Contract Services

Going Beyond 'Safety First'

By our Editorial Team

Keith Arnold, CEO of MFG Chemical, explains how the company has incorporated safety into everything it does, and why, as a m

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Keith Arnold, CEO of MFG Chemical, explains how the company has incorporated safety into everything it does, and why, as a member of SOCMA’s Board of Governors, he supports lobbying the US government about the challenges of ‘paperwork’ associated with regulations.


Founded more than 35 years ago as a provider of formulated products for the carpet and textile industry, Georgia-based MFG Chemical has evolved into a partner for global chemical companies, offering custom manufacturing services and proprietary industrial products for the agriculture, paints & coatings, mining, oilfield, pulp and paper, water treatment, lubricants, personal care and other sectors.

The evolution continues. In the past couple of years, MFG has developed two new platforms in response to customer requests: a high-purity line of dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate (DOSS) surfactants and a portfolio of emulsion polymers. On a bigger scale. the company acquired a 24.5-acre plant in Texas in March 2018. It is currently undergoing a multi-million dollar investment and, by the end of 1Q19, will include debottlenecking and new capacity additions, including two new reactors, one of which is 20,000 gl In size.

MFG also recognises the importance of investing to improve its day-to-day operations. Safety is an ongoing focus for MFG.
“We don’t prioritize safety,” explains CEO Keith Arnold. “It can’t come in front of other things; it has to be integrated into everything we do. We have therefore made safety a core value.”
The company has received full certification to the new ISO 9001-2015 Quality Standard, and continues to modify and update its process maps to mitigate risks. In 2017 the company introduced a more comprehensive Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) identification program, under which plant managers are responsible for getting operators trained on any new PPE for each process. In addition, MFG is making further enhancements to its operational procedures and training programs, and looking very closely at behavioural safety. For example:
  • Further enhancement and utilization of the Chempax ERP system
  • Giving all employees access to a classical employee assistance program, which was initiated in 2016
  • Investments in a new 4,500-gallon reactor at the surfactant plant, two new storage tanks equipped for handling a highly reactive monomerm, and installation of a new foundation at the polymer plant
  • Implementation of a comprehensive fob, visual (cameras) and physical internal and perimeter security system at corporate headquarters and manufacturing plants
  • All department heads have identified their future replacements, who are receiving leadership training
  • Separate projects are underway to understand and improve the company’s time capacity and plant utilization, and address operational efficiencies.
Instilling safety as a core value at MFG has been made possible in part by the company’s participation in SOCMA’s ChemStewards program.
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“ChemStewards has provided a structure to our safety program with requirements for training, procedures and document control,” Arnold said. “Everyone knows and understands our Quality and EHS&S Statements, and each employee sees safety as his/her responsibility. The success of the program is reflected in our total recorded incident rates.”
In 2018, the company’s drive to further heighten and improve its programs was recognised in SOCMA’s annual ‘Performance Improvement Awards’. Such recognition is invaluable, according to Arnold.
“These awards instill confidence in both our employees and our customers,” he said. “More importantly, our certification to ChemStewards and our comprehensive company involvement with SOCMA have given MFG Chemical an umbrella of creditability and the ability to partner with and maintain Tier 1 Fortune 100 Chemical Companies as customers.”
Arnold is also active in communicating the chemical industry’s concerns to the House and Senate in Washington, DC, through his involvement in numerous SOCMA events, including the Washington, DC, Fly-Ins, regional round tables and the National Chemical Safety Symposium.
“By participating in the Fly-Ins, we elevate our knowledge of what is going on in DC and have the opportunity to communicate our concerns and needs to members of the House and Senate,” he explains. “The most important message we want to communicate is the need to alleviate the vast amount of ‘paperwork’ associated with regulations. We all want to be safe and responsible members of the community; regulatory reporting is enormous and makes it challenging to run a business.”
Arnold concludes, “Today’s chemical companies must ascribe to and be certified with a robust EHS&S program, but small and medium-sized companies can’t do it all on their own – they need the assistance of associations like SOCMA and the support they provide.”
 Jack Drawdy, VP Sales & Business Development, MFG Chemical, 1804 Kimberly Park Drive. Dalton. GA 30720. USA.
T: + 1 706 226 4114