War + Covid = Paint Supply Chain Issues

A look at the supply issues affecting the industry, and workable workarounds for you.

By Andrew Joseph

As you are aware, there is a global supply chain issue resulting in shortages of things such as automobile tires, computer chips, and even food.

Within the North American professional paint industry, there continues to be a shortage of paint and paint supplies.

And while the easy reason of why there are shortages is to point a finger at Covid and government shutdowns—it is a real reason—other global factors continue to play a role, too.

Yes, demand is far outweighing supply as the pandemic has seen more people at home—whether by choice or by circumstance—and while staring at the walls have decided to do something with the walls either with a new coat or two of paint or a complete renovation.

Unfortunately, plans for home renovations et al have been slowed by an inability of some professionals to get their hands on enough paint. Supply chain disruptions have caused paint manufacturers to have difficulty in procuring enough ingredients to produce the wide gamut of hues typically offered in the years BC (Before Covid).

Another concern has seen some manufacturers complain about the inability to get hold of new paint cans—plastic or metal.

However, the biggest culprit is the supply chain disruption of a key paint ingredient, Titanium dioxide (TiO2).

Unfortunately, large amounts of this white powder come from Russia and Ukraine, and the former is economically sanctioned, while the latter has had its ports blocked or demolished by the invading military.

Ukraine was the sixth-largest exporter of TiO2, annually providing about five percent of the world’s supply—some 470,000 tonnes. Russia was the third-largest exporter.

With shortages come a higher realized asking price for TiO2.

So what’s the big whoop? TiO2 is a primary ingredient in industrial paints and coatings because it:

  • has high hiding power, providing an economical solution for industrial paint manufacturers;
  • produces low-haze, high-gloss coatings;
  • is used in oil-, solvent-, and water-borne paints and coatings for exterior applications;
  • aesthetically helps provide high brightness and a neutral tone in whites.

While paint supplies dry up, the high demand for rollers, brushes et al continued to outpace manufacturer ability to keep up, decimating stockpiles. For professional painters, getting hold of the general things needed in the day-to-day job became difficult.

Paint Supplies Direct www.PaintSuppliesDirect.ca, however, continues to help customers find their paint supplies with a quick and affordable turnaround.

Dan Blohm, the owner and sole employee of Dan Blohm Painting and Handy Man Services of Kitchener, Ontario has been painting since 2016 after his 32 years of full-time employment in the auto industry crashed with a plant closure.

“I didn’t want another real job, so I started painting for myself,” said Blohm, only half-joking.

He said that before supply issues hit in 2020, he only dealt with a local store in Kitchener for his Benjamin Moore paints.

“I only had to put in the order a couple of days before I needed it,” he recalled.

But when the supply chain issues became problematic for his supplier, those two days turned into two weeks.

“I had to get my order in a couple of weeks before the job started to make sure the products I needed were available on time,” he said. Although that worked for a while, an inability to provide for his customers quickly enough led him to seek out a better solution.

“I now use Paint Supplies Direct for 90 percent of my painting tools,” Blohm noted. “I buy all my rollers, roller cages, brushes, tape, tray/trim pail liners, plastic, spackling, gloves, and probably more stuff can’t remember.”

For him, being able to order online has been a convenience, and noted that the prices are reasonable—usually “cheaper than box stores.”

But the key point for Blohm has been timing. “Shipment times have been consistent, usually within a week. Even during [the worst of] the pandemic, they were fantastic, with zero product or delivery issues.”

He was also impressed with the customer service he received. “I’m a one-man painting company and am treated like a big company” citing how John of Paint Supplies Direct has sent thank-you emails for his orders and responded quickly to answer his questions.

He said that although he had a couple of order mix-ups owing to his fault, Blohm was impressed with how quickly Burke responded to his concerns and ensured the order was correct.

“I will continue using Paint Supplies Direct because they continue to offer fantastic, friendly, and professional service.”

We also received high marks from Kim Boomer, Project Manager with LIBCAN Properties-Restoration-Contracting of Truro, Nova Scotia.

We should point out that both LIBCAN and RSR Painting Limited of Guysborough, Nova Scotia, were asked their view of how the companies worked around the supply chain issue—unfortunately, we did so the week Hurricane Fiona barreled into the province. We are sure both companies have their hands full helping out the good people of Nova Scotia.

Only Boomer was able to provide us with details of her workaround to the supply chain issues. Hint… it involved Paint Supplies Direct.

Her company engages in the upkeep of the many residential/commercial rental properties (duplex, 4-plex, 6-plex, apartment buildings) it owns, and the maintenance of them, and supplies emergency fire and flood restoration for the Truro and surrounding areas.

“We provide maintenance on all of our apartments, as well as others that we manage on behalf of third-party owners doing interior/exterior building envelope repairs, plumbing/electrical repairs, and complete renovations of units when needed, including drywall, painting, flooring, trim work, windows/doors, siding, roofing.”

Also pertinent—especially now—LIBCAN does restoration following fire and floods, removing all damaged building envelope materials, as well as household contents before doing complete repairs to original or better condition.

Now with 12 full-time employees and one part-timer, LIBCAN, owned by the very involved Sam Abushenaf, has been a part of the area’s rental business for over 20 years but has only been a major player in the restoration side since 2015.

She said that when the supply chain issues hit, the availability of supplies shifted from week to week.

“One week you couldn’t get plywood, then you couldn’t get plumbing pipe, electrical panels, or trim paint,” she said with a hint of exasperation. “There always seemed to be something on the shortlist.

“We quickly realized that we needed to get ahead of the game, by buying ahead of our needs and buying in bulk. This took a lot of anticipation of what we would need months ahead of actually needing it.”

She said that when she started with the company in 2020, she wanted to limit the number of trips made to the hardware store for single items—things that impinged upon their ability to do the physical work.

“The question I asked is, what are we buying a lot of, but buying it individually? What can we buy in bulk, and get better pricing on? This set the list for what we need to keep on hand that our crew could take from our shop in the morning, and not need us to make stops at local stores.

“Some of these items were tray liners, roller refills, caulking, brushes. I looked for an online supplier of bulk paint supplies and quickly found Paint Supplies Direct.”

From them, Boomer said LIBCAN typically purchases tray liners, roller refills, caulking, brushes, sanding blocks, floor protection, and tapes.

“I typically have my order within the week, and that has been consistent since we started with them,” related Boomer, adding that they will continue to order from them.

“The service has been wonderful,” she stated. “I get check-ins every once in a while, which I greatly appreciate.

“Paint Supplies Direct has never made me feel like a number, which lines up with the way we conduct our business with our clients and our staff.”

For all your paint and paint supply needs, www.PaintSuppliesDirect.ca has you covered. PP

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