So: Why is PyraSied founded in Leeuwarden, Friesland (the Netherlands?)
Indeed, milk and acrylic, a surprising but logical combination. Some explanation is necessary.
Author: Sied Kooistra, creative director of PyraSied Xtreme Acrylic
The cows in Friesland (province of the Netherlands)
In Friesland, a lot of cows are wandering around. That means that a lot of milk is ‘produced’ here. More than the region could ever use… That is why milk powder is made from excessive milk, the powder is long lasting and can be exported. An important component of the milk and the milk powder is the protein casein. Casein can be isolated quite easily by precipitating it from the milk with calf rennet. Casein is a natural polymer, a long molecule. It can be extruded and cured with formaldehyde into casein plastic, also known as artificial horn. In 1912, this natural plastic was started in Leeuwarden. In 1919 the Hollandsche Caseïnewerken P.J. Talsma was formally established and a business premise just outside the center of Leeuwarden was involved. Later the company name was changed to Casolith, a contraction of Casein and Galalith, another (brand) name for the casein plastic. Casolith produced sheets, often transparent brown-coloured, but also in other transparent, translucent and dense colours. The management then had a lot of contact with German chemical companies where the production knowledge came from and also the machines. One of the contacts was Rohm & Haas, the inventors of the PMMA (acrylic) sheet. In the 1920s, 300,000 sheets of casein were made in Leeuwarden every year, some 125,000 kilos!
Casein became acrylic
In the late 1950s, fashion changed and less and less casein plastic was requested. The management of the Casolith knew about the existence and properties of acrylic (PMMA) and decided to produce this sheet material. “Attack is the best defense,” was their motto. Acrylic indeed displaced the casein due to greater ease of production and a better price. And good qualities! To be able to start up quickly, know-how was purchased in Denmark at a small acrylic factory. A production plant was built in 1961. Production started in 1962 and the name Casocryl was established. It was a great success and in 1967 it was expanded considerably. 1575 tons of acrylic sheet was cast in 1974. In 2001 this had become 10,000 tons. The production of the artificial horn had long since stopped.
The origin of PyraSied
Sied Kooistra found the acrylic – with which his father had experimented for a short time to build caravans (not a good plan) – a very beautiful material. As a hobby, he made furniture and lamps in the loft behind his home. The material was arranged through friends who worked at the factory. This hobby was accelerated because a chair (the beach chair) that was in the window of a furniture store was seen by a Casolith manager. Sied was then invited to come to the factory and received a reprimand. The chair was not solid enough in design. But, if he could turn his hobby into a company with a company name and a Chamber of Commerce registration, he could buy the material directly from the factory and also get technical support.
So it happened. In the loft busy gluing pyramids – a technical challenge – the name PyraSied was invented (a combination of Pyramid and Sied, his first name). It was 1983. Shortly thereafter, PyraSied (together with Framework – a company of a friend of Sied) was allowed to move into an old gin factory in the center of Leeuwarden. The production of furniture started well there, certainly when an enthusiastic furniture agent named Bauke Hagenouw had arrived. Bauke sold the products throughout the country with verve and Gonneke (wife of Sied) delivered. Meanwhile, Eli Visser – head of the Casolith lab and always full of excellent ideas – came up with new acrylic types such as the Black & White, Glasslook and also the very successful DualSatin. PyraSied – almost a neighbor of the factory – was the first to market these new products. Indeed, without Casolith, PyraSied would not exist. Unfortunately, the factory – then called Altuglas – finally had to close its gates in 2006 due to a reorganization by the French mother company Atoglas (now part of Arkema / Total).
PyraSied from now
The closure was provided. PyraSied had been preparing for years, actually since Casolith was taken over by the French in 1991. We went out. Very nice international adventures followed. As a result, PyraSied is now – in 2019 – proud to be the specialist in the field of acrylic. PyraSied opened the 4th hall in April 2019. In total, we now have 5,000 m2, 37 employees, an international network and an excellent name in the market, great! I am now slowly withdrawing from the daily management and concentrating on PyraSied Research, the development of new products. The emphasis is very strongly on circularity, recycling, and environmentally friendly plastics. Sander de Boer and Marieke Pietersma have been co-owners since 2014 and are taking over PyraSied from me.
And that is the logic: milk, acrylic, Leeuwarden, and PyraSied.
I hope that PyraSied can continue to exist for a long time, with satisfied customers and employees.
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