Automotive Refinisher magazine recently caught up with Dipan Haria, Business Services Director, Automotive EMEAI for Sherwin-Williams on a recent visit to South Africa.
- Q: How did you get into the business and how has this helped in your current position?
- A: I have been with Sherwin-Williams (via the acquisition of Valspar) for six and a half years having worked in the chemical and coatings industry for the past 26. I entered the industry as a consultant with Arthur Anderson & Co, working in the corporate recovery services where I specialised in chemicals and manufacturing. My remit there was to turn around each company so that it was once again profitable. This soon led to me working within the mainstream industry and this is where I remain today.
- Q: What is the full spectrum of your job?
- A: My main goal is to develop our commercial strategy and execution plan, aligning them with the rest of the organisation, and creating an environment in which we can achieve accelerated profitable growth through each initiative.
- Q: How are your various brands doing around the world?
- A: We have strong brands, each with a clear vision and a determined growth strategy. Our market focus continues to make us the coatings provider of choice, both for body shop owners and distribution partners. Having multiple brands benefits our distribution network, as we can dedicate certain brands to particular networks. Of course, managing a larger portfolio of brands does mean additional complexity but we regularly review the portfolio to ensure that it is delivering what we need.
Last March we introduced our premium brand, Octoral, to the South African market, Octoral is a dynamic premium brand with a visionary approach that drives forward the development and application of innovative technology. Offering advanced solutions and outstanding colour accuracy, it provides a complete system that is ahead of its time. A partnership with Octoral allows businesses to operate more sustainably, building a successful business for the future.
- Q: The market of refinish coatings is getting very crowded, where do you see growth coming from in the South African market?
- A: However crowded a market, there is always room for the right product. Our distribution partners in South Africa are actively working to expand technical education and empower collision repair businesses. Given the growth of the market and the ongoing need for great quality, timely service and strong brands, we are confident that the market will embrace our global brands in the correct segment.
- Q: How do your brands keep your clients ahead technically and keeping up with colour accuracy demands, colouristics and formula retrieval? Do you have a full range of colour tools?
- A: Achieving the perfect colour match is critical and we have the very latest tools to enable customers to achieve this, however challenging the finish or local conditions.
These tools include our colour box, which contains thousands of colour and variant chips, continuously updated with the latest color trends. For body shops with a more digital approach to colour matching, we recommend our spectrophotometer, for precise matching quickly and easily. The biggest variation in colour perception is the human eye, whereas the spectrophotometer is always consistent!
Our purpose-built Center of Color Excellence in Lelystad works globally across our network, using a common system to understand and manage colour variations. We handle customers’ colour queries within 48 hours – a leading response time in the industry. We update our systems continually with the results of our ongoing work in colour variants across the world.
- Q: Do you think brand approvals are the way forward or just an interim necessity as a great many South African motor makers demand specific refinish brands for warranty repair?
- A: The additional questions around approvals will be “who owns the repair?” and “who takes over the accident management?” A strong criterion should always be for the user to receive expected performance with the appropriate strength behind the brand. South Africa has various European origin assembly plants and hence will always try and trend the way Europe rolls forward on this issue.
- Q: How do you see the South African market? Is it just a springboard into Africa or a market on its own? Will the company develop a strategic marketing plan for SA?
- A: We are present in many markets across the world and feel South Africa is a great footprint in Africa with a strong and growing refinish market. Naturally, we have a long-term strategy in place for the overall region… watch this space!
- Q: How often do you train and what is your approach to this, for example, online, physical demonstrations, etc?
- A: We run training courses for the whole body shop, from reception to refinishing to business managers, all with the aim of helping our customers maximise their profits. Training is delivered either locally, or at one of our four training centres across the world, each of which is staffed by our global colour experts.
- Q: New trends like xyrillac metallics and tinted clearcoats are becoming very important for our end users. Do you have these new developments under control?
- A: We have a global approach to R&D and share knowledge through multiple centres across the world. For example, every year 600 of our colour experts across the business meet to discuss colour trends and innovations and how these innovations could be transferable to other applications. In this way, we learn from the other business units, not just vehicle refinishes. This is a huge advantage for us, as colour trends in the decorative paints business for example, often have relevance to our world too, meaning we have an even wider source to learn from.
Then there is our innovation team, who focus on ideas and concepts, looking at global trends that could have an impact on the industry. An example of this would be autonomous vehicles, and how they could change the nature of the collision repair world in the future. Keeping on top of trends ensures that we stay ahead and are prepared as the world shifts around us. We also stay close to our customers when it comes to new product development, using our strong customer relationships to understand and respond to their needs.
It is this combination of maximising our global and local knowledge that ensures we are fully in control of new colour developments. “