50th Anniversary and Strokes of Genius: Ian Kenyon, Chief Executive Officer

Getting to 50 is indeed an achievement in any context , cricket for one but in Business it really is quite a rare event. Based on global statistics only 45% of all Companies make it to their 5th birthday, only 36% to their 10th and only 21% to their 20th. The statistics then stop but you can be sure that very few companies get to celebrate 50!

The history and growth of Harris Paints in Barbados is indeed remarkable and inspiring and I hope a poster child of encouragement to every Barbadian who wants to start their own company, especially as it- has also driven us to expand across the region and really make our mark across the Caribbean.

Since our humble beginnings here in Barbados, Harris Paints has grown by leaps and bounds. After the success of the Barbados launch we soon launched manufacturing centres into Dominica and St Lucia and since then have grown organically and via acquisition when we acquired BH Paints in Jamaica. Most recently we opened a new state of the art plant in Antigua and I am very proud to say, now employ over 250 people across the region.

Going to market through key partners such as leading retailers and dealers, and export agents, as well as through our own specialist retail stores, Harris Paints and the Little Man have become household names in over 15 countries and are now the market leader in 9 of them.

A big part of our growth has come from the relationships we have built and the service-oriented, entrepreneurial culture that drives us, but another large part of our secret sauce has been our unrelenting focus on innovation.

Over the past 50 years we have launched many first to market innovations in terms of products, colour delivery and customer service.

From the first water-based floor and roofing coatings in the region, to the first computer colour matching and automatic colour dispensing systems, to the first introduction of high-performance coatings and the launch of the first zero-VOC, environmentally friendly paint in the region – we have long been pioneers in offering new and meaningful ways to help our customers get the best paint technologies available anywhere in the world.

This said, thinking about our innovations, I think what matters even more is how we at Harris approach each innovation we come to offer.

Firstly, <strong>we listen to our customers</strong>, and understand the performance characteristics that are needed specific to the Caribbean – and <strong>then seek to produce answers to the problems that our customers face</strong>.

Firstly, we listen to our customers, and understand the performance characteristics that are needed specific to the Caribbean – and then seek to produce answers to the problems that our customers face.

Secondly, we partner our local R&D expertise and deep knowledge of our markets with a diverse range of leading international suppliers, testing facilities and associations to tailor-make the solutions we need, and ensure they are best by test versus all of our competitors. The one thing you can be certain of is that our products are formulated specifically for the unique needs of our markets!

We know, for example, that the sun, heat, humidity and sea breezes of our islands need paints to be different than those made for North American markets – so instead of simply lifting technology from overseas that won’t work as well here, we find the latest and greatest technologies from around the world that are fit for our local purposes.

One of the most recent, and compelling examples of this approach is our new Quantum i12 technology, which we are in the middle of launching regionwide and represents the pinnacle of creating unique product solutions that work better for ALL our stakeholders. Charles Kirton or VP of Technical Services and Innovation, and Don Gooding, our Colour Delivery Manager, will tell you more about this new technology in a moment.

Before they do, however, I wanted to share with you a piece of our very new, soon to be launched Regional brand campaign called “Strokes of Genius”, and show you a rough sneak preview of a video that helps to showcase our wide range of product, colour and service innovations – called Strokes of Genius – but also shows how each of the things that help make us at Harris Paints stand out from the competition is designed to help our customers save time, money and take the “pain” out of painting. Why? Because we don’t just sell paint and accessories – but rather our goal is to let our innovations and services help everyone make their own Strokes of Genius!

  • Ian Kenyon, Chief Executive Officer
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