AkzoNobel’s Performance Coatings division hosted an editor’s roundtable discussion and luncheon on October 2 at the W Hotel in Manhattan. Editor’s from Paint & Coatings Industry, JPCL, Chemical & Engineering News, Chemical Weekand Coatings World magazines attended.

The discussion was led by Conrad Keijzer, Executive Committee member responsible for Performance Coatings. He discussed AkzoNobel’s Performance Coatings’ to-date financial performance and global position in the wood finishes, protective, powder, marine, specialty plastic, yacht, coil, packaging, aerospace and vehicle refinish coatings markets. Keijzer noted that the company’s key markets remain attractive despite recent growth moderation. Growth in China is moderating; the GDP is expected to slow to 6% in the next decade. U.S. growth expectations moderated from 3.2% (EIU prediction December 2014) to 2.3% (September 2015). The company sees good prospects in several key North American end-use sectors, including home construction and consumer electronics. However, Keijzer stated that there are some headwinds, including limited evidence of any upturn in European construction, a decline in the marine orderbook, and a decrease in oil and gas capital spending.

He also discussed the company’s recent restructuring strategy following a number of acquisitions over the past several years. The plan has achieved focused investments in production and innovation, seven customer-centric market units and manufacturing footprint optimization. The company is investing in North America, with a new coil coatings line in Garcia, Mexico and a new laboratory in Strongsville, OH. As an organization, AkzoNobel has delayered and reduced up to five levels of its management teams, resulting in closer customer proximity, faster decision making and increased accountability.

Keijzer also discussed the company’s track record in sustainability. For the fourth year in a row, AkzoNobel ranked number one in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index’s Materials industry group. The company continues to focus on organic growth through sustainable innovation, and Keijzer discussed several examples of products that meet sustainability goals, including its Intersleek biocide-free foul release marine coatings that reduce fuel consumption and emissions by an average of 9%. It is the shipping industry’s first methodology for generating carbon credits; customers switching from biocidal to Intersleek technology can generate these credits.

PCI appreciates the invitation to this informative event.