Why smaller independent suppliers and producers are absolutely needed for the car repair business.

I am the owner of a relatively small automotive refinishing materials brand. Etalon is not alone. The number of similar companies is increasing, and I am delighted about it. Nowadays, when few big “sharks” try to buy one another, the very existence of companies like Etalon is even more relevant and important.

We do need competition

Unfortunately, without honest, fierce competition this, and any other industry, will not prosper. Public corporations lack human face. Prove me if I am wrong. The owners are investment banks, hedge funds or any other so-called institutional investors. THEY DO NOT GIVE A DAMN ABOUT THE PAINTERS’ NEEDS! What they only care is the current shares price and dividends paid. This is why there has been very little TRULY innovative products, which TRULY solve customers needs. Please share with me, if you believe that I missed something. On the other hands, the management of those companies fly first class, drive expensive company cars and get five and six digit pay cheques.

Does big mean safe?

There is a false opinion that working with “big” names is safe. It is absolutely not true. During my fifteen years career in the car refinishing industry I have seen an international paint producer virtually abandoning the whole continent, leaving its customers with empty mixing machines. I have experienced the results an acquisition of one of the big non-paint consumables producer by a huge multi billion company with a result of the lost customers loyalty, supply disruptions and the best people leaving the brand.

Also, I can bring you the example of the leading equipment manufacturer to raise prices without any particular reason by more than 20% with the ridiculous excuse of “brand repositioning”, but without changing the products itself. You may tell me that small companies can make mistakes too. True. However, the smaller players are more down-to-earth, and the owners of these companies (yes, they have real owners) would think it over before upsetting their customers.

About a year ago I posted on Linkedin the article “Do my company have the right to exist?”. I was really happy to hear that people from our trade share my vision. The main point of this short blog post is to ask you, my dear readers, to give a chance to companies like Etalon. Try us! Be strict, but be bias-free! Our industry needs to escape the hungry teeth of the consolidation. Small can be innovative, small can be efficient, small is an advantage, not vice versa. Governments have anti monopoly rules, but oligopoly is hardly any better. Oligopoly is a market system, which we probably will have very soon if the pace of consolidations will continue at current speed. Two or three paint producers will supply two or three bodyshop groups, paid by a few insurance companies. Is it going to be good for the customers? I have my doubts. And what do you think?


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