My First 90 Days Leading the Coatings Division

The North American Coatings Division is one that has performed tremendously well coming out of the recession.

When asked to describe the team in one word during my first 90 days, I chose strong.

This is a business with strong core stability, excellent products and an innovative platform, regularly introducing new products and improved processes; all backed up by a team with extensive knowledge of the industry and customer demands. The team has a long history of 'delivering and delighting' especially when it comes to product quality, delivery timing and customer satisfaction.

When asked to describe the team in one word during my first 90 days, I chose strong.

As I look forward, there are five pillars that I see driving our business:

  1. Product Quality - It's all about delivering what our customer expects, when they expect it. We don't want to be the reason for delays; we want to support continuous operations for our partners. To do this, we rely heavily on our Non-Conformance Management (NCM) reporting, our International Organization of Standardization (ISO) quality systems and last year, we began the Projects for the Improvement of Quality (PIQ) initiative that targets specific actions for resolution. But for me, it is more important that we have a deep seated cultural commitment to doing things right the first time, every time.
  2. Product Innovation - We are committed to introducing new innovations to meet the design needs and efficiency specifications for today's automakers. Be it scratch and corrosion resistance, heat management or eco-friendliness, BASF coatings standout. We pioneered the "Integrated Process" method reducing the number of the application steps in the coating process. And right now, we are working on an exciting new process that will lead to additional step changes in how we make and texturize colors for our basecoats.
  3. Customer Intimacy - We will continue building relationships that move beyond the typical sell-buy dynamic. We want to have forward-thinking relationships that focus on what our customers' design concepts are and their future needs. To achieve this, we are defining our expectations of customer relations with our teams. Yes, we are looking for increased sales but we should also be identifying timely, useful and relevant information regarding strategic customer initiatives and their future design needs. And then, the key will be sharing that information throughout the division, from sales to marketing and business management, and integrating it into business decisions to give us a competitive advantage.
  4. Great People - It's crucial to cultivate a highly talented workforce. As many of our team members are reaching the age of retirement, I want to ensure that the business is sustained by recruiting new talent. The BASF Coatings Division has a lot of resources to offer new employees, including mentorship opportunities where a senior employee will share their years of industry tips and tricks.
  5. Speed - We need faster decision making for our customers to help bring innovations to the market and increase capital investments. We have an outstanding organization with great analytical tools and we are getting to the right answer, we just need to get there quicker. All in all - we make great decisions, have great inputs but there is a need for speed.

Business is not rocket science. It is all about finding out the needs of your target market, offering a value proposition and adding some creativity to allow them to be different.

  • For our OEM partners, it's a marriage of attractive appearance, structural design and cost efficiency.
  • For our refinish partners, it goes beyond the actual paint. It's our goal to help them grow and meet the needs of their customers. We win when they win.

Our business is well-positioned for growth. We have everything we need to deliver growth in the next 12 to 24 months in the United States, Canada and Mexico. But really, I am thinking five to six years down the road about the future state of this business and what we can do to continue prospering. We have the environment, experience and energy to generate acceleration and that's what we intend to do.

Pictured above is Chris Toomey, senior vice president of BASF's North American Coatings Solutions Division.
Chris Toomey Senior Vice President of BASF's North American Coatings Solutions Division About the Author: Christopher Toomey was appointed as the Senior Vice President of BASF's North American Coatings Solutions Division in November 2014. He comes to this role with more than 10 years of executive commercial leadership experience with superior results in profitability, cash management, operational reliability, cost management, customer relations and personal development. Prior to this role, Chris was Senior Vice President of North American Procurement at BASF and before that, he was Vice President and General Manager of Functional Products North America at Cognis Corporation. Chris received his undergraduate degree from Kenyon College in Ohio and his Master of Business Administration from Temple University School of Business and Management in Philadelphia.