As seen in: Meer & Yachten / July/August 2005
Compared to the total paint market, the yacht paint sector is only a niche market. However, once a company is well established, a highly profitable and, first of all, an extremely prestigious one. A Hamburg paint manufacturer is resolved to enter this market with a newly developed paint system.
The yacht paint sector is a small but nice market and, according to Mr Michael O. Grau, the owner of company Mankiewicz Gebr. & Co., it is ripe for new products. Germany´s largest privately owned industrial paint factory, located in Hamburg-Wilhelmsburg with just under 600 employees, is known worldwide for its special paints for the automotive and aviation markets as well as its market leadership in the industrial market. In the last year alone, the company´s turnover amounted to € 110 million.
A disproportionately large research and development department as otherwise only found in the high-tech segment has ensured company Mankiewicz´s place at a top position for years, in spite of the competition of globally operating corporate paint manufacturer groups. Example: extremely temperature, chemical and corrosion resistant interior and exterior paints for machine housings, aircraft bodies made of aluminium (Airbus), leather-like softcoatings which feel good to the touch as can be found in the cockpits of many a passenger car (BMW, DaimlerChrysler, Audi and Volkswagen).
Being a medium-sized company, Mankiewicz is able to react quickly to new developments of the market. Among other things, a liquid foil was developed recently to protect finished cars from soiling and UV radiation until the moment they are handed over from dealer to customer.
Another new development is a high-tech paint protecting the rotor blades of wind power stations against the destructive flying sand. In the face of such flexibility, it is not surprising that the customers intone a paean of praise for medium-sized companies that, like Mankiewicz, are normally able to react to market changes quicker than corporate groups.
Yachtsman Michael O. Grau, who is directing the paint factory – which was founded in 1895 – in the third generation, had advanced the development work for years before entering the yacht market with a product called Alexseal. The new Alexseal Yacht Coatings satisfy the yacht paints´ specific demands on optics and resistance properties very efficiently.
“Our major objective was the development of paints which can be applied easily and cost-efficiently; while doing so, we also distinctly improved all technological properties of the paint film”, says the proprietor. According to him, surfaces coated with Alexseal will look like they did on the first day, even after years of being exposed to extreme solar irradiation. In the jargon, this is called “wet look”; surfaces thus coated feature extremely good levelling and “deep” gloss.
The Alexseal Coating System is rounded off by special protective paints for above and below the waterline and engine rooms as well as decorative effect paints for the interior. These interior paints from Hamburg were discovered several years ago by the very design-oriented Italian shipyards, company Azimut among them.
In both the US and the Australian markets, there was an amazing resonance for the Alexseal Yacht Coating System only a few months after its launch into the market, particularly in the qualityconscious sector of maxi and mega yacht
Michael O. Grau also succeeded in signing on Mr Chris von der Heyde, the former CEO of many years of the US paint manufacturer Awlgrip, who had been dismissed after takeover by the conglomerate Akzo Nobel. By Mr von der Heyde and his team a completely new environmental-friendly generation of yacht paints was developed and forced into the market. The whole team is convinced that, by offering superior service and customer-orientation, the good reputation nowadays demanded by many customers will be achieved.
Recently, Mankiewicz launched a campaign for conquering the European yacht market and became a member of the work group “Deutsche Yachten” (German yachts) of the German boat and shipbuilders association. In this group, 39 companies of the super yacht building sector in Germany are cooperating. However, Michael O. Grau emphasised that the shipyards building smaller yachts or specialising in refits are also an important target group of Mankiewicz Gebr. & Co.
“We got onto the market leaders´ trail and will satisfy with the quality of our modern coating systems”, the proprietor states self-confidently. According to his statement, production and distribution channel as well as logistics, customer service and applications engineering comply with the market´s and the customers´ highest requirements.
Michael O. Grau compares business management to regatta sailing: “As on every regatta yacht, our success is based on excellent materials and dedicated teamwork.” For Mr Grau customer-orientation and competent service plus worldwide application support for the customers are a matter of course in the yacht paint market just like in all other markets.