Wednesday, 31 October 2007 17:00

Sherwin-Williams to Help Shops Transition to Waterborne

Written by Karyn Hendricks
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Sherwin-William’s AWX Waterborne Basecoat System is currently being implemented in California to bring collision centers into compliance with the newly legislated low VOC regulations set forth by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). Since its launch in April, Sherwin-Williams has been working to convert customers from their current solvent-borne systems into the compliant waterborne system, which is made up of 45 Toners, 20 Pearls, and 5 Xirallics.
A successful transition requires not only innovative waterborne technology, but making the transition smooth and easy through customer service support, information, thorough training and even acquiring equipment. Sherwin-Williams is cognizant of the impact that the changeover to waterborne technology will have on a customer’s business and strives to provide assistance and guidance in preparing the shop.
Manager of Quality Paint and Body in Visalia, Dale Pentecost was a technical representative for Sherwin-Williams before coming to manage the paint shop over 6 years ago.

“The transition went much more smoothly than expected. Our productivity has increased after just a short time. The product works really well – color matching and coverage have proven to be really good.”

Sherwin-Williams sent their transition team to get the shop set up. Quality Paint and Body was one of the first shops to convert back in February and has been 100% waterborne since March. Quality serves as a prototype where other shops can come and observe the paint system in action.

Conversion Made Easy
Sherwin-Williams is committed to putting forth an all-inclusive program for each of its customers – old and new. The SW team will conduct a comprehensive facility assessment to determine the shop’s readiness for a waterborne conversion, provide the customer with a plan of action and a conversion time line specifically designed for minimum disruption to operations.

South Pacific Region Manager of Sales for the Automotive Division Ken Papich explained the conversion process. Step one was to identify customers and potential customers and conduct a body shop assessment to determine what equipment might be needed to make the changeover a success. A few shops were selected to use the AWX Waterborne Basecoat System for several months to serve as prototypes as more shops came on board.

According to Papich, the Sherwin-Williams waterborne system requires the least capital investment for a shop. “It isn’t necessary to invest a fortune. Most shops can be converted for a minimal investment – $1,000 or less.
“Moreover, the Sherwin-Williams system is user-friendly. The learning curve is very quick. We are finding that our customers adapt very quickly to the new product.”

Training is an important element of a successful transition. “We have partnered with local schools to provide training. We have temporary training centers along with our training centers in Reno and Santa Ana that offer multiple classes a month during the afternoon, evening and weekend so technicians can attend after work. Our classes are consistently full. We like to get painters out of the shop environment to learn about the paint in a different setting.

“But Sherwin-Williams also brings training to the customer. We are launching several mobile training units that come right to the shop.”
Max Rusnetz, owner, Riteway Auto Paint and Bodyworks, Fountain Valley has been using Sherwin-Williams paint products for 15 years. Over that time, he tried other paints but did not find a product that was better.

“At first, it seemed that waterborne technology was a future issue, but with the government mandating stricter VOC limits and OEM cars coming from the factory with waterborne paint, we wanted to get involved immediately. Our shop was one of the first to transition to waterborne.

“With one exception, this new system is A-OK. The dry time is excellent; colors are good in comparison to competitors. Some competitors cannot provide a full line of products as yet. Color matches are a bit difficult, but that will be resolved by getting the alternatives out as soon as possible.

“I feel this product is absolutely excellent and the wave of the future. So far our shop has done 200-300 spot paint jobs and a dozen completes.

Short Learning Curve
Another shop that embraced the transition early on was Prestige Quality Collision Repair, Westminster. Owner and painter Pat Shrewbury has had a 12-year relationship with Sherwin-Williams. He noted, “We were the first shop in Orange County to convert. The changeover process was very easy. It required us to upgrade our air supply system because waterborne requires a very clean environment. We changed our compressor and installed a new high-tech filter in the paint booth.

“The mixing bank is similar to what we’ve been using, but we have a whole new mixing machine. The new set up is a little more compact than the solvent-based mixing bank. In addition to sending painters to the Sherwin-Williams training center before installaiton, a trainer came out to the shop to give some one-on-one tutoring.

Shrewbury shared the fact that he looked at a couple of other paint companies, but no product was better than what he was already using. “I am confident about the waterborne product. The biggest trial will be when the weather gets cool and rainy. Will the drying times slow down? How sensitive is the paint to temperature and humidity? We do have portable air movement equipment we can use as the temperature drops, so we don’t expect any problems.

“In the end, the transition was not as big a deal as I thought it would be. The learning curve was short and everything flowed right into place.”

Papich reiterated that the “product requires a minimal investment. Supported by the Sherwin-Williams organization, conversion has been relatively painless. We believe we can support the shops better than our competitors. We have more techs and sales reps on the street and continue to add more resources where we see our competition consolidating.

“Sherwin-Williams is confident that the entire state will soon be adopting the CARB rule and we are taking a proactive approach to the conversion. Some of our customers want to be the first to be green and we are committed to helping that effort.”

The trend in the marketplace is definitely moving toward a greener, environmentally friendly product and methods of doing business. With growing demand for waterborne in areas outside the existing rules areas, Sherwin-Williams plans to offer AWX nationwide after the first of the year.

“Our customers want to go green and we are dedicated to helping them improve profits, sales, and productivity with the use of our AWX Waterborne Basecoat System,” concluded Rebecca Rizzo, AWX Product Specialist.


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