PS Connect Reflects on Interactive Webinar
Technology Publishing Co.’s PaintSquare Connect, the virtual event that brought together experts throughout the coatings industries at the end of 2020, recently hosted an interactive webinar covering 2021 outlooks for the protective and marine coatings industry.
Entitled “Industrial Coatings: 2021 Market Outlook,” the free webinar premiered on March 3, 10 a.m. ET, and was moderated by Jim McBrayer, CEO, McBrayer and Associates, and presented by Brion Palmer, CEO, TPC.
2021 Industry Outlook Conversation, Polls
Although the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has continued to keep coatings professionals from meeting up in person, the webinar virtually brought together a panel of coatings executives. Panelists included:
For the webinar, TPC invited registered coatings contractors, buyers, asset owners, facility managers, engineers, architects and shipyard managers, among other coatings professionals, to participate in an interactive polling portion of the event. As part of GoToWebinar, the platform provides a built-in polling tool, which allows poll questions to display for all attendees.
185 registrants attended the live event, with roughly 75-85% actively participating with the interactive poll questions. (Shared results displayed total attendee responses but did not include any individual information.)
In kicking off the webinar, McBrayer noted that, “We’re living now in what’s called a 'connection economy.'” In referencing platforms like Uber or Doordash, McBrayer explained that the webinar aimed to immediately connect the audience with the panel of executives to hear what they had to say in real time, especially in the wake of the ongoing pandemic.
To get a gauge on members of the audience, McBrayer first asked attendees: "What is your role in the coatings industry?" To which 13% reported that they were painting contractors; 3% were either asset owners in shipyards or oil and gas; 9% were inspectors, from an engineering firm or a consultant; 54% were manufacturers; and 22% answered as "other."
From there, McBrayer took questions to the panelists, first asking Brown about his expectations for growth in the coatings industry this year.
“The coatings market in North America is pretty mature," said Brown. "In a mature marketplace, we don’t expect a lot of exponential growth; we tend to rely on 1 or 2% growth in the total market per year, [which] is usually a pretty good estimate. That leaves all of us manufacturers kind of in a place where we sort of strategize around market segments and beat each other up a little bit and see what kind of market share commend in that mature market space.”
Specifically, however, Brown noted that there are a few tools and organizations that Tnemec looks to for guidance. One of the tools mentioned was the American Institute for Architects, which issues a monthly billing index that indicates when something is growing or receding in relation to the previous month.
Brown had pulled numbers for the webinar, noting that billings and design contracts as of the end of January were still receding, and had been receding throughout all of 2020. However, AIA’s inquiries have been increasing since last August.
Additionally, most architectural firms are currently reporting that projects haven’t been canceled, but are instead postponed and that eventually the projects will come around once funding is made available. This information reveals an improvement from May numbers of last year, when pandemic-induced shutdowns were still taking a toll on construction.
McBrayer then asked the audience: "What was the impact of the COVD-19 pandemic on your business in 2020?" Of the respondents:
In line with that question, McBrayer also asked attendees about their expectations for their business in 2021. Of the respondents:
Moving along and shifting focus on customer interactions, Hood was asked: “In light of social distancing, what are you doing in terms of engaging with customers and letting suppliers talk to you?” To which Hood responded: “A lot of the way our sales team likes to engage is a very hands-on approach on every level in terms of meeting engineers in their offices, going to jobsites, going to paint jobs, working very hands-on. The shutdown effect of COVID-19 really, really affected us and our approach to the marketplace.”
As a solution, Davies noted that his company took the money saved from marketing and travel and put it into media practices like the PS Connect webinar and virtual communication.
Atzemis was also asked to weigh in on what type of technologies he foresees becoming extremely valuable. “Basically, anything digital is going to continue to grow with social distancing and I really think it’s going to stick around after social distancing. But, not at the levels we’ve seen before.”
Atzemis continued by nothing that training videos and video meetings have had the largest increase over this past year as well.
“It’s been a slow acceptance, but the pandemic has sort of forced our hand.”
Regarding audience members, McBrayer took another poll, asking if those watching the webinar were able to meet with suppliers in-person last year. The results were 16% yes, 43% no and 41% somewhat. McBrayer also asked those same viewers if they expected that to change this year. Of the respondents:
With that being said, McBrayer called on Riddle to expand on some of the most common frustrations and challenges that folks are citing.
“One of the biggest problems that has been a problem for a long time is really their ability to get manpower, particularly trained,” said Riddle. “But I think that’s not only the contractors' segment, but also when you get into the other refineries, oil and gas, all these industries are really struggling to get trained people to do the jobs that are out there.”
Riddle continued, “There’s inconsistency in the projects that are out there right now. That was a big frustration for a lot of our contractors out there during the pandemic. From finding the manpower, to having to adjust to the different health and safety requirements, especially travelling from state to state.”
Riddle also echoed what other panelists pointed out as well, that preserving and managing key relationships in the industry was crucial. As a business, it is important to take the time to hold virtual calls and training meetings, whether it be on safety or market issues.
Looking to the audience, McBrayer asked: "Did the pandemic impact your ability to get the coatings products you needed in 2020?" To which 44% responded yes and 56% responded no.
In moving forward, audience members also were asked about the biggest challenge they face in 2021. Of the respondents:
After the webinar, Palmer reflected on the event, saying, “The panelists comprised a cumulative 125 plus years of industry experience. TPC takes great pride in facilitating and providing this type of information for the industry.
"Bringing together these professionals, as well as those in the audience, for a real-time, engaged discussion is a testament to how we can continue to adapt with our ever-changing industry."
To watch the archived webinar, click here.
In replacing traditional panel discussions and aiming to serve a broader audience than the company's in-person Contractor Connect events, PaintSquare Connect’s three-day program offered a track-specified curriculum, complete with a variety of sessions and presentations that have since been uploaded to the event website.
The curriculum, which was co-sponsored by 10X Engineered Materials and PPG, was segmented into concurrent tracks:
The recorded education sessions will remain online until May 31, 2021.
Additionally, new and current registrants still have access to the Product Pavilions as well, where they can continue to browse the latest offerings and innovations from leading companies and can even request a callback or schedule a meeting within the online booths.
The PaintSquare Rewards Program is also continuing to keep track of previously accumulated and current activity logs of new and old registrants until May 31, 2021. TPC has selected winners based on the largest volume of accumulated points, starting with a Grand Prize for the top earner, Second Prize for the next highest earner and so on. Ten prizes were awarded directly after the event’s conclusion, and 10 have been slated to be awarded over the next six months.
If you were not registered for the live PaintSquare Connect event and would like access to the archived sessions, you may complete your free registration by visiting the PaintSquare Connect registration page, here.