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DuPont Coatings Reborn as Axalta

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

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The founding father of the automotive paint business is being laid to rest.

DuPont Performance Coatings, rooted in the dawn of the Automobile Age, now sports a new name after the completion of its $4.9 billion sale to The Carlyle Group on Feb. 1, the companies announced Monday (Feb. 4).

The newly rechristened Axalta Coating Systems is positioning itself as "a global supplier of coatings to the transportation and industrial sectors," according to its new owner, an asset management group that serves the aerospace, defense, transportation, energy and infrastructure sectors.

DuPont Performance Coatings
Photos: DuPont

DuPont Performance Coatings, soon to be known as Axalta, includes DuPont Industrial Coatings, DuPont Aviation Finishes, DuPont Commercial Finishes, DuPont Refinish, and other brands.

"The new name reflects the company's complete focus on the coatings sector and our commitment to performance excellence," Axalta said on its website, which is still under development. "While our name has changed, the fundamentals of our business have not."

End of an Era

DuPont announced the sale last August, capping months of sale rumors that the company never denied. The DPC unit lagged DuPont's fast-growing science- and biotech-oriented businesses. News of layoffs and a disappointing third quarter followed in October. Though not unexpected, the decision spelled the end of an era.

In 1920, the company became the first to develop a quick-drying, durable lacquer that proved a boon to the mass production industries, including the fledgling automotive industry. The coating, known as Duco, was marketed in 1922 and, within four years, was the standard finish on all General Motors cars, according to DuPont's website.

By mid-decade, the company had rolled out Dulux alkyd resin, a glossy successor to Duco that was used in appliance manufacturing.

DuPont Performance Coating

Entry into the paint and coatings industry marked DuPont’s first effort to diversify beyond explosives in the years after 1902. Duco became a standard finish for GM cars by the mid-1920s.

"In the mid-1950s, DuPont introduced a new line of cheaper, more durable acrylic coatings," the site says. "Lucite automotive lacquer replaced Duco, and Lucite appliance enamel took the place of Dulux in the appliance market."

What's Changing; What Isn't

Today, DuPont Performance Coatings consists of DuPont Industrial Coatings, DuPont Aviation Finishes, DuPont Commercial Finishes, DuPont Refinish, Standox, Spies Hecker, and Nason Finishes. The portfolio includes automotive OEM coatings, automotive refinish coatings, powder and industrial coatings, and Voltatex Energy Solutions.

For now, Axalta said, the Standox and Spies Hecker brands will continue, as will Cromax and Imron. Axalta will also continue to serve the decorative, architectural, general industrial and job-coater segments of the powder coatings market under the brands Alesta Powder Coatings, NAP-GARD FBE Powder Coatings and ABCITE Powder Coatings.

Officially, the DuPont Performance Coatings name will linger for several more months; the Axalta name will be formally launched in the second quarter of 2013, about the same time the company's new website is up and running.

Until then, Carlyle said:

  • The company will continue to conduct all aspects of business with no interruption;
  • Commitments to all customers will be fulfilled with no change in the products and services;
  • Customers can continue to use any products that carry the DuPont name;
  • Training centers located in 42 locations around the world will continue to operate as usual;
  • All websites that provide information about the company's business and services will continue to operate—for now, as DuPont Performance Coatings.

Continuity in Leadership

Axalta will be led by John G. McCool, who was president of DuPont Performance Coatings and had been with DuPont since 1976.

“In addition to driving performance and excellence, one of our greatest strengths is the systems-based approach we take with our customers,” McCool said in a statement.

John G. McCool

DuPont Performance Coatings president John G. McCool will be president of Axalta Coating Systems.

“Along with coatings, we provide customers a full spectrum of tools and services to help them use our products effectively. We offer customers hands-on opportunities to learn how to use these products and applications tools in our 42 training centers throughout the world.

"This capability helps our customers improve their performance and productivity while allowing us to enhance our offerings by gaining a better understanding of customer preferences.”

90-Year Foundation

As an independent company, Axalta Coating Systems "will build on a foundation of more than 90 years in the coatings industry," Carlyle announced. The company serves more than 120,000 customers in 130 countries and provides a full range of coating systems.

“We are excited to invest in Axalta Coating Systems and believe its strong market position and global footprint will enable the company to capitalize on opportunities in rapidly emerging markets such as China and Brazil," said Martin Sumner, principal of The Carlyle Group.

"As experienced investors in the industrial and transportation sectors, the One Carlyle global network can help Axalta Coating Systems grow and create value.” 

Charlie Shaver, the company’s Chairman and CEO added, “We look forward to this exciting next chapter for Axalta Coating Systems.  Our global scale with 35 plants and seven technology centers around the world, combined with Carlyle’s industrial focus and global network, position us well for the future.”


Tagged categories: Acquisitions; Architectural coatings; Automotive coatings; Decorative coatings; DuPont; Industrial powder coating; Lacquer

Comment from Jacques Claessens, (2/24/2013, 3:16 PM)

Under John's management and with the latest acquisitions in the paint and coatings field I am certain they will be a force in the global market to reckon with and which will further put pressure on lowering production costs in the coatinsg manufacturing field and improve drastically on efficiency and a swift market appraoch and penetration, something that akzoNobel has failed to accomplish over the past 5 years. wishing you success.

Comment from Michael Grant, (4/4/2013, 7:49 PM)

I've been in the "paint business" for 40+ years; DuPont has always meant paint and coatings. It's a shameful act to remove the name from the industry it helped create and nurture into a major force in any economy. I recently read an interview in a popular coating magazine. The interview included Mr. McCool and a colleague. It was disappointing in content and misleading, or perhaps the question was mis-understood, but I am pretty sure DuPont did not introduce the Centari name in the 1920's. I fear this is the downfall of a well respected product....Axalta? I am sorry, but the name does not speak volumes.

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (4/9/2013, 8:23 AM)

Interesting. Similar name to the Altaxa, a migraine medicine. Now marketed as Imitrex.

Comment from Mike McCloud, (4/10/2013, 8:51 AM)

It is a marketing gimmick with the "x' in the name. It's to capture your eye, be sexy and unusual. If you ask me, DuPont is just fine.

Comment from Adam Carter, (4/10/2013, 10:51 AM)

They exist as a global company, so its a balance between having a unique name that does not infringe on existing companies and not having a name that is somehow offensive to a certain language or culture. The Performance Coatings division was underperforming for some time compared to DuPont's expectations, and no company is going to let you keep their name on products that they have no control over after they sell it off.

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