Harnessing the power of chemistry as a force for good -Scott Bader

Scott Bader - committed to pioneering and harnessing the power of chemistry to make a positive difference in the world

Written by Kerryn Caulfield, Executive Director, Composites Australia inc.

Unique in both structure and vision, the global industrial chemical giant, #ScottBader Company Limited, was founded in central London in 1921 by Quaker husband and wife team Dora Scott and Ernest Bader.

Profoundly influencd by their faith and the atrocities of World War II – the biggest and deadliest war in history – in 1951 the Bader family decided to reshape the business as a socially responsible ‘industrial democracy’, in which the workforce became trustees-in-common of the company assets. Common-ownership or ‘trusteeship’ was conceived “as an alternative to a war-based capitalist economy on the one hand and to communism on the other”. At the same time, the family handed over the Scott Bader Company shares to ‘Scott Bader Commonwealth Ltd’, which has held the shares ever since.

A registered charity, the Scott Bader Commonwealth was “founded on the belief that a socially responsible undertaking cannot exist merely in its own interests. It is part of the whole national and international community and as such it has responsibilities which extend far beyond its factory walls”.

According to his biographer John G. Corina, Ernest Bader “… combined marketing energy and individualistic leadership with a flair for spotting and applying new technology, and the company eventually became the leading innovator in plastics technology, in an industry generally dominated by capital-intensive giants.” Scott Bader has now grown to become a global manufacturer worth Euro 227 million employing 700 people across six manufacturing sites and 15 offices.

  • While we commonly know ‘the Commonwealth’ to describe the group of Nations that were mostly former territories of the British Empire, the genesis of the term as a political philosophy was used as early as Aristotle and simply means any body of persons united by common goals for the common good.

Headquartered in rural Northamptonshire, the company has manufacturing and distribution presence for its wide range of structural adhesives, synthetic resins, gelcoats and polymers in Europe, North America, Middle East and South Africa and joint ventures in South America and India.

Scott Bader’s range of high-performance resins, gelcoats and adhesives were distributed to the Australian composites market by Summit Composites Pty Ltd. But in June 2020, Summit Composites Pty Ltd was fully acquired by Scott Bader Australia and Queensland-based resin supplier, Composites Fibreglass International (CFI) (formerly NCS Composites), was appointed as its Queensland and NSW distributor.

Scott Bader has a large global research and development team, with around 12 per cent of its workforce in technical roles around the world. Its investment commitment in R&D is running at around 2 per cent of the company’s turnover which equates to nearly A$8M annually.

Kevin White, National Sales Manager for Scott Bader Australia, says that the company’s extensive product range was developed over 70 years of dedicated R&D. According to Kevin, “Across our Crystic®, Crestapol®, Crestabond®, Crestamould® and Crestafire® brands, our customers have a massive choice of resins, #gelcoats and adhesives from all around the world. The Crystic® brand for example, is one of the company’s first brand names that includes close to 100 standard polyester resins and gelcoats. The Crestapol® intelligent resin technology of low viscosity urethane acrylate-based resins designed for infusion, pultrusion and closed mould applications is also unique.”

He also believes that fire is one of the key safety challenges in transport vehicles and rolling stock, workplaces and public spaces. “Needless to say, the best way to prevent fires is to control the type of combustible material in the first place. Our Crestafire® range of resins, gelcoats and adhesives across nearly 30 products is specifically designed to offer systems that meet European and global flame, smoke and toxicity (FST) standards in the rail industry – which are now the benchmark for the world. Being part of a large global company has also enabled us to service the Australian market more efficiently. We now keep stock of our Crestabond® range of adhesive in refrigerated warehouses as well as others.”

Scott Bader’s charitable status and socio-economic vision brings an obligation to the wider community, and thus to the environment. By ‘harnessing the power of chemistry as a force for good’, the company is realising its vision to become a fully sustainable company by 2036 – manufacturing and distributing products that are compatible with the European Union’s green ambitions and circular economy.

Two strategic R&D partnerships helping the company to achieve this vision are with the University of Liverpool and the University of York in the UK. Polymer Mimetics is a joint venture company with the University of Liverpool, through which Scott Bader aims to bring the next generation of sustainable high performance polymers to the market. The technology takes widely available chemical building blocks and, in a facile, highly scalable process, transforms them into high-performance polymeric products with the potential to engineer in degradability. It is envisaged that this new generation of materials will have broad applicability in several markets including coatings, composites and specialty additives.

Scott Bader is also one of fourteen partners to have joined the CHAMPION project at the University of York, which undertakes research into novel biobased polymers. ‘CHAMPION’ is an acronym for ‘Circular High-performance Aza-Michael Polymers as Innovative materials originating from Nature’. The project is one of a number that hope to end the reliance on fossil-derived chemicals and aims to improve the sustainability credentials of polymer-based products.

At the end of April 2021, Scott Bader will turn 100. The milestone is being celebrated by accelerating its commitment to pioneering and harnessing the power of chemistry to make a positive difference in the world