With the inauguration in the spring 2006 of the latest Jotun paint factory in Indonesia, the famous Norwegian company has now established its own production in four of the eight countries in South East Asia. The first factory in Asia was established in Thailand as early as in 1968.
Today, Jotun’s computerized paint mixing machine is a good example of the 80 year old company’s strive to lead the very competitive paint market by staying innovative. The first of these machines were installed in Norway in 1976 and they are now becoming increasingly popular in Asia.
“This May we got ten new centres, just here in Malaysia. Jotun is number one in the world, including Asia as a region, when it comes to ‘in-shop-color-production’,” says Peder Bohlin, the company’s Malaysia Managing Director and Regional Director for Malaysia plus Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.
“You might also like to know that one of Jotun’s first innovations was the now world famous spray can, long time ago. But the patent was later sold to others while the company concentrated on its core business,” Mr. Bohlin adds.
These core business areas of the company are Decorative Paints, Protective coatings and Marine coatings.
Jotun Powder Coatings, which is highly specialized towards certain industry applications, is a separate entity in the company.
“Our goal is to be, at least, the third largest paint supplier in all our markets,” Mr. Bohlin explains
“Typically local national brands are cheaper, while Jotun competes on quality, customer cooperation, research and development.”
This is why Jotun has established factories in all four countries, that he manages, including the newly opened factory in Indonesia.
“One major reason for setting up factories in individual countries is that we will become able to make products better adapted to the local market demands, thanks to close cooperation with our local clients. Import and export tariffs do sometimes also play a role when we decide to build new plants.”
Asia is the hottest region in the world for Jotun. Growth perspectives are excellent as people in Asia get more spending power and housing projects mushroom all over the area.
To make his point understood, Peder draws a graph on his whiteboard. The graph shows the correlation between growth and paint production per person before and after the Asian crisis.
“Despite the Asian crisis, paint consumption per capita has never gone down, only up all the time,” says Peder pointing at the raising curve.
Increasing paint consumption is a sign of rising prosperity. People buy homes and condos, and the more affluent they get the more money they spend to keep their living quarters fresh and good looking. And repainting, with shorter and shorter cycles, is part of that process.
“Take the newer markets. Look at Thailand where consumption currently is three liters per person and year. We have been there since the 1960’s. In Vietnam, with its even higher economic growth and our fairly new presence, they consume only half a litre per capita and year. Imagine the potential,” Mr. Bohlin points out.
But all is not homes and offices. Marine coating is another big market. As a fitting tribute to the company’s founder Odd Gleditsch, who began his career as a supplier to whaling ships, it is an impressive fact that every fifth commercial ship in the world is painted with protective paint from Jotun Coatings.
In absolute terms, Thailand is the largest market of the four, followed by Malaysia. But Vietnam and Indonesia have higher growth rates for Jotun than the relatively more mature markets Peder handles.
“So my biggest challenge is to grow fast while at the same time find and hire enough good people to cope with this expansion,” smiles Peder.
Three decades with Jotun
Jotun’s man in South East Asia is a long timer in the Norwegian paint producer company. Wednesday 30 May 2006 marked the 30th anniversary in Jotun for Mr. Peder Bohlin, the managing director of Jotun (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd. as well as regional director for Jotun South East Asia. The then 23 year graduate from Oslo’s Norwegian School of Management joined the Decorative Division in Jotun Norway 1976 as a product manager in Sandefjord. Six years later he moved to Jotun Thailand. After two years in Thailand, he was called to serve at the company’s newly started Malaysian operation. Peder remained in Malaysia until 1993, when he the headquarters in Sandefjord wanted his services. He stayed in Sandefjord eleven years, holding various positions in the management team. But the Asian bug never got out of Peder’s system and in 2004 he returned with his wife to his dear Malaysia to take the position he holds today.
Why the penguin?
Why the penguin? you may wonder. The stylized image of a penguin is a prominent feature of Jotun’s logotype and is there for a reason. It appears because Jotun’s founding father Odd Gleditsch, who started out as whaler ship supplier, sailed to the arctic seas in the early 1920’s.
There he noticed how penguins lived, saw the way they took care of their offspring, family and the group in a responsible manner that impressed him deeply. When Jotun was established 1926, Odd Gleditsch felt the penguin symbolized the caring and responsible family company values he envisioned.
Today Jotun calls this The Penguin Spirit, which is summed up in four words: Loyalty, Care, Respect and Boldness And eighty years down the road a prosperous family company it still is, now with a third generation Gleditsch as chairman of the board, and still headquartered in Sandefjord, southern Norway.Why the penguin?
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