SASCO wins Global Commerce Award

DC announces 2012 Industry Award Winners

Press release from the issuing company

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

The Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission announced today the winners of the 2012 EDC Industry Awards, part of Albany-Dougherty Industry Celebration Week.

The winners of the 2012 EDC Industry Awards* are:

  • Global Commerce: SASCO Chemical Group

2012 EDC Industry Awards: Criteria & Winners: 

Global Commerce: SASCO Chemical Group


The company’s primary market area(s)

  • Global exports over the past three years
  • Percentage of export sales as a percentage of total sales
  • Utilization of federal/state export assistance programs or services from banks

When brothers Marc and Rusty Skalla bought the family chemical business in 2009, they had a dream: to go big.

The company was started in Albany in 1948 by Ernst Skalla, a German immigrant chemist who set up shop on Pine Avenue in downtown Albany with three workers. It was bought my brothers Lan and Randy Skalla in 1972; by then the company was focused mostly in the auto- and rubber-related industries.

Since the third-generation took the reigns, SASCO has expanded into new markets, revisited old industries, invested millions into an expanded corporate and manufacturing facility, purchased and designed new equipment, and has gone global.

In 2011, through assistance from the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission and the Georgia Department of Economic Development, SASCO was able to make headway in numerous new markets, including Mexico.

Part of the strategy is “being a key player worldwide, instead of just in the United States and Canada, like we have been in the past. There’s a lot of concentration in Central and South America,” said SASCO COO Rusty Skalla.

In 2011, SASCO exports increased by 120 percent; exports to Mexico specifically increased by 2,700 percent.

“We shipped our first container to Venezuela last week, and we have some guys in Spain,” said Skalla, who estimates that 2012 exports will be “300-400 percent over” what they were last year.

With fresh leads, a new innovation and technology center and distributors throughout the world, SASCO’s at a turning point.

“We really have ourselves in a position to where we can grow and expand how we want to,” Skalla said.



Polymer Solutions Group Acquires Wood Release Agent Product Line From Michelman

ALBANY, GA and CINCINNATI, OH (August 7, 2017) — SASCO Chemical, a Polymer Solutions Group (PSG) company, today announced that it has acquired the Wood Release Agent Product Line of Michelman, Inc. a major supplier of release agents to the engineered wood market. SASCO has expanded its business in the wood release agents market over the past several years by leveraging its core competencies around anti-tack products primarily sold into the rubber industry. In 2015, SASCO opened a state of the art release agent production facility in Albany Georgia.

According to Mike Ivany, President and CEO of PSG, “The acquisition of Michelman’s Michem® Wood Release agents will advance PSG’s strategic goal of growing its product portfolio of functional materials for the construction industry. Specifically, this solidifies PSG and SASCO as a dedicated supplier to the engineered wood market and provides a platform to expand PSG’s presence into other technical and geographical areas.“

MIchelman’s President and CEO, Steve Shifman added, “We are extremely proud of the development of our engineered wood release business over recent years. Michelman’s technical and business development associates identified a changing commercial environment and acted to fulfill the needs of our customers. This segment continues to develop and we are pleased that these customers will now be served by SASCO.”

To ensure the smooth transitions of current customers, Michelman will continue to manufacture the acquired products for PSG while the production capacity is ramped up at PSG production facilities. Over the next few months, SASCO’s legacy engineered wood products and the newly acquired products from Michelman will be integrated into PSG’s Functional Materials business segment. Products will be sold under PSG’s existing brand name, TechKote™. As a technical leader in the research, development and manufacturing of specialty chemicals, PSG is well positioned to meet the production, quality and service demands of the growing engineered wood market. 

About Polymer Solutions Group
PSG is a manufacturer of specialty polymers and additives for the rubber, wood, consumer, construction, and medical industries. PSG was formed by Arsenal Capital Partners ( in 2015 with the acquisition of Peach State Labs (Rome, GA). Flow Polymers (Cleveland, OH), SASCO Chemical (Albany, GA) & Alkon Solutions (Leeds, UK) were added in 2016. For additional information on PSG, please visit  

About Michelman
Michelman is a global developer and manufacturer of environmentally friendly advanced materials for industry, offering solutions for the coatings, printing & packaging and industrial manufacturing markets. The company’s surface additives and polymeric binders are used by leading manufacturers around the world to enhance performance attributes and add value in applications including wood and floor care products, metal and industrial coatings, paints, varnishes, inks, fibers and composites. Michelman is also well-known as an innovator in the development of barrier and functional coatings, as well as digital printing-press primers that are used in the production of consumer and industrial packaging, paper products, labels, and commercially printed materials. Michelman serves its customers with production facilities in North America, Europe and Asia, product development and technical service centers in several major global markets, and a worldwide team of highly trained business development personnel.

Contact Information
Polymer Solutions Group
Lorelle Gantt
Director of Marketing, Functional Materials
+1 770.999.1429

Michelman, Inc.
Andrew Michelman
Vice President, Strategy and M&A
+1 513.794.4257


Posted: August 7th, 2017 | Permalink

SASCO Chemical Featured in ADEDC ‘#MadeInAlbanyGA’ Campaign


ALBANY, GA - On June 21, 2017 SASCO Chemical was honored to be selected by the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission as the next manufacturer featured in their #MadeInAlbanyGA campaign. The ADEDC's campaign was designed to increase community awareness on the operations of existing industries and the products produced by real people in Albany-Dougherty County to be used all over the world.

The #MadeInAlbanyGA campaign will unfold through September 2017 with a different industry taking the spotlight each month, highlighting the personal story of a company representative and the products they produce. Campaign videos and other materials can be seen on the ADEDC’s website,

Click here to read the full press release. 

Posted: June 21st, 2017 | Permalink

Exports Keep Factories Rooted in South Georgia

An aircraft manufacturer teaches maintenance to a visitor from Cameroon. A chemical firm affixes Portuguese labels to Brazil-bound tubs. Across town, posters at a health products factory pitch their soothing powers in German.

All of these stories were playing out during a recent Global Atlanta tour of Albany with Next Generation Manufacturing, the southwest Georgia city better known for its fields than factories.

Here, MillerCoors beer is brewed, Mars chocolate is mixed and paper products are produced for consumer giant Procter & Gamble. But southwest Georgia has seen some factories flee overseas, and its host of smaller manufacturers are now learning the duality of the global economy with which local farmers of pines, pecans and peanuts have long been acquainted. On one hand, international integration brings more customers. On the other, it means increased competition.

Exports have become the lifeblood of Thrush Aircraft Inc., a company that could be considered new relative to its long history. In 2003, investors acquired the Albany factory and assets of the defunct Ayres Corp., which had made multiple models of Thrush’s agricultural spraying aircraft in a 227,000-square-foot building next to the Albany airport.

The firm’s renaissance has led to 180 current jobs, and plans are under way to bring 100 more over the next few years with the addition of a production line backed by a $200,000 job-creation grant from the Albany Job Investment Fund, a city program.

The city has buyers all over the world to thank.

“Eighty percent of our business is outside the United States, so exporting is everything,” said Payne Hughes, Thrush’s president, who in an interview highlighted efforts to diversify the company’s product mix.

While its planes have traditionally been used to apply fertilizers or pesticides across wide swaths of farmland, they can do much more than cropdusting (a practice the industry now prefers to call “aerial application”).

Thrush has designed a new gate-box attachment to help douse forest fires, giving owners a newfound versatility that could help justify the cost of a plane, which can run from about $700,000 to $1 million. It’s also building planes purposed for military surveillance, a product that caught the eye of the United Arab Emirates. The Middle Eastern nation ordered 24 of what some have called “militarized crop-dusters.” After being built in Albany, they’re shipped to IOMAX in North Carolina to be turned into Archangels, outfitted with assets like precision optics and missile systems.

“They’ve got more electronics in a plane than you can shake a stick at,” said Mr. Hughes, who added that they monitor borders with more flexibility and less upfront investment than unmanned aerial vehicles, also called drones.

Of course, cropdusting hasn’t gone away, especially as farms grow bigger and become more mechanized around the world. Spraying is banned in Europe, but it’s common on the banana farms of Central America and in the sugar cane and soybean fields of Brazil, a burgeoning market where Thrush has sent planes painted with green and yellow of the South American country’s flag.

“The agricultural industry is going very high-tech, and as it does get more high-tech, our products will get more and more high-tech,” he said. The firm doesn’t disclose revenues, but Mr. Hughes said they’ve doubled over the last five years.

China is also getting into the act: In July 2013, 20 Thrush planes were purchased by a state-owned company in the northeastern city of Harbin as part of a $55.6 million package that included U.S.-made tractors, combines and helicopters.

Overcoming Hurdles

But Thrush and others have found that reaching abroad isn’t always easy, and one problem is financing the orders when they come in.

Thrush’s China deal was backed by the Export-Import Bank of the United States, which provides credit to foreign buyers of U.S. goods, insures transactions and guarantees export loans by private banks and companies. The bank has been the subject of heated debate in Washington over the last year. At the end of June, Congress let its charter expire. It’s still limping along while awaiting a reauthorization vote, servicing existing loans without the ability to extend any new credit or guarantees. Some senators have said a highway bill coming up for a vote at the end of July would be a logical place to tack on Ex-Im for a vote.

A tell-it-like-it-is Georgia conservative, Mr. Hughes doesn’t seem like one to back an institution some influential Republicans have derided as a conduit for corporate welfare. He says he’s all for less government but that Ex-Im has plugged a gap in the private sector, insuring deals in places like Kenya, where Thrush first used Ex-Im in 2010. Buyers in such markets don’t have the same capital sources, and private banks and financiers can’t provide insurance for orders over $1 million.

If that weren’t enough, Ex-Im simply matches what other countries are already doing, he said.

“If we don’t do it somebody else will,” Mr. Hughes said.

Another Albany exporter, SASCO Chemical, takes a similar stance on the bank.

“Whether you fundamentally agree with the program or not, the U.S. cannot be the only country without this program. There are currently 67-ish other countries with the same program that U.S. manufacturers compete against every day. One thing we cannot have in the current times is the government taking tools away that makes us competitive,” said Marc Skalla, president of SASCO.

SASCO has been lauded for its use of state and federal resources to boost global trade, which the company says has supported growth at home. SASCO has a research center in Macon, a global sales center in Atlanta and an expanding manufacturing base in Albany.

SASCO’s main product is PolyCoat, a chemical used to keep rubber from sticking to machines used in tire manufacturing. In 2011, the Georgia Department of Economic Development helped introduce the company to the Mexican market, leading to a huge increase in sales there. Last year, SASCO received the President’s E Award for Exports from the U.S. Commerce Department. The current director of sales, Ed Juline, was recruited from a position Mexico.

Now, about 10 percent of the company’s sales go to places like Brazil, South Africa and Central America, and its export proportion is growing despite international headwinds, Mr. Skalla said.

Even before Ex-Im’s expiration, the company was hit by the dollar’s appreciation against both the euro and Brazilian real, which made SASCO’s products more expensive for buyers and gave a relative cost advantage to its main competitor, a European firm.

Meanwhile, SASCO was investing in boosting competitiveness at home. It launched its own trucking arm to gain more control over logistics, and it’s now finishing out a 40,000-square-foot factory in Albany, just a few streets over from its current Pine Avenue complex. That facility will support two new product categories: colorants for mulch and an anti-adhesive agent used in engineered wood production.

“We are always innovating at home in a search for continued diversification,” Mr. Skalla said.

Arguing for ‘Made in the USA’ 

While SASCO is an independent, family-owned firm, some other local manufacturers have had to prove themselves in a broader corporate context.

International pharmaceuticals giant Pfizer Inc. operates under the same 200-acre roof as Procter & Gamble’s massive Albany facility, but the two plants are separated by a wall representing the corporate lineage of the ThermaCare line of heat wraps.

Pfizer inherited the product when it acquired Wyeth, which had bought it from P&G. ThermaCare represents more than $100 million in annual sales for Pfizer’s consumer health care unit, and Albany is the only place in the world ThermaCare is made.

Jim Donovan, site leader in Albany, said ThermaCare is now available in 25 countries, and outside the saturated U.S. is where it’s is seeing the most growth. New releases of menstrual and flex-use wraps in Germany are shattering forecasts. Demand continues to build in international markets with recent launches in Russia, and multiple Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries are set to see ThermaCare introduced this year.

But that international success cuts both ways: The more sales move abroad, the more the factory has to prove to company executives there is no better “central hub” for production than Albany. In the face of global competition, employees understand how important it is to keep things efficient at a factory that cranks out 50 million wraps per year, Mr. Donovan said.

“Theres’s a significant amount of engagement to ensure everyone puts in their efforts to ensure the site remains competitive,” he said, noting accolades the plant has won within the Pfizer system for employee engagement. “Everybody knows that there’s a constant external threat.”

Pfizer is a prime example of how global brands can compete from Albany, says Barbara Rivera Holmes, vice president of the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission and interim president and CEO of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce.

“Aside from being relevant to the consumer, industries need to be innovative, efficient and profitable, and from Albany, they can be. Low overall costs of doing business, partnered with a talent pool from which to draw and the infrastructure to move product, allows Albany industries to compete with their corporate peers and with other industries,” she told Global Atlanta.

The community is also getting its 15 biggest manufacturers to talk to each other through an industry roundtable where they gather each month to share challenges and best practices. The sessions also allow them to speak with one voice to economic development community.

“It’s an incredible program in that it harnesses the scale of industry to say, collectively, ‘This is what we need’ or ‘This is how we can give back,’” Ms. Holmes said.

As for exports, the community connects its companies with resources at the state level: The Georgia Department of Economic Development operates 11 trade and investment offices in 10 countries worldwide.

Posted: July 23rd, 2015 | Permalink

U.S. Trade Gap Widens on Surging Imports


Eric Morath

The Wall Street Journal

 WASHINGTON—A stronger dollar and an influx of pent-up imports into West Coast ports are pointing the U.S. economy toward its third quarterly contraction in its six-year-long expansion, reflecting choppy conditions that appear set to restrain growth throughout the year.

The nation’s trade deficit expanded by 43.1% in March from February, the largest monthly widening since 1996, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. A record level of non-petroleum imports flowed into the U.S. after a labor dispute at West Coast ports ended, causing the seasonally adjusted trade gap to widen to $51.37 billion.

That was significantly larger than economists had forecast, even with pressure from a strong dollar and weak global growth. As a result, revisions could push the official reading for first-quarter gross domestic product into negative territory from the paltry 0.2% annualized gain initially reported last week.

“The underlying story remains the same: Growth faltered at the start of the year with very few signs of momentum,” said Sterne Agee economist Lindsey Piegza.

After the trade report, economists at J.P. Morgan Chase and Deutsche Bank DB 0.44 % cut their first-quarter GDP growth estimates to show a 0.5% contraction. Forecasting firm Macroeconomic Advisers lowered its reading by six-tenths of a percent to a 0.4% contraction. All three had previously estimated a tiny expansion for the quarter.

The figures represent a setback for the U.S. economy, but it overcame a similar one that surfaced last year.

Following a contraction in the first quarter of 2014, the economy grew at an almost 4% pace for the rest of the year. And employers added jobs last year at the best rate since the mid-1990s, raising hopes that the long-awaited breakout had arrived.

Instead, the U.S. appears to have again hit the brakes at the start of the year. That exposes a host of concerns, including the drag on growth from a stronger dollar, persistent weakness among key trading partners in China and Europe and the reliance on U.S. consumers to drive the world’s economy.

“It’s really a global challenge right now,” said Marc Skalla, president of Atlanta-based SASCO Chemical Group Inc., which makes chemicals for tires and other industries. The firm expects sales to grow by 20% this year, but the stronger dollar is squeezing export profits.

A stronger dollar has “taken contracts that we worked on last year and completely changed them,” Mr. Skalla said. “We’ll feel it on the margins.”

From mid-2014 through the end of March, the dollar appreciated by more than 20% against a weighted index of major currencies tracked by the Federal Reserve. The Fed index shows the dollar’s value has fallen somewhat since early April, a move that could cushion exporters from some of the fallout.

The latest economic setback comes with plenty of caveats. Upcoming data on inventories and services could again recast the view of the first quarter. The domestic economy also appears to be relatively firm. Consumer confidence is rising, household spending picked up since the winter and lower oil prices are likely to boost many consumers and businesses this year.

March’s trade gap was the largest of the expansion, driven by a rebound after ports on the West Coast returned to normal following a monthslong labor dispute. That helped imports post a record 7.7% improvement on the month. Goods imports from China were up 32% compared with March 2014. Meanwhile, exports only inched up 0.9%.

The trade gap in February, when the labor dispute ended, was the smallest since late 2009. The three-month moving average for the trade gap, a measure that evens out swings, shows it expanded modestly from a year earlier.

Imports at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which together handle around 40% of the U.S. imported container traffic, reached near-record levels in March, which is typically one of the slowest months of the year at the ports.

The Port of Los Angeles, the country’s busiest container port, said import volume grew 70% in March from February. Export volume, which typically makes up only about half the business at Los Angeles, wasn't as strong, growing 10% month to month and falling 23% from a year earlier.

The Maritime Exchange of Southern California said the backlog of ships anchored at sea waiting for a port berth reached a peak of 36 ships the week of Feb. 26. The logjam had all but disappeared by late last week.

Norfolk Southern Corp. NSC 2.20 % ’s business in the first quarter reflected unusual activity related to the West Coast port issues, Chief Executive Charles “Wick” Moorman said, adding that unusually cold weather and the strong dollar are also factors in the import surge.

By mid-March, the railway operator’s business started to return to normal, Mr. Moorman said. That repeats a pattern seen last year, when economic output turned negative in the first quarter and then snapped back quickly.

“It feels a lot like it did last year,” he said.

JACO Machine Works LLC, a Santa Cruz, Calif., firm that produces parts for medical equipment, scientific instruments and other applications saw a slowdown in orders from a German customer.

“They tell me that European market is soft for them,” President Andy Smith said. In contrast, JACO has seen increased demand from California firms building medical devices and robots. “The first quarter wasn’t great, but I still see a strong domestic economy.”

Despite the widening of the overall trade gap, the petroleum deficit continued to narrow in the U.S. Over the past several years, the amount of petroleum shipped to the U.S. declined while domestic production increased.

The trade deficit for petroleum products fell to $7.67 billion in March, the lowest since June 2002. After climbing above $100 a barrel last June, benchmark oil prices plunged through the second half of 2014 and have stayed near $50 a barrel most of this year.

From a year earlier, U.S. imports are up 1% and exports are down 3%. The more subtle change suggests the appreciation of the dollar hampers exports. In addition, slowing economies in parts of Europe and Asia have reduced demand for U.S. goods and services.

How a turbulent global economy will shape the U.S. expansion is high on the minds of Federal Reserve officials. In a statement following last month’s policy meeting, central bankers acknowledged that economic growth slowed in the winter months.

If central bankers see global developments holding back U.S. growth, they could wait longer to raise short-term interest rates from near zero.


Posted: June 12th, 2015 | Permalink

ADEDC Excellence in Innovation Award: SASCO Chemical Group

SASCO Chemical Group is the recipient of the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission’s 2015 Excellence in Innovation Industry Award.

SASCO Chemical Group is a third-generation owned chemical manufacturing company whose success and growth is driven by its innovate corporate culture. SASCO has developed revolutionary products for the rubber, wood, mulch and biomedical industries. Most recently, SASCO developed a breakthrough product for the engineered wood industry that has alleviated the industry’s historical problems with corrosion, adhesion release and cleanliness.

Posted: April 22nd, 2015 | Permalink

Gov. Deal recognizes SASCO Chemical for entering into a new international market in 2014

ATLANTA, March 2 – Gov. Nathan Deal recognized SASCO Chemical Group with a GLOBE (Georgia Launching Opportunities By Exporting) Award for entering one or more new international markets in 2014.


 “International trade is a vital component of economic development for small businesses in Georgia,” said Gov. Deal. “In fact in the last year, 88 percent of companies that utilized Georgia’s international trade services had fewer than 100 employees. The GLOBE Awards give us an opportunity to recognize our state’s small businesses that have entered into a new market in the past year. This year’s award winners represent the high-caliber, highly competitive companies that operate in Georgia, and I congratulate each of them on receiving this great honor.”



The GLOBE Awards were established by the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) in 2014 for the purpose of highlighting companies that have contributed to Georgia’s economic development and global presence by exporting to a new international market.

“Exporting continues to be the foundation of our sales growth, and we are honored to receive the GLOBE Award,” said Marc Skalla, President. “As we approach each new export market, we are reminded that the United States continues to have an advantage with highly technical and highly engineered standard-setting products.  This innovation gap enables us to sustain jobs and even expand our work force.”

GLOBE Award recipients were recognized at the second annual Go Global reception on March 2, 2015 at the Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center, an annual networking event for the state’s international representatives. The state has international representation in 11 strategic markets, including Brazil, Canada, China, Chile, Colombia, Europe, Israel, Japan, Korea, Mexico and the United Kingdom and Ireland.


This year’s 44 GLOBE Award winners represented 17 Georgia counties and collectively expanded into 104 different countries and territories. Approximately 90 percent of this year’s winners have 100 or less employees, while 73 percent have 50 or less employees. Among the winners, the most popular new markets were the United Kingdom, Australia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, United Arab Emirates and Colombia. These companies entered an average number of more than six new markets in 2014. The company with the largest number of new markets expanded into 37 countries and territories last year.


“These awards highlight the importance of exporting for small and medium sized companies across our state.  Last year, 88% of companies that utilized Georgia’s International Trade services to grow sales in international markets had fewer than 100 employees.  Trade remains an important component of economic development in Georgia,” said Mary Waters, GDEcD Deputy Commissioner of International Trade.


Recently released trade statistics for 2014 showed Georgia celebrated a 5th consecutive year of export growth, with a record $39.4 billion in exports

Posted: March 4th, 2015 | Permalink
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