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Innovation and quality thanks to skilled technicians in Lebanon
Lebanon is a country with great contrasts: on the mountains there is snow, and the coast has a Mediterranean climate. The country is characterized by wealth and poverty: expensive cars but also slums. The Lebanese people are proud of their 20 years of relative “peace” and have secured this through a representation of all ethnic-religious groups in important political functions.
The owner of Tinol Paints International Co., Wafa Saab, and her son Chaker, the managing director, run the company together from the capital Beirut. The office and an outdated production site are located in Beirut, along with six more distribution centres across Lebanon. The company has a wide range of products and wanted to improve quality at a lower price. This way they can innovate their products, and Tinol asked PUM for an organisational review. A broad triple mission followed their request, in which both paint expert Ad Verbree and sector coordinator Chemicals Hans Blom were deployed.
High quality for a lower price
Ad visited Tinol in Beirut twice, in February and December 2018. Ad: “After an extensive tour and warm welcome by Chaker, we left for the factory, which is built about 10 kilometres away in the city up a hill. We discussed the most important problems: floor coatings that had to be formulated differently and adapted to the application, and wall paints that could be developed and produced better and cheaper. It was a mutual pleasure to discuss problems and solutions with technician Ali. I also gave advice on environmental technology: for example, on discharges of waste water and the reuse of raw materials.”
‘We spent many hours discussing paint technology’
Ad: “My visit went well, because in December 2018 I left for Tinol once again. My second assignment, besides upgrading products, was: training the new plant and laboratory manager. We spent many hours discussing paint technology, from product formulation to production and the development of new products for new markets.”
During outings Ad experienced internal contradictions and remains of conflicts in Lebanon, as well as the current problems in the Middle East: “In the city you can see bullet holes in many walls, next to newly built apartment buildings. In Anjar I saw almost completely destroyed Roman temples, and in Baalbeck I also saw destroyed but partly restored original temples dedicated to Jupiter and Bacchus. You can see Lebanon has suffered enormously. On my way through the country I also saw the barracks of Syrian refugees.”
In between Ad’s advisory missions, Wafa and Chaker visited the Netherlands on a business link in October 2018. Thanks to the efforts of various PUM experts, they were able to visit Van Wijhe in Zwolle to gain more insight into the working methods of a medium-sized paint company in West Europe. In addition, they visited the COT (Centre for Surface Technology in Haarlem), the VVVF (association of paint and printing ink manufacturers) in Leiderdorp, and Claessen chemical distributor. This provided insight into, for example, EU paint standardization and qualification, and paint distribution. Tinol’s marketing strategy was also examined, and the foundation was built for a subsequent visit to Lebanon. The week ended with a tour of The Hague.
Opportunities for regional growth
Hans Blom visited Tinol Paints in Beirut in February 2019 and performed a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats). This way, the strategy could be redefined, and after an analysis of the organisation based on interviews, Hans was able to give advice on the development of the organisation. Tinol’s opportunities lie in access to regional growth to neighbouring countries such as the UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Syria, the expansion of the distribution network, and reorganisation. However, Tinol is struggling with too many products, competition, and aging management and staff.
After the visit to the Netherlands and the visits of Ad and Hans to Lebanon, Tinol Paints has hired more chemists and technicians for research & development and the laboratories. Thanks to PUM’s advice, the quality remains better than the competition’s. Chaker: “We introduced new formulas on the Lebanese market with Ad’s help, and there is a big price advantage.” Ad adds: “We still have regular contact via e-mail. Recently, we spoke at a coating fair in Nuremberg and we strengthened the contacts again.” Tinol Paints is now working hard on innovation and a vision for the future.
Text: Ad Verbree, Hans Blom, Victorine Nillesen
Photography: Ad Verbree, Hans Blom