Emmanuel Laval: A Customer-Centric Technical Expert

:: Friday, March 8, 2024
Emmanuel Laval portrait Whether it’s recommending the right boron concentration to protect wood materials or developing an effective fire-retardant formulation for polymers, you can trust Emmanuel Laval. 

For five years, Emmanuel’s customer-centric approach and technical acumen has helped companies develop effective boron formulations to reach their goals and pass quality assurance standards.

Materials master

Materials have always been the focus of Emmanuel’s career. Before entering the workforce, he earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in materials science and engineering from the Université de Rouen and Polytech Nantes (in France), respectively.

After university, he moved to the US to work in research and development (R&D) for a French global building material company in polymer processes and technologies. After a few years, he joined another building material company still in the R&D group. Emmanuel played an instrumental role in this company’s growth, transforming a small three-person team and one office into a full department with a production facility and research lab. He was involved in every step—from research and development to quality control testing to supply and even administrative functions.

Eventually the time came for him to seek a new challenge and find a role that could tap in to more than just his technical acumen. That perfect sales and technical opportunity came in 2019 when he joined our team as technical marketing specialist. 

Working for U.S. Borax also appealed to Emmanuel because it offered the chance to learn about a new material.

“I like learning things every day,” he says. “There are so many applications for borates and so much science behind it—more than I imagined initially.”

A customer-centric perspective

What quality makes Emmanuel an especially effective technical marketing specialist? Empathy.

“I’ve been in the customers’ shoes,” says Emmanuel, who worked as a polymer scientist previously. “I know how they use our material, what they are looking for, and their expectations. That experience allows me to make recommendations that fit their needs and anticipate any potential issues.”

Because time and money are always top concerns in manufacturing environments, he proactively finds ways to reduce customers’ stress such as providing guidance on starting formulations.

And, to stay ahead of evolving processes, Emmanuel remains aware of the challenges facing operators on production lines.

“They know the reality of how things work, which is more important than theory,” Emmanuel says.

Beyond customer-facing activities, Emmanuel is active in product research and development. He’s led tests to measure the performance of refined borate wood treatments, which provide valuable insights that can be used to inform new product development.

Outside of work

At home, Emmanuel enjoys spending time with his two daughters and wife, whom he met in college in France.

A wide range of interests and hobbies keep him busy. He’s an ardent supporter of the French national team, so much so that he travelled to Qatar for the last World Cup. Long distance running and baking (he makes a great Galette des Rois) are other hobbies he pursues.

“I may come off as serious, but outside of work I’m very outgoing and like to have fun,” Emmanuel says.

Expanding his expertise

Emmanuel already possesses deep expertise in polymer and wood applications for boron, but he still sees room for growth as the market changes.

Being at the forefront of these developments and helping customers see how boron adds value is a priority.

“Each material has different properties and can fulfill different functions,” says Emmanuel. “Boron can improve process and product properties even at very low loading. It’s fascinating the number of functions boron can impart on materials. I’ve never seen an additive with so many capabilities.
Emmanuel Laval and his family on the beach
Emmanuel and his family




U.S. Borax, part of Rio Tinto, is a global leader in the supply and science of borates—naturally-occurring minerals containing boron and other elements. We are 1,000 people serving 650 customers with more than 1,800 delivery locations globally. We supply around 30% of the world’s need for refined borates from our world-class mine in Boron, California, about 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles.  Learn more about Rio Tinto.

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