When Dow Chemical Co. spun off four of its businesses in 2009 and melded them into one company in preparation to sell it off, everything was on the table, including its headquarters.
Trinseo S.A., now its own publicly-traded company, prefers to refer to its Berwyn office as its "global operating center." OK, fine.
So why did chief executive Christopher Pappas pick the region for its global operating center? The short answer is talent. But there were other factors.
"We looked at a variety of places because remember we were part of Dow Chemical, which was in Midland, Michigan. I lived there twice," Pappas said during our Executive Q&A interview published in Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer. In the interview, he talked about forming a new company culture.
We weren't going to be there because we wanted to be on our own. We looked at a variety of cities. Philadelphia was one of them.
Chicago, Boston, Charlotte a little bit. Those were the main cities. We looked at New Jersey in various places, but we picked Philadelphia for a variety of reasons.
We were looking at North Jersey because proximity to New York was important, so we had a set of criteria. Proximity to New York was important because of our owner [For a few years the company was owned by a private equity fund] and also the capital markets were there.
We wanted an environment where we could travel internationally. Eighty percent of our business is outside the US, so we have to travel. Right now, you would say Boston fits that mode. Chicago's a little bit, but not quite, there. because it's far away from New York, although it's accessible. Then, at the end, we didn't like certain cities because they're too big, too complicated, too expensive. We didn't think we'd recruit the right people. Philadelphia had the right cost-of-living balance, the right suburban environment if you wanted it, which we have out here, so it just fit.
Especially, though, recruiting talent. This area is very, very rich in talent.
Whether it's finance, or communications, or HR. Or if we need specific chemical-related expertise, there's lots of that. There are many chemical companies in the area as you know. Right within a 50-mile radius of Philadelphia, there's half a dozen or more. A couple of people had to be transferred in, but almost everybody here we found in this radius. It has to be a high high percentage.