Coatings World Interviews PPG Chairman, CEO Michael McGarry

By Kerry Pianoforte, Editor | 05.27.20

A Q&A with Michael McGarry, PPG chairman & CEO, and chairman of the American Coatings Association Board of Directors.

The value of paint & coatings during the Coronavirus pandemic, a Q&A with Michael McGarry, PPG chairman & CEO, and chairman of the American Coatings Association board of directors.


CW: Why are paints and coatings so important during this global pandemic?


McGarry: We can and should take pride in knowing that our industry and our supply of paints, coatings and specialty materials play an essential role in a wide range of important markets during the COVID-19 pandemic. We coat life-critical products in hospitals, defense, food, beverage, hygiene, agriculture, and information technology systems, as well as many others. Our industry produces the products and provides services that many people count on – now more than ever.


CW: Where are coatings used in the medical field and how do they protect our front-line workers?


McGarry: Our products and services are on the frontline of the global coronavirus response. Life-saving equipment, such as ventilators and vital-sign monitors have multiple components that must be coated to protect them and ensure that they work correctly and reliably. For example, one of our antibacterial-protected powder coatings is specially formulated with silver ionic technology, which is known to inhibit the growth of bacteria on powder-coated surfaces. This technology is ideal for medical equipment, laboratory equipment, and other essential applications in the healthcare industry.


Coatings also play a role in protecting temporary hospital installations and drive-by Coronavirus testing facilities. Specifically, PPG and DuraPaint, an applicator of liquid spray coatings, recently worked together to provide bed dividers that were paramount in the construction of the Joseph Brant Hospital pop-up, a 93-bed pandemic response unit in Burlington, Ontario.


Ultimately, coatings can enable the protective performance of these products, ensuring that they work as intended, protecting healthcare workers and their patients.


CW: How are coatings helping to protect consumer products?


McGarry: Families staying at home are benefiting from coatings, including those used on food and beverage packaging, to assure essential at-home products like canned fruits and vegetables, bottled and canned beverages are safe and protected as families continue to “pantry load” and cook more meals at home. Packaging coatings are also used for personal hygiene and aerosol cleaning products which help reduce the spread of certain bacteria in homes and workplaces. Coatings for computers and mobile devices remain in high demand, as more people work remotely, and children continue to attend school from home. Lastly, the planes, ships or trucks that deliver these goods to your local grocery store count on protective coatings too, which help to ensure the safety of the pilots, ship crews and drivers.


CW: How is PPG adapting its services to support consumers who are spending more time at home?


McGarry: As many areas continue to shelter-in-place and DIYers occupy their time with projects at home, our retail locations and online resources are there to help. For example, our color consulting team has found new ways to advise customers on the best colors for their home, for free, through our virtual color consultation program. Via text, email or FaceTime, our team of certified experts can virtually consult with families looking to revamp their offices, children’s rooms, and other areas, all from the comfort of their own home. Customers are then able to order free swatches online and purchase paint through no-contact curbside pickup at a PPG Paints store or through


CW: How is the coatings industry protecting its workers?


McGarry: From the beginning of this pandemic, the most important priority and focus for all of us has been on protecting our people and their families, as well as our customers and communities. As an industry, we have been well prepared with multiple layers of safety and health protections, and these are proving invaluable today. We are implementing proven, safe operating processes, including the use of effective personal protective equipment, social distancing and best-practice hygiene techniques that have been used around the world to keep our people safe.


CW: What do you foresee for the industry in the coming months?


McGarry: As we look ahead, I am hopeful that the worst of the coronavirus pandemic is behind us as the virus has peaked in most regions of the world, and we can collectively begin to focus on a path forward. We, along with many customers in our industry, are preparing plans for resuming operations as regional economies reopen around the world. However, it will not be one-size-fits-all re-opening, and it will be slower than any of us would like as many businesses take a phased-in approach based on government guidelines and the status of COVID-19 cases.


As the situation continues to evolve, we need to remain proactive as an industry and continue to support our people, customers and communities. And above all, we must continue to make health and safety our number one priority.


I am confident that our industry will figure out what needs to be done – and how it needs to be done – even though it’s never been done before. Without a doubt, protecting our employees, listening to our customers and understanding their needs, and collaborating with our suppliers and partners are keys to our successful and bright future.