John Willham is a chemical engineer. He started working with Eastman Chemicals in the 1990s developing products for laminating sheets. While working for Eastman, he met Ray Goodson, who had idea to laminate everything with clear plastic sheets or translucent plywood. Goodson’s son founded architectural firm 3Form based in Salt Lake City, Utah in 2002 and invited Willham to join the team. They have since come up with some of the most interesting plastic architecture products on the market.
What is the focus of 3Form?
3Form started as polyester-based architectural company in the early 2000s. Varia Ecoresin, our line of translucent resin panels, is our flagship product and is still the main reason 3Form is known in the industry. We stared diversifying product lines pretty early on in the company’s development stage to add a variation for performance and functionality.
What makes your company successful in the architectural market?
Polyester is what I’ve termed “our first child,” but we realized that we needed the ability to create a product and not a mass customization model. Now we make brand new products for customers two weeks after they place an order and our company is thriving. I like to think of our company model as a huge kitchen pantry. A lot of manufacturers cook dinner and say, “Here, eat what I’ve made.” That doesn’t typically work for architects because they’re always change things. So, it’s improper to assume what they want to cook up. We approach them with, “What do you want to eat? I can make you anything.” I can give you an acrylic, polyester or polycarbonate exterior. We’ve even worked with glass, which is a lot like a polymer. It fits in the same category and it’s a really durable building material. We make just about anything to order. That’s what I think sets us apart in the design community, our ability to build on demand.
How has 3Form adapted to the need for green products?
We called our polyester “ecoresin” for a reason. Ray had great foresight for changing architectural market trends. A few years ago, we were one of the few companies in the market asking about how to be “green.” We have a 40 percent recycled resin product; our company didn’t have another option. Green has been our cornerstone. We’re trying to be green and constantly push it in a forward direction. It’s evolved into the whole corporate culture. For example, we’re an environmentally certified company, which is purely voluntary. We want to continually improve on these practices. That’s the mentality that has transcended from that ecoresin product family. We had to say, “Varia is good, but not for all things” and start developing our other lines of eco-friendly products.