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Text | Beyond the Gloss Superyacht Painting | 001
Huckleberry Finn and that white picket fence. This is superyachts, where nothing is simple.
The current players in the business agree that the superyacht paint business is governed by:
1. An overriding quest for perfection on ever larger vessels, which by their sheer size make
mistakes costlier and perfection even more difficult to achieve
2. An ongoing search for longer finish life and
a truly repairable surface in a very hostile environment
3. Simplifying the application process so that, theoretically, almost anybody can do it in their backyard, because that's often the environment where yachts are painted
4. Providing aftermarket service globally, so the crew is supported wherever the vessel goes - and with expedition yachts that means anywhere...except maybe Somalia
5. All the while keeping a watchful eye on looming environmental regulations that could be a bigger concern than the bottom of owners' pockets.
Above the waterline, you still have to say there is only one truly global player in superyacht finishes - AwlGrip. The Microsoft/FedEx/Xerox/Kleenex of the superyacht industry, AwlGrip is the only brand name to have become a verb, as in, "I want my boat AwIGripped..." (Can you imagine if DuPont were number one?)
"AwlGrip created the market," says Blakes Paints' Jacqui Knott.
Born in the 1970s when some Americans decided that if you could do it to airplanes with AlumaGrip, you could do it to boats, AwlGrip has that special, almost unreasoned universal cache that everyone has to beat. And to the frustration of its challengers, it seems you can find a can of AwlGrip anywhere. With yachts cruising farther afield, builders and owners real- ly need to know that if there's a scratch in Luderitz, there will be paint in Luderitz.
Bur as every successful businessman knows, when you're number one, there's no place to go but down - especially in a business where you're remembered for your failures. While those chasing AwlGrip can be, indeed must be, creative, AwlGrip knows it's all toO easy to mess up a good, solid old brand. Remember Classic Coke or AwlGrip II, even?
Since 2002, AwlGrip has operated under Akzo Nobel's dedicated yacht division. For release this year, AwlGrip promises that its huge R&D department has stirred up some exciting new things. But they know, only too well, it has to be AwlGrip.
These, in turn, should be seen in the context of the
:onstant growth in number and size of yachts, which they're actually sculptures, someone's very special
s resulting in an exponentially rising number of dream; saysAlexSeal'sTripp Nelson. "Everyone wants ident and general manager for AwlGrip USA, "But
what's news this
lear in superyacht paint: "VOCs" (volatile organic
:ompounds) and, ironically, considering the topic is >aint, "color."
ties and captains of multinational industry, it still operates like a very well-funded cottage industry.
Nobody has to understand all that better than the paint makers.
;quare meters to be covered or recovered - perfectly, to be distinctive."
)f course. Remember, too, the irony, that while the So to grasp what will be going on in the superyacht )usiness of superyachts exists for international celebri- paint business in 2007, first forget Tom Sawyer,
I'm as excited as 1was in 1973 by what 1see coming." An interesting result of Akzo Nobel's acquisition of
AwlGrip is that International/lnterlux, once a topside
"You have to remember superyachts aren't boats;
"You can't do everything at once," says an AwlGrip veteran from the start, David Halcomb, now vice pres-
DOCKWALK/ JANUARY2007 6
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