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OMNOVA Solutions Recognizes Employee Innovations with 1999 Technology Awards.

FAIRLAWN, Ohio, March 31 /PRNewswire/ --

OMNOVA Solutions Inc. (NYSE: OMN) announced and honored the recipients of its 1999 Technology Awards at ceremonies at the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Akron, Ohio March 30th. This annual award program recognizes exemplary technology-based contributions by top scientists and technical and product development people across the Company.

(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/19990706/CLTU009 )

Technology innovations support activities in a number of OMNOVA's end use markets including commercial roofing, residential upholstery, construction, graphic arts films and inks, carpeting and dry-erase fabrics and wallcoverings.

Recipients hail from across OMNOVA Solutions, including the Company's Technology Center in Akron, Ohio; Decorative & Building Products segment facilities in Fairlawn and Maumee, Ohio, Auburn and Jeannette, Pennsylvania, and Columbus, Mississippi; and Performance Chemicals segment facilities in Akron and Mogadore, Ohio, Chester, South Carolina, and Calhoun, Georgia.

"This year's recipients exemplify our focus on market-driven products and services, leading edge technologies, rapid concept-to-commercialization cycle time, continuous improvement and a culture based on cross-functional teaming to deliver business impact," said Kevin McMullen, OMNOVA's President and Chief Operating Officer. "These technical advancements will create powerful competitive advantages that both enrich and help to fulfill our key business strategies."

Categories, titles of technical innovations and recipients are as follows:

Category: Competitive Advantage through Intellectual Property

TITLE: Twelve Foot Thermoplastic Roofing Project with Dual Weld Technology

WHO: From Decorative & Building Products: Brian Nieber, Mike Hubbardand

Jim Burkett

WHAT: This team led efforts to successfully develop a roofing system that provides low installed cost to the customer while improving long term roof performance under exceptionally windy conditions. Utilizing OMNOVA's patented dual weld technology, the GenFlex roofing business is able to offer wider membrane sheets that require fewer fasteners and less labor. During testing, the dual weld performed at over twice the number of normal cycles and at much higher pressure levels without damage to the membrane, thus demonstrating an advantage in situations where there will be multiple windstorms. This successful project resulted in a commitment by OMNOVA to invest in a new facility to produce the wider width membrane material. The addition of this facility will open up capacity and position GenFlex to meet significant growth and profitability objectives for its TPO and PVC product lines.

Category: New Product Development / Commercialization

TITLE: Novel Urethane Coated Fabrics for Residential Upholstery

WHO: From Decorative & Building Products: John Kessler and

Rodney Cuevas

WHAT: This team successfully leveraged an alliance with a European partner to provide entry for OMNOVA into residential urethane upholstery while introducing two totally new urethane fabrics to the global marketplace. The two new products have the look and feel of leather and provide improved hydrolysis and color consistency over the competitive materials. Product development required several innovations, including a new backing that could meet strength and stretch requirements while maintaining the soft, supple feel of leather. In addition, the team had to take chemistry developed for leather and make it applicable to urethanes. By developing these products jointly with the European partner, there were no OMNOVA capital expenditures and total cost of development was quite low. These products allowed OMNOVA to take its urethane-coated fabrics market position from 0 to 10% in the first year.

TITLE: SB Latex for Light Weight Gypsum Wallboard

WHO: From Performance Chemicals: Charles Wood and Roman Zorska

WHAT: Because of the contributions of this team, OMNOVA is in the process of opening up an entirely new market for styrene/butadiene (SB) based latices. Using a specially designed latex grade and incorporating a proprietary monomer into the polymer backbone, OMNOVA's first customer for this gypsum wallboard application has demonstrated that it can use about 12% less gypsum in the wallboard core and replace it with just 1/2% to 1% latex. This dramatically reduces weight, and as a result, enables shipment of 20% more product and provides for much more efficient installation. Importantly, there is no loss in product performance. The move to lighter weight boards will eventually extend to other manufacturers, resulting in expanding sales for OMNOVA. The whole process from first meeting with the customer to commercialization took less than ten months. This short cycle time is remarkable given the fact that not a single pound of latex, from OMNOVA or anybody else, had ever been sold to the construction industry for this specific application.

Category: Continuous Innovation

TITLE: Leadership GlassClear Vinyl Films

WHO: From Decorative and Building Products: Doug Bronczyk,

Tony Valkosak and Rob Schramm

WHAT: This Team revitalized an existing product line through extensive innovation and re-established OMNOVA's position as a quality leader in clear vinyl films for the graphic arts industry. In recent years, competitors have entered this marketplace with new equipment and improved product performance, resulting in increased customer expectations for appearance, printability and handling. The OMNOVA team followed a systematic GlassClear improvement plan that consisted of product line simplification, development of an advanced film formula that could meet higher quality standards, and improved packaging. As a result, external and internal product rejections have been significantly reduced, lost business has been recaptured at several accounts and GlassClear Films will make a healthy contribution to sales in the year 2000.

Category: Core Competence Building

TITLE: High Solids Latex for Commercial Carpet Backing

WHO: From Performance Chemicals: Jaclyn Laurich, Ph.D.,

James L. Vaughn, Ph.D. and Jim Yates

WHAT: This team developed a new styrene-butadiene latex for the commercial carpet backing industry, enabling OMNOVA to expand beyond its current residential carpet business and penetrate this important segment of the market. The new product expanded Performance Chemicals' core competence by applying several recent advances in latex technology towards developing a carpet latex at a considerably higher total solids content without sacrificing either polymer properties or process capabilities. This development will assist commercial customers in meeting more rigorous requirements, including the ability to run their processes at greater speeds and to decrease drying times. High solids latex has opened a significant market opportunity and positions OMNOVA as one of the few suppliers to both the residential and commercial carpet industries.

TITLE: Development of New Graphics Products

WHO: From Performance Chemicals: Mike Yanutola

WHAT: During 1999, Mike was responsible for the development and commercialization of nine new products used in conjunction with graphic inks, with combined potential of over 20 million wet pounds of new business. Development efforts required that OMNOVA overcome many difficult technical problems related to system adhesion, rheology and stability. In addition, he had to reformulate the graphics products to accept specific colloid stabilizers produced by three different manufacturers in order to counter competitive threats.

Category: Key Enabling Innovation

TITLE: High Solids PolyFox Modified Coatings

WHO: From Corporate Technology: Dr. Daniel D. Woodland

WHAT: Dann led the development of coating and product technology necessary to enable OMNOVA to successfully commercialize its PolyFox flouropolymer into proprietary coatings formulations and begin to realize this material's enormous potential. Work completed in 1999 facilitated the development of a dry erasable coating formulation that is being commercialized in coated fabrics and wallcovering applications. The work will also act as a key enabler for penetration into a number of additional coatings applications, for example, improved stain resistance and durability. Dann developed a high solids formulation that has demonstrated exceptional processability and performance. Follow-on work is showing promising potential for a new flow / leveling coatings modifier that could broaden OMNOVA's leadership position in the coatings arena through partnerships and strategic alliances.

OMNOVA Solutions is a technology-based company with approximately $770 million in sales and 2,700 employees worldwide. It is a major innovator of decorative and functional surfaces, emulsion polymers and specialty chemicals.
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