The global manufacturer of paints, coatings and specialty materials is directing digital transformation projects to appeal to the next generation of online buyers, executive vice president Tim Knavish said during B2B Next 2020.

For a company that’s 137 years old in an industry that’s only slowly embracing ecommerce, paint and industrial coatings manufacturer PPG Industries Inc. is embracing digital transformation in a big way, executive vice president Tim Knavish told attendees Wednesday during a keynote session for the all-virtual B2B Next 2020.

Within the past two years, he said, PPG has separated digital operations into two separate functions, one focused internally, the other for connecting with customers and trading partners.


Tim Knavish, executive vice president, PPG Industries

“From a transformation standpoint, a customer-facing or business model transformation standpoint—kind of an outside-in perspective—we had not been very aggressive there until the last couple of years,” Knavish said. “Our industry has not moved very quickly in that area; we’re one of the few industries that really hadn’t moved very quickly as far as in the customer-facing side of digital.”

Now at PPG, he said, “we’ve got corporate IT in kind of internally facing digital in one organization, and we’ve got what we call the digital transformation organization, which is entirely outside-in focused, and that’s around things like ecommerce but also around apps for the painting contractor or apps for some of our big-box retail partners.”


PPG also is carrying out, he said, “a business model transformation,” where the company is looking into such things as how it can connect with buyers using their mobile devices to place orders and have them quickly fulfilled.

PPG, a Pittsburgh-based global manufacturer that reported 2019 total sales of $15.1 billion, is implementing what Knavish calls “truly transformational business models to appeal to what that next generation of consumers and paint buyers might look like.”

Selling both paint and services online

For example, PPG has a new business unit it calls Paintzen, which provides buyers with a comprehensive digital painting service that enables them to generate quotes and purchase paint, supplies and professional painting services together online.

Paintzen, which PPG launched in 2018, lets paint buyers answer a short, interactive series of questions based on a location, type of property they want painted, room sizes and room quantity. A Paintzen algorithm than instantly calculates the amount of paint and supplies needed for a project based off the user’s dimensions and project specifications.


“We have everything from traditional ecommerce where we sell through traditional household names, through apps built specifically for the paint contractor, who may purchase at one of our paint stores or private dealers,” Knavish said.

“To the other extreme,” he added, “we have this little startup part of our business look at providing the total end-to-end paint selection and service through your mobile phone.”

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We’ve got this little startup part of our business looking at providing the total end-to-end paint selection and service through your mobile phone.
Tim Knavish, executive vice president
PPG Industries