Distributors play a vital role in the coatings industry. PCI recently spoke with Terry Hill, CEO of Maroon Group, to learn about the company’s recent growth, how the role of distributors has changed over the years, and challenges that the coatings industry faces.
PCI: Maroon has been in the news a lot over the last few years, with many acquisitions and, more recently, personnel announcements, including a new CEO, Operations Manager and Director of Regulatory Affairs. What is the company’s growth strategy?
Hill: We are excited to continue to build our company and our leadership to support our growth as a leading distributor of specialty chemicals and ingredients across North America.
Mark Reichard, Maroon Group’s former CEO, has taken a new role as Executive Vice Chairman and will continue to support the company leadership as well as manage key customer and principal relationships. Mike McKenna added the role of President to his Chief Operating Officer position, and I have assumed the role as our new Chief Executive Officer. Each of these additions supports our growth and expansion both organically as well as through strategic acquisitions.
The addition of Scott Simmons in the role of Director of Regulatory Affairs helps us provide more value as a company to continuously improve in the areas of Health, Safety, Environmental and Sustainability. We see a real need in the markets to provide support to our customers, principals and employees in these areas, which include regulatory compliance, safety programs and quality management systems. We are committed to building a culture of continuous improvement through responsible distribution and a sustainable business model.
Maroon Group has grown both organically as well as through strategic acquisitions in the target markets of CASE, CARE, HI&I, Plastics and Specialty Intermediates. We are meeting the needs of our customers and principals by offering technical support, lab services, formulary expertise and innovative solutions to distribution.
Our growth strategy is to build and acquire market leaders in innovation and services in target markets, and expand their geography and expertize but utilize the Maroon Group scale. Today’s market is global and very competitive, and the needs of our customers and principals are changing frequently. We are working hard to expand our geographic footprint and create customer success with these value-add services in response to these changes.
PCI: How has the role of distributor evolved over recent years? What do distributors provide now that they didn’t 10 years ago?
Hill: The distribution role has changed over the last several years and will continue to do so with the market. Distribution began with the simple premise of getting product from where it was produced to where it was needed, due to chemical manufacturers outsourcing their logistics. Today, the leading chemical distributors must not only meet logistical needs, but also must understand applications, innovate new technical solutions, and support customers with health, safety, environmental and sustainability issues. The chemical producers as well rely on chemical distributors to support them in not only logistics, but also with market insights, product forecasting and innovation, and distributors must do so with the upmost in product stewardship and HS&E practices.
PCI: What are some of the challenges facing the coatings industry today? How can distributors help with these challenges?
Hill: A major challenge facing the coatings industry today is a lack of innovation based on ever-increasing regulatory pressures and global economic dynamics that challenge coatings manufacturer’s ability to maximize competitiveness and address business continuity requirements.
The world-class distributor supports both areas: collaboration in technical support and compliance assistance in formulary functions to meet stringent environmental, performance and compliance standards, with the ability to execute on a global sourcing strategy that provides premium products and competitive economics on a diversified supply base.
PCI: What are some of the fastest-growing technologies in coatings today?
Hill: Environmentally friendly products that meet required performance standards while achieving sustainability and regulatory requirements.
PCI: Do you see sustainability as an important area for coatings suppliers and manufacturers to focus on?
Hill: Yes, our industry must meet the sustainability challenges posed by regulatory authorities as well as responsible corporations and shareholders – this is becoming a global challenge, not only regional. However, this does not provide a “pass” for lack of performance and competitiveness. Coatings manufacturers, suppliers and distributors must work together to help our “customer’s customer” achieve all the expected benefits of use of our products while being leaders in sustainability.