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Re: Consultants or Coating Reformulators


I agree that LARGEish companies should work directly with their coating
supplier to find coatings that work well for their application and also help
them lower emissions.  [A potential problem for P2 though:  every coating
supplier has a vested interest in keeping the business with them.  However,
a particular supplier may not have a water-based coating, for example, that
performs adequately for the coating user, and will therefore try to persuede
the company not to go water-based or the lack of performance will convince
the company that they should just stay with solvent-based coatings.
Therefore, whenever contemplating a change, several suppliers should be
contacted to make sure the best coating system is choosen in terms of
capital expense, operating expense and coating quality.]

However, Richard Illig's question was targeted to SMALL companies.
Typically they are much too small an account to warrent direct attention
from a coating manufacturer or even the distributer - which is why
Pennsylvania's finding more compliance problems with these small companies.
However, making a coating change can be a time consuming and technically
difficult proposition for a small company.  Therefore, another approach is
needed to help these small companies learn about alternative coatings and
try them out to find one that works.  Most likely they will have to buy a
standard product from the coating supplier, not one that is specially

Unfortunately, I don't have a good answer to this problem.  Often, the
smaller the coating manufacturer, the smaller the customer they are willing
to work with.  For example, C.E. Bradley of Brattleboro, VT specializes in
water-based coatings (mainly for wood).  Often the coating supplier will
take a sample back to their facility and coat it as the method of trying a
new coating.  Another idea would be for a trade association to pool it's
resources so that a coating supplier could hit several companies at once -
such as a demonstration at one company where other companies could bring
their product to try the coatings on it as well.  Or perhaps some
centralized laboratory facility is warrented (although who would fund it?).

At the very least there is a great need for the P2 community to focus on
these small coating users.  What I've found in looking at the funiture
sector is that there are basic application equipment and operator technique
changes that can be made for a lot less effort that will still have a big
impact on emissions (as well as the company's operating expenses).
Therefore, for the small guys, it's probably better to start with coating
use efficiency (and raising the solids content of coatings), rather than the
overwhelming task of conversion to a new type of coating.  I think there is
more "off the shelf" information about this as well.

Finally, I can't recommend consultants to small companies.  I just don't see
how they'd know enough to be efficient enough to be cheap enough for a small
company.  I think it'd end up being a waste of money for the company.
Again, most coating jobs are highly specific, at least for wood, and what
works at one facility might not at another.  There's no easy solution.  I
think our P2 technical assistance folks can do just as good, if not better,
job than a consultant for a small company.

Just wanted to add my 2 cents that I don't think the coating supplier is the
proper suggestion when you are dealing with SMALL companies.  I'd appreciate
hearing the thoughts of others...

Jennifer Griffith,

129 Portland Street, 6th Floor
Boston, MA  02114
(617) 367-8558, ext. 303
(617) 367-0449 (FAX)