Forget soap, Paint Manufacturing, a multi billion shilling business venture surpasses all industrial undertakings in Kenya, if the figures on construction as released by National Construction Authority, Research and Business Development report (17th October, 2018) is anything to go by.
Thousands upon thousands of new buildings (residential, institutional, hotels and real estate) are mushrooming in every space available in the Kenyan soil and often at a relatively high rate, thanks to the growing demand for houses by the expanding population. A casual look on your left or right hand side in wherever you are reading this documentary from, will reveal a new building coming up or at least a repair work needing touch up.
Consumes Billions of Litres
Kenya, the biggest economy in East and Central Africa consumes billions of Tons of Architectural Paint annualy, thanks to the ever expanding construction industry whose, according to a recent review report, put the GDP Value addition to 8.6%, with the value of the newly completed buildings registering a growth of 10.2%, an exponential phenomenon BMI Research says will remain steady at 6.2% until 2026. This, according to the BMI Research, will have Kenya outperforming all sub-Saharan countries. In essence, the biggest industrial product at the moment is Paint, after Tar (for tarmacking), whose serious suppliers are only five: Crown, Sadolin, Basco, Glory and Solai. Several few others (about ten or so) players in the categories of low to medium scale, seem to be content with their earnings, prompting them to retain their status quo. A quick check on their profiles and deliberate physical visit on these medium scale manufacturers’ workshops revealed that they are in fact a one-man-show businesses, whose branding is as poor as their trade names.
The five major paint makers, have a rich history of beginnings, with some being in the market for the last 60 years. Their longer presence in the market could partly explain their dominance in the market but the actual drive to their successful dominance is their astute dynamism in marketing and effort to keep with the rapid growth of clients in the ever expanding paint industry. For example, Crwon Paint, which leads the pack of the five biggest manufacturers of paint, had a whooping annual turnover of Kshs. 7.3 billion in 2017 producing 2 million liters of paint per month and employing over 1,000 staff members. Infact, Crwon paint is listed on the Nairobi Stock Exchange! The other paint producers follow closely while the building and construction industry continues to expand. The all five and few others in the low medium/low scale category benefit immensely monetary wise when it comes to service delivery to the under-served market.
Demystifying Paint Production
One of the reason why dominance usually lies with few market players (at any given field) is due to ignorance or complete lack of insight by citizens who nature the dream of joining the prestigious manufacturer’s club. I remember five years ago when I first gave my public lecture on soap production in Meru-Kenya, the participants were surprised and shocked to learn that soap is made by human beings and anyone-whether learned or not-can make soap. But wait, no paint manufacturer would come out to teach the public how to make it. They will be inviting an undue competition. On the other hand, no public University teaches Paint Technology as an entrepreneurial course. Therefore, we cannot entirely blame citizens for not taking a bold step to have bite on the cake which the giants are eating. I started gaining a following on social media and internet where we have a strong foot print, and up to date, people continue buying high capacity soap machineries which we sell on behalf of a local Assembly Plant.
In fact, unlike soap business which needs expensive machinery (at medium scale level production) paint factory, at the same level, only requires a good agitator machine going at quarter price of the soap machines which EMK produces. Screening, which is a mandatory quality control procedure, can be done without a machine however, for quality purposes, a roller mill-also going at half price of a medium scale soap plodder-is a good investment business tool. At very low levels of production, wooden mixing ladle (mwiko) and a fine mesh can be used to produce at least 100 Liters per day.
Paint Formulation and Production
Compared with most other industrial products like soap, detergents, cosmetics etc, paint has the widest area of study and needs keen understanding of the formulation concepts in its deep-wide curriculum. In fact a serious trainer of paint will take not less than a week to cover all areas of paint manufacturing aspects. In total, there are about 15 types of Paints-divided as Industrial Coatings and Architectural Paints in the market and their production criteria differs from each other. Good news is that a keen learner is able to understand and duplicate a sample after a sample during the learning period that takes a week. We made paint samples used as teaching models of comparison and the paint, both Acrylic Emulsion and Solvent based, was made by a simple electric stirrer in our classroom.
Small Scale Production
Compared to other products, Paint being produced at low scale level is capable of uplifting a family’s fortunes 100 fold in just a fortnight. Sample this: Wambui’s neighbor constructing a family house worth 2 million shillings may need paint worth 60,000 shillings which she (Wambui) can make in just over 36 hours and give sell it out to the neighbor for Ksh 50,000. If at all Wambui will observe quality and fair price, the neighbor will be at no qualms taking it to his benefit.
Conversely, Wambui the cottage manufacturer can approach ten similar constructors (or house owners) in the neighborhood and within that month, she will make a cool 500,000 whose Net Profit is about 330,000. In summary, a cottage paint industry, set up at home can earn the Wambui’s family about a 500,000 per month
Smart Start up for a medium Scaler
For a smarter starter, the secret lies in approaching a contractor whose building is storeyed and with a quick introduction of his/her carefully and nicely packaged brand (that looks international), strikes a deal to supply the project, which may need as much as paint worth 6 million shillings. Penniless, the small scale manufacturer, armed with transaction papers, asks for a down payment of 30-50% and quickly uses the cash to purchase Raw Materials (that may be worth 1.5M) and an industrial agitator and containers. Two weeks of mixing and packing will culminate in delivery of the paint (in their respective types) and hooray! A balance cheque of pure NET profit will be issued to him/her. Hasn’t he/she made a breakthrough?
As you may have witnessed, Nokia, Samsung and Sony no longer monopolize the phone industry. The simple reason is that market preferences are dynamic and they change with advancement of technology, fashion and influence. Closer home, the era of Postal dominance was overtaken by events with advancement of technology, whereby parcel delivery shifted to more speedy public transport service providers. Similarly, Mwea rice farmers got a new lease of life for their harvests when they realized their competitors were branding their well packed rice. What am I driving at? Consumers are always exploring and newer products in the market look more attractive and more promising compared to the monotony of the traditional products. This is exemplified by long distance transport companies who introduce stylish buses, fully branded uniquely from bus to bus. A visit to most homes of younger adults will reveal that powerful musical systems in their living rooms are not Sony or Samsung home theaters. In fact, names on the systems are not popular while some are hard to pronounce. All in all, the message is this: Bring a new product (in this case Paint) well branded and better quality (you can increase Volume Solids and Apply more hiding pigments like Titanium Dioxide) and give it out to retailers of other major brands and you will be in business, Period!
As I have always told and demonstrated to our students, branding is the major driver of the commodity. A good name, professionally designed label bearing a well constructed name of the manufacturer will get your product attracting and commanding attention. Avoid giving your good product the names found in your village. The name of the manufacturer should leave scanty imagination about you, lest you fall prey to your competitors or individuals with an interest in your business. BTW, who owns MOBITEL East Africa (Mobitelea)?
Countries like South Sudan, Uganda, Malawi etc whose paint is made by foreign owners (most are subsidiaries of Kenyan companies) can have their citizens take up the challenge and without saying, they will be natural benefactors of the projects for the obvious reasons I’m not writing here.
With all the knowledge and experience in industrial product design and development, paint, another discipline is well taught and the learners are accorded ambient environment to practice what they have learned in theory by formulating and testing samples immediately after Compounding them. Training is KEBS standards focused and a guarantee is given to the new learners.
While stressing that Cosmetics and Detergents Kenya Limited Institute is the only training and consulting firm that offers Industrial Paint Manufacturing Technology in East Africa, Herman, the chief trainer advises those interested in the Paint Manufacturing industry to take the advantage of the current offer because the fee might increase as demand for the course rises. Betty Industrial Chemicals Ltd, together with Ten other chemical stockists are ready to provide raw materials at very competitive rates.