American Colors Inc.

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March 27, 2017 Issue



Liquid Color Dispersions for the Plastics and Coatings Industries



James Oram Wible

President and

Chief Executive Officer


American Colors Inc.



James Oram Wible



Interview conducted by:

Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine, Published – March 27, 2017


CEOCFO: Mr. Wible, would you tell us about American Colors?

Mr. Wible: American Colors was established in 1975 as a coatings company. We manufactured coatings for the fiberglass reinforced plastics industry. Then, as part of that, we ended up developing our own line of color dispersions for the coatings line. We proceeded to sell the coatings line after about seventeen years in that business. We became one of the largest coatings companies in gel coat in the United States. We felt that we could not grow any further in gel coat so we divested of it and preceded to expand the color dispersion business, not only in the composites area, but also in the coatings, plastics and allied industries.

CEOCFO: What does it cover, who is using it and what is the range?

Mr. Wible: We take dried pigments and blend them with various additives into various liquid vehicles so that our customers, the plastics and the coatings manufacturers, can use them more efficiently and we provide a superior product to what you would get if you just literally blended the dry pigment into a product. We also make a few coatings for the colored mulch industry and a few other industries but primarily what we do is the liquid dispersions for the plastics and coatings industries.


CEOCFO: Are most people in the industry looking for a better product?

Mr. Wible: If you are looking at any type of manufactured product, it does not matter what it is, you want to see a uniform coating and color. That is what we provide. We make it easier for our customers to produce a uniform color. It provides a superior appearance for our customers.


CEOCFO: Will it come out exactly the same each time?

Mr. Wible: To the human eye, for the most part, yes. There are some slight variations with undertones. The paint manufacturers used to tell you buy all the paint you need at one time because the next time that they produce it, it may not be exactly the same. That is not necessarily the case anymore. The ability to color match, with the consistency of the pigments and then people like ourselves who have developed experience and expertise in producing consistent color matches has not totally eliminated lack of uniformity, but it has certainly reduced it significantly.


CEOCFO: There are so many variations of a color. Why does it make a difference? Are companies getting more specific or less specific in their available colors?

Mr. Wible: I think it is a matter of personal preference. We have probably made over a thousand different whites, let alone blues, greens, purples and any color you can think of. It is the subtle differences and, depending on the application, you do see tighter tolerances. Look at the various blues. Many companies have a trademark that has a blue in it. Each one is just a little bit different. That is a company preference and in some cases, it is part of their trademark where they have a particular blue. Particularly in some of the high end fashion industries, such as with Tiffany’s robin’s egg blue. I am not sure if it is totally uniform, but when you look at Tiffany’s robin’s egg blue, that is sort of identifiable. You would not put a dark blue and call that Tiffany’s. It would be something different. While we do not do anything with Tiffany’s, it is one example.


CEOCFO: Would you tell us about your various manufacturing facilities?

Mr. Wible: We currently have four manufacturing facilities. One is in Sandusky Ohio, which was the first one in the dispersion business for American Colors. It was open in 1987. It produces almost all of our product lines. The general Cleveland area is becoming a Mecca for the coatings industry with a lot of coating manufacturers there. That is who we service as well as a strong plastics industry in this area. There are two Tennessee facilities. One of them services primarily the water based coatings and a lot of that has to do with the mulch business. The other one services a wide variety, much of it to the composites industry but also services all kinds of plastics products. The facility in Shanghai, China also services the reinforced plastics industry and the automotive industry.


CEOCFO: What are some of the benefits and challenges of having a facility in China?

Mr. Wible: The Chinese government is a challenge and we have a good relationship. Some of the regulatory environment, which has changed over the years in China, has made locating there more difficult. Some of the regulations they have, as far as from a western company’s perspective, did not make a lot of sense. I am sure they do to the Chinese government. We do see an effort, and we applaud the effort, of China trying to reduce its pollution, which in various parts of the nation is a severe problem while in others it is not so bad. We see them correcting that, but they have made it in some cases a little more difficult to the point that in many cases, some of the regulations are more difficult than the ones in the United States. They do not have the scientific background as the environmental regulations do in the United States. In other words, an odor which may be nothing more than a nuisance odor may be treated as a hazardous type situation where there is really no hazard involved, whereas the United States has always felt it that if there is a regulation involving some sort of hazardous substance that there has been some scientific background behind it. That does not necessarily equate in China. Over all, we found the Chinese people very hardworking and there is a different culture. Their experiences are not what you call western. There is a tremendous pride among individuals and they are a little bit more reluctant to admit mistakes, whereas the United States sort of acknowledges that everyone makes mistakes. In China, they have a tough time realizing that they can make a mistake and it is not going to affect the feeling the management has towards them. We all make mistakes. I would say that over the years, we are very proud of our people there, they do an excellent job and we really do enjoy having the facility there, and we feel we have an excellent future.


CEOCFO: How do you reach potential customers or do people know American Colors at this point and just come to you?

Mr. Wible: It is a little bit of both. After forty years, you develop a reputation and I feel that reputation has been pretty strong. We feel we are a very ethical company and we pride ourselves in that. We also pride ourselves in our ability to be easy to work with. We are very customer oriented and that is not just lip service; that is the way we have operated from day one. We have a sales force and we have various distributors and representative firms that do a good job for us. That is pretty much how we gain business. Many of the people do know us, so there is also an element from where business comes to us.


CEOCFO: Would you give us an example of the exceptional customer service?

Mr. Wible: Color matching can be a challenge, but we have customers now and have customers in the future that will order on one day and while we will not have anything in stock for them, we will get it out in the next day. We have done this frequently. We have had sales reps hand deliver product to customers in the case of emergencies and people driving throughout the night to meet customers half way to make sure they do not run out of material. That is the type of thing that we are willing to do. We think that is part of our service. We do not expect to do it every day but our customers realize that if they need something that is sort of out of the ordinary, that is where we can come through.

CEOCFO: What is new in manufacturing? Are there many changes in equipment, ingredients and processes?

Mr. Wible: I think the milling equipment continues to get better, which makes it easier for us to process the material. It gets more expensive naturally. The automation is improving to an extent but is not to the degree that it is reducing the man power requirements, but they are more efficient and there is better equipment. It is less liable to break down and easier to repair if there is a problem.


CEOCFO: What is next for American Colors?

Mr. Wible: We are looking to continue to expand. We have plans right now for potentially two new facilities in the not too distant future. We are putting a relatively large warehouse on the Sandusky facility. It was approved a few weeks ago. We are also looking for acquisitions if there are companies that feel they could use some expertise and maybe improve relationships with their customers. We feel we might be able to benefit other companies without interfering with their culture. We feel we are a very ethical company and we treat our employees well. They are very loyal to us and that is the type of culture we like to present. We would love to have other companies join us.


“Color matching can be a challenge, but we have customers now and have customers in future that will order on one day and we will not have anything in stock for them, but will get it out in the next day and we have done this frequently. We have had sales reps hand deliver product to customers in the case of emergencies and people driving throughout the night to meet customers half way to make sure they do not run out of material.”- James Oram Wible


American Colors Inc.



James Oram Wible







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