Haymes Paint – more than just a quality Aussie product

After 85 years in the business, one would think that Haymes Paint had endured and overcome most business obstacles, including major recessions and global wars. This was, of course, until COVID-19 was transmitted into Australia earlier this year.

Trading as the only Australian owned and operating paint manufacturer in the local paint industry during lock down proved to have its benefits, according to Haymes Paint Commercial Director, Tim Haymes, with the well-loved paint company receiving plenty of support from its customers during this time.

Haymes Paint Commercial Director Tim Haymes, Haymes Paint Export and New Business Manager Matt Haymes and Haymes Paint CEO, Rod Walton are not only proud of the high-quality product Haymes Paint produces, but also the outstanding service it provides to its customers.

“I think, like all paint manufacturers, there was a spike in sales initially because everyone seemed to be ‘panic buying’ paint. Being stuck at home during lock down seemed a great opportunity to complete renovations around the house. We saw a major increase in sales from March onwards and this has not really slowed down. We are in such a fortunate position and we certainly count our blessings that the construction industry, at this stage, is still moving along reasonably well in both the residential and commercial sectors,” Mr Haymes said.

“In saying this, there will definitely be a downturn at some point. We are thinking towards the end of the year. But at the moment things are travelling well. From a Haymes Paint perspective, there were already a lot of changes in the industry prior to COVID-19 anyway when the Dulux Group was purchased by Nippon Paint last year. This has made us the only remaining national Australian made and owned paint manufacturer in the market.”

“We have certainly seen a lot of interest in the Australian Made sentiment from our customers and I think COVID-19 probably highlighted the importance of people trying to support Australian owned businesses even more so. It also helps to have a good quality product so you are able to compete. Haymes has also topped Canstar Blue’s paint ratings for the third year in a row which we are extremely proud of,” he said.

While Mr Haymes admits Haymes Paint will never be the cheapest paint on the market, the Haymes products are price competitive and the high quality of the product is a huge part of the equation as well.

“The points of difference we really push is not just about the product that is in the can – we also strive to provide solutions for our customers through exceptional service and expertise. We focus on so much more than just selling a can of paint, including how we can add value to a project or to a tradesman’s business. This is our mindset in terms of what we do and it gives us a real point of difference.”

“We are a family business and pretty much every client we deal with, whether it be a retail customer, a tradie, a developer, or a builder, are all family businesses too so we are all in the same boat. We can absolutely relate to those businesses and we really understand them which is why we truly believe we can add value to what they are doing,” Mr Haymes said.

Management training

Implementing the right education at a retailer or distributor level is also incredibly important, according to Mr Haymes, as store managers and their teams must know what product goes where and what substrate needs the appropriate preparation, whether it be a top coat or a clean-up, to properly serve Haymes’ customers. 

“There is that hands on product training and then there is also having the know how to understand what the customer wants and really listening to their needs. That is key within any successful business – listening to your customers. Throwing in your own opinion without really listening will only get you into trouble. It is also important that our team members put their hand up if they do not know the answer to an enquiry as well,” he said.

“This is something we really encourage and try to train our team on. They do not need to know all the answers. It is much better to say ‘sorry, I am not 100 per cent sure on this but I will find out for you’ and they can ring our lab directly or our service express team to get those answers.”

“The culture of our family business and our distributors include the values of truth, respect, motivation, listening and really being passionate about what you do. This is something that you cannot teach, you can only guide.  It is about identifying and partnering with the best people and build the best team together to really represent who you are. I think that is something that we, as a family, have really focussed on for 85 years through my grandfather, my father and now my brother, myself, my brother-in-law and my sister. This is something that we hold dear to our hearts.”

“Having the best team of people around us and trying to provide support and build a tremendous culture within our team and within our business is the highest priority. Culture is one of those things where everyone has got to buy into it. We can set the roadmap of what we would like our culture to be but it is really the team that brings it to life,” Mr Haymes said.

Spring paint season

When looking to the upcoming spring paint season and whether sales will continue as usual during this time after the recent surge in sales, Mr Haymes said it is impossible to predict the trajectory of paint sales in spring.

“The massive increase occurred just before winter set in so whether or not there are still a lot of full cans of paint sitting in garages ready to be used in spring or summer, who knows! But sales will be different this year. From mid-September onwards we usually see a real upsurge in sales through to the start of December, which is one of the busiest times of the year apart from Easter. This year may be a little bit different.”

“Things change so rapidly. We are all locked down again in Melbourne now. Just over a month ago restrictions had eased and things were totally different. Long-term strategic planning still needs to occur, however, we are focusing quarter by quarter at the moment. We believe this is the best way to handle this unique situation and control what we think we can control. By next week though it could all be thrown out the door,” Mr Haymes said.

Team communication remains a key strength within a healthy business, particularly during these unusual times, according to Mr Haymes, who said on-going and honest discussions with the team is critical. It not only develops trust, but also gives the team a sense of empowerment.

“We have full faith in our team to make the right decisions even through this unique time. We are so fortunate to have the best team in the industry and they continue to do amazing things across the board; whether it is in sales, operations, support, marketing, IT, finance, or in the lab. How they are conducting themselves and what they are doing for our family business has just been incredible,” he said.

Popular and innovative products

Products that proved to be particularly popular during lock down have varied, according to Mr Haymes, but relate primarily with DIYers intending to complete projects over the period.

“The majority of products sold over the last few months have been driven out of completing projects like painting a room, doors, re-painting the garage floor and refreshing decking.  In the retail space the products used have related to those small to medium size DIY projects,” he said.

Haymes Paint is well known for its innovative, market leading products and this year has been no different, according to Mr Haymes, who said on-going innovation is delivered not only in new products, but in customer service as well.

“We always have to innovate. Whether this is a major innovation in product or service or whether it is ‘tweaking’ as we go and looking at how we can do things differently. Continuing to learn is critical to the success of a business – Do not be afraid of change. If you stagnate, your business goes backwards,” he said.

“As the only remaining national Australian made and owned paint manufacturer, we are aware that we need to be a single source solution for all surface coatings to compete. We have to provide not just architectural and decorative paint, but also protective and industrial coatings, render and texture solutions, as well as wood care products. We have been aware for many years that we need to be more than just architectural and decorative products to compete with our global competitors. We now have pretty much everything that opens and closes in surface coatings.”

“We have major upgrades coming to our wood care range in spring which is exciting. As part of our innovation program, we recently delivered a serious render and texture coating solution as well. Our new Rendertex range has been the biggest product initiative we have delivered over the last 12 months. It is a high quality, complete solution, something that we have not had in the render and texture space before. We have also launched several new industrial coatings to the market which are selling well,” Mr Haymes said.

Australian Made

Despite all the new product launches and plans for the future, Mr Haymes is careful to not brush over the fact that Haymes Paint is now the only national Australian made and owned paint manufacturer remaining and understands there is a peak in interest from Australians wanting to support locally owned and made businesses. It has also altered the way Haymes look at their own procurement.

“COVID-19 has given us further focus on our supply chain of raw materials, accessories and who we buy from. This is part of a mandate now to deal locally when it is practical and viable.  We always did this to some extent anyway, but this is now officially part of our procurement policy. Where we can, we will support Australian made and owned businesses. I think it is important, now more than ever, to support other Australian businesses because this has such a positive impact on our economy,” he said.

“In the past we have held off from going down the road of displaying the green and gold Australian Made logo. However, we have been working with the Australian Made Campaign over the last few months and we are ready to really push this initiative in our products and branding. It is such a well-respected identity, particularly when exporting products. We have been building our export market mainly in Japan over the last three years and this is now starting to take off. Australian Made products are seen as very good quality in many countries, which is why we will now put the Australian Made logo on several products and all of our marketing materials as well which is very exciting. We strongly believe our association with the Australian Made logo will play well both locally and internationally.”

“You have to find the positives out of these periods and hopefully there will be a lot of long-term positives from the COVID-19 experience. If these positives mean more Australians will now support more Australian businesses, that is a massive win, not just for the manufacturing sector but for all of us because it means the money stays in the country and is re-invested in the country. Manufacturing across the board in Australia is almost like a dying art to a degree, and hopefully this will assist in steering this ship on the right course,” Mr Haymes said.

Looking ahead…

Looking over the next few months, Mr Haymes reiterated that a high-quality product combined with quality service is what allows Haymes Paint to stand out from its competitors.

“This is the key part of succeeding because if you are not giving the right advice and not adding value to your customers, it does not really matter how good your product is, to be honest. It is critically important to perfect all aspects of the business as well,” he said.