ColoursColours is raising the bar for automotive paint distributors by investing in training, service and expanded facilities.
By Eric Slack

Founded in 1972, Colours has been serving the automotive paint industry in the Mid-Atlantic region for more than 40 years. Purchased in 1986 by current owner, President and CEO Tim Evans with a single location in Wilkes-Barre, Penn., Colours now has 30 locations including 2 distribution centers, providing a wide array of services to the automotive and industrial paint industry.

“We pride ourselves on our customer service,” CFO Ali Mahalak says. “Our business development managers are trained to review customers’ numbers, tracking and implementing changes that may help the customer become more efficient and in turn more profitable. Additionally, Colours has a tech team that includes five PPG certified refinish technical representatives and two certified PPG commercial technical representatives. Our tech team helps customers, location staff and vendors on current products, new products entering the market and troubleshooting.”

Exceptional Service

With more than 215 employees in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Maryland and West Virginia, Colours serves customers such as large independent body shops, dealership auto body shop and service centers, industry multiple shop operations and more. Essentially, anyone that uses automotive refinish coatings, commercial coatings, detail and car wash products, specialty paints, body tools and all associated industry specific products could need Colours’ services.

“Becoming one of the most progressive and fastest growing companies in our industry is due to our ability to adapt,” Mahalak says.

Colours is constantly working to improve customer service by enhancing company processes and reviewing what works and what doesn’t. It trains people on how to best handle customers and sets expectations for properly dealing with customers. In addition to making its tech team and business development managers readily accessible for customers, Colours hosts open houses, after-hour clinics, I-CAR certifications and expert-led industry nights for customers. Colours box

“Going above the normal service and delivery for our customers is what sets us apart,” Mahalak says.

Ensuring strong supplier relationships is also important to Colours’ success. The company hosts suppliers on a quarterly basis and reviews what’s happening in the market, and its suppliers work field days with sales staff on at least a monthly basis.

“Our tech and sales staff tests new products, and we bring some of our private label products into some customers for honest feedback before we bring it to the market,” Mahalak says. “Additionally, we host a trade show at our annual summit meeting where all our suppliers are invited to attend with their latest products and industry news. Our suppliers also host our sales and management staff for tours of their manufacturing plants, training forums and product demos.”

Spreading Knowledge

Training is a major piece of realizing strategic goals for Colours. Each distribution center houses a training center for employees, customers and vendors for industry specific classes. Each of the company’s four regions also has a training team to help new employees understand their duties.

“Additionally, we are currently working on creating an internship opportunity for vocational technical schools in the body shop segment,” Mahalak says. “We are starting to work with some leaders in the education field on how best to offer great training, learn about PPG paint and products, try different allied products and become familiar with the industry outside of a classroom.”

At the end of the internship, some may be offered a position at one of the company’s 30 locations, and some may be placed at a customer location in any of the five states Colours services. The idea is for all participants to come out of the program with confidence and passion to pursue their career goals.

“In an aging-out segment, training a younger generation is an investment we must make for ourselves and for our customers,” Mahalak says. “Regarding training, the investments we make in customer clinics and training is so valuable to us. As our industry faces new laws and regulations with OSHA and EPA, it is important for our customers to be updated on the latest standards, compliance requirements and new technology out there that is available to meet those standards.”

Another large investment for the company is currently ongoing. Colours is building a new 30,000-square-foot corporate headquarters and distribution center. Currently, its purchasing and supply chain teams are located at its distribution center in Pittston, Penn. Colours believes that combining its administration and management offices with its purchasing and supply chain team will make for a much more cohesive unit.

“The new facility will also house a 6,000-square-foot training center complete with all the necessary technology and products at our fingertips to get products into our customers hands,” Mahalak says. “We anticipate being able to host double the amount of clinics and open houses that we currently are able to handle and to bring in more industry experts. Investing in our community is just as important as investing in our company. We expect the new corporate headquarters to bring in an additional 10 to15 jobs to that location alone.”

Looking ahead, Colours is striving to maintain its superior customer service and its relationships with suppliers and other PPG distributors, as well as training its employees and customers. Colours feels that is the best way the company can grow. The company has already built a reputation as a strong organization where individuals can thrive, and this helps the company to bring in quality employees. That culture spreads to potential and existing customers and potential customers, and Colours is therefore able to build healthy partnerships within its market.

“We anticipate our growth to come organically as well as through acquisition,” Mahalak says. “Making acquisitions will get us into markets that we currently cannot service from our existing locations, and organic growth will help broaden the geographical reach of our current footprint. Thanks to the advancement in route calculations as well as our sales and customer service representatives, we have increased our ability to reach more customers in any given day.” 


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