Face to Face: Sherwin-Williams

Face to Face: Sherwin-Williams

Established in Cleveland, Ohio in 1866 by Henry Sherwin and Edward Williams, Sherwin-Williams has been one of the leading manufacturers in coatings and accessories across the globe for over 150 years.

The business is home to some of Europe’s best-known brands including Geocel, Dowsil, Ronseal, Valspar, Purdy and Thompson’s, with the supplier striving to support its customers with innovative products as well and ensuring commitment to brand and in-store activations.

PBM speaks with Kevin Powell, Channel Manager – Trade.

How did you get into the industry and to your current position?

Having previously worked for Henkel, I joined Dow Corning Hansil in 1995 as a Territory Manager, calling on builders’ merchants in the South West. I was promoted to Key Account Manager and then subsequently to National Account Manager where I was able to look after the majority of national merchants and buying groups in my time.

I’ve have been involved in two major acquisitions, by Geocel in 2001 and then more recently Sherwin Williams in 2012. I’ve always looked to embrace change and was provided a great opportunity to manage the Trade Channel within the Sherwin Williams UK business through promotion 12 months ago. To date, I have spent my entire career within the merchant sector.

And how do you feel the sector has changed in recent years?

The most significant change in the merchant market during my 20+ years has been the continued growth, organically and by acquisition, of the national merchants. This has been followed in the independent sector by the growth and development of the buying groups and certain larger independents who wish to remain outside of the groups.

The other major difference in this period has been the growth of online trading, challenging both the traditional merchant along with the original online companies, now moving heavily into branch operations.

What are the challenges facing the merchant sector in particular?

I see the changing landscape of the trading market as a challenge for the merchant sector. As previously mentioned the growth of the online route to market is a big change that merchants are dealing with, either by competing with or by integrating that distribution route into their own business.

However, I do believe that nothing can compete with the personal service offered by a traditional merchant with the relationships developed with customers, understanding their specific needs and the advice that can be offered.

And what are the current challenges facing your company?

Currently, one of the biggest challenges has been the management of input pricing, particularly in the silicone sealant market. Inflationary cost pressures are compounded by market volatility, the majority of which has been fuelled by rising demand from China and increased environmental legislation restricting supply in the area.

There are many ways in which we look to add value to our proposition for our customers and as part of that, we will continue to innovate and deliver quality products and service to maintain our market leading position.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

My biggest challenge was being part of a team that took the Geocel brand from an unknown name in the merchant market in 2001 to where it is today as a market leading sealant and adhesive brand.

However, the highlight of my career to date was being promoted into managing the Trade business in 2017 — a channel I have been involved in for the last 23 years. I’m now leading a great team of account managers into growing our market leading brands, in conjunction with developing key strategic partnerships with our merchant customers.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

Continuing to lead and develop a successful and ambitious team with market leading products and with the potential to deliver some significant product development in new categories for us in the trade arena.

For more information on the brands in the Sherwin-Williams portfolio, visit www.sherwin-williams.co.uk

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