Creative Material Technologies Ltd.
- Written by: Tom Faunce
- Produced by: Chuck McKenna
- Estimated reading time: 6 mins
Creative Material Technologies Ltd. (CMT) is a customer-needs driven coatings and materials company that is solving today’s problems with tomorrow’s technologies. Founded in 1997 by John C. Becker IV, Creative Material Technologies is based in Palmer, Massachusetts, where the company designs and manufactures high performance coatings and composite systems used in multiple industries all over the world.
Engineers, contractors, builders, and specifiers all agree that the innovations coming from CMT’s lab are changing existing paradigms in the building and construction markets. CMT has advanced its product offerings by locating international companies with which to partner with for their regional markets. Becker is proud of bringing next generation technologies to markets that are frequently overlooked by major market players. “Just because a market is smaller or perceived as poorer than or not as advanced as the U.S. is not a reason to prevent those markets from obtaining and benefiting from the most advanced coating technologies available today,” he says. “The benefit to the quality of life is as valuable to someone in one of these smaller markets as it is to someone in the U.S.”
The roots of CMT date back to Becker’s childhood, when he was learning about latex chemistry from his father who was a chemist. “He was one of the first chemists that pioneered fine-particle size latex chemistry that makes latex paint possible,” says Becker. “So I grew up in a unique environment where the dinner table conversation consisted of what my father was working on in the lab.”
Just as some boys grow up working in their father’s garage on cars or carpentry projects, Becker honed his interest in coatings and raw materials by working on experiments with his father in the family garage. As he would grow into adulthood, Becker would eventually go to work for his father in the chemical raw material distribution industry.
When CMT was founded in 1997, the company would quickly discover that it was ahead of its time. Before the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began enforcing stricter volatile organic compound (VOC) regulations, Becker’s company had created coating solutions with no solvents, no VOC’s, and no water. “Most people think that all coatings are only paint,” says Becker. “Our coatings can provide so much more than paint — they can be structural, or interactive – responding to outside stimuli, or provide features not related to paint at all — like having high tensile strength and yet be flexible.”
A solution is the only option
A major strength of Creative Materials Technologies is not only creativity in the products it creates, but also in the way the company solves problems. The unique approach that Becker and his team take when it comes to problem solving has allowed CMT to compete with much bigger firms. “People often talk about ‘thinking outside the box’,” says Becker. “We threw the box away a long time ago.” If you stay inside the “box” Becker explains then you are restricted to the formulary boundaries that the “box” represents. “As I learned from one of my mentors, ‘If you change the molecule, you can change everything,” he continues.
In a recent bidding situation, Creative Materials Technologies competed against multiple universities and large companies for a research and development contract for a Fortune 50 company. Although its competitors had extremely large budgets and free labor due to Ph.D. candidates, CMT was awarded the contract. “Ultimately the reason we were chosen for the contract was our approach to solving problems that others had said were unsolvable,” says Becker. “We use a ‘design by purpose’ approach which means we’re not only meeting the application demands but also the owner’s and user’s demands.”
Becker says that one of the most rewarding aspects of his job is when the company completes a task that others said couldn’t be done. “It’s often that we will successfully complete a project that people had given up on,” says Becker. “I am very proud when we get feedback on jobs that much larger companies said couldn’t be done.”
A paradigm shift in waterproofing
CMT has pioneered and launched a revolutionary approach to waterproofing through its “Water Chasing” line of waterproofing products. “Concrete is rarely dry, so why try to waterproof the concrete by applying moisture sensitive surface coatings and hoping that they bond?” he elaborates. “Instead, we apply our Water Chasing wet concrete primer while the concrete is wet to obtain a deep penetrating impermeable vapor barrier from within the concrete.”
This is one of CMT’s secrets of success: innovating products that adapt to the existing condition of the substrate instead of forcing the product to fight the existing condition. “We take a holistic approach to the solution development rather than forcing inappropriate solutions sets into the market,” says Becker.
Sustainable roofing innovations
Creative Materials Technologies has been involved in numerous innovations in the industrial and commercial sectors and has created a portfolio of products contributing to sustainability of the roofing sector. “We are taking older, weathered intact roofs and extending their service life at a very low cost through our Roof Renaissance division,” Becker explains.
The germination of this marketing approach began when Becker was approached by an industrial property manager who was in search of a sustainable approach to roof maintenance. “He came to me and said that he needed a coating that could do four things,” recounts Becker. “He said he needed it to be inexpensive, easy to install, last for at least five years and to be able to match the color to its surroundings.”
The resulting product became Roof Renaissance, a squeegee applied roof-coating system that provides extended useful service life to old intact roofs at the lowest cost per year of service available. In regards to property management, upfront costs are often less of a concern than service life. “The efficiency of this product is the key factor,” says Becker. “Because it is squeegee applied, it installs so much faster than a roller and requires a reduced skillset than spray options.”
Becker then collaborated with the property manager to complete 1,000 square feet with Roof Renaissance as a beta site to prove out coverage rates, application times, and process optimization. “We now have established a system where you can take any industrial or commercial flat or near-flat roof and take care of ponding and “alligator” problems at a much more efficient upfront cost as well as service-life cost,” says Becker. “We haven’t even launched the product yet and through word-of-mouth we’ve had contractors asking us about it because they really need it in the market.”
In addition to creating flat-roof solutions, Creative Materials Technologies recently invented an asphalt shingle restoration product after much work to obtain proper adhesive bonding into the aged shingle. This product will prevent the need to replace asphalt shingles. The coating actually restores the original functionality of the shingle, therefore preventing the need to reshingle while preserving the architectural detail of the shingle.
“We have also created a roof product for flat roofs that in the summer is white for reflecting heat (solar radiation) and in the winter it turns black for absorbing heat,” Becker explains. “There are already ‘cool’ roofs; this will be referred to as a ‘smart’ cool roof.” The technology is referred to as “thermal-responsive roofing.”
The future is bright for Creative Materials Technologies. The company’s thermal-responsive roof system has been ranked as the number one international emerging coating technology for the next five years by Lux Research, an international research and development analysis company.
As the company moves forward, it is committed to improve the quality of life for its customers and those that benefit from its innovations.Therefore, Creative Materials Technologies Ltd. will continue to live out its philosophy that no problem is unsolvable.
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