Axalta Coating Systems recently broke ground to expand its manufacturing capacity for coatings with the construction of a new $50 million eco-friendly waterborne facility in the Jiading district of Shanghai. Expected to begin production in 2015, Axalta’s Shanghai waterborne facility will manufacture and supply up to 25,000 metric tons of its waterborne products.
“There is growing demand for eco-friendly coatings in response to local and global demands for a cleaner auto industry,” said Sobers Sethi, vice president of the Asia Pacific region of Axalta Coating Systems. “Therefore, we are investing heavily in waterborne coatings to meet the future demand for sustainable coating solutions. This is especially relevant in China, where the government has called for automobile producers to adopt more environmentally friendly solutions. Thus, automotive producers seeking to answer growing demand for environmentally responsible products are the primary market for our waterborne coatings in China.”
China is an important region for Axalta and the company has a number of manufacturing facilities in the country. “Our worldwide revenues in 2012 were $4.3 billion, and China has been and will continue to be one of our key markets,” said Sethi. “In demonstration of China’s importance to Axalta globally, Shanghai is home to our regional Asia-Pacific R&D Center and Global Color Lab that serves our markets both in the region and the world. Shanghai is also the location of an important manufacturing center, which includes the location of our new Shanghai Waterborne Facility as well as both our China and Asia-Pacific regional headquarters. We also have a major manufacturing facility in Changchun that mainly serves our customers in the north.”
Axalta has a strong presence in most countries in Asia through its own teams and distributors. Its Refinish business is regional and Axalta has leading positions in this segment in many Asian countries. “We sell all our products and brands in Asia,” said Sethi. “We have successfully launched our most advanced waterborne coating systems for aftermarkets in all major countries and as a result have the distinction of being the lead supplier of waterborne offerings for aftermarket across the region. Our sales teams in Asian countries are supported by strong technical service teams and regional technical centers.”
Over the next few years Axalta’s plans to continue its strategy throughout the region to meet customer needs by establishing facilities close to its customers, expanding manufacturing capacity of waterborne coatings to meet demand, and continuing to invest in our people and communities. “We have done this in China with our new Shanghai Waterborne Facility,” explained Sethi. “We aspire to find growth opportunities in virtually every segment that we serve and market in which we operate. In addition to supplying OEM customers, both our Refinish and Industrial businesses present opportunities for growth. Our recent appointment of Mike Cash to run our global Industrial business speaks to our commitment to expand both our liquid and powder coating offerings in Asia to a wide variety of rail, bus, heavy-duty truck and other commercial transportation and general industrial customers.”
Axalta is committed to supporting its customers’ long term plans in China by constantly exploring new ways to support their long term growth, including building new plants to expand capacity and developing cutting-edge, waterborne products.
“Our business strategy in China is a reflection of our confidence in this market’s long term prospects,” said Sethi. “Our decision, made only 100 days after becoming an independent company, to choose China as the location of Axalta’s first major capital investment demonstrates our confidence in our customers, the industry and the nation. We broke ground for construction in January.”
“Our investment to expand capacity in Shanghai is in direct response to the needs of our OEM customers who are building new manufacturing facilities in southern and western China,” added Sethi. “In Shanghai, we have an Asia Pacific Innovation Center and Global Color Lab that together support a robust R&D pipeline. For example, the R&D team at the Global Color Lab develops new colors for model cars displayed at auto shows or for new customer target groups. The opening of the new Asia Pacific and China Head Office in Shanghai and our recently announced Sustainable Education Program in China, which aims to support the local community by providing grants to partner universities and students, each demonstrate our commitment to the region.”