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NWI recognizes Pierre Grondin for his dedication to the nonwovens industry

NWI recognizes Pierre Grondin
Pierre Grondin will be retiring from his role as director of product development with NWI this year, after an accomplished career in nonwovens.

After nearly 30 years of service to the nonwovens industry, The Nonwovens Institute (NWI) would like to congratulate Pierre Grondin on his career.

“It has been a true pleasure working with Pierre, not only during his time at NWI, but also during his years in industry when he engaged with NWI on a number of projects and served as a faithful participant at our semi-annual Industrial Advisory Board meetings,” said NWI’s Executive Director, Dr. Behnam Pourdeyhimi.

“In his time at NWI, Pierre was a true professional who was extremely disciplined in following through with our industry partners and ensuring all stakeholders were fully informed throughout the product development process,” Dr. Pourdeyhimi added. “His plans were always very well thought out, so when he went into the lab the expectations were clearly understood. And he always had an eye on the end result, considering whether a product idea could ultimately be scaled up. Pierre set a high bar here at NWI, and our team has and will continue to benefit from the knowledge and expertise he brought to the Institute.”

Early wins

Pierre joined NWI in 2018 as Director of Product Development, having found his way to the Institute, with a few impactful stops along the way, from early beginnings as a research scientist with DuPont Canada.

After earning his master’s degree in Chemistry from the University of Sherbrooke (Quebec, Canada), Pierre signed on to work for DuPont in Kingston, Ontario. He served four years in this role before transferring to DuPont’s Fabrene division, which specialized in industrial fabrics for applications such as building wraps, geotextiles and various types of coverings and packaging materials.

Pierre said NWI is an amazing place that fosters innovation and allows people to be very creative, and it is in this creativity that he has found a lot of satisfaction toward the end of his career.

While at Fabrene, Pierre successively managed the division’s Product Development team, the Process Engineering team, and the New Business Development team.

Welcome to nonwovens

Pierre officially joined the world of nonwovens in 1994 after Fabrene was acquired by The InterTech Group, and he was subsequently transferred to the United States to serve as Fibertech’s Director of New Product Development.

While at Fibertech, which eventually became The Polymer Group Inc. (PGI) and Avintiv, Pierre led the development of new products for personal hygienic and industrial applications, including several novel carded, spunbond and meltblown nonwovens for diverse applications, including acquisition layers, filter media, automotive fabrics and building products.

At one point during this period, Pierre also assumed the role of IP liaison. This was a particularly exciting and interesting role, as it enabled Pierre to work as a go-between, helping scientists understand what lawyers needed to draft successful patent applications and how to effectively identify and describe novelty. In this position, Pierre said he gained a strong understanding of patent strategy … and he had a lot of fun.

In 2015, Berry Global acquired Avintiv, and Pierre continued his work as an IP liaison, while also serving as front-end innovation leader for Berry’s nonwovens business.

The NWI experience

When he joined NWI in 2018, Pierre was already familiar with the Institute, having served as a member of NWI’s Industrial Advisory Board (IAB), providing industry perspective to the Ph.D. students working on projects through the Institute’s fundamental research program.

Pierre Grondin, The Nonwovens Institute, Retirement Celebration
The NWI team recently gathered to celebrate Pierre Grondin and wish him a happy retirement.

Pierre said he has always found the NWI system for managing student research, wherein each student in the program has both an academic advisor and an industry advisor, to be well conceived. He said the NWI model provides students a strong understanding of research principles along with the factors industry must weigh when considering whether early-stage concepts can be scaled for commercialization.

In his time at NWI, Pierre focused on working with the Institute’s industry partners on product development. He said this work was quite fulfilling because it provided a diversity of projects and varied application challenges. The work often involved fleshing out basic concepts or early stages of product development and scaling them up using NWI’s pilot facilities.

And this is where Pierre said NWI brings high value to the nonwovens industry – i.e., in providing an environment where early-stage product designs can benefit from the Institute’s decades of nonwovens application knowledge, along with in-house fabrication and testing capability, to enable proof-of-concept in an extremely cost-effective manner. He said the expertise and technology available at NWI represents a significant potential cost savings for companies who are looking to determine the viability of new ideas.

At NWI, Pierre said companies can often fully design a process and bring it back to their plant in a way that is ready-fit for production. In this regard, Pierre said NWI is uniquely positioned to serve the product development needs of the nonwovens industry.

The future

In the years to come, Pierre said he hopes the nonwovens industry will keep innovating. Since he entered the nonwovens space in 1994, he said there has been a lot of innovation that people didn’t necessarily believe would happen – but not everything has been invented yet; there’s still a lot of opportunity for improvement.

Pierre said NWI is an amazing place that fosters innovation and allows people to be very creative; and it is in this creativity that he has found a lot of satisfaction toward the end of his career.

As he eases into retirement, Pierre said he plans to spend more time with family and friends; although he said he will continue to participate as an occasional instructor on NWI’s training programs.

Thanks for everything Pierre. The NWI team wishes you all the best and much happiness in your retirement … Cheers!