Akzo Nobel in North America: “Greater colour and made-to-order options”

Akzo Nobel just broke ground for a EUR 50 million wood coatings facility in north America. We spoke to CEO Thierry Vanlancker about the new production site and the company’s plans for north America.

Thierry Vanlancker Akzo Nobel
Moving to just-in-time production Is one trend Thierry Vanlancker -

What are the reasons for the major expansion to your High Point site?

Thierry Vanlancker: This investment will enable us to make state-of-the-art improvements to manufacturing and site infrastructure. It will help improve working conditions for employees and enhance product quality for our customers. It will give us the ability to meet changing market needs with greater colour and made-to-order options. Utilising automatic dosing units will make production more flexible, while providing higher colour accuracy, which is expected by our customers. We’re also improving the filling lines, which will allow us to serve our Chemcraft brand distribution customers more effectively.

We want to continue our leadership position in wood coatings in the North American region and see this reinvestment as a demonstration of our commitment to this important market. Wood coatings is a strategic segment for Akzo Nobel globally, and in order to sustain our leading position as the reference in this market, we are focused on funding industry-leading improvements to the High Point site.

What do you view to be the potentials and challenges in the North American wood coatings market?

Vanlancker: The North American market remains an attractive market with growth primarily driven by construction and residential re-modelling. The re-model market is seeing increased demand in terms of personalisation, which drives a need for product and colour customisation.

Manufacturers continue to introduce different substrates, such as vinyl, fibreglass, metal, etc., with finishes that look like wood. This reduces the coating consumption compared with wood and can introduce difficulties in terms of matching colour and coating adhesion over a range of substrates. Other challenges in this market include customers changing how they operate – moving to just-in-time production and expanding their product offerings, which require an agile service approach. As a leading paints and coatings company, we are well positioned to thrive in this changing market by offering a complete portfolio to support any customer’s needs.

Traditionally, the furniture sector uses solvent-borne products, but California is a state increasingly focused on lowering VOCs, do you plan to expand your water-borne wood coatings here? 

Vanlancker: Akzo Nobel is the global leader in sustainability within the paints and coatings industry. The company offers a wide range of sustainable coatings to the wood industry, including zero-VOC options – such as 100 % UV and powder coatings, as well as low-VOC water and water-based UV technologies, which complement the traditional solvent-based range. We continue to innovate in sustainable coatings, with several launches of water-based and water-based UV products planned globally in 2020.

The interview was conducted by Sara Silva

Remark: This interview is part of a more comprehensive article about the investment that will be published in the issue 12/2019 of the European Coatings Journal at 16 December. The journal will also be available digitally at European Coatings 360° for subscribers.

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