that’s impervious to moisture and oxygen. You’re preventing moisture from reaching the substrate. It’s also used over insulated piping to waterproof the insulation. A whole range of things, but very different from your traditional-style, conventional, field-applied coatings.
SC: But it is a field-applied product.
JG: Correct. Our core coating is supplied in a manner where you're releasing a liner and wrapping it onto the substrate, onto the pipe.
SC: We’re obviously recording this during the COVID-19 pandemic. How has life changed for you now that we’re probably two months into this?
JG: This is the longest stretch I have been home in probably over 10 years, 12 years. Being someone who travels a lot, it’s not uncommon for me to spend 100 nights a year on the road. It’s been interesting. It’s been nice. It’s been very nice to be at home with the family.
SC: I’m sure there are pluses and minuses to it.
JG: But it’s also very different for someone who’s so accustomed to being on the road, in front of clients, presentations, things of that nature. It’s interesting in the fact that there are no in-person client meetings. That being said — or potential client meetings — at this point, we don’t know when that’s going to happen again. That could still be a few months ago.
SC: How are you guys pivoting, then? I’m sure you're still working with your clients. Are you doing more online meetings with them? How has that changed?
JG: All of the above. You know, continue your standard nature of phone calls and emails, but yes, also doing Zoom training meetings and things like that. Things that are becoming mainstream that you weren’t doing two months ago — or I wasn’t.
SC: What are you hearing from the clients as far as how things are going? Are they still able to work? Are they having to do social distancing in the field as well?
JG: Yes. We’re hearing, depending on what side of the business they’re in, whether it’s gas distribution world versus some of the refinery work, we’re definitely hearing a lot of non-essential work has been put on hold till next year. A lot of things are in a holding pattern. It definitely seems like some areas are doing a lot more work than others. But it’s just a different time for everybody. It’s definitely strange when it comes to that.
SC: It is. I do feel like there’s a little bit of — it’s very difficult, obviously, for everyone, and more for some people than others — but it is a little bit comforting to know that we’re all in this together and, like you just said, everyone’s going through it.
JG: When you look at what our industry — you take a double whammy between the COVID-19 coronavirus and then oil prices. We just got hit, got pounded there. Like you said, this time, when oil prices fell, the rest of the economy was down, too. So it’s good to see in the last few days, oil prices have gradually started creeping back up. Hopefully, they’ll keep going up, the country will continue to come out of lockdown, and let’s just hope as we get into late summer, fall, things are getting back to normal.
SC: That would certainly be nice. What are your thoughts about the infrastructure bills? I saw that Water Alliance has a recovery and relief plan that they’re interested in. Do you see any benefit in how those could help the industry or any other ideas that might be out there?
JG: I think the infrastructure stuff would be wonderful for everybody. Just in, it’s things that need to be done. It’d be great to see more of that going forward.
SC: Yes. And definitely, I think, something would probably benefit over the nothing. Some movement.
JG: Exactly. We’re all in the energy, construction type business. So there’s plenty of things that would go along with that.
SC: Like you mentioned, we’ve had issues before in the industry as far as challenges within the oil and gas industry in the past, but this seems different to me. Because we’re all stuck at home, we’re having to come up with different ideas to how still do our jobs. Do you have any ideas of virtual opportunities that people listening in could use? You mentioned Zoom. That could probably be one of them.
JG: Yes and no. I definitely think we’re going to see a lot more newsletter type things. You’re seeing more postings on your LinkedIn, things of that nature. Yet the Zoom training, the virtual training classes, presentations, I think all of that will stay. I think we’ll see a lot more of that going forward. In a year from now, I think we’ll see a lot more of that.
SC: Are you guys doing anything on the Amcorr side as far as that goes? Digital trainings or information on social media?
JG: We are increasing that. We don’t do as much as we would like, but it’s definitely something we are working on. I’ve been doing some training and things like that remotely, especially with distributors and those types of customers. And more than happy to do it. I do a lot of presentations with engineering firms and things like that, and I have not done any of those virtually yet. But I would be more than happy to and expect to in the future.
SC: Maybe that could be one of the silver linings. I feel like there’s definitely silver linings coming out of this situation. Like you said, people are starting to move more toward digital if they hadn’t in the past, and it probably will be staying just because it’s a very accessible option for people even when we are allowed to travel again.
JG: Yes, and how quickly you can do something like that. The ability to share a camera and show something. And all of a sudden you have eight people from eight different areas looking at it and discussing it. Just how beneficial that can be going forward.
SC: When people have problems in the field, do you guys have a number that they call? I’m wondering if they’re doing something similar on that end, too. Obviously, you can’t just have someone run out to the field and help, so maybe something virtually there as well.
JG: Yes. You take now, half of America has an iPhone in their pocket, and in times when I’m dealing with someone and they have a question, yes, the contractor, you just see it flip over to FaceTime and all of a sudden they’re showing you what they’re experiencing in real time. Instead of tying to talk it out over the phone or write a long email, between the video and pictures, the ability to solve those things. Right there. It just didn’t exist 10 years ago. Then the ability to also conference in someone else to the phone call if you need to. The ability to answer questions and keep things going in real time.
SC: That’s a really great point. I hadn’t even thought of that. In my personal life, even, if my car is making a weird noise, whenever you take it in it never makes that weird noise. If you can show the mechanic in real time, I can see that working in our industry as well, something like that. You mentioned a few things about the digital opportunities that we might be absorbing into our normal day-to-day moving forward. Do you see any other changes for the industry as we continue through COVID-19 and come out of it on the other side?
JG: I look at the industry through the coatings side, the pipeline coatings, and that world. I’m sure there will be plenty of changes. But that’s one of those things off the top of my head, not really thinking about. I think it’s going to be interesting, just as you're with NACE and such, what’s going to happen with conferences. At what point are companies going to feel comfortable sending, say, four of their top engineers to meet with 5,000 people from around the world? Is that going to happen again in six months or is that going to be two years before that happens again? I think all of that will be interesting. Between that and air travel and things like that. Our industry is controlled by very large corporations. What type of restrictions are they going to put on those types of things? I think all of that’s going to be very interesting to see how it plays out over the next six months.
SC: I think that’s a great point. NACE, in particular — I can’t speak for other associations — we are a very global association. So you’re not just talking about people gathering from the United States. It’s all over the world. Hopefully we’ll do some sort of hybrid moving forward, where we’ll be able to offer those virtual opportunities for people who can’t make it to an in-person event. But you always hear that there really is still something missing if you don’t do anything in person. It’s interesting to see how that will unfold, absolutely. That’s a good point.
JG: And the oil industry, I feel, it’s very much an in-person industry. It’s a construction-based business, an industry. It’s very much a personal, in-person, handshake, cocktail-type industry. So it’ll be, that part will be interesting, how that changes.
SC: It will. Personally, I feel like people are struggling, too. I think the industry attracts people who like the handshake and like the socializing — I don’t mean that in a non-professional way. I just mean there is a lot of making connections and networking in this industry. I think we’re wanting that back, it’s something that people are interested in. We’ll see how that goes.
JG: Yes. Absolutely.
SC: Is there anything else that you wanted to mention? Does Amcorr have anything going on in 2020 that you’d like to plug while we’re chatting?
JG: Well, our biggest thing is we have recently, over the last year, moved to a new facility in San Antonio, where we have updated and increased our production and production capacity and added a new laboratory for product testing and product development. So that’s been outstanding. We’ve done a lot of step there. We manufacture in the U.S. for our entire business globally. By having a much larger facility now in San Antonio, we’ve been able to do that. And through this, also, one of the things is we’re U.S.-manufactured and our core suppliers are all U.S.-based. So through everything that’s gone on, we have not had any supply chain issues. We’ve been able to — as we took the appropriate steps of safety — we’ve been able to keep production going and such as well, which has been great.
SC: That’s amazing. Are the safety changes you’ve made things like — everyone is probably already wearing PPE, but maybe upping the PPE, the social distancing, the shift changes, those kinds of strategies?
JG: All of that.
SC: That makes sense.
JG: And being able to set things up like you said, to better protect and take those additional precautions of PPE, hand sanitizer, scheduling, and things of that nature.
SC: Well, it sounds like you guys are making some good moves in the industry. I’m looking forward to seeing how it progresses. How can people reach out to you if they want to follow up for more information?
JG: I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or through our website at amcorrusa.com.
SC: Thanks so much for taking the time and chatting with me today, John. Hopefully we’ll have another chance to talk again in the future.
JG: Thanks for having me.
More information is available at Amcorr’s website, www.amcorrusa.com.
Editor’s note: Listen to all of the other interviews in CoatingsPro’s COVID-19 podcast series. And check out the “Never Again” article referenced from the May 2020 issue of CoatingsPro.