The LaFontaine Automotive Group, Highland, MI, has converted from using a solvent-based system for vehicle paint repairs to using Envirobase high-performance waterborne basecoat by PPG Industries' automotive refinish business. The transition is part of an overall initiative to sell, service and repair vehicles in an environmentally friendly way, according to LaFontaine. The company is one of the first in Michigan to move to a waterborne system.

“This decision was the right thing to do,” said Todd McCallum, fixed operations director for LaFontaine. “We’re very conscious of the need to safeguard our environment. We’re going for gold-level LEED certification and doing all we can to be genuinely ‘green.’ We’re very pleased to be working with PPG to make this change.”

Automotive collision centers in California and Canada are making the transition to using waterborne basecoats in anticipation of new air quality regulations requiring the use of waterborne basecoat to reduce volatile organic compound (VOC) atmospheric emissions and improve air quality. To date, Michigan has no plans for more stringent VOC regulations - LaFontaine is making the change on its own initiative.

The company operates a new, $15 million flagship collision facility in Highland, and another collision center in Dexter, MI. The switch to waterborne coatings at both locations coincides with the grand opening of the Highland center, which features General Motors vehicles and opened June 2.

Once deciding to convert to a waterborne system, settling on PPG as the refinish partner was not difficult according to McCallum. “They made it easy for us,” he said. “We did our due diligence and brought in all the paint companies, but the overall commitment from PPG, as well as their distributor, Painters Supply & Equipment Company, and the excellence of the product sealed the deal.”

“Aside from all the environmental benefits of waterborne paint, the production aspects were critical,” McCallum said. “We wouldn’t compromise on quality, and the Envirobase high-performance system proved outstanding for ease of application and color matching. PPG also gave our paint technicians complete training and support. And PPG will be there with us when we open our new center. General Motors is so impressed, they’re benchmarking this store.”

For more information,