James B Holcomb moves to Univar Solutions

By Deanna Utroske contact

- Last updated on GMT

photo courtesy of Univar Solutions
photo courtesy of Univar Solutions

Related tags: ingredient distributor, people on the move

At the start of year, the chemical distribution executive joined Univar to lead the company’s ingredient distribution business in North America.

Univar Solutions boasts “one of the most extensive product lines in the chemical industry,”​ a sizable private transportation fleet, and serves an array of markets, including beauty, personal care, and nutraceuticals as well as aerospace, agriculture, coatings, energy, forestry, mining, pharma, water treatment, and several others.

Within beauty and personal care, the Univar portfolio includes ingredients suited for color cosmetics and complexion products, hair care and scalp care, skin care, sun care and anti-pollution, hand sanitizer, personal care, and what the distributor calls touchless stick ingredient solutions.

And Univar Solutions is partnered with over 140 suppliers, including SunChemical, Solvay, P&G Chemicals (a manufacturer of oleochemicals: fatty acids, fatty alcohols, glycerin, and methyl esters), Momentive, Kao Chemicals Europe, Jungbunzlauer, Inolex, EarthOil, DuPont Tate & Lyle, DSM, Dow, Colonial Chemical, Clariant, Cargill Beauty, and Akzo Nobel.

James B Holcomb leads US ingredient distribution business at Univar Solutions

It’s that beauty ingredient business (and the company’s entire North American specialty chemicals and ingredients business) that James B Holcomb was brought into lead at the start of 2021.

“I'm excited to welcome Jim to the Univar Solutions team,”​ David Jukes, Univar Solutions President and CEO, told the press earlier this month. “His experience in the chemical distribution market in North America is unparalleled and he will be a major contributor to our S22 program designed to accelerate growth and increase earnings through a customer centric focus on operational efficiency and Omni-channel sales growth.”

Streamlining operations at Univar Solutions to weather market changes

The S22 program Jukes refers to is Streamline 2022, an initiative to up operational efficiency, reduce costs, and leverage digital and global capabilities to speed up growth and boost earnings despite current global economic challenges.

Univar Solutions formally announced its S22 program in early August of 2020, noting that setting the plan in motion required adjustments to reporting lines as well as out-and-out leadership changes.

“While we are currently reporting solid second quarter results, and progressing as expected on our Nexeo integration plans, we are seeing changes in market conditions and customer preferences,”​ Jukes said in a media release at the time. (Nexeo is a plastics distribution business that Univar acquired in March 2019.)

“We believe that our S22 program, as part of our strategy to Streamline, Innovate and Grow, will help to ensure we have the agility to enhance our competitiveness, advance our digital capabilities to better serve customers and increase our operational and financial flexibility as we work to position the Company to capture greater value from the market recovery and growth opportunities ahead,”​ continued Jukes.

Initially that meant moving Jennifer McIntyre to a Senior Vice President role called Chief Streamline Officer and Head of North American Operations,  naming Brian Herington Senior Vice President, Chief Commercial Officer and Head of North American Chemical Distribution, and making Nick Powell Senior Vice President and President of the EMEA and APAC regions as well as Global Head of Consumer and Industrial Solutions. Jorge Buckup's role as President of Latin America did not change.  

Not long after that announcement, Herington left Univar Solutions to take on the CEO role at laundry and linen management services company PureStar.

Now, Holcomb is in at Univar—he previously led operations at Brenntag North America—and “his first priority will be growing sales in North America in relation to non-specialty products and otherwise optimizing the effectiveness of our North American salesforce,” ​according to the company’s press release.

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