Established in 1938, Bradite is one of the UK’s longest established quality protective coatings manufacturers, with a product offer aimed at professional painters and decorators, merchants and specifiers. The company’s range is formulated to meet the needs of commercial and industrial applications on a wide variety of substrates and is manufactured using only the best quality raw materials.
PBM talks to James Burton, UK Sales Manager for Bradite.
How did you get into the industry and to your current position?
When I was 12 years old, I started working at my grandfather’s merchant business — W. Robinsons in Derby — on Saturdays and during the school holidays. One thing I remember well is working in the paint mixing department, which was in the cellar along with the spirit store and everybody smoked. How things have changed!
I worked there full time after leaving school and eventually was responsible for the wallpaper side of the business and developed and expanded branches in the Derby and Leicester area. After I joined the merchant Snaiths, my understanding and appreciation of protective coatings developed. It was there that I was responsible for the first introduction into the UK of the Zinsser brand of specialist coating products.
Eventually I formed my own merchant business —Derby Decorating Supplies — with my brother. We concentrated on protective coating products, building something of a reputation as experts in the field. The business was bought by Brewers, who I worked with for eight years, before joining Bradite to re-launch the brand in 2013.
How do you feel the industry has changed in recent years?
Mergers and acquisitions by the major paint producers and merchants have hugely affected the makeup of the industry, yet at the same time there has been a very real growth in the demand for specialty paint and protective coatings products.
Contractors, stockists and their customers are developing an appreciation of the value of these product categories over traditional paints, both in terms of the performance they offer and the added value they attract.
As the facilities market has grown, so has the demand for premium protective coating products and this affects both the stockist and the professional painter and decorator. There are now real opportunities in the commercial property market for the proactive stockist and contractor — and not just the larger companies.
I think that the level of professionalism in the industry has grown enormously; customers — both domestic and commercial — demand the same levels of service that they find in other aspects of their lives these days, and that can only be a good thing for the industry.
What are the current challenges facing your company?
Although the understanding of what quality protective coatings can do has grown tremendously, it is still our challenge to spread the word to merchants and their customers — and that means getting in front of people and communicating the benefits through training. There are never enough hours in the day!
And what has been your biggest challenge so far?
Finding the right partners to work with takes time, but we are fortunate in the excellent relationships we have formed.
What has been the highlight of your career to date?
Without a doubt the last 12 months since we re-launched the Bradite brand. We’ve seen a fantastic take up of the range. The tough targets we set ourselves have been hit — and exceeded — which gives a great foundation for 2015 and beyond.