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Tag Archives: automotive clearcoat

Does your customer know what clearcoat do you use?

Recently I was a witness of the conversation between a housewife and an interior decorator (painter). What amazed me in this interaction, was how the painter justified his quotation for a job, explaining which materials he would be using and why. He was very detailed in his pitch, naming products, brands and providing very detailed description of the way he is treating his customer’s walls. After about 20 minutes he has got the job; the woman didn’t go further to request quotation.  Even though drawing parallels between different jobs is not always applicable, I think that auto body professionals can project the above said to their job, particularly on the way they give estimates to their clients.

Vehicle refinishing is a complex, multistage procedure. Each step is important, as well as materials used during the process. If you use quality materials (and I hope you do), why not providing your customer with some basic information about it. Remember, consumers in the era of fast and free information, know a lot more than in pre-internet period. They actually want to know details, names of the products and brands you will use on their precious vehicles. Do not be surprised if the client has already done some research and is waiting from you the assurance of high quality repair and materials used.

Explaining, within the logical boundaries, how you will repair the car to its pre-accident condition, is the best way to sell your service at a reasonable price. For example, if you are quoting a client, who received already another quotation from the competitor, do not start with the price at all. Instead, explain that you will take care about the vehicle’s anticorrosive protection, every sand-through will be treated with epoxy or etch primer, you will perform edge-to-edge blending and the clearcoat you use is top quality (let’s say Etalon Etaclear 970 UHS). Emphasize that the gloss will not go away, like some cheap clears out there, and that the client will not see his paint peeling off from the bumper, because plastic primer wasn’t applied. It is good to have handy some pictures of your previous jobs. If the customer’s car is red, explain how important is to apply high quality base coat and UV resistant clear, since red pigment is weak by nature and can easily fade out. Be specific, but don’t overplay with jargon. Speak plain English or whatever language you communicate in understandable manner.

However, do not blame any competitor. Never try to diminish others, because it may come as boomerang. Concentrate on your strong sides rather than speak about others’ mistakes.

In order to stand out from the crowd, to have healthy margins and to grow, you do not need extraordinary measures. By doing honest and professional repairs and communicating your way to customers, a painter will prosper. So, next time don’t forget to tell that you use Etalon Clearcoat!

Picture courtesy by Ray Penny

4+1 World Centers of Automotive Coatings Industry


I never hid the love for travelling in my posts. I am privileged to to travel for my work, and, in spite of all hardships one journey may have, I feel enthusiastic when I enter an airport terminal. At the beginning of every year I take my time to set up my travel schedule for the year ahead. Melbourne Collision Repair Fair, Autopromotec in Bologna, SEMA show in Las Vegas, and then trainings, presentations, meetings… Russia, Turkey, Georgia, France… While I was looking at the map, I realized that all of the automotive coatings industry has its roots grown mainly from four countries: USA, Germany, Japan and, surprisingly from the small Kingdom of Netherlands.

Please note that the information I used here comes from the official websites of the companies. If I missed something or made some mistake, please feel free to correct me by commenting on this post. It would be great to learn more about all the leading companies in automotive coating industry.


Why there?

Initially, let me explain to you my thinking. I guess that some of my dear readers may not agree. First of all I took into consideration pure numbers, and as they say “numbers don’t lie”.

65% of the market of automotive OEM and refinishing coatings is shared by only five global corporations. Not ten, nor twenty, just five! Here they are: PPG, BASF, Axalta, Sherwin Williams and Akzo Nobel. It is worth adding also two Japanese giants with continuously growing presence across the globe: Nippon and Kansai Paints. Clearly, the vast majority of automotive coatings are developed in only four countries: USA, Germany, Netherlands and Japan! Let me elaborate upon this with a bit more information.

United States

Undoubtedly, American coatings manufacturers are undisputable leaders in the global market of automotive coatings. Three out of four biggest producers have their headquarters in the US.


PPG Industries (Pittsburgh Plate Glass) was founded in 1883 as a plate glass factory, while in 1900 PPG entered the coatings business. In 1960s the company is already supplying paint to car manufacturers, becoming one of the leaders in this industry. PPG was the first company to introduce in 1986 water paints to OEM, while with acquisition of ICI Autocolor (now Nexa Autocolor) in 1991, PPG strengthened its position in waterborne paint technology launching first waterborne refinish system in 1992. Acquisition of ICI Autocolor was also the first step for the European expansion. However, PPG didn’t stop there, and in 1997 the company acquired Italy’s oldest paint manufacturer (founded by the Swiss entrepreneur Max Meyer in 1895).

Axalta (former DuPont Coatings)

Another global automotive coatings leader is Axalta, which until 2013 was known as DuPont Performance Coatings (as a division of American conglomerate, which was founded in 1802). DuPont was the first company to introduce in 1920 quick-drying multicolor paints. However, the past and modern history of Axalta was influenced by acquisition of two iconic German automotive paints brands. Spieshecker a renowned German brand, founded in 1880, probably is the oldest brand, dedicated to vehicles, since it was created to supply varnishes for coaches from the very beginning, while refinishing products were already available in early 1900s. In 1999, a German brand – Spieshecker, part of Hoechst Group was acquired by DuPont Performance Coatings. Another German brand, Standox, established in 1955 as a brand name of the German factory with long history– Herberts from Wuppertal merged with the American giant.


The company with a distinctive logo – Earth covered with paint – was founded by two businessmen in 1866, just after the end of the American Civil War. Henry Sherwin and Edward Williams were pioneers in what is now American paint industry. Sherwin-Williams international expansion came quite late though. While the brand was well represented in Americas, in Europe it was completely unknown. In 2000, Sherwin-Williams acquired the Italian company from Aprilia, called ScottWarren. However, the acquisition didn’t bring to the American brand expected results, and after a few years the production site was shut down, and about two years ago Sherwin Williams withdrew from Europe all together. It was a bold move, which left many distributors very unhappy. Nevertheless, Sherwin Williams made, from my point of view, a checkmated move when it announced a merger with another American paint behemoth – Valspar Corporation.


Valspar is one of the oldest paint companies in the USA. It is fifth largest in the North America, with long history, which begins in 1806. Samuel Tuck, the founder of what is now Valspar, opened paint dealership under the name “Paint and Color” on Boston’s Broad Street. In a decade, the company started production of paints itself. In 1870, business with a name “Valentine & Company” moved to New York, and began to specialize in vehicle finishing varnishes. It is worth mentioning that among various brands in Valspar’s portfolio, there is an iconic “House of Kolor”, which was founded in 1956 by the legendary Jon Kosmoski. Since 2016, Valspar                                                                 Corporation was absorbed by Sherwin Williams, this acquisition was called by many experts as the deal of the new millennia in automotive paint industry.




BASF history begins in Mannheim in 1865 by a goldsmith and entrepreneur Friedrich Engelhorn under the name “Badische Anilin und Soda Fabrik”. Chemistry was always the lifeblood of BASF. Automotive coatings history of BASF is based on two historical names: Glasurit and R-M.



Glasurit’s recognizable symbol –the colorful parrot – for over a hundred years stood for quality and innovation. It was founded in 1888 in Hamburg by Max Winkelmann. The tradename Glasurit, by the way, came from “Glasur” (enamel). Glasurit was taken over by BASF in 1965. Nowadays many German car manufacturers recommend Glasurit as their preferred refinishing brand, due to the unsurpassable color matching properties and quality of all Glasurit products.





R-M was established in the USA by entrepreneurs Herbert Mason and Fred Rinshed in 1919 and soon became the largest paint supplier to the booming Detroit automotive industry. Notably, R-M was the first to introduce metallic colors in 1931, a mixing base system to its customers in 1948, and waterborne paint in 1970. In order to enter the US automotive coatings market, BASF acquired R-M – the company with rich product portfolio and history, in 1985.





Lesonal was established in Germany in 1858 by a pharmacist, who soon decided to produce paints. The company was among pioneers of cars paints, which it started producing in 1920s. In 1980s the brand was acquired by Akzo Nobel, and nowadays it is marketed as value-for-money and user-friendly paint system.



The Netherlands


In Netherlands or also known as Holland another titan of automotive coatings industry is located. Of course, I refer to Sikkens, the flagship brand of AkzoNobel coatings division. Sikkens counts more than 200 years of experience. It was founded by Wiert Willem Sikkens, who built a paint factory in Groningen. Notably, AkzoNobel is the largest paint-manufacturing group in the world.  Actually, the name of the chemical giant AkzoNobel was born after the merger of Akzo Coatings and the Swedish Nobel Industries. Besides Sikkens, AkzoNobel owns another prominent German brand, named Lesonal, which I referred to already.

DeBeer Refinish

De Beer Lakfabrieken was founded in 1910, and the factory has been producing car refinish paints from 1951. The brand was internationally recognized and, probably was the most successful independent and privately owned company. In 2004, it was acquired by Valspar Corporation, which merged with another American mammoth – Sherwin Williams.


Japan is the home of the world’s largest vehicle manufacturer – Toyota Corporation. Besides Toyota, the land of the rising sun, gave birth to such names as Nissan, Honda, Suzuki, Mazda, Daihatsu, Subaru, Mitsubishi … Taking into account Japan’s preference for locally manufactured products, it is not surprising that local automotive coatings producers would appear. Japan’s leading automotive paint suppliers so far were more concentrated on their region, however it seems that they will also push into established markets, like Europe. Will they disrupt status quo in Europe, for example?

Nippon Paint

Nippon Paint was established in Tokyo by Moteki Jujiro in 1881. The company is considered the largest coatings producer in Asia. It has production sites all over Asia, including China and India. Nippon is among 10 largest coatings manufacturers in the world.





Kansai Paint

In some sources Kansai Paint is referred to as Asia’s largest paint producer. In any case the sales figures of Nippon and Kansai are very close. Kansai Paint was founded in 1918 in Amagasaki, Osaka’s suburb. In 1987 the company launched a new brand name – Alesco, which is well known in the Asian region. Kansai also have numerous production sites across Asia, Africa and Americas. Unlike Nippon, Kansai has started expansion to the European market by establishing production site in Turkey, and most recently, by acquiring Helios Coating Group from its Austrian owners in December, 2016.


I couldn’t finish this article without mentioning Italy. Although Italian paint brands never got close to their much bigger rivals from Germany, USA or Japan, I have to admit that Italian coating industry, just like Italian cars, always played an important role in the global market. Lechler, Palinal, Duco, ScottWarren are just some of the Italian independent brands, which all have a great history and benefited automotive paint industry by their inventions and incomparable Italian style.


From the above information, one could draw the following conclusions.

  • Historically automotive coatings industry has been developing near the centers of car manufacturing (USA, Germany and Japan)
  • Chemical companies have a competitive advantage by controlling and developing raw materials (see BASF and Akzo Nobel)
  • Research and development is a key component for success, therefore all the countries I mentioned before have highly skilled human resources available
  • Car refinishing coatings manufacturing is an integral part of the automotive industry in general, meaning that geographical location of the R&D and production will be dictated by the demand. Asia Pacific will overtake the Europe’s second place in demand and consumption within coming years
  • Africa will also be growing due to the lowest cars per capita ratio in the continent. Perhaps local companies, fuelled by the local sales growth (see Egypt), will have increasing role not only in Africa, but in other regions as well
  • Certainly, my list of the companies is not exhaustive. There are other big or small independent automotive coatings producers around the globe. I concentrated on those who, whether we like it or not, control the majority of the market. In addition, I mentioned only those companies, which have paint in their range, not the numerous brands with auxiliary products. It is another story, with a much broader geography.


If you want to survive as professional in this industry (or any industry), follow these 7 rules.

by Alexandros Aslamazis

The last month was quite challenging for Etalon. We have just started our exports to the UK, Ireland and the United States. Not that the other countries we sell are not challenging, but in the countries I just mentioned the car refinishing industry is extremely saturated. It implies that the customers expect from a newcomer to be different, efficient, innovative, high quality …and on top of that to be the cheapest from the cheapest on this planet. How is that? Nevertheless, my blog post is not about obstacles we faced, but about attitude of some people in the industry towards their competitors.
Incredible as it may seem, but car body repair industry is a small world in fact, notwithstanding you act on a global scale, not to mention any particular country alone. Nonetheless, some individuals believe that badmouthing the competition is worthy strategy to go along with. No, it’s not.

badmouthing guy

As I already said during the past month, I have traveled quite a bit. I recall this presentation of Etalon polishing compounds in a bodyshop in California. Halfway through the testing an old woman appeared. With an annoyed expression she asked what were we doing? It appeared that she was a current supplier of this bodyshop. “This is crap, you try to sell it in America, cause you can’t sell it in Europe”, she said. Luckily, the bodyshop owner cooled her down and showed her the door, wondering how she could judge without even seeing the product. By the way, Wayne Dyer once said “The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know anything about.“ Another example from our launching presentation in the UK. A sales representative from one of the Italian brands was spreading false information about one of our products, in order to defend his own product missteps. Large international brands fall into this trap just as well. I can recall numerous cases when premium (the word used by the major paint manufacturers extensively) paint company was calling its rival’s product as “rubbish”, which never matches the color. Therefore I am following myself and ask my sales team to follow the following 7 rules:
1. Never use words like “rubbish”, “crap” or similar while talking about your competitors’ products. Not only you drop your professional level, but also you make your prospect to feel stupid. Doors will be closed forever.
2. Never joke about the business size of your competitor. In fact, smaller companies can grow really fast, supply high quality products and outperform their bigger rivals on flexibility and customers service.
3. Never spread negative rumors, whether or not the information you have is quite trustworthy. Remember that nobody likes people who bring bad news.
4. Never talk bad about competitor’s personality, background, origin, race, politics or sports preferences. You can easily put yourself in an embarrassing situation.
5. If you are asked to compare your product against competitor’s, speak about your advantages rather than negative sides of the competitor’s product. For instance, if you are asked to compare two clearcoats tell, “your product is transparent, dries after 15 minutes in a spray booth and easier to use” instead of saying “their product is yellowish, slow in drying and not possible to imitate OEM texture.”
6. Avoid direct confrontation with rival sales rep albeit he is badmouthing your product. Instead emphasize that the great number of your satisfied customers is the best proof of your product and service.
7. Finally, never lie about the competing product. If it has some great features, recognize them and make an effort to emphasize yours advantages as well. Honesty will always win you respect and customer’s attention.

In conclusion, I would like to stress one more time that our business life and career are unpredictable as everything on this planet. If your are a sales manager for a particular brand, you may find yourself in the rival’s camp if a good job offer comes along. If you own a car paint supply shop, you might be selling other brands in a few years. Life is unpredictable, so watch your mouth and be positive!


What if you could only have one spray gun?

I really love to make assumptions of different kind. What if … I was invisible, what if I was a millionaire, what if you had limitless resources for your paint shop or bodyshop? The last one actually was a title for my blog post sometime ago. Here is another one: “What if I had just one spray gun for all my jobs?”

I sell spraying equipment for bodyshops for quite a long time now. Modern spray guns producers compete in consumption, ergonomics and design. New, sexy models appear virtually every year, tempting us to buy one. It is almost like with new models of smart phones, so when a new one comes, you absolutely need it. However, if you could only have a choice to keep one, what spray gun would it be? Please do not misunderstand me; I do not advocate using one and only spray gun in any bodyshop, big or small. Far from it, I suggest that spray guns are vital tools of a trade, and a sprayer absolutely must have minimum three guns: one for basecoats, one for clearcoats, and one for more viscose materials like fillers and primers.

What if

Which technology to choose from?

Before actually picking the preferred model, I would like to say a few words about the atomization technology, which is the most versatile to spray different coatings, both basecoats and clears. Remember the assumption, only one gun for all final coating jobs!

Unfortunately, in our industry we have in general a problem with standardizations (recall the post about MS and HS clearcoats)? Similarly, categorization of different spraying technologies is prone to questionable terminology. I will simplify and distinguish three main spray gun systems:

  • High pressure
  • HVLP
  • Trans-Tech or RP (reduced pressure). You can also meet a term LVLP, which means Low Volume Low Pressure, but it is not as common.

High-pressure spray guns choice I would drop first for its high material consumption and non-compliance to various legislations.

HVLP or Reduced Pressure?

By definition, they key difference between two technologies is that HVLP uses lower pressure in air cap, which is compensated with high volumes of air to atomize and deliver the paint with desirable finish results. Trans-Tech (or RP) alters the balance between pressure and air volume. Air cap pressure in RP is about 2,5 times higher (about 1.6 Bar), and therefore less air volume is needed (smaller compressor output as well required). Putting aside all technicalities, Trans-Tech spray guns allow us to spray better than HVLP such materials as HS and UHS clearcoats, without compromising the quality of basecoat application though. I vote for Trans-Tech/High Efficiency (Devilbiss), RP (SATA) or similar technology.

Gtipro Lite

Which spray gun is the one and only?

I have to admit that after being a distributor for Devilbiss equipment for more that ten years, I am bias. If I had to choose just one spray gun for application the final coatings in my bodyshop, it would be GTIPRO LITE TE10 with 1.3 fluid tip. Here is why:

– TE10 High Efficiency is probably the most all-around air cap in Devilbiss range. It is highly recommended for spraying both basecoats and clears (including UHS) by the majority of leading paint brands.

– Ergonomic gun body

– Lightweight – only 446 gms

– GTIPRO Lite gives the possibility to switch easily between different nozzles without the need to change the air cap.

– Low air consumption – 270 l/min

– Low material consumption

– Smooth, kick free control


And what is your spray gun of choice?


How to avoid 50% of the paint defects in a bodyshop?


One of the most interesting parts of my job is visiting car manufacturers in different countries. I always enjoy this feeling of an accurate, well-managed producing machine. It gives you a clear vision, a benchmark, of how things must work in a regular bodyshop. A paint shop in OEM plant is a special place. It is very-very clean. Everything is done in order to prevent dust and dirt from coming to the painted surface. However, even in the car plants with all the measures taken, on average, about 4-5 dust nibs are usually revealed during the inspection process. And this happens under conditions close to an operating room in a hospital! Thus, it is not difficult to understand why more than 50% of car defects in a regular bodyshop, are mere dust inclusions in the basecoat/clearcoat film. I think you would agree with me that majority of the body paint shops are anything but neat and tidy.

What is a dust nib?

Actually we call this type of paint defects with different names. Dirt contamination, spikes, grits, nibs, seeds, grains, specks, bits… Yet, no matter how you call them, the meaning is simple; those are foreign particles, which are not supposed to be there. They are projecting from the paint film, undermining your overall job and effort.

Dust nibs could be of a different origin:

– Simple air-borne dust

– Human hair

– Lint from wiping materials

– Abrasive grains

– Cloth fibers

– Dried overspray

– Airline dirt (parts rubber air hose, for example)

– Fibers from the spray booth filters etc

Dust nib removal

How to prevent dust contaminations?

It is always better and easier to prevent a problem rather than remedy. So, what shall we do in order to avoid the costly and time consuming re-works?

1. The most important way to keep your paint job free from dust inclusions is to preserve the working area and spray booth clean and tidy.

2. Wear anti-static tear-proof working overalls while spraying.

3. Regularly check and maintain air supply system. Worn-out air hose will throw small rubber particles in the compressed air line.

4. Change and clean routinely air filters.

5. Clean thoroughly your spray guns and blowing guns.

6. Protect spray booth walls from overspray by applying booth mask tacky coating or special film. Dried overspray on the walls can easily get into the air circulating in the booth and stick to the wet painted surface.

7. According to the European laws sine 1991, a spray booth must be running at negative pressure, in order to prevent airborne hazardous paint mist escaping the cabin. This means that if we open frequently the doors of spray booth or if wall panels are not properly fit, seams with improper insulation, gaskets worn-off etc, the dust from outside will be attracted inside the spraying area. Inspect systematically your spray booth condition for leakage. I have to add that in practice many paint sprayers tune their spray booths create excess pressure inside to avoid dust to get in.

8. Always wash a vehicle before even starting preparation jobs.

9. Air blow the vehicle before entering a spray booth.

10. Use anti-static wipes on plastic car parts prior paint application. Plastic attracts air-borne dust. Pay attention to bumpers, plastic rims, mirrors etc

11. Use high-quality dedicated, preferably non-woven wipes with degreaser and anti-silicon cleaner.

12. Clean routinely all the surface to be painted with a high quality tack rag.

13. Use only dedicated masking film with corona treatment. This film is designed to hold overspray, avoiding peel-off of dry paint.

14. Use high quality Kraft masking paper. Newspapers or other types of paper are made of recycled raw material. Such masking paper is full of fibers on its edges, which will fly over the place as soon as air from a spray gun will hit the surface of the car.


Usually dust nibs within a clearcoat film can be removed by microabrasives P1500-P2000 and subsequent polishing. However, dust inclusions within basecoat film must be re-sprayed. What is important to remember that removing a dust nib can be done only after the clearcoat is fully cured.

Dust nib

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