CW: What is your experience in the industrial coatings market?
Braun: I feel fortunate to have spent my entire career with PPG, almost 30 years as of this June. Nearly half of that time has been spent in the Industrial Coatings business where I have worked in technical service, sales, business development, sales management and, most recently, general management. Many years of practical experience in this business has given me a strong understanding of the challenges and opportunities our industry faces and how that impacts the current and future needs of our customers.
CW: What will be your strategy to implement growth in this market?
Braun: Industrial Coatings is one of the most diverse businesses within PPG and serves the broadest range of customers across the total coatings landscape. Our strategy for growth focuses on balancing opportunities provided organically through new products and/or new markets, and capitalizing on inorganic opportunities through an active acquisition strategy. We have completed at least one acquisition in our global business in each of the last five years.
For organic growth of our core industrial coatings business, we continue to pursue innovation as the best way to address the megatrends driving the industry. One recent PPG innovation developed to address a megatrend is PPG ENVIROCRON™ Extreme Protection Edge coating, a breakthrough polyester powder coating that offers end-users three main benefits geared toward enhancing the sustainability of their products and their manufacturing processes. One benefit is the actual formulation of the coating, which emits virtually no zero VOCs due to its solvent-free formulation. The second is exceptional corrosion protection, which enables products finished with our coating to last longer. The third is the ability to cover metal parts fabricated with sharp edges evenly and with one highly transfer-efficient finish coat, which significantly reduces material waste, labor cost, utility expenses and time.
For acquisitions, we look for new market spaces, technologies that fill a gap for us, or complementary businesses that fit well with our current business model.
CW: What areas offer the most growth potential (industrial architectural, coil coating, etc.)?
Braun: We believe there will be significant growth across all of our segments supporting key megatrends in our industry. Customer preference that is driving growth includes the desire for products that enable sustainability advantages such as low energy usage, low to no emissions and less water use, to name a few. We have invested heavily in our powder capability in recent years and see this technology continuing to grow at above-market rates because of its inherent sustainability features. We’re always looking for new ways to enhance our customers’ product performance, so features such as improved corrosion and asset protection remain critical to our research and development efforts.
CW: What regions of the world are driving growth?
Braun: Asia continues to lead the way. Although China has slowed in recent years, there is still a lot of growth in that region of the world, particularly in places like India, which continues to see sustained expansion. Beyond Asia, general economic conditions in Europe and the U.S. have significantly limited overall industrial production within the last two years, but there are other smaller regions containing specific pockets of growth. PPG’s growth strategy, however, is not tied to specific economic cycles, nor to any specific region or emerging markets. We continue to believe we can grow our business through product and service innovation and through strategic acquisitions.
CW: Do you plan on making new investments (new facilities, JVs, etc.)?
Braun: We always manage a healthy investment portfolio in our Industrial Coatings business. We deploy our cash via both acquisitions and capital investments and we expect that balance to continue moving forward. We have several critical manufacturing investments taking place in China as well as the U.S. at the moment, but our future pipeline will cover our business needs globally.