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Old 01-28-2012, 02:55 PM   #1
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Default Paint Pricing Investigation

The Team at bloggingpainters dot com decided in December to launch a new series called Open Mike, in order to put some hard questions directly in front of paint (and related) manufacturers of the materials and tools that paint contractors use.

The first installment of the series is a multi part interview with Dana Autenrieth, an executive in the Residential Paint Segment for Benjamin Moore.

Here is the first part of the interview. This portion covers general questions about pricing, product lines and the titanium dioxide crisis.

If you are interested in paint pricing, please leave questions or responses in the Comment section under the article at BP so that Dana can see and potentially respond.

It is easy to sit around and bitch. This is an opportunity to be heard.



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Old 01-28-2012, 04:07 PM   #2
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Sounds good, I'll participate...
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Old 01-28-2012, 04:18 PM   #3
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Thanks for the link. I like his answers - especially the last one regarding price/value. I think it's similar to what many have expressed here. Looking forward to the rest of the interview.
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Old 01-28-2012, 04:26 PM   #4
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Scott did a great job with it, and I have seen the rest of it, stay tuned!
Feel free to post comments on the blog, Dana will be checking in there to hear what painters have to say.
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Old 01-28-2012, 05:09 PM   #5
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Yuppers great link ..thanks!
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Old 01-28-2012, 09:35 PM   #6
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Thanks Scott....smart.

I like the motivation behind "open mike"

To quote you....

"Asking alot of questions is the only way to wrap our minds around the industry we are in. If you have your head in the sand and choose not to participate in understanding the waters you navigate, then you are probably not here reading this."

Thanks!
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Old 01-28-2012, 09:41 PM   #7
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Thanks Scott!
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Old 01-29-2012, 08:24 AM   #8
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Thanks guys, its really a team effort at BP to do this stuff.

I think you will find the next segments of the interview to be interesting as well.

I am sure Dana will be interested in your comments and questions.



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Old 01-29-2012, 11:45 AM   #9
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This is just the beginning of a series of interviews, there is a lot more come. Like Scott said in the OP, this is your opportunity to be heard. If someone has some questions or comments, feel free to leave it on the blog.
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Old 01-29-2012, 12:05 PM   #10
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In regards to soft questions....

This is just a brainstorm type question:

"its a popular point of view amongst paint contractors that your product is unrealistically over priced comparatively to other companies, to the tune of "no gallon of paint should cost $70!!!".

Is Aura is dollar for dollar better than Duration and other top paints from other companies.
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Old 01-29-2012, 12:28 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paint and Hammer View Post
In regards to soft questions....

This is just a brainstorm type question:

"its a popular point of view amongst paint contractors that your product is unrealistically over priced comparatively to other companies, to the tune of "no gallon of paint should cost $70!!!".

Is Aura is dollar for dollar better than Duration and other top paints from other companies.
Painters decide that one!



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Old 01-29-2012, 12:34 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paint and Hammer View Post
In regards to soft questions....

This is just a brainstorm type question:

"its a popular point of view amongst paint contractors that your product is unrealistically over priced comparatively to other companies, to the tune of "no gallon of paint should cost $70!!!".

Is Aura is dollar for dollar better than Duration and other top paints from other companies.
I think if it was not for the box stores prices being so low we would find our paint stores climbing to the prices near that to Europe.
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Old 01-29-2012, 01:06 PM   #13
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I hear you and he already alluded to that in his answers, "in line pricing" ( Is that what that means?)

BM is the highest price, dollar for dollar is it better than SW? ....others.

I'm presenting it as its something that comes up over and over here and other circles.

To non-consumers of the product, saying, "buyers dictate that" is pretty hollow. Leave it at that?

....read that there isn't a lot of personal conviction behind my words....,I'm a BM fan.
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Old 01-29-2012, 01:36 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paint and Hammer View Post
I hear you and he already alluded to that in his answers, "in line pricing" ( Is that what that means?)

BM is the highest price, dollar for dollar is it better than SW? ....others.

I'm presenting it as its something that comes up over and over here and other circles.

To non-consumers of the product, saying, "buyers dictate that" is pretty hollow. Leave it at that?

....read that there isn't a lot of personal conviction behind my words....,I'm a BM fan.
My interpretation of Mr Autenrieth's use of the term "line pricing" is that (unlike what we have been seeing with SW) BM is not doing "across the board" price increases. Instead, they have increased prices in lines whose raw materials have been most affected by increases.

Customers do speak with their wallets. If no one on the planet buys Aura or oil Impervo, I think you would not see it come down in price, I think you would see it stop being made.

Thats what is interesting to me about my daily dealings with manufacturers. We are one of their customer bases. Because they are large corporations, they do not have the flexibility that small paint contractors do, to drop their prices quickly based on customer feedback.

Part of what I have observed in threads here about material pricing is that contractors fear that they cant get jobs unless paint prices are cheap. That is not enough of an incentive for a paint mfr to drop prices. Because it is easy to see that too many paint contractors are not charging enough, and are not running solid enough businesses for their paint price opinions to make a whole lot of sense in business terms. And there begins the gap between a painter and a manufacturer...

Alot of guys have questioned why BM doesnt offer the same type of discount programs as others. BM dealers are historically independent vendors. Not controlled by BM, at least as I understand it. I have had good luck negotiating pricing with independent BM dealers, but I think it varies tremendously from one to another and from region to region.

SW on the other hand, their stores are owned and operated by SW. Not local independent owners. Their pricing structure is driven by the home office, and they do (in my experience) have pretty aggressive contractor volume pricing. And we still see tremendous variation on the cost of a can of paint in SW stores across the country.

Its a complex puzzle for the paint contractor to put together, which is why I feel it is important for us to be communicating with decision makers on the supply side.

I do think its important for intelligent discussion to take place on that front. I always keep in mind how I feel when customers just want to know why I am more expensive than my competition, when I enter discussion with mfr's.



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Old 01-29-2012, 01:48 PM   #15
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Some thoughts on our use of the term "competitive pricing", as in: "why doesnt BM do more competitive pricing...?"

I think the market in the past 3 years has caused more competition than ever for all manufacturers.

For instance, my company can live perfectly happily with Super Spec primer or Promar 200 on drywall. It can do perfectly well with wb satin impervo or cashmere medium, or a decent handful of others. It can use about 12 different wall paints. Then there are specialties...BM has nothing (in my opinion) that comes close to SW Armorseal. SW has nothing that comes close to BM Arborcoat. Neither of them can touch Penofin.

You get the picture.

My choices won't be made on price. They will often times be made based on availability and service. By service, I mean good, prompt color mixes the first time, delivery, a supplier who is listening and stocking what I need, etc. A good manufacturer/supplier connection contributes directly to my bottom line. Thats how I measure the relationship ultimately, aside from the fact that I like the people who work in the stores.

If the battle is between bm and sw, each has its strengths, and neither seems to be able to pull the whole package together on all fronts.



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Old 01-29-2012, 02:01 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vermontpainter View Post
My interpretation of Mr Autenrieth's use of the term "line pricing" is that (unlike what we have been seeing with SW) BM is not doing "across the board" price increases. Instead, they have increased prices in lines whose raw materials have been most affected by increases.

Customers do speak with their wallets. If no one on the planet buys Aura or oil Impervo, I think you would not see it come down in price, I think you would see it stop being made.

Thats what is interesting to me about my daily dealings with manufacturers. We are one of their customer bases. Because they are large corporations, they do not have the flexibility that small paint contractors do, to drop their prices quickly based on customer feedback.

Part of what I have observed in threads here about material pricing is that contractors fear that they cant get jobs unless paint prices are cheap. That is not enough of an incentive for a paint mfr to drop prices. Because it is easy to see that too many paint contractors are not charging enough, and are not running solid enough businesses for their paint price opinions to make a whole lot of sense in business terms. And there begins the gap between a painter and a manufacturer...

Alot of guys have questioned why BM doesnt offer the same type of discount programs as others. BM dealers are historically independent vendors. Not controlled by BM, at least as I understand it. I have had good luck negotiating pricing with independent BM dealers, but I think it varies tremendously from one to another and from region to region.

SW on the other hand, their stores are owned and operated by SW. Not local independent owners. Their pricing structure is driven by the home office, and they do (in my experience) have pretty aggressive contractor volume pricing. And we still see tremendous variation on the cost of a can of paint in SW stores across the country.

Its a complex puzzle for the paint contractor to put together, which is why I feel it is important for us to be communicating with decision makers on the supply side.

I do think its important for intelligent discussion to take place on that front. I always keep in mind how I feel when customers just want to know why I am more expensive than my competition, when I enter discussion with mfr's.
That's not the case where I live in Canada...All the BM dealers are ordered by the company to sell their paint for the same price or they can lose their franchise...That's the story I've heard over and over by all the BM store owners in my city...It's much like what Festool does with their products.

I have been using Dulux the last year and it is much cheaper and just as good a paint...I also pick and choose the best products from General paint,Cloverdale and other smaller, more specialized shops..I use BM Aura matte when a customer wants a washable flat that covers well..Their Bathroom Aura matte is great...I like Ben but they want almost $40/gallon and I can get Dulux "lifemaster" for about $25 and it is a better product imo.
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Old 01-29-2012, 02:25 PM   #17
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A thread split might eventually be in order but...

I love to use Aura on exteriors and try to sell it for everyone I do since last July, smaller exteriors where we are are only using x amount it is just a given unless I run into an adamant customer that loves some SW product. On large exteriors with tons of siding if Aura is not in the price point I change the product specs to either Duration or Manor Hall Timeless.

For interior I have never used Aura. 50 a gallon to me does not make sense for interior because the elements are not wearing away at it. So there are other quality products I prefer to use that I believe perform very well.

I am more like Scott I use different brands for different applications. Price is a concern but not the main concern I want products that perform. If the product is a performer I will spec it and factor in the cost when doing my proposal.

If a person buys all their material from the box stores they are probably buying on price and that works for them but imo I do not see them buying the higher priced products such as Aura or Duration no matter what and BM and SW seem to be doing just fine without their business.

Buy what works for you and sell quality services with quality products, if you are having to make concessions on quality to compete with the hacks and lowballers you will eventually either be out of business or become one yourself.
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Old 01-29-2012, 03:39 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JoseyWales

That's not the case where I live in Canada...All the BM dealers are ordered by the company to sell their paint for the same price or they can lose their franchise...That's the story I've heard over and over by all the BM store owners in my city...It's much like what Festool does with their products.

I have been using Dulux the last year and it is much cheaper and just as good a paint...I also pick and choose the best products from General paint,Cloverdale and other smaller, more specialized shops..I use BM Aura matte when a customer wants a washable flat that covers well..Their Bathroom Aura matte is great...I like Ben but they want almost $40/gallon and I can get Dulux "lifemaster" for about $25 and it is a better product imo.
A friend of mine owns several BM stores in the Seattle area, and I've heard the same thing, that he pretty much has a minimum that he can't sell below, as dictated by BM. there are different levels of course, retail and contractor pricing, but I don't get the sense that there's nearly as many tiers as I hear from my SW rep. I think SW has level a-e tiers, not sure if BM has more than a couple.
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Old 01-29-2012, 03:51 PM   #19
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The new gennex stuff has a suggested retail and a minimum sell price. Most stores seem to make the suggested retail the walk in price and the minimum the contractor. But, they can price higher for either as well. I think the stores can do whatever they want as long as no one buys below minimum sale price. I have heard some ace stores sell everything at the minimum sale price, retail or contractor.
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Old 01-29-2012, 03:58 PM   #20
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The new gennex stuff has a suggested retail and a minimum sell price. Most stores seem to make the suggested retail the walk in price and the minimum the contractor. But, they can price higher for either as well. I think the stores can do whatever they want as long as no one buys below minimum sale price. I have heard some ace stores sell everything at the minimum sale price, retail or contractor.
That is what I would like clarification on. My BM store sells Aura to me for 51.00 a gal and that is the price for everyone. I am not complaining as I have heard people paying more that probably buy more but I want to know if that is my stores policy or BM's policy for Aura.

Only talking about Aura as I get discounts on other products.
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