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Industry must encourage consumption

Going from consuming half a gallon of paint per capita per year to a gallon in five years is the goal that this industrialist hopes can be met in his  country.

By: Natalia Ospina Vélez

"Son of a tiger is painted," reads a well-known Colombian popular adage. And for the exhibition no one better than Samuel Dávila who in addition to being Colombian, is the son of a painter and today president of the Colombian companies Pinturas Tonner and Dabrico Ltda.
The first of them founded 15 years ago, is a specialist in the manufacture, marketing and export of paints, lacquers, resins and products aimed at the automotive, architectural, industrial and wood segments. For its part, Dabrico created 25 years ago, is dedicated to the manufacture, distribution, and sale of semi-finished paints.   

"My dad was a salesman in a paint factory, which visits several cities. From the age of 12 I prepared sales reports, talked to him about the problems of paints and the market, "recalled Dávila. 

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From that time until now, 34 years have passed during which Dávila has not stopped working in the industry, 15 of them as president of Tonner and Dabrico.   

Representative growth

Starting your own company is not an easy task for anyone and Samuel is a clear example of this. However, his efforts and efforts to get Pinturas Tonner ahead were not in vain.

"Today we are located in the second place of the most representative paint companies nationwide thanks to the amount of sales in pesos," he said.

According to Dávila, being part of the most important group of painting companies in Colombia is one of the greatest achievements he has registered throughout his career within the industry, because 15 years ago Pinturas Tonner started from scratch and went on the market with a single product, it was a white paint for cars.

"At the moment we have 280 products on the market, that means that every year we are taking out 50 to 100 new products to which we have to make a design of the formulation, design the machines where they are going to be manufactured, do market research and define the prices.", Davila said.

Market with low consumption

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So many years of experience in the market have allowed our professional of the month, to live and know closely the situation and problems of the Colombian painting industry. 

Analyzing the consumption of gallons of paint per capita per year in that South American country, Dávila assures that it is a very low level compared to other nations, because in Colombia each person uses only half a gallon a year, which in total translates into 22 million gallons per year.

"It is a very little consumption if we compare it with neighboring countries such as Venezuela where  they consume more than one gallon per person, in Mexico more than two or three gallons are consumed per person per year,  in the case of the United States consumption reaches about 12 gallons per person per year. These figures do not refer only to what people consume at home, it is also what is consumed in companies, in the maintenance of roads, in public buildings, schools, etc., "explained Dávila. The reason for the national market to behave that way, is according to the businessman, the little money that people in Colombia earn that makes painting not a priority.
Colombia can sell more

On the other hand, for Samuel Dávila the panorama is not entirely discouraging, since he assures that the Colombian industry has three important advantages, the first of which is the breadth of the market.

According to this businessman, Colombia has the possibility of selling ten times more than it sells today, without running the risk of running into competition. "Here the availability of the market is great, I do not like it when a seller says that the market is already saturated. We can all sell, from the largest company to the smallest," he said.

Secondly and thirdly, good prices and high quality of products are the other two advantages offered by the domestic industry.

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"Colombia is a country where paintings are sold at very affordable prices. The same paint you see in other countries is bought here at half price. In the United States, for example, a gallon is sold for 20 dollars, that same one costs here about 10 dollars and is the same quality of paint, "explained Dávila. 

Industry needs training

Import of products for the elaboration of paints and the Free Trade Agreement, FTA, are the situations that most concern this businessman when we ask him about the competitiveness of Colombian painting companies in the framework of globalization.

The low contribution of Colombian raw material for the production of paints is one of the main difficulties that Dávila detects when talking about the global competitiveness of the industry, since about 70% of them must be imported.

"In the case of the FTA with the United States, to be allowed to take a gallon of paint to that country, I must provide about 70% of Colombian raw material and when is that going to be? we don't know, because that percentage is the same as what we must import to manufacture our paintings here," Dávila explained.

Regarding this situation, the businessman also added the high tariffs that must be paid to make effective the passage of products to the North American country, between 5 and 25%.

To face this reality, Samuel recommends that the State serve as a collaborator for companies so that they can be more competitive at the international level, as well as greater training on the issue of exports and the Vallejo Plan (see box).

"For this plan it is necessary to do special courses to benefit from it, many companies could do it but do not have enough knowledge. With the Vallejo Plan, for example, the tariffs I paid are returned to me. We lack the mentality of exporters, everyone could export because with that foreign currency comes to the country," Said Dávila.

Lack of technology

"The industry must ensure that you do not have to put so much newsprint on the floor when painting," in this way Dávila refers to the duty of the painting sector to give greater added value to its products.

Paints that do not splash, that dry faster, colors for the children's and youth line in addition to adding smell to the paintings are efforts, which according to this businessman, the Colombian industry is doing. "It's about making a product with better properties to sell at a better price," he added.

Finally, massifying and personalizing the preparation of colors should be the focus of investment for companies. To do this, Dávila suggests investing in technology to create new points of sale with advanced color preparation systems.

"We have to import everything, the machines, the computers, the programs, the raw material to make that paint, all that is expensive, at least 30% more. Making a color is an art. The technology already exists, you just have to know how to use it," he concluded.

What is the Vallejo Plan?
As a strategy to stimulate the export of Colombian companies, the national government designed the Vallejo Plan in 1959.

This measure makes it easier for companies to pay taxes, that is, those that manufacture products for export, do not have to pay all taxes or only have to pay a part of them to the government when they must import the raw materials necessary for the production of their own products.

Saving money, low manufacturing costs and better sales in international markets are some of the advantages for Colombian companies that take advantage of the Vallejo Plan

Your training
Samuel Dávila is a chemical engineer from the Universidad del Atlántico. He has completed studies in the Colombian cities of Barranquilla and Bogotá, studies in inventory control, labor law, production management, finance and human resources.

Both companies in which he currently serves as president are family-owned. "Dabrico is a brother's company in the United States from which I copied the name because it is a family business. This is the sister of Pinturas Tonner, of the latter the only partners are my wife and I," said Dávila.

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