“Papa, can you read me a story from my Thomas the Tank Engine book?” inquires my four-year-old granddaughter Lily. She nestled against my lap and we learned how the Fat Controller had to enlist Henry to pull the cars that Gordon left behind after he had burst a safety valve. At the end of the story, the Fat Controller promises Henry a new coat of paint for his heroics.*
Hmmm…my thoughts rush back to the leaded paint issue with toys experienced a few months earlier. We all are aware of the product quality issues surrounding the toys that have been imported to America. No need to belabor this point. What does strike me is how connected we have become with the far-reaching corners of our planet. So what happens in Pudong doesn’t stay in Pudong. The way a product is made in Mumbai, India; Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Warsaw, Poland; or Birmingham, England affects the life of a little girl in Hilliard, OH.
So, too, do the developments within our industry. Cultures can become staid in their perspective on technology. Often people get used to seeing things a certain way and refuse to look outside of their box. Years of working for a couple of global paint companies took me dozens of times to more than a score of countries. This experience opened my eyes to completely different approaches to finishing technology. Not only did I recognize novel formulating techniques, but also distinctive approaches to processing and engineering. I’ve found that it pays to be open to alternate methods and unexplored possibilities.
This month’s International Report (pp. 16-17) offers a glimpse into what is happening worldwide in the finishing industry. Besides the expected mega mergers and acquisitions that have become part of the landscape the last few years, there has been a bountiful crop of innovations that promise to alter the way we apply finishes. We point out some of these this month and will be presenting the Finishing Today annual Innovation Awards in December.
Speaking of bountiful, November is our annual Buyers Guide and Desktop Reference issue. It is chock full of extraordinary resources to help you manage your finishing operation. Please stash it close by year round to keep your systems running smoothly.
Next time Lily asks for a story, I’ll have to tell her how small the world is getting.
*Awdry, Rev W., Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends – Big Story Book, Ladybird Books, Ltd., Loughborough, England (1984).