Marc Lebel is the founding Chief Executive Officer of FRX Polymers. He brings 25 years of product and business development, operations, and sales and marketing experience to FRX Polymers. Previously, he held senior executive positions at Triton Systems and Aspen Aerogels as Executive VP and VP of Sales and Marketing respectively.
He was the Global Business Group Director for Cabot Corp. and was the founding CEO of DSM Thermoplastic Elastomers, a company he grew for the $8B Dutch parent company, DSM. Mr. Lebel holds a BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Ottawa, is a registered professional engineer in Ontario and Alberta and has completed company sponsored executive management programs at Harvard Business School and the International Management Development Institute.
What were the key deciding factors for you when you took the decision to lead the development of FRX Polymers business more than 10 years ago?
FRX is the third new company that I have the good fortune to have a hand in creating. But FRX has been the most exciting for me personally.One of the main attractions for me was no doubt our mission. Halogenated flame retardant additives have been under severe pressure from government regulatory bodies and non-governmental organizations for years. We started FRX with the idea to develop the world’s first halogen-free polymeric FR additive. We believed then and have become convinced now, that being simply halogen-free is not enough. Ultimate human safety happens when an additive is locked into the polymer matrix and does not migrate out over time. This is key to our innovation, we are halogen-free yes, but also our FR solution will not bleed out of the flame retarded plastic article over time. Some believe that fire safety and human safety cannot coexist harmoniously. We reject that notion and have put our money and efforts in delivering to the world a product that makes this harmonious co-existence possible. This promise is what first attracted me to FRX and am very fortunate that many others believed in this same mission and joined the FRX journey to create the company that we have become today. .
The other equally important catalyst was meeting Dr. Dieter Freitag at the outset. Dieter is our inventor and is the same man who invented the polycarbonate grade that made the CD disk invention possible. He also invented high heat polycarbonate that is the lens material found in all automotive headlamps. He also developed the branching technology that opened up the extruded sheet market for polycarbonate. Prior to FRX, Dieter was the Senior VP of Research at Bayer Material Sciences, now known as Covestro. The FRX product concept was his and he wanted to go for it. How could I resist Dieter, a true giant in the polycarbonate field! Unfortunately, Dieter passed away in 2013, but not before visiting our plant in Antwerp while it was in construction. The elevator was not yet working and he insisted on walking up 6 flights of stairs to see the complete plant. How fitting because Dieter would always tell us that “there is no elevator to success, one must take the stairs”. And at a point in time, when his health was not the greatest, he was still willing to take the stairs! All of us at FRX committed ourselves to fulfilling Dieter’s dream to make his invention a commercial reality.
What sets FRX Polymers apart from other chemical suppliers?
Fulfilling FRX’s mission is not an easy task. As anyone who has done it knows, bringing a new material into the world might be one of the most challenging things that one can do in the Chemical industry. A new material may have an intended market but it certainly does not have clear applications in place at the beginning. One must find those applications and in the case of FRX, our product line often times delivers a performance level beyond its flame retarding properties, that was not previously possible. In fact, in each and every vertical that we participate in, we deliver added performance that we call FR+. But to find the applications and then to develop them, we need to gain the confidence of a world-leading customers. This can only be done by having a world-class team who are experts in our company’s selected verticals. We require expertise in applications know-how, market development and a keen understanding of our supply chains. The singular commitment of the FRX team to deliver on its mission, and the deep understanding of our selected vertical markets and can-do attitude of our people is truly unique and sets us apart!
Where do you see FRX in 5 to 10 years?
I see a very bright future for FRX. We have developed the right product at the right time. We are in the enviable position of being first to market with a halogen-free polymeric FR solution. We have built and operate the world’s first Polyphosphonate plant. Our inventions are secured by a patent estate in excess of 200. Our products are globally registered and have an excellent toxicological profile. We are supported by some of the world’s most prestigious investment funds and we have two major global chemical companies on our share register. We truly have a world class and diversified team of committed individuals, including a very supportive and knowledgeable Board of Directors. We have a rich sales pipeline of high-value projects and we are fortunate to count several world leading companies as clients. With this foundation, I believe that we have a tremendous future ahead and that FRX will become the world’s leading and most valued flame retardant additive producer in the years to come.