Paint Grows Greener And More Sophisticated

Whether it's a remodel or new construction, paint is one of a retailer's most essential and cost-effective design tools. Chain Store Age spoke with Jim Gorman, of Benjamin Moore & Co., about how paint is being affected by technology and environmental concerns. The company, founded in 1883, manufactures its own resins and colorants, and has more than 3,400 colors in its collection.

What is the most common mistake retailers make when it comes to painting?

Buying paint on price and attempting to match colors by computer to save money. I say this because paint technology has changed dramatically over the last five years, and today's newer technology is not available everywhere.

The new high-performing zero- and low-VOC products are ideal for occupied spaces with quick turnaround and getting retail space back to service — in some cases, in half the time normal paint would take.

How about choosing a color — any recommendations for retailers?

The answer is connected to the one above. With today's paint choices and new colorant technology, retailers today can be far more adventurous with color without the penalties often associated with deeper colors.

Working with a manufacturer's representative, a retailer can select bold colors and not have to worry about numerous coats, poor hide, touch-up or washability. It comes down to selecting the right product for the selected color and project.

Is there an easy way retailers can stay updated as to the latest color trends?

Yes, many paint manufacturers have designer representatives who will provide "lunch and learn" seminars with a client's design staff. Manufacturer's websites also can provide updates on trends. One of the best ways is to meet with paint manufacturers who belong to key retail associations, develop a relationship and connect with their color specialists.

Is technology impacting your business?

Tremendously! With the continued emphasis on VOC regulations, Benjamin Moore has developed a patented technology that provides industry-leading, high-performing zero- and low-VOC products.

These products clearly outperform any of the conventional paints manufactured over the last 25 years. This has placed Benjamin Moore at the forefront of green paint technology that many cannot replicate.

How have environmental concerns affected paints?

As environmental regulations tightened within the paint industry, manufacturers were forced to revise formulas to meet the regulations.

For some, this caused their products to lose some key performance attributes, especially in application and dry film performance. For Benjamin Moore, which invests heavily in R&D and manufactures its own patented colorant and resins, this became a break-through opportunity to develop our best products ever.

How can Benjamin Moore help retailers with regard to their green strategies?

All of our new products identified as "Green Promise" products meet or exceed every local and state VOC regulation. The best step a retailer can take is to meet with a Benjamin Moore representative to review their current specification and convert any of the older products to the new Green Promise products. Every aspect of their paint projects will benefit, especially the quick turnaround, low odor and back to service, all designed to save the client time and money.

The second step is to work closely with Benjamin Moore's national account team to assure the retailer that the products and colors they selected are actually used on the job. Paint is one category where the paint contractor can, and at times will, substitute products on the job site for a variety of reasons. Colors may be a "close match" and VOC levels may be higher — you never know unless you are stringent with the contractor following the specification. Benjamin Moore has a project management team that can help assure our clients the right colors and products are used every time.

What makes Benjamin Moore's "green" paints so green?

The secret is in the colorant. Being the only North American paint manufacturer to develop a patented zero-VOC colorant allowing our clients to choose any color and still have a zero-VOC product was an industry first. Conventional colorants, called universal tinting colorants, are very high in VOC levels. The other benefits listed above all add up to a unique benefit to our clients: high-performing zero-VOC products that do not cost more, but perform better than classic paints.

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