Peeling back the layers; a look at the evolving coatings industry

by David D. Hood
President, Induron Protective Coatings

I have been a full-time participant in the protective coatings industry since 1969.  Your perspective on how long that is depends on when you started, but my guess is most would agree that I have been involved a long time.  I have participated in a lot of change in the business and observed even more.

Back then, there were probably 1,500 (or more) U.S. domestic paint companies making protective coatings, consisting mostly of alkyd or oil-modified alkyd primers and low solids (35%+/-) epoxies.  Performance was only fair at best and competition among paint companies was primarily based on price.  Paint was cheap — but not really very good and not particularly good for the environment.

Today, there may be fewer than 100 independent U.S. paint companies, domestic & foreign-owned, with real capability to compete in the protective coatings market.  There still are a few alkyds out there and some great latex primers but, for good performance in substantially corrosive and/or immersion environments, the modern stars are epoxy and urethane coatings with very little or no solvents.

To compete today requires good chemistry, using the most modern technology available.  Manufacturing is now a very precise process requiring that everything be done in exactly the same way every time.  Time and materials are simply too expensive to allow imprecision and/or the time wasted doing things twice (or more).

Today, paint is almost universally good and competition among paint companies is based on having the best product for the specific application, thorough knowledge of that application by technically competent sales advisors, and the ability to deliver on time.  Paint is no longer cheap, but the entire package we deliver to our customers is much more valuable than its cost.  That value is not only because of very good protection of the surface but the protection of the environment as well. 

I am proud of the protective coatings industry and the small contribution I have made to it.  I am extremely proud of Induron Coatings for its longevity and its ability to develop, manufacture, and market the very highest quality coatings made for very specific markets.  I won’t be around for another 42 years but I’ll bet Induron will.

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