This month we have been featured in the industry leading Bodyshop Magazine. In two pages article we discuss about PPM story and how Q1® brand was born.
PPM Industries is one of those names you have likely never heard of, yet chances are bodyshops the land over have used its masking products at some stage or another. Now, with its own Q1 range of adhesive products making inroads into the UK market, we thought it was time to find out more.
PPM Industries first entered the adhesive tape sector in 1969 when now chairman, Bepi Pellegrini identified a gap in the market and acquired a small tape manufacturing business in northern Italy. From these humble beginnings the business grew and by the late 1980s, with two manufacturing sites in operation, it had attracted the attention of a competitor, multinational corporation 3M. In 1988 the business was sold to the market competitor 3M to create 3M Italy and Bepi, as the anti-competition agreement contract stipulated, withdrew from the tape manufacturing business scene.
However, having served his time in exile, in 1993 Bepi was back and started manufacturing adhesive tapes again from scratch. The crucial difference this time round however, was that PPM very much became a specialist manufacturer, focusing its attentions on two key products areas – masking tape and duct tape – and supplying to some of the biggest names in the business.
Now, some 24 years on, the family-centred, export dominant business employs around 360 people, has annual group sales of €80m and ships its products to 45 countries globally from its two manufacturing sites some 40 miles from Milan, Italy. Within Europe it claims to be one of largest masking tape manufacturers by volume and deems itself as the ‘king of private labels’. Some 85% of its sales are based on masking products, with the remaining 15% being duct tape.
Where things get a little different for the business is in its approach within the UK market, a sector it has spent some two years researching. Heading up the UK operation is third generation family member, Matteo Pellegrini who, following an intensive three month study by the marketing team, ultimately made the decision that the UK market could benefit from another brand – and with that came the birth of Q1.
‘The only country outside of Italy where we have a physical presence is here in the UK,’ explained Matteo. ‘We have 86 people employed here and it is the only location directly controlled by the Pellegrini family.’
It was in 2011 that PPM took its first steps into the UK with the acquisition of what was then a UK business distributor partner. Matteo said, ‘We started off by trying to increase our marketshare as a private label manufacturer but also looking around for market opportunities where we could establish a brand in specific business segments.
He continued, ‘Following two years of research we understood that in the car refinish market, there was a big opportunity and a space for a new brand. As specialists in masking tapes and knowing that the car refinish sector is one of great importance, high volume and value based we decided to combine our marketing expertise and our extensive knowledge in masking tape manufacturing to create our Q1 brand.’
Launched last May at Automechanika Birmingham, Q1 premium masking solutions has, according to PPM proved very popular and is now truly starting to gain a foothold within the market with a national network of independent distributors throughout the country and some strong bodyshop partnerships in place.
The premise behind Q1 is quality and simplicity combined with a focus on the user, along with a sprinkle of what PPM terms as ‘sex appeal’. ‘Q1 is a high quality product, correctly priced for the market from a family business which has customer care at its core,’ said Matteo. ‘People want simplicity – you don’t need to be complex to be interesting. You can be simple, effective and appealing, and that’s what we are trying to be.’
One partnership it has in place that has proved a great ‘test bed’ for the business is its ties with prestige accident repairer Shorade Accident Repair Centre. Not only is Shorade a little more than 500m from PPM’s UK base but so too the type of work Shorade undertakes exposes Q1 to extreme conditions, and in addition a philosophy of constant learning and improvement transposes both businesses.
‘Shorade uses Q1 products in order to help us test, innovate and continue to improve quality. With the calibre of work that Shorade handles it ensures our products are exposed to tremendous levels of stress – in some instances as many as nine coats of paint can be applied to certain vehicles and that means repeated bake cycles for our masking products. This is a true partnership approach for us and of real benefit in our continued evolution,’ said Matteo.
He continued, ‘From our experience in manufacturing the product, we can and are working closer than ever with our partners to ensure each and every one of their customers is provided with the professional service they are entitled to.’
Q1 sales manager, David Bloxham said, ‘In no way are we looking to take on the major players within the sector but what we firmly believe is that we have a truly viable alternative for the market.
‘We understand the market, we understand materials and substrates, know manufacturing inside out so our intention is to bring all that knowledge to the fore and educate the market on just what we have to offer. It’s all about the combined solution and we believe it works fantastically well.’
With six products in the range to date, additions to the Q1 portfolio – which have been assisted by the close relationship with Shorade – are planned for launch at Automechanika this year. Evolving the product portfolio and marketing the business correctly is a move David Bloxham sees it as a vital step in Q1’s evolution and will remove the stigma attached to being the ‘big secret of the trade or the biggest company you’ve never heard of’.
David said, ‘It will all be about Q1 this year. People are becoming increasingly aware of Q1 and are now coming to us for product advice. With the success we experienced, as an unknown brand remember, at Automechanika Birmingham 2016 I have no doubt after this year’s show the business will go from strength-to-strength here in the UK.’