Sumer Lucas has been an important part of the Polyco R&D team since 2012. She’s a team player who wears many hats. Sumer was recently appointed to a new director position at Polyco, where she’ll continue to be a key researcher while stepping into a more formal leadership role. We spoke with Sumer about what she likes most about working in the research field and what excites her the most about working at Polyco.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your role at Polyco.
It’s been pretty amazing coming up with Polyco for the last ten years and the insane amount of growth that’s taking place in the last decade. What’s even more awesome, is that I’ve had the amazing opportunity to grow and advance with Polyco. My position at the company entails development of all roofing and paving product formulations. I specifically study asphalt chemistry and its behavior with different polymers. For example, I’m in charge of the current and future development of the Sigmabond formulation. To make it perform even better, we’re diversifying our technologies and manipulating chemistries of asphalt and non-asphalt materials. The goal is to satisfy the needs of our customers while making everything renewable, recycled and sustainable.
Basically, I’m a big nerd. I love to learn, tinker with stuff, ask questions about everything and never assume anything is where it should be, which is why my position at Polyco is so perfect for me because I can be continuously curious.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
My biggest love is scuba diving. I became an assistant instructor of scuba diving in college, and now, I’m a rescue diver and a master diver. Along with scuba diving, I love exercising. I love lifting weights, running, hiking — really anything that allows me to be active or outside. Whenever I’m out in the wilderness and see things like moss or cool creatures, it takes me back to my biology background.
I also enjoy an active lifestyle with my kids. I have two kids who are autistic, and they’re both amazing. They’re the coolest kids on the planet, and I think that autism makes them that much more creative, interesting and unique. They have brilliant little minds. So, that’s pretty much all I do — try to find time to vacation, scuba dive, be outside, hike, travel and be with my kids.
What does a typical day look like for you at Polyco?
Every day is different — that’s one of the fun things about work. The day-to-day ultimately revolves around manipulating the technology and the mechanisms we currently have to make them even better, coming up with a new thing to create, or fixing something that’s not working.
What’s your favorite part about working at Polyco?
My favorite part about working at Polyco has always been the technology piece and the fact that we are never satisfied with just achieving a goal that we set for that year; we want to do more. So we constantly strive to get better and better, and we are technologically driven. We are all curious people who are never content, making people who are super nerdy, like me, very happy!
What did you do before you joined Polyco?
I knew I wanted to do something in science or research since I was four years old. I developed a love for insects, so I initially wanted to become a field researcher. But then I found chemistry and fell in love with it. I then started to study the chemical mechanisms that happen in insects and became absolutely obsessed with the adaptations of chemicals that insects have that evolved from natural selection. I was also really excited about chemistry in general, with all the different mechanisms of organic chemistry.
Anything else you want to add about your professional experience?
I’m working on my MBA right now with a concentration on energy management, so I’ll be able to learn about laws and regulations concerning green technology. It’s been really rewarding so far.
On September 25th, Governor Newsom signed a new bill into law that will enhance the sustainability of California roads. Assembly Bill 661 expands the state’s existing State Agency Buy Recycled Campaign (SABRC) to include more recycled materials in pavements. Here are a few of the highlights:
- For recycled tire-derived products … total content shall consist of at least 50 percent recycled used waste tires.
- For rubberized pavement surfaces, such as rubberized asphalt concrete and chip seal, the binder shall contain at least 15 percent recycled waste tires by weight.
- Recycled asphalt pavement shall contain a minimum of 25 percent reclaimed asphalt pavement by weight.
For our paving partners in the Golden State, AB 661 presents an opportunity to enhance the sustainability and quality of their asphalt. Using Sigmabond further enables them to meet these new requirements. Since Sigmabond utilizes Polyco’s Rapid Digestion Process™ (RDP), end-of-life tires are blended with asphalt to create homogeneous, storage stable tire rubber formulations in all PG binder, trackless track and emulsions. Additionally, Sigmabond allows for more than 40 percent tire content, more recycled materials in HMA and WMA and has been proven to resist cracking — extending pavement life. Sigmabond also enables faster production times and is compatible with virtually any asphalt mix.
As AB 661 goes into effect on January 1st, we’re excited to see California take strides in ensuring the sustainability of its roads. From our perspective, it’s a win-win for the preservation of our environment and infrastructure. And, here at Polyco, we’re proud to play a role in this new era of pavement sustainability alongside our partners.
David Hastings is an integral part of the Polyco team in Ennis, Texas. As the Quality Assurance Engineer, David helps manage the quality management system and works to establish a line of communication between Polyco and its customers. We spoke with David about what he likes most about working at Polyco and what excites him about the future.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, I’m a transplant. I’ve worked in multiple states. I’ve worked out of Ohio, Kentucky, and now Texas. Happy to be back in the South and away from the snow.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I really enjoy fishing when I can. I also enjoy learning new things and watching documentaries.
How would you describe your job at Polyco?
I manage the quality management system at Polyco and I help establish a line of communication between us and our customers. In terms of developing that communication, customer stewardship is my number one focus. I also help ensure that our products meet high-quality standards. Quality is a constant at Polyco.
What’s your favorite part about working at Polyco?
I’ve worked at bigger companies where you’re put in a box, this is where my job starts, and this is where my job ends. Polyco’s really invested in your development and having you grow within the company. Here, if I want to learn more about safety or if I want to participate more on the operation side, I’ve got options. All it takes is just a will to do it and then developing a plan with my manager. As long as it helps the company, it’s within your development path. That’s my favorite thing.
Polyco is also invested in its employees. I don’t want to use the term “like a family,” but it’s true, we’re very close and everybody wants to help each other out. At other companies, I got the feeling that there’s a “boot on your head,” when you’ve hit the limit. This is the first place I’ve ever worked where that’s nonexistent, and if there is a limiting factor, they’ll help you get the skills, like tuition reimbursement, etc., to get there. I love that about Polyco.
What excites you about what’s next at Polyco?
We are on the cutting edge of this industry. Our RDP product is going global, and we are the only company in the world that can do what we’re doing with devulcanizing rubber. Our products go into the number one performing impact class for shingles. At Polyco, we know adhesive products, we know polymer-modified coatings, and now we’re about to hit the trifecta with our tire rubber-modified products.
I look forward to a time when I can drive on the road and know it’s a Polyco product. And that it will perform better than anything else out there, and that I played a part in that.
What’s your favorite thing about being in Texas?
Southern hospitality 110%. People open doors for one another; they help someone out with a flat tire. They really look out for each other. That was nonexistent up north. I love Texas.
As we experience more severe weather events, quality roofing materials are more necessary than ever. The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety’s (IBHS) roof shingle hail impact ratings provide one way to assess products’ performance under tough wind and hail conditions. What do the top-performing shingles on the list have in common? Many use Polymer Modified Asphalt, or PMA.
The benefits of using PMA products include:
- More flexibility
- Easier application in colder climates than non-modified options
- Better granulation so that the granules don’t wash off of the roof as it ages
- Protection from UV damage
A roof equipped with a modified shingle will better withstand extreme weather conditions, including heat, wind, and hail, than traditional shingles. And because modified shingles last longer, they have a lower full lifecycle cost than a commodity shingle. With fewer replacements, fewer shingles move to the landfill – making the modified shingle the better choice for our customers and the environment.
The results of the IBHS survey are another testament to the innovations in the asphalt industry: transforming waste into high-value products.
You’ve probably heard of the Little Black Book – the book of secrets! But that’s not the only book named for a color. We’ve been hard at work requesting revisions to The Greenbook that designates our industry’s material product and specifications. First published in 1967, The Greebook was a product of a 400-person task force of the Southern California Chapter of the American Public Works Association and the Southern California Districts of the Associated General Contractors of California. Since then, the guide has gone through many updates, been adopted by more than 200 other California cities, counties, and agencies, and served as inspiration for other public works officials around the world. A new edition is published every three years. Bob Rivers, part of Polyco’s sales team, has been a key member of The Greenbook committee working to update viscosity recommendations to create an attainable specification for multiple suppliers.
Typically, changes take five to seven years, but this one took only two and half years from start to finish. This change is a big win because it levels the playing field. Asphalt producers can now use soluble rubber in combination with a hybrid serine, urethane serine, or polymer to make an easier-to-handle, more consistent product in the field.
The revised version of The Greenbook will be distributed electronically and in hard copy in January. Before then, there will be an addendum published in the next three or so weeks accepting the updated viscosity parameters.
Now that you know about our updated Greenbook, quiz yourself on other industries’ colorful books:
And a bonus! The TxDOT Specification Book, which can now be downloaded as a free PDF.
Born and raised in Fort Worth, Chris Reyna has been a critical part of our safety team at the plant in Cleburne, Texas for the past five years. We talked with Chris about his time at Polyco and what he loves doing outside of work.
What’s your role at Polyco?
I’m the Senior Shift Lead, so I ensure that everybody in the plant is working safely, including myself. I also make sure that all of our inbound and outbound trucks come in and go out on time, and that all of our asphalt is on specifications.
What do you like best about working at Polyco?
I work with great people. We’re always happy over here – laughing and joking just like family. I plan to retire here.
What do you do when you’re not at the plant?
I like spending time with my family. I have three kids ages five to one and a newborn. One girl and two boys! I like to take my kids fishing and to places like Chuck E. Cheese to have fun.
What’s your favorite food?
My wife’s homemade chile rellenos, especially her salsa!
Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the AASHTO Comp meeting on materials and pavements. If you haven’t heard of AASHTO, it’s the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. AASHTO has a set of specifications and testing procedures for all materials that go into state DOT public works projects, including bridges, paint, aggregates, asphalt materials, and more. Representatives from every state attend to propose and vote on industry-wide changes to these specs and test procedures. These meetings help us stay up-to-date with specifications and testing procedures that potentially affect Polyco’s products.
In addition to staying up-to-date, attending AASHTO gives me a chance to meet with people in different levels of the DOT from across the country. It’s a great opportunity to exchange ideas with them, as well as with the many vendors who make products that Polyco uses.
If you aren’t part of a DOT, but are a professional in one of the fields AASHTO specifications/procedures represents, you can register to attend meetings. You won’t be able to vote, but you can offer input and stay on the frontline of proposed changes.
At last week’s meeting, only minor changes to testing procedures for materials and pavements came up at the committee meeting I attended. As always, it was an honor to be part of the committee meetings to ensure we’re on track and to offer input that shapes the future of our industry.
John is truly one of a kind. A native of Ennis, Texas, he’s one of Polyco’s first employees — having worked with us for the past 13 years. Today, John is a technician in our Research and Development Lab, where he conducts research on polymers and asphalts, crosstrains new team members and more. We spoke with John about his long career and what he’s looking forward to doing in retirement.
What was it like to work for Polyco at the Ennis plant in the beginning?
I wore multiple hats – I cleaned, loaded trucks, made batches, everything. It was fun at the time. I’ve really seen it all!
How would you describe your job now?
My role is to assist with everything from getting materials and checking specifications to research, training and safety.
What has been your favorite part about working for Polyco?
I like supervising and teaching people. I liked the people who started with me, and I enjoy my colleagues now. In our lab, we have people who speak five different languages. I think that’s so cool. Polyco is also family-oriented. My son even works here!
What are you looking forward to once you retire?
I want to spend more time with my family and grandkids. I have three grandsons and a granddaughter — the youngest is 5 and the oldest is 25. Soon, my wife and I will be married for 45 years!
What’s your favorite food?
My wife’s homemade enchiladas, rice and beans. It’s the real deal.
In my last post, we outlined the nuances between different types of slurry seals. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the benefits of terminal rubber modified slurry seal (TRMSS) and the significance of it for our partners in California.
Using up to 80 percent more aggregate per square yard and containing 50 percent more asphalt than other rubberized slurry seals, TRMSS has revolutionized the cationic rubberized slurry seal. It delivers the durability of conventional slurry seal in addition to the rich, black color and environmental benefits of tire rubber modified emulsion.
Unlike other applications, TRMSS can be used year round and achieve the same performance — regardless of the weather. It doesn’t crack in the cold or soften in heat. Since TRMSS doesn’t soften, it does not lead to power steering marks. This is especially important for our paving partners in places like Southern California, where summer temperatures are regularly over 100 degrees! Additionally, because the rubber from the tires interacts with the asphalt, we no longer need to add latex to prevent tracking.
Even with all of these unique qualities, applying TRMSS is no different from applying other slurry seals. The same conventional slurry seal machinery is used. And because it is a sealant, which goes on top of the pavement, the benefits of TRMSS can be gained without destroying the road.
Did you know that more than 40 million tires are thrown out in California each year? TRMSS is an effective and beneficial way to divert this waste from the landfill – about 80 tires per lane mile! With a 75 percent faster production process than other slurry seals and a quick set time, TRMSS can also be applied efficiently and with fewer resources. TRMSS also has superior resistance to UV oxidation and aging, so it lasts years longer than other products. If you regularly pave in warmer climates and are seeking a sustainable, cost-effective solution, TRMSS is a great option to extend the life of your roads.
Jenn has worked at Polyco for more than 13 years, and has held a variety of roles during her time with us. She has been responsible for answering our phones, fulfilling orders, coordinating logistics and customer service. Now, she serves as our accounts payable supervisor. We spoke with Jenn about her current role, her interests and what she likes about working at Polyco.
How would you describe your job at Polyco?
I make sure all documentation is accounted for and invoices get paid on time. I also field any questions regarding payments.
What do you like most about working at Polyco?
I love the flexibility and family feel. I’m surrounded by people who want to work hard and do a good job, but also, like to have fun and are friendly.
What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
I have five kids between the ages of 7 and 14, so I am usually really busy running them to their extracurriculars. When I’m not at my kids’ activities, my husband and I go to local baseball games or you can find me working on various DIY projects. I do some sewing and woodworking as well. Next, I’ll be building a cage for our four guinea pigs. We also have two dogs, two cats and a snake!
Where do you call home?
Reno. I work at the corporate office.
What’s your favorite meal?
Thai food. If I was on a deserted island, I would be craving a good panang curry.