IBEX 365 News
30th Anniversary Interview with WEST SYSTEM/PRO-SET
News Date: July 14, 2021
Brothers Meade and Jan Gougeon opened shop in Bay City, Michigan in 1969, building iceboats and light, fast sailboats with wood and their proprietary epoxy formula. Today, WEST SYSTEM is a versatile marine grade epoxy that’s sold around the world. We recently connected with VP of Technical Services, Jeff Wright, to discuss IBEX’s 30th anniversary and WEST SYSTEM’s most recent product developments.
What significant product developments have you made over the last 30 years?
In our WEST SYSTEM line, we revolutionized epoxy adhesives with G/flex and its very high toughness. It won the IBEX Innovation Award in the Boatbuilding Methods and Materials category in 2007. WEST SYSTEM also introduced Six10 Thickened Epoxy Adhesive, setting the bar for pre-thickened plural cartridge adhesives.
We reformulated and redesigned PRO-SET epoxies in 2013, combining the ease and understandability of WEST SYSTEM products with the unique ability to achieve high properties with or without a post cure.
Gougeon Brothers also acquired bio-based Entropy Resins, introducing epoxies that reduce the carbon footprint of composites as the industry embraces environmental sustainability.
What changes has your company experienced in the last 30 years?
Gougeon Brothers has experienced strong and steady growth. We have maintained our employee ownership through the generational changes in our leadership.
We have continually introduced new technologies into our epoxy formulations that improve properties while making these products easier to process. Our facility’s size has increased dramatically along with a strong investment in technical capabilities and beefing up our sales and marketing staff to improve our customer service.
What effect has IBEX had on your business?
As a company that has been in the marine industry for over 50 years, we have developed many important relationships with customers and distributors. Each year, IBEX creates an excellent venue for maintaining these relationships. IBEX also provides a valuable place for us to deliver technical training in pre-conference sessions, as well as educational seminars for our customers ranging from manufacturers to small repair yards.
Do you remember your first ever IBEX Show?
At the first IBEX I attended, I recall having the opportunity to listen to multiple marine industry engineers and designers in educational seminars. This gave me the opportunity to ask specific questions, which was very valuable—especially in an age before the Internet made it easy to obtain hard-to-find information on composites.
Is there anyone on your team or in ownership that has been with the company for 30 years?
What are you looking forward to at IBEX 2021?
We’re eager to reconnect with our customers and industry colleagues after COVID limited our interactions. We’re also looking forward to seeing what’s new and what’s changed in the marine industry over the course of two years.