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Multi brand paint shop vs a single brand carrier

Those of you who have followed my blog for a while, probably know that I really like comparing how car refinishing industry vary from region to region. It is fascinating how different the business models could be in an industry, where precise (color) match is the main target. What is even more fascinating that there is no right way to do business either. Let me share with you my observations how the paint supplying stores operate in different countries.

Even in the English speaking markets, the name describing automotive paint selling shop differ. Factor, jobber, “paint guy”, distributor, paint warehouse, are just some of the business names I’ve stumbled upon in my career.

Putting the names aside, the look and products assortment usually has a similar pattern. Paint mixing scheme(s) put in the very center of the whole store. Plus a range of clears, fillers, primers, thinners, non-paint consumables, including abrasives, polishing compounds, sealants, aerosols, tapes, and at least basic equipment, like spray guns and sanders. While the number of different auxiliary products brands may vary, what is the main characteristic of a business is whether it carries one or more car paint brands.

Multi-brand store

If you walk into a paint store and your eyes catch more than one mixing schemes from competitive paint brands, then this shop can be considered as multi-brand.  It is important to recognize that the store carrying brands of the same group can hardly be described as multi-brand. For example, if the shop owner has PPG and MaxMeyer mixing systems, he or she probably follows some sort of a corporate strategy in the market. These paint systems could be complimentary. However, if you see Glasurit and Sikkens products side-by-side, than it is a distinctive example of a multi-brand paint supplier.

Pros and cons of multi-brand paint shop

Let’s have a look into the advantages of having more than one paint brand on the shelves. Firstly, if you have a number of paint systems, you can “play” with the approvals, which a particular brand has for certain car manufacturers. If your key customers “require” this or that paint brand because, then you can offer what they require. No need for expensive and lengthy presentations and trials. “You want Spieshecker, here you are”.

Secondly, in reality all paint systems have their strong and weak sides. I mean ALL. For example, X brand may perfectly match Japanese vehicles, while the brand Y does the Americans really well. Having multiple paint brands in store allows a store owner to be flexible.

Thirdly, with multiple brands at your hands, you may cover different customers, based on their price sensitivity.  If a certain customer sprays old cars and have a lot of overall refinishing jobs, then a more economic paint may do the job. There is no need for a high-end, premium paint in this case.

Last, but not the least, the multi-brand store is truly independent business. The owner has more choices and freedom to steer his business towards more profitable solution.

If all the above sound too good to be true, I bring to your attention some drawbacks of having multiple paint brands in your store. The main disadvantage is that no paint producer will view you as 100% partner. There will be always some moaning involved. Usually paint companies will not bring you ready customers to serve, and technical and financial support will be limited.

Single brand shop

On the other side, a paint-supplying store with the only one paint brand (group) inside, can be described as a single brand shop. Often, this kind of business is called, unofficially, by the name of paint brand. Sikkens shop, Standox stocker, Axalta jobber, Glasurit guy, etc. Besides being identified as a famous brand, carrying a single paint system has also a number of benefits. Firstly, you enjoy a full support and area protection from the paint producer. Secondly, often a “mother” company brings you good customers to serve. Literally. Thirdly, stock management is much easier. Less stock, means less frozen money. Sounds great to me! Nevertheless, don’t jump into conclusion so fast. What if the idealistic relationship may stagger? You may loose a key supplier overnight. What if your preferred paint supplier is too expensive or weak in certain important aspects? What if your paint supplier decides to leave your market? Yes, it happened in the not-so-distant past. No jokes.

Conclusion

As you realized, both strategies have strong advantages and potentially dangerous disadvantages. I usually do not advocate for any particular way of doing business. Your decision though should be based solely on your own interests. Don’t be trapped by any sales manager, however capable he is. The managers come and go, while your business is here to stay…

 

Collision repair industry greatest innovators.

Innovation is probably the most cliché-ridden word in the modern corporative marketing. Most slogans, corporate mission statements and annual reports include the “innovation” word or its derivatives. Innovation, by definition, is a new product, process or method, which changes the usual, established set of product features and ways it is used. True innovation, however, is disruptive; it breaks the old rules and sets new standards.

Automotive industry has been always associated with novelties and break through ideas. Starting from Ford’s moving assembly line, which was afterwards implemented by virtually any manufacturer on the planet to electric cars and modern driverless cars. Tesla is a great example how a brand with no history can create value in the industry dominated by companies with more the hundred years of experience.

So, vehicle OEM coatings and refinishing industry is not an exemption. Automotive paint has been developing since the first car was produced, despite the fact that in the beginning paint wasn’t viewed as key sales factor. Remember Ford’s saying: “A customer can have a car painted any color he wants as long as it’s black.”

Unfortunately, there is little information available online about who was the first to invent certain, now commonly used, products. For example, polyester fillers, replaced lead many years ago, but I didn’t manage to find a reliable source about it. Neither could I find information about which paint manufacturer was the very first to introduce color mixing system. However, below I bring to your attention just a few products, which changed automotive OEM and collision repair process dramatically. Not all of these products are of the same importance, but they are definitely worth mentioning.

3M

Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company (here comes 3M) has the word “innovation” as its corporate slogan, and people in this multibillion and multinational company really mean it. There are countless patents in various industries. Below I name just a few 3M innovations, which have had undeniable impact on automotive refinishing industry. These products names, like Scotch-Brite or PPS, have become common names even for the products of competitors.

  • Waterproof paper was invented in the early 1920s and is still used in automotive refinishing workshops around the globe, especially in the places where dust extraction is not an option.
  • Scotch, is the first pressure sensitive masking tape, which was invented by a young lab assistant, Richard Drew in 1925.
  • Scotch-Brite sanding and cleaning pads, developed in 1950s, are so versatile that this brand name is well-known to both to craftsmen and housewives around the world.
  • Trizact and Cubitron are unique abrasives lines, which outperform in their category most of the competitive products.
  • PPS (paint preparation system) is a broad category of products, with the disposable plastic cups in the core of the category. PPS has been a subject for patent wars, counterfeits and imitation.

Binks

In 1887, a maintenance supervisor in a department store, Joseph Binks invented a machine to paint walls. Even if his invention was primarily used for painting buildings, Binks created a solid foundation for the future spaying equipment. Binks brand is still well-known, especially in light industry applications.

Devilbiss

Devilbiss is another great example of long history and innovation, which changed automotive industry from painting vehicles literally by brush to what is now a symbol of the industry – a spray gun. The brand was founded in Toledo, Ohio in 1888, when Dr Allen DeVilbiss invented a device for spraying medicines. Later on his son Thomas adapted the original atomizer to create a spray gun for the coatings application. The rest is the history…

Dupont (Axalta Group now)

Duco was actually the first dedicated automotive paint, developed for Ford in order to reduce drying times of the paint from days to a few hours only. Actually Duco was a nitrocellulose paint drying through solvent evaporation, which was used in the refinishing industry for almost 100 years.

 

It would fantastic if you, my dear readers, could share your information and views about the automotive coatings industry’s brightest minds and innovative brands.

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