In the Beginning: The Future Is Now
My name is Jeff Weiss. I am the owner and formulating chemist here at Target Coatings. Many of my long time clients know the story about Target Coatings, but most of you do not know the history, the big picture as it were, of how my company, and its various brands, came to be. I hope the following information will help to fill in the blanks about what and whom Target Coatings is all about.
About Target Coatings: Water-Based Since 1988
Over the course of these many years I have come to know, in a very deep and personal way, what the phrase, “the future is now” means. In 1988 I sat at my grandfather’s lab bench and pondered how I could make a difference in both my early business career and in the lives of my customers. Growing up in a family of manufacturing chemists and small business owners I knew that making things was inherent—it just felt right. But how to be different and, at the same time, of value, was the missing element. With this question placed before me I began to research wood coatings and landed upon what was to become my life long pursuit. I knew I had to do this in not just a unique way, but in a way that few paint formulators had thought of and with materials that even fewer knew how to work with. My family taught me that the history of solvent-based manufacturing and its uses were littered with environmental and workplace hazards. This unpleasant information opened up a world of opportunity for me as my passions leaned towards environmental stewardship and workplace safety. First, whether it was in 1988 or today, I would not and will not expose others to a substance that I myself refuse to be exposed to, be it in the lab or in the workplace.
Second, waterborne technology was still in its virgin state and the opportunity to get into the water based finish arena looked ripe. So for my own sake and for the sake of my co-workers, and ultimately, my customers, I was driven to find a safer alternative to the dangerous solvents and resins that we all had been working with since the early 1940’s. This was the goal that made me move forward. The development of low VOC waterborne coatings struck a chord within me that resonates strong to this day. I knew right away that waterborne technology “was the future.”
It didn¹t take long for me to start spending my weekends in the lab and many hours out in the field developing and testing very unusual water based finish formulas. With the help (and dismay) of a few well regarded raw material suppliers I began to do what any good formulating chemist does, which is find several lines of water based urethane and acrylic resins and then determine the compatible versus the incompatible—see how they function alone and together in various percentages, and then observe what looks good and what looks, well, terrible.
In many cases I ran through seven or eight versions of a hypothetical formula before I even approached the level of performance that gave me the confidence to take it to the next level of testing. There were a lot of frustrating days and nights spent at my desk back in the early 1990’s, but I was young, and my family and a growing list of customers egged me on to continue my R&D work. Water-based chemistry, after all, “was the future”.
Many of my raw material suppliers asked me how I made their resins look so good. Knowing that they where trolling for information my standard reply was, “Step One—pop the cap on the sample bottles”
Unfortunately TK200 did not do well in its primary mission as a long-term exterior grade coating. However, it did prove that waterborne technologies could look good, show clarity and perform well (in most cases) when used as an interior protective finish. With a mix of both spectacular successes and equally spectacular failures, TK200 gave me the base to move forward and develop the WB2000 Series Water-Based Wood Finish System. Both my client list and my formulating confidence grew in the early 1990’s.
Developing water-based wood coatings for the marine industry helped Target Coatings define and refine the performance of these formulas based on real time application and evaluation. These customers set the quality bar very high, and with each setting I jumped as high as I could to satisfy their requirements. Quite often there where no raw materials available to make the transition to meet 100% of their requirements, so I had to be creative in selecting the best resins and additives to make the formulas perform the best way possible. In certain cases we used fine pigments to mimic the color effect of aged oil-based varnish. In other cases we provided a purer level of clarity that helped replicate the gloss level of automotive finishes.
Innovation was key, as it was all we had to fall back on. If there is one single example of why the waterborne finishes Target Coatings was developing looked so good it was due to the boat building trades insisting on incredibly hard to reach standards in quality. Their mantra was, “It has to look like oil based varnish or it won’t sell”. And so began the Oxford Series Waterborne Wood Finishes.