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PPG sees conversion to waterborne gaining momentum across California, Canada


According to PPG Industries’ (NYSE:PPG) automotive refinish business, more collision shops are transitioning to waterborne basecoat from solvent-based systems in anticipation of new air quality regulations in California and Canada. Intended to reduce volatile organic compound (VOC) atmospheric emissions and improve air quality, the coming regulations have led more than 700 collision shops to adopt Envirobase High Performance and Aquabase Plus waterborne basecoats by PPG.

While some shop owners were wary of changing technology, the conversion has made “converts” of owners and paint technicians alike. “We weren’t sure about the change, but once we did it, we were glad we did,” said Richie Kizirian, president/owner of Jim & Jack’s Collision, El Segundo, Calif. “Waterborne is easy to use, quality is excellent and color-matching is simple and accurate. My painters would never go back to the old way.”

“Everybody can spray this paint … it’s easier, much easier,” said Ignacio Rosales, paint technician for Precision Auto Body, Reseda, Calif.

To help ensure shops’ smooth conversion, PPG initiated a waterborne conversion program more than a year ago in California called “Convert with Confidence.” The program provides shop owners, managers and technicians with training, advice and support before, during and after conversion. A similar program is underway in Canada.

“Transitions are going very smoothly,” said Jim Downey, PPG senior regional manager. “We convert an average of 15 to 20 shops every week. The program employs a methodical implementation plan for managers, then painters coming to class at our training centers. While they’re in class, we install the new equipment at the shop. When they return, everything’s ready to go with a PPG training team there to help.”

As a surprise to some, many California shops that converted recently to waterborne are located in regions still under no mandate to use waterborne technology. “We want to be ahead of the game, because eventually we’ll be forced to do it,” said Lisando Allende, co-owner of Uptown Body & Fender, Oakland, Calif. “If we do it sooner, we’ll have more experience when the time comes to comply with the VOC regulations.”

In Canada, Debbie Nucciarone, PPG product manager, reports similar success. “Many shop owners were eager to make the conversion early. They knew regulations would make the change inevitable, and they wanted to adapt quickly knowing we would provide them with the training and support they needed.”

Canadian shop owners have been pleased with the results. “Everyone was nervous about the shift to water-based paint, but the move has been positive in every respect. Our staff prefers it. It’s a better product to use and it’s cleaner and less hazardous,” said Richard Marsh, Emeryville Collision, Tecumseh, Ont.

Elvis Cervone, Enviro Car Paint & Collision Services, Aurora, Ont., echoed the thought. “Nexa Autocolor Aquabase Plus [basecoat] gives us a smoother finish than our previous paint. We don’t miss solvent basecoat at all. Plus, it’s easy to clean up.”

In California, VOC regulations will take effect in stages, beginning with the densely-populated southern part of the state known as the South Coast California Air Quality District on July 1. In Canada, regulations will take effect nationwide Jan. 1, 2010.

PPG encourages shop owners in both regions to take advantage of the “Convert with Confidence” program now to ensure they will be “shop ready” when regulatory deadlines arrive.

For more about Envirobase High Performance basecoat, Nexa Autocolor Aquabase Plus basecoat and the “Convert with Confidence” program, call 800-647-6050 or visit the PPG Automotive Refinish Web site at


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