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Meeting the Needs of Customers and Communities

I’ve been in the painting industry now for 22 years. When I joined PPG, I brought a lot of category management expertise, and I’ve since worked through a lot of roles within the company.

In that capacity, I have talked to just about every customer there can be. I’ve called on our big boxes, I’ve talked to professionals, and I’ve worked in both the DIY (do-it-yourself) and professional sides of our architectural paints business. So that has led to a natural progression into my new role as director of portfolio management.

As a manufacturer, it all comes back to quality, performance, and value. We have to provide our customers with what is expected, and to make sure that we are meeting the needs of the performance requirements of their projects.

Consistency Amidst Change

Over my two decades or so in the industry, one thing that hasn’t changed is that we have to supply quality products that meet the needs of our customers and the projects they’re working on. PPG has been in business for about 140 years, and we try to consistently bring our industrial experience together to help provide painters with what they need to improve their businesses.

These days, with our professional painters, we keep hearing more about sustainability and their needs for sustainable products, and that’s not just through lower VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Although that’s very important, it’s also about having great coverage.

It’s about having longer-lasting paints and touchups, because what you really want to do is to extend the useful lifespan of the products painters are using. We want to help our contractors by making their jobs much easier in the future than they are today.

One of the hardest things for a contractor is to be called back on a project. To that end, we have to listen to them. We’ve got to get their feedback and understand their needs. We’re continually reviewing the performance of our products by taking a look at both internal and external benchmarking, and we put them through extensive third-party testing.

We then use this information, along with market trends, to develop product roadmaps. It’s not just for new innovations but also for continuous improvement.

Product Lifecycle Process

Each year, we have a product lifecycle process that we follow. We take a deep dive into the market trends that are happening, and we build that product roadmap to help us in planning out what our next steps are going to be.

One development trend in coatings these days is toward multifunctional-type products, such as our Copper Armor product. It’s not only an excellent paint in terms of coverage and colors, which is what a lot of people are looking for. But it also has the ability to kill viruses on painted surfaces using the Corning Guardiant technology.

Based on what we’re hearing from our customers, we’re soon going to be launching a reformulation of an existing product that is used widely in commercial areas. We’ve dropped it to zero-VOC, and beyond all of our GREENGUARD emissions controls. We have many MPI (Master Painters Institute) classifications that were achieved, as well. This is just one example of how current trends are influencing our product development, both now and in the future.

We’re also taking a look at application techniques. You can buy a great can of paint and use a cheap brush, and that job may not look as good as you would hope. So, we’ve taken a look at a variety of brushes and application tools, as well as spray equipment and the right size for tips. We want our contractors to know what the best application characteristics are for the paints that they’re using.

Looking to the Future

Going forward, what we’re looking for is continuous improvement. We have products that will launch in 2023, and we plan all the way through 2026. In each new product, we keep an eye towards sustainability. It’s about finding ways to improve the productivity of our painters, and continuously innovating to bring the best practices that customers are looking for.

We all know what the impact of climate change has been. We’re seeing it every day in the weather that’s happening around the United States. So we know we’ve got to make sure that we’re taking care of our environment as well as our customers. It’s important for products to be multifunctional, to have a longer useful lifetime, and to release less volatile organic chemicals into the air.

If we can extend the painting lifecycle, we then reduce the amount of times that someone has to come back and repaint. Ultimately, we want to be a more sustainable company, and we want to help our contractors in the future by making their jobs much easier.

John Salvadore, director of portfolio management at paints and coatings manufacturer PPG, made these comments on a recent episode of the CoatingsPro Interview Series. The complete episode is available below.

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