It is July and along with the barbeques, fireworks and fireflies at dusk, those of us in the paint industry can look forward to PCI’s annual ranking of the industry’s top players. For me, this is a time to look back at what the industry has been up to over the past year and try to see how this information will impact the industry going forward. 

This year’s analysis, which is found on page 28, is PCI’s 21st annual listing of the top coatings manufacturers. Listed in the article are the top 10 global leaders and the top 25 North American companies. 2012 global coatings sales figures are included for each company.

Overall, 2012 was another year of positive growth in the industry. Almost all of the North American companies covered in the report saw increased sales in 2012, and have managed the challenges of raw material cost increases with price adjustments. PPG reported increased net sales in each of its three coatings segments, Sherwin-Williams again reported total consolidated sales of over $9 billion and Valspar saw a modest sales increase for the year. The performance of North American coatings companies seems to reflect the progress of the U.S. economy overall, with the economy slowly recovering, boosted by improved home sales and construction, and the recovery of the American automotive industry, two segments of the economy that directly impact the coatings industry. 

The global coatings industry also reflects the state of the global economy. Asia is still growing, although not as robustly as in previous years, and parts of Europe are experiencing economic challenges. While BASF, Germany’s largest coatings company and a global leader in automotive and industrial coatings, posted an increase in sales for 2012, Amsterdam-based AkzoNobel, the world’s largest coatings company, posted a decrease of €.5 billion. The company, which had been on a buying spree for much of the time I have been writing for this magazine, divested its North American architectural coatings business, selling it to the next-largest coatings company, PPG.

The AkzoNobel sale to PPG highlights what I see as the most interesting development of the industry in 2012: the top-three North American companies all targeting the U.S. architectural coatings market. Last winter, within weeks of each other, PPG announced plans to buy AkzoNobel’s North American architectural coatings business, Sherwin-Williams announced plans to buy Consorcio Comex, S.A. de C.V. (with its 3,000+ points of sale in Mexico, the United States and Canada), and Valspar announced a long-term strategic supply relationship with Ace Hardware Corp., which includes the purchase of Ace’s paint manufacturing facilities and an agreement that puts Valspar paints in more than 4,000 Ace retail locations. It appears that the leaders in the industry all see growth potential in the North American architectural coatings market. Time will tell which of those leaders manages to rise to the top. 

While the PCI staff made every effort to seek out the top companies in the industry, we may have inadvertently omitted some. Please contact me at if you have interest in being included next year.