With combined sales of €1.2 billion, Broadview Holding has a leading position in the global market for surface materials. Continuous investment to develop innovative and more sustainable products is a key part of the business and growth strategy for each of its companies: Arpa Industriale SpA, Formica Group, Homapal GmbH, Trespa International B.V. and Westag & Getalit AG.
In 2019, NEMHO (the Next Material House) was created as a centre of excellence for innovation and technology for all Broadview Holding material companies’ Research and Development departments. Its headquarters are located in Weert, the Netherlands, on the grounds of Trespa International, with subsidiaries situated in Germany and United States.
Set to open its doors in the spring of 2020, the new HQs building has a state-of-the-art laboratory and more than 40 workstations.
The space was created to maximise interaction, inspire innovation and lead advanced research. Its architectural design embodies each one of the company’s high quality and signature materials: the façade is clad with Trespa® Meteon®, the lab is done with Trespa® TopLab®, the modern office furniture is made with Arpa Industriale’s FENIX®, doors were produced by Westag, IntentekTM wireless charging tables by Formica are available while magnetic whiteboards from Homapal were installed.
The novelty of NEMHO is not only to be the home of all the R&D departments but also its multidisciplinary and allaround composition where research and development are intertwined with
“It is fascinating to be among such a young and highly educated and unique team.”
Yurii Kalashnykov, senior engineer
sustainability. In fact, the NEMHO team works in four key areas: Cellulose-Resin Composite Technologies; Advanced Surface Technologies; Sustainability; and Materials, Instrumentation and Characterization (MIC), which is the laboratory team that supports the R&D departments and participates in key projects. e NEMHO lab has a wide array of high level testing equipment for both physical and mechanical testing as well as for chemical analysis. Currently, the employees based in Weert come from over 16 countries.
Atte Virtanen, senior technology manager, leads the Cellulose-Resin Composite Technologies (RCT) team. Born in Finland, he started working at Trespa in 2010 as a development engineer specialized in kraft
and decor paper and shortly after became the head of the Centre for Excellence in the area of paper, resin and impregnation. Once a two-person group now has ten employees. “We have purposely hired people with very di erent backgrounds and cultures. is not always makes it easy to lead but it certainly brings creativity and experience,” says Virtanen.
RTC’s senior engineer Yurii Kalashnykov started working in Weert in 2018 a er having consolidated experience in the resins elds in his native Ukraine. “It is fascinating to be among such a young and highly educated and unique team that comes from di erent countries and areas. It makes project discussions fruitful as you see things from di erent angles,” says Kalashnykov, while adding that being part
of NEMHO gives him a more global and integrated view.
His colleague Bardo Bruijnaers, a Dutch junior engineer who also started at Trespa in 2018 after completing his PHD in Chemical Engineering at the Eindhoven University of Technology, agrees. “There is never a dull moment. Within this R&D group, we start projects from scratch and follow them through the lab, pilot and industrial scale phases. We follow them all the way,” he says.
“…having different backgrounds translates into greater exchange.”Ursenna Velardi, senior engineer
In the past RCT was focused mostly on Trespa, with some projects for Arpa Industriale. Now, under NEMHO, all the companies within the organisation get the same attention and are evaluated with the same criteria, explains senior technology manager Atte Virtanen. His team is now much more concentrated “on developments that will be recognised in the market, making our products more sustainable and with unique and improved features.” An example of this new approach is the development of Bloom, a new core technology for Arpa Industriale’s FENIX NTM® and HPL. With Bloom, lignin technology was introduced to significantly reduce the amount of phenol included in the thermosetting resin by 50%. The innovation allows for most of the panels’ key ingredients to originate from responsibly managed forest while reducing the environmental impact of these products.
LEADING MATERIAL INNOVATION
NEMHO’s Advanced Surface Technology (AST) team is responsible for the innovation in aesthetics, functionality, process coating development, and coating resins and pigment. Led by technology manager Isabel Macedo, the group has sixteen specialised members who are encouraged to present their ideas either for new products or technology.
Originally from Portugal, Macedo rst started working for Trespa as a senior development engineer in 2011, when the decorative surface innovation sta only had seven people. “Since then, the team has more than doubled and we continue to hire experts whose developments can add functionalities to our materials while making them aesthetically attractive.” For instance, AST is currently looking into energy generating façades.
The key to leading this young and creative team, Macedo says, is the cohesiveness and interaction among the group, always ready to exchange ideas and work in synergy.
Dutch AST lead engineer Erik Verhoeven started working for Trespa’s R&D in 2007. Between 2007 and 2013 his main focus
was the development of Electron Beam Curing 2 Line, a proprietary technology that improves the surface properties and performance of the panels. “Back then it was a small team and main language was Dutch. Now, we speak in English and we are focusing on innovation that can bene t all companies,” says Verhoeven.
One of the core values of NEMHO is to stimulate young talents and encourage their growth. Ursenna Velardi is an Italian senior engineer at AST who started her professional journey in 2014 as part of Broadview Holding’s rst International Trainee Programme. “I’ve seen both myself and the team grow over the past ve years. Having di erent backgrounds translates into greater exchange and the possibility to explore more ideas,” says Velardi.
NEMHO is expected to keep growing over the next couple of years in order to satisfy the demand for the continuous development of the material surfaces market. Excellence, creativity and multidisciplinary backgrounds will continue to be a staple of this innovation hub.
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