There are many challenges facing the painting and coating industry today, and the pandemic just added fuel to the fire. These include raw material shortages and the globalization of the painting and coating market. Other challenges include increasing regulations due to environmental concerns and increasing manufacturing costs and raw materials. Ontario-based Tristar Coatings has been able to leverage its extensive knowledge base and highly skilled chemists to provide the solutions today’s organizations need in the time they require it most. In overarching terms, customer performance requirements can mean increasing product output whilst streamlining the process in which that product is manufactured. This can come in the form of preparing the substrate before the painting process (whether that be with physical or chemical cleaning) or actual product modifications to prevent or promote certain properties in the coating (such as adhesion, corrosion protection, film build, UV resistance, etc.), but Tristar has it all.
Tristar Coatings is an industry leader in the engineering specialty paints for customers in the aerospace, industrial, commercial, and agriculture markets. Led by Svetlana Melkova as the President, who has helped make Tristar Coatings the research-focused company it is to create the best next generation of products. Technical Director of Tristar Scott Murray says, “I have been in the coatings industry for over 22 years, from the largest of companies to the very smallest of them. In that time, I have never worked for a company that has had more drive for innovation and development than Tristar has, and this expands beyond our product line alone. Svetlana’s vision for Tristar is fantastic and exciting, something not typically seen in the coatings market today, where larger corporations are purchasing many smaller companies.”
While it is no secret that there are not many leading women in the coatings industry, Svetlana has worked tirelessly in all aspects of this company to ensure it is led on terms of deserved merit, and nothing else. As a leader, she necessitates accountability in the plant to ensure that the team is working together through the encouragement of open communication amongst individual departments. “Everybody understands our products from a different perspective, whether that be shipping, R &D, scheduling, milling or batching,” explains Svetlana. “However, these perspectives all understand our common goal of supplying high quality coatings to our dedicated customer base in a timely manner.”
The company is focused on protecting products and the environment. Coatings use solvents, pigments, and resins that can be persistent in the environment and harmful to human health. While paint products often contain toxic chemicals, Tristar Coatings makes great effort to minimize waste and maximize transfer efficiency in their coatings application and production process to help reduce any contaminant being put into the environment. With modern paint booth technology and the correct equipment, the most hazardous paint can be applied safely, regardless of its formulation. “We offer guidance on equipment and processes, and have partnered with suppliers to offer solutions to meet the specific customer needs, from spray equipment and pumps to full spraybooths and drying ovens,” says Svetlana. “We also have a diverse range of water-based and isocyanate-free products for those who do not have the equipment capable of spraying solvent or isocyanate-based products in an efficient and safe manner.”
An example of the paint technology being more environmentally friendly in the urethane market can be seen in Tristar’s Starathane HiHide polyurethane topcoats. These high-solids topcoats offer exceptional performance in the aerospace market while reducing the overall VOC content and environmental impact. Further, its excellent performance can withstand extreme environments while performing at the same level as higher VOC/lower opacity products. This reduces the number of times an airplane would need to be coated over its lifetime and provides coverage and protection at significantly lower film builds, which in turn reduces the weight of an aircraft and the amount of fuel over the plane’s life. Chromate-free primers are also an ongoing development, with the goal in aerospace to eliminate them while maintaining chromates’ corrosion resistance.
Research & Development
Tristar prides itself on its R&D lab and ability to solve customer issues quickly. Whether it is added performance the customer is looking to achieve or they are looking to solve a longstanding problem they have had to deal with from their competitors, Tristar strives to quickly identify a root cause and a solution to fit their needs. They currently have a number of projects in development, such as a highly abrasion-resistant topcoat for high-wear areas on a piece of industrial equipment to primers that can be applied, sanded and topcoated all within a few hours while maintaining the performance the customers expect from them. “We have also developed a grip coating to help coat airplane runway equipment to ensure its safe and efficient use by their employees,” elucidates Svetlana. “An in-house lab gives us the flexibility to create unique solutions as opposed to stock based offerings, to meet the needs of each customer – new and old – within a timeframe that the customer demands in some very competitive industries, from aerospace to agriculture, architecture and beyond.”
Tristar Coatings has been in the coating industry for over 50 years and is already established internationally. However, under Svetlana’s leadership, the company has been expanding into new industries and growing their business significantly across the North American market and into more places in Europe and Asia. They would like to diversify their existing presence in the military aerospace world in regards to its defense sector, as well as their commercial aerospace market presence. “While we already work with some big players like Airbus and Bombardier, we are always looking for new opportunities to help spread the word on Tristar,” says Svetlana. “We are confident in the products and subsequent services we provide to our customers to help them succeed and be able to manufacture beautiful and long-lasting products for their customers.”
Tristar does not just intend on selling paint but selling the process they believe in that is behind the paint, thus ensuring continued long-term success for both the company and those they sell to. While money helps drive any industry, Svetlana hopes their customers feel their relationship with them allows Tristar to surge ahead. “To meet these needs, there is a plan in place to expand the current facility and within the next few years build a second one to house a greater R&D lab and production facility to keep up with our rapidly growing business,” adds Svetlana. “Ideally there will be production facilities and distribution in each of the major markets as well as a stand-alone R&D facility dedicated to innovative solutions.”