Tom Goldberg is Non-Executive Director at Salvalco. He is also the executive Chairman of AWI Group, investors in Salvalco. With long standing experience across a range of international engineering businesses in the UK, Germany, Poland, Ukraine and China, Tom received an MBE for services to international trade, has been the Chairman of the Yorkshire & Humberside International Trade Board and the President of the British Constructional Steelwork Association.
Here he tells us about his role at Salvalco, his views on the aerosol industry, air pollution and how Eco-Valve is fast becoming the more sustainable way to spray.
Tell us a bit about your role and responsibilities at Salvalco.
My initial role at Salvalco was as the first significant investor, forming a start-up to commercialise a potentially global patented product from 2014-16. I took on the Chairmanship until 2015 after deciding to step down (age 71). Thereafter, I have stayed on as a Non-Executive Director – utilising my experiences in global trade within engineering projects/production and more specifically in fund-raising (in 1989 I was CEO of an IPO company which won the Best UK Business Expansion Scheme company award). At Salvalco, I am also involved in the marketing side of the business, long term planning and organisational teamwork.
The Eco-Valve technology is incredibly unique. What is it specifically about the valve that you value and in what ways do you feel it will support the aerosol industry?
Our technology is firmly secured within Salvalco’s family of interlinked patents – invented and successfully developed by the Spray Research Group (SRG) at Salford University – ably led by Prof. Ghasem Nasr. SRG continue to work with Salvalco upon widening and improving the Eco-Valve family for use in the majority of aerosol products.
Supporting the aerosol industry is crucial. And it’s by utilising the Eco-Valve range that will help to mitigate the two main problem factors involved with the current use of hydrocarbon propellants in aerosol sprays. Namely reducing flammability and VOC emissions. As worldwide usage of aerosols grows, it’s increasingly important that we find a more sustainable way to spray and Eco-Valve offers that solution.
The rise of aerosol pollution is becoming a prevalent topic. What are your views on this area and furthermore what do you think we need to do about it?
‘Aerosol pollution’ relates to the non-methane VOC emissions omitted from hydrocarbon propellants (traditional aerosols) and by some of the current solvents that are absorbed into the atmosphere. Eco-Valves are one of the main innovations available to the aerosol industry to reduce these emissions. Valuable research has recently been published from SRG at Salford University and from the National Centre for Atmospheric Science at York University, both of which quantify UK aerosol spray VOC emissions at double the level of road transport emissions. Such findings will undoubtedly be followed up by the UK Department of Environment (DEFRA) within the UK Clean Air Strategy, and the aerosol industry will react accordingly. Therefore, there has never been a more important time to embrace new technology that will deliver much needed sustainable change.
What does a typical day in the ‘office’ look like and what do you like most about working with Salvalco?
In all my long career, I have never been able to define ‘a typical day at the office’. I am glad to be able to say that. I have been involved in many different and challenging constructional steelwork projects (Broadgate, London Bridge City, Canary Wharf, Brent C Platform, Wimbledon AELTC, Disneyland Paris) to name but a few, and spread over 24 countries too. Nothing typical!
In today’s conduct of business, instant communication (emails) and boundless information (internet) form everyone’s tasks, plus the latter problems of the Covid pandemic and Brexit. The ‘thing I like most about working with Salvalco’ is that there is still no ‘typical day’. Salvalco is moving beyond start up now with products in the market, a healthy list of future clients are working with us to make Eco-Valves a success, and we have an able (but small) team who are achieving our future potential.
During your time at Salvalco what has been your career highlight to date and which projects/ initiatives have you been most proud of and why?
I guess the career highlight has to be the additional financing we have found from the very adventurous and innovative Foresight Williams EIS Technology Fund, for whom Salvalco is the kind of disruptive technology they wish to back. And then we have a further investor in Beiersdorf Group (BDF) (Nivea brand and owner of many other household/beauty products) who are already making us a global operation with potential valve volumes. BDF are walking the sustainable walk, whereas some of the other large groups are still only talking.
COVID-19 has had a huge impact on business globally. How do you feel this has affected the aerosol industry and more generally the consumer’s desire for more sustainable, greener and cleaner products?
The pandemic has had substantial effect on all my business activities, but maybe less effect on Salvalco: The Board of Salvalco has recognised the pandemic risks, and (in my opinion) we have continued to develop our products and proceed with them into the market. The aerosol industry knows who we are and the value of our sustainable family of Eco-Valves.
What do you feel are the main challenges for the aerosol industry going forward?
The main challenges for the aerosol industry are undoubtedly:
- Following up on the ecological and sustainable changes (such as Eco-Valves) that are becoming available. This will aid to mitigate the effects of national and international legislation (from the EPA in USA, EU regulations, and our own UK Clean Air Strategy).
- Our aerosol industry in the UK must work closely with the Government (through DEFRA) to follow the sustainable route.
I hope that DEFRA will pick this up on 3 fronts:
- Agree a funding scheme to encourage and accelerate sustainable changes in the industry.
- Set achievable VOC/Hydrocarbon reductions over the next 5 years.
- It is very important for all of us to be educated about the above VOC research on INDOOR emissions which can trigger many health hazards, particularly to the old and the young.
What’s next for Salvalco? What exciting plans do you have for the business in the next 12 months?
To be a significant contributor to the sustainable movement, and to be one of the helpers towards reduction in health risks throughout the population. In doing so, we can secure a significant share in an aerosol valve market of around $600M per annum, and we can enlarge the Eco-Valve family to cover almost all aerosol products.
If you could leave one lasting legacy following the dedicated work you have committed to the aerosol and engineering sectors, what would it be?
As President of the British Constructional Steelwork Association (2003-05), I helped the Government to agree and implement standards and methods of sustainability and safety in that industry. I hope that I can see a similar pattern of change in the vibrant, interesting and successful aerosol market of the future. We know what the problems are, and we can see the way forward.