Sherwin’s New EcoLean Program

June 1, 2009
Manager of Marketing Strategic Programs, Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes Corporation shares information about Sherwin-William's new program EcoLean.

Twenty-five years ago, Rodes Brown accepted a position with Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes Corp. (SWAFC). He hasn’t looked back since. After working in a variety of roles for the company, Brown now serves as Manager of Marketing Strategic Programs. An avid traveler, Brown has enjoyed traveling throughout North America to meet and work with other collision repair professionals. Here, he shares information about Sherwin-Williams’s new program EcoLean, the benefits it brings the auto body industry and how he sees the paint industry adapting to meet the needs of the future.

What prompted Sherwin-Williams to develop EcoLean?
We’ve seen a growing trend in the industry toward leaner, more efficient operating models, and we are also putting significant energy into “greening” our business at Sherwin-Williams through an internal initiative we call EcoVision. We saw a natural fit between the two ideas. Lean shops automatically become greener. The central idea behind EcoLean is that it’s focused on the reduction of waste. EcoLean gives shops tools to reduce not only process waste, but also environmental waste, and subsequently, wasted time and effort.

Why does the collision repair industry need this type of training now?
Several reasons: As repairers strive to cycle vehicles more efficiently and to deliver higher quality repairs in fewer days, it’s critical for us to help our customers understand how to outperform their competitors. As we know, there is an excess of repair capacity in the U.S. market, and insurers are moving more toward performance-based direct repair program agreements. The bottom line is that the shops that learn how to cycle cars better and faster will win more repairs. Also there is a tremendous focus in the U.S. market and the globe around “green.” We feel it’s important to help our customers understand their environmental impact and, more importantly, to show them how to make a positive impact by reducing environmental waste.

What will shop owners and managers gain from EcoLean training?
The training supplies the conceptual framework for business owners and managers to build their own lean operating models. The idea we reinforce in the training is that, ultimately, each shop’s journey toward leaner and greener business practices is driven by the shop’s management, and not simply a cookie-cutter set of solutions. We believe that the combination of our training materials, shop assessment and consulting services offer a powerful set of tools for customers to utilize in building their own custom business transformation. It’s been our experience that shops that embrace these types of changes and sustain them have built their own programs in-house.

As you work with different shops, what are you finding that shop operators are most concerned or excited about in general right now?
Most are concerned about the state of the economy. We’re in somewhat unprecedented times in that we’re seeing sustained declines in miles driven, which obviously affects accident frequency. Coupled with the fact that total loss continues to increase, it leaves us with an industry with significant overcapacity. I also think it’s a great time to be in this industry, as there are real changes coming that bode well for those who embrace them.

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