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Manufacturers on the Paint Shortage

Some manufacturers are seeing an end in sight to the paint shortage, but you still might have to look into the distance...

16 February, 2022

Paint Supply Shortage Manufacturer Update
Manufacturers Respond: Paint Shortage

It’s no secret that finding paint in 2021 wasn’t a picnic — pigments, raw materials, even the cans themselves wound up in short supply. The APC news team contacted several companies to find out their take: where we’ve been, where we are, where we’re going, and how they were responding to contractors’ needs. Not every company wants to go on record, but some provided exclusive comments to APC.

Clay Fenstermaker - Paint Shortage Interview
Clay Fenstermaker speaks on paint supply

Clay Fenstermaker, VP of Manufacturing at Dunn-Edwards Paints, reported that while things have been tough, he’s looking for a significant improvement in the coming months.

So you're saying things are going to get better as we move through 2022?

2022 is off to a comparatively good start. Staffing levels are improving as we see the impacts of Omicron waning. At the same time, raw material supply levels are improving. Our efforts are well underway to build back stock in both distribution centers and stores. Assuming we encounter no further headwinds, we envision having operations running smoothly again in Q2.

What are some of the issues you faced in 2021?

It was difficult to predict the impact that the combination of a worldwide pandemic, unprecedented consumer demand, a driver shortage, and Texas energy policy coupled with wild weather would create! Since March, we have struggled with our resin supply that uses building blocks from the petrochemical industry found on the Gulf Coast. Additional broad challenges came in the form of Force Majeure declarations around Titanium Dioxide and the Ethylene Oxide necessary for HEUR Thickeners.

How did you respond?

These challenges forced Dunn-Edwards to carefully select which product lines would be kept in stock while also working in overdrive to find alternate qualified supplies for challenged materials.

But you weren't the only one with a problem...

The shortages are not only industry-wide but also global. I’ve spoken with my supply chain colleagues in Dulux of Australia, and it was shocking how similar their concerns were to ours. Certainly, depending on starting stocking levels, supplier partnerships, and particular additives within a formulation, there is a variation to the challenges, but they appear to be across the board. 

That said, were there some issues specific to Dunn-Edwards?

One hurdle for Dunn-Edwards that other companies may not have observed is the concept that supplier allocation of key raw materials was based on a percentage of 2020 sales. The pandemic created growth opportunities for companies catering to the DIY consumer, as people who were spending more time at home decided to repaint. However, our sales come more heavily from professional painters, a market [segment] that did not experience that kind of boost. This dichotomy in sales numbers for 2020 meant Dunn-Edwards suffered more stringent supply restraints compared to many competitors.

How are you working with contractors to help them through the paint shortage?

Our loyal customers have been amazing to work with through these challenging times. Based on the decisions we needed to make regarding product lines we could support, we needed their flexibility in product selection to get through this period. As an example, we made sure to have at least one product line of exterior flat in stock at all times, even if it wasn’t the exact exterior flat product a contractor preferred. This flexibility, and extended lead-times for special orders, were things that the contractors then had to pass on to their customers. Fortunately, this entire team came together to find solutions, and we are finally beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel.


Paint Shortage Manufacturers Respond


Matt Culverhouse, V.P. Sales, ICP Group (makers of California Paints and Fixall), reports that things are on the road to clear up, but there are still bumps in that road and that it’s important to be upfront with your clients.

“The coatings industry at large continues to navigate raw material shortages and rising chemical prices. There are signs of relief for certain allocations; however, the pandemic combined with recent weather-dominated events is still impacting the reliable supply and distribution of products. Lead times can be weeks — or months — longer than people are accustomed to. Now is the time to reach out to your supplier or manufacturer that can work with you to find the best solution and price so that your business can be on solid ground as the market stabilizes.”

John Lahey III, President, Fine Paints of Europe, has seen some “touch and go,” in that getting those Fine Paints FROM Europe has often come just in time to keep the shelves stocked.

“The Netherlands has never stopped manufacturing product. It’s a little slower leaving, which means that I’m very close to running out of paint each month. So it forces me to really load up. As a result, if I don’t have something, I back order it, but then when it comes in, I’m filling those backorders and then I’m finding myself in the same position I was before the order came in. I’m having a hard time catching up. We’ve had to do two price increases in the past 18 months, and I’ve swallowed one. It’s going to be an interesting year that’s for sure. I think it’s going to be gangbusters.”

What are your observations or thoughts on the paint shortage? Let us know in the comments below!


Joel at Joel W… (not verified)

Where's PPG and Sherwin-Williams comments? Oh, right, they were the ones that didn't want to go on record, or broken record!

Fri, 02/18/2022 - 07:39 Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

I am still having problems finding certain products, like DryFall, Shure scrub, and Builders Craft, among others,

Fri, 02/18/2022 - 10:26 Permalink

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Does your company own at least one AED/Automated External Defibrillator?


Did you attend any in-person paint industry events in 2023?


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