Axalta Coating Systems India is a subsidiary of Axalta Coating Systems, USA. A Carlyle Group company, Axalta manufactures coatings. The company is dedicated solely to the development, manufacture and sale of liquid and powder coatings. Serving automotive, transportation and other industries, Axalta offers paints, colour matching tools, application technologies, training and business management systems. With over 145 years of experience in the coatings industry, the company has a presence in 130 countries, and 35 manufacturing plants around the world. Excerpts of an interview Bhushan Mhapralkar had with Vinay Rajadhyaksha.
What was the thinking behind re-branding DuPont Refinish as Cromax. Especially that DuPont is a very well recognized brand in the refinish market?
When Axalta Coating Systems became an independent company, we needed to remove references to our old affiliation. At the same time, we wanted to retain the heritage we brought with us into the new company - the products, the technology, the R&D and the tradition of customer service. CromaxÃ‚Â® was already a very well established name in the market among our customers. We elevated the product name to represent a complete refinish brand family. Since the product continues to be the same, it was easy for us to create a product family umbrella under Cromax.
How do you plan to carry the re-branding exercise without losing out on the brand awareness enjoyed by DuPont Refinish?
Our independence means that Axalta Coating Systems today is global company dedicated 100 per cent to the development, manufacture and sale of liquid and powder coatings. Our singular focus will enable us to take our customers to the next level. Going forward we will continue to enhance both the products and services that we can offer. Streamlining our business means faster response to customer needs and an ability to bring innovative new products to market more quickly. Satisfying our customers is how we will be able to grow our business in the Refinish, Industrial and Automotive plastic coatings segments.
On your global business map where does India figure? How much does India contribute towards the global revenue of the company?
The Indian coating market - especially the Refinish coating segment - is a small relative to some markets, but it has been growing in double digits. That's key and that's the future. We expect our diverse portfolio of brands to retain its current customer base as well as attract new customers in the future. India plays a key role in our refinish plans in the Asia Pacific region and is recognized as one of the fastest growing markets, alongside China, with an ever-increasing car parc. While growth in the automotive sector has been slow over the last two years, given the size of the consumer market and growth expectations for the economy overall, we expect India to be an important market over the long term.
What are the products lines that you offer in India? Are you planning to introduce any new products in India?
Our product portfolio covers the entire range of requirements in the refinish market. We have well established brands like Centari, Standox, Duxone, Lucite and Nason. We recently introduced the Nason brand in 2K PU products especially for non-OEM approved garages. It has been well received by the market. We've been active with the introduction of waterborne systems as well. We introduced the Standohyd brand in India, and now the third generation Cromax Pro range has been approved by major OEMs. Going forward, we will convert more body shops to new products.
Are these products lines made locally?
Yes. We have a production base in Savli (Baroda, Gujarat) which has enough capacity to cater to an anticipated increased vehicle production demand in India for the near term. In cases where sales volumes of individual brands are small, we may import from any one of a number of plants in Europe, the United States and China.
What is the nature of growth that you expect to achieve in India?
We are the market leaders in automotive refinish in OEM body shops and also in the transportation industry, especially the bus segment (Fully Built Vehicles) in India. We're confident we can maintain the leadership position in in these segments by listening to our customers and offering them next generation technology to improve their productivity which, in turn, will help their businesses grow.
How do compare the growth of the automotive refinish market in India with the OEM coating market?
The OEM Coating business is directly related to the production of vehicles. We have noticed slower growth in the new car segment for the last 18 months in India. This has a direct impact on the automotive refinish market as the latter depends on car parc numbers and accident rate. Although car parc is increasing every year, even if more slowly, the accident rate has dropped due to driving safety awareness drive in the country. If slower growth in the OEM segment continues for a long period, perhaps more than 24, it will have short term impact in the refinish market.
How do you reach to the end user in India?
Today, we have a strong network of distributors and dealers in India. Anticipating the automotive aftermarket to expand in smaller cities, we will focus on penetrating these markets to service the body shops there. It's all about the customer. At Axalta, we take ownership in everything we do and we always put our customers first. Axalta offers best-in-class product offerings that are built on advanced technological requirements to improve productivity. Axalta also offers its customers reliable and robust support to drive efficiency and reduce waste across the value chain on a regular basis. Every customer is unique and we recognise this by customising our service based on customer requirements. We provide training support to all our customers along with key account management service for all the big body shops. We also offer Quick Repair Services (QRS) to provide faster turnaround time and meet the demand of our customers.
Do you undertake programs, or have invested in a training and application centre to help your Indian clients to avail of what they need?
At Axalta we innovate with purpose and are driven to perform better every day. We have started a technology centre in Savli last year which is well equipped with all the latest equipment for paint development and testing. Our main focus will be to develop and design products to meet the requirement of local customers. In addition to this we have access to our seven global R&D centres in China, Europe and USA which help us serve our customers in India. We have just announced a $5 million expansion at the Coatings Technology Centre which is our principle R&D facility and located in the USA. The facility will accelerate product development capabilities for both traditional and environment-friendly coatings.