In general, when the bubble burst in 2008, it uncovered a lot of bad processes and bad management. But people have learnt lessons, and they’re becoming sharper, more efficient and changing their values and priorities. The top brands are realising that it doesn’t matter how high a level your engineering is, unfortunately the human psyche means people believe what they see. 

Without [the manufacturers] being involved from the very beginning, there can be no objective follow-up. The likes of machinery, engines and propulsion [OEMs] already understand that, but with coatings, it has been understood as an aesthetic thing rather than a performance thing. 

But if we can bring that back and say coatings have to perform, and they have to have a technical level of performance – antifouling and tank coatings, to the finishing of the top coat – we have to be appreciated in the same manner [as other manufacturers] in order for that to follow through with new build yards, refit yards, and operationally, with the crew and management. 

The top brands are putting in an enormous amount of focus into creating the environment and resources to do that. Pre-2008, there was more demand than resource, and everything was squashed in time. So, it wasn’t quality anymore, and it wasn’t cost anymore; it was time. And there were some applicator companies and new build yards that were focused more on getting it out and not about the quality, or cost and time.

Post-2008, and it has taken nine years, there are a specific set of top-brand new build yards who understand. The owner is looking for quality, and there is now more of an appreciation [among the top yards] that there is a value to aesthetics. And for a coatings manufacturer, we want to be working with people to achieve the best result possible. When we produce products, we produce them to have the best result in the lab. But if it goes through the many layers, it is only as good as the applicator and the yard enables it to be. So, if a coatings manufacturer is involved from the beginning, as a partnership, it will achieve the best result. 

Swain's comments are part of a report into the growth of the coatings market, appearing in issue 178 of The Superyacht Report

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