Q&A with Kolja Eikelmann, CMO & Head of Marketing at PPG Industries

CMO & Head of Marketing at PPG Industries
Kolja Eikelmann, CMO & Head of Marketing at PPG Industries is a forward thinking and result-driven Marketing expert with 20 years of experience in the FMCG marketing industry. 

In this Q&A, Kolja shares his unique marketing experiences and gives us interesting insights about PPG Industries, a global supplier of paints, coatings, optical products, and specialty materials which is driving innovation, sustainability and color in the industry.

MEDIA 7: What inspired you to get into Marketing?
KOLJA EIKELMANN:
I wouldn’t be able to say when I first realised marketing was the path for me, but I think it’s been evident my whole life that I’m interested in the diversity that marketing allows. Since childhood, I have always been so fascinated with the details of a product, no matter what it is. I have an endless sense of curiosity and I think that was the major driving factor for me to enter the world of marketing.

I realised marketing might be for me when I discovered the unique opportunity it offers to be involved in all spectrums of the business; not just advertising, but also in creating solutions and analysing outcomes. The overarching goal is always to make a real difference and help people in their daily lives, and marketing allows you to both be a part of the solution as well as a witness to the outcomes.

My job with PPG is very colourful – just like my company! Within my one job title I get to explore innovation, creativity and analysis. This variety has always been appealing to me.

M7: You have an exemplary marketing experience of more than 20 years in the FMCG industry. How have the marketing dynamics changed over these years and what tactics do you feel modern marketers should adopt, to survive in this competitive world?
KE: 
As you would expect of any industry in the 21st century, marketing is constantly changing and increasing in complexity in this digital age. The increasing presence of digital media and the growing demand for ease-of-access online services, has resulted in the field growing broader than ever before. The possibilities now are numerous, but they are fragmented; you must be truly dedicated to the field to build the knowledge base of marketing tools required to thrive in such a climate. Ultimately, PPG wants to produce work that has the greatest impact on businesses, this was arguably easier in the past when you had a traditional, simple media mix, as opposed to now when success depends on mastering traditional media and online outlets, social media and digital advertising tools.

For example, it can be easy to spend a lot of money on Google ads that are expected to be high value, but instead, organizations might see greater return on sales if the money had been allocated to a faster and more agile response to SEO.

In marketing, it can be easy to get caught up in the creativity of the work – as that is most often our strength – but not fully immersing yourself in the analytical side of things is a mistake that is often reflected in outcomes. I would recommend that every marketer should always make sure to know their KPIs inside and out and try to get as familiar with Excel spreadsheets and analysis as they are with the creative work.

In this constantly changing modern landscape, marketing has become even more important than ever before. Specifically, in the paints and coatings industry, marketing was a late bloomer as it has been driven by shelf sales for so long. However, as an industry we are refocusing on innovation and purpose; and pushing the boundaries on what is expected from paints and coatings and what they can do. PPG aims to improve and protect the world through our products – but none of this is possible without proper marketing to support the business.


"A focus on our customers, our innovation, our people and our entrepreneurial way of working – are all elements that inspired the One PPG vision, and what most accurately represents the key to our successful way of working."

M7: Your work experience spans across highly complex matrix organizations to entrepreneurial and start-up businesses. What do you believe is your driving force behind your proven track records and achievements?
KE: 
I am very proud to say I have left behind a strong track record of positive differences within the companies in which I am working. Although I have worked in many different, seemingly unrelated industries, the knowledge and tools that I learnt at each step along the way continue to prove invaluable for each new challenge I face. From paints, to dairy, to cosmetics – your collective marketing knowledge spans across whichever business you are a part of. Once you’ve built up this knowledge base, the true challenge is not having the tools but knowing which tools to use and when.

I have always been most drawn to companies that challenge me to make a difference. This is how I’ve shaped my career and how I made my decisions on where to work.

M7: How well do you believe that a service-oriented and data-driven leadership approach along with business strategy and operational execution can lead to company growth with an upsurge in revenue/sales?
KE: 
I strongly believe in a service-oriented and data-driven leadership approach, as well as incorporating social and ethical capabilities. Data-driven leadership is the key to the future – in many industries – but especially in marketing. The industry today is all about knowing your KPIs and business cases, which are data rich. Working in marketing is about being able to positively impact business outcomes, and that ultimately boils down to the ability to add value for your customers and consumers. Focussing on PPG work as a service-oriented industry highlights the need for data availability – both in that of the business and that of our customers – to be able to best consult and serve. Knowing your data is the key currency for success in the 21st century.

Data analysis can provide us with information such as click through rates and viewership. We are able to access tools now that, if used right, can prove invaluable to achieving successful outcomes. Being able to use this information to your advantage will allow you to instantly see whether your data retrieval is successful. Every business case and KPI that you set out to tackle can then be achieved using the data to measure sales growth.

M7: PPG Industries has been included in the list of American Fortune 500 companies. What do you think has made it possible to build a fortune for PPG industries?
KE: 
PPG has a strong culture of building the business across SBUs through investment, innovation and acquisition. We are one of the leading and largest paints and coatings companies in the world. This status is maintained by PPG’s culture of investing in R&D and constantly challenging the boundaries and expectations of the coatings world.

The opportunity to build our position as a market leader in many countries around the world is only possible through our global network and international approach. For example, our Alison Park facility in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is a major hub of innovation for PPG – but work that is done there is often inspired by an idea from Europe, that itself was driven by a customer need from Asia. To stay on the frontlines we can’t sit still and be complacent. Our recent acquisition of Hemmelrath and a new plant in Tianjin, China is evidence of our strategy to expand our foothold, our abilities to deliver for customers and our capacity for innovation to maintain our position as a market leader.

PPG has many moving parts which all function in different areas of the world across different business units, but our central goal is to add customer value. A focus on our customers, our innovation, our people and our entrepreneurial way of working – are all elements that inspired the One PPG vision, and what most accurately represents the key to our successful way of working.


"Data-driven leadership is the key to the future – in many industries – but especially in marketing."


M7: How is PPG Industries’ tagline ‘WE PROTECT AND BEAUTIFY THE WORLD’ serving its purpose of enhancing the world through its paints and coating solutions?
KE: 
PPG is in every part of daily life – even if you don’t realise it. You touch and feel PPG in your living environment practically 24/7: from your car to an airplane, to your refrigerator, to your laptop or even your soda can. This tagline reflects how PPG’s paints and coatings cover every part of life. PPG products provide the expected functionality of adding a colour or coating to an object, but even more than that, PPG products enhance the longevity of an item and increase its appeal. Whether it is an electronics coating that makes a laptop feel smooth to the touch, or a coating that protects the body of an airplane from overheating in the sun. PPG’s mission is not to provide what is expected, but to offer innovative solutions to questions no one expected an answer for.

Environmental impact is one of the greatest concerns of the 21st century, for both our customers and us as manufacturers. As a business founded on mass production, it is our responsibility – and therefore our challenge – to be as positive a force as possible in the fight against climate change. This is why so many of our modern products are developed to align to both PPG’s mission of protecting the world and the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals: boat coatings that reduce friction and therefore reduce fuel consumption, aircraft windows that don’t need frames to reduce plane weight to help minimise carbon emissions, electric vehicle battery coatings that enable cars to travel for significantly longer periods of time per charge, increasing the viability of electric vehicles on roads. We are innovating with purpose – for the public, for our customers, for consumers and for our own PPG people.
The world cannot function without paints and coatings in our everyday life, and that’s why PPG’s tagline is so powerful. If we are going to continue to be a worldwide presence, we want to be sure we are making the world a more beautiful place in the most long-term, stable way possible.

M7: You have taken transformational business initiatives to foster incremental business changes and drive cultural change throughout the organization especially in dynamic business sectors. What are some of the advantages of taking such timely measures?
KE: 
As part of the global shift towards greater digitization, businesses have the opportunity to drive cultural change. Digital transformation is a key component, especially as peoples' buying habits are evolving and changing how they purchase products. This is acutely felt in Europe, with its variety of different countries, cultures and languages. From a marketing standpoint, the industry is offering incremental business changes in this new culture of on-demand. In the age of Amazon and digital transformation, people want easier and faster solutions from the paints and coatings industry. Customers want to get the job done as quickly and as easily as possible with support from the supplier. As a result, PPG is innovating to be more agile and fast, by developing architectural paints that take less time to dry or offering customers a more on-demand paint matching experience.


"A successful campaign is one tailored to the needs, style and audience of the customer."

M7: You have an amazing experience of working with top leading companies like Nestle, L’Oreal and currently PPG Industries, how influential was your role in transforming marketing tactics for these organizations?
KE: 
My roles in these organizations were really diverse. For L’Oréal, I was more into sales and worked within category management. This later proved very influential for my future marketing career as it introduced me to the integration between marketing and sales in helping to serve customers in the best way possible. Integrated communication between marketing and sales is an essential tool in connecting both ends with the business purpose while still staying customer focused. You need to drive your campaigns forward and also sell your products in a much more complex way that is completely focused on the customer’s view. In order to do this, you need to know what is best for the customer when you place your products within a category role. This requires a lot of analytical skills to convince a customer what is best for them. You need to oversee the whole thing and act almost as both an internal and external consultant for your company. This whole picture view of the marketing process really influenced my journey and helped me strengthen my skillset for my future roles, such as when I was head of digital for Nestle.

When it comes to marketing, you can’t just pick the most creative, 360 media campaign available and offer it to the client. A successful campaign is one tailored to the needs, style and audience of the customer. To be best at what we do, it is essential to build an in-depth understanding of your customer’s view and what is best for them. This experience came with me into my work for PPG in using this knowledge to establish myself in a more leading role. At PPG I am also the communicator in the company and need to understand everyone’s view and connect with all the different departments. I am not only the marketer in my department but I’m also responsible for looking at the whole value chain within this digital leading role. PPG has experienced double-digit growth in the past two years in both B2B and B2C and this success is down to how closely we collaborate here.

M7: Kolja, what is your super power?
KE:
I would say my super power is a combination of my visual and analytical skills, articulated through my courageous and enthusiastic mindset. Being able to both develop a specialized skill set and confidently acknowledge my areas of expertise and strength makes for a very beneficial cocktail to drive progress. Having empathy and other social skills are important to exert a positive influence within my team at PPG. However, these qualities should also be backed by facts – knowledge, experience and history -- which is a combination I have not seen in many people. Being self-confident and believing in my strengths is a powerful tool in business, and something that has greatly helped me along the way.

M7: Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your younger self?
KE:
I’m really driven by being up to date and well informed in as many areas as possible, and I would advise my younger self to do the exact same. I’ve always been a very curious person, but I would tell my younger self to be even more so and to take in as much information as possible. In this fast-moving world, that is just getting faster as we become more digital, there is always something new to learn or discover. If you remain stuck in one point of view or one way of thinking, you are already behind the curve. Stay flexible, stay interested and always remain in a constant state of learning.

ABOUT PPG INDUSTRIES

PPG: WE PROTECT AND BEAUTIFY THE WORLD™
At PPG (NYSE:PPG)
, we work every day to develop and deliver the paints, coatings and materials that our customers have trusted for more than 135 years. Through dedication and creativity, we solve our customers’ biggest challenges, collaborating closely to find the right path forward. With headquarters in Pittsburgh, we operate and innovate in more than 70 countries and reported net sales of $15.4 billion in 2018. We serve customers in construction, consumer products, industrial and transportation markets and aftermarkets. To learn more, visit www.ppg.com.

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GoBolt & Instock Team Up To Power Warehouse Efficiency & Drive Toward Self-Service Automation

PR Newswire | January 09, 2024

GoBolt, a technology company building the world's largest sustainable supply chain network, today announces it has partnered with Instock on a technology-driven warehouse initiative. GoBolt is already at the forefront of innovation in the logistics industry with its sustainable fleet and proprietary technology and now, by working with Instock, the company continues to blaze a trail in terms of advancing and simplifying logistics. Instock and GoBolt, united by their shared commitment to technology-driven efficiency and innovation, are partnering to integrate Instock's Automated Storage and Retrieval Solution (ASRS) into GoBolt's fulfillment centers. This collaboration, launching in January 2024, will enhance logistics operations by automating routine tasks, allowing warehouse associates to focus on more complex responsibilities. "GoBolt is committed to driving innovation in the traditional logistics sector through the development and adoption of groundbreaking technology. That's why our team is thrilled to partner with Instock on this exciting automation project," said Mark Ang, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of GoBolt. "In addition to advancing automation and improving efficiency for our brand partners, Instock allows our employees to dedicate their efforts to increasingly complex tasks. This is not only a win for warehouse productivity and safety, but also for employee satisfaction." Founded in 2020, Instock is a team grounded in deep experience in both engineering and operating technology for retailers in the U.S. and abroad. Their desire for more flexible and agile automation led them to embark on a mission to radically improve goods-to-person robotics with a simplified, soup to nuts rebuild. The result is their Robotics-as-a-Service (RaaS) offering, which delivers high-density goods-to-person automation with a flexible range of throughput rates. "We're inspired by what GoBolt is achieving for brands and retailers," said Yegor Anchyshkin, Instock's Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer. "Just as impressively, the company is eager to explore and embrace new technologies, like automation, instead of waiting in the wings. When it comes to partnerships, ours with GoBolt is as natural and synergistic as it gets." Through this partnership, the two dynamic companies will redefine storage density and volume throughput boundaries within defined footprints, and lay the groundwork toward self-service in warehouse automation.

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Operations, Supply Chain, Transportation

CPKC Joins RailPulse Coalition Driving Innovation in Railcar Telematics

PR Newswire | February 02, 2024

Canadian Pacific Kansas City (CPKC) today announced its membership in the RailPulse Coalition. RailPulse, founded by a dynamic consortium of forward-thinking railcar owners, is working to develop, broaden and accelerate the use of GPS and other telematics technologies on railcars that increase safety, efficiency, and visibility across North America's freight rail industry. CPKC becomes the third Class I railroad and 10th member of the coalition, joining Bunge North America, GATX, Genesee & Wyoming Inc., Norfolk Southern Corporation, Railroad Development Corporation, The Greenbrier Companies, TrinityRail, Union Pacific Railroad, and Watco Companies LLC. "We are pleased to be a part of RailPulse and to contribute to accelerating adoption of railcar telemetry in North America," said John Brooks, CPKC Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. "This collaboration aligns with our commitment to innovation and will play an important role in modernizing our customer experience and provide benefits to the entire supply chain by advancing safety and improving operations." The key objectives of RailPulse include: Industry Wide Telematics Infrastructure: The initiative facilitates collaboration among industry players by creating a secure, trusted, standardized, and vendor neutral railcar telematics infrastructure that spans the entire North American freight rail industry. Data-Driven Transformation: By building an information infrastructure that harnesses data from GPS and railcar-mounted sensors and prioritizing data standardization and storage in the cloud, RailPulse focuses on delivering actionable insights enabling enhance service levels, visibility, safety, sustainability, and productivity. Enhanced Service through Visibility: Through RailPulse, the integration of telematic sensors on railcars enables the generation of valuable data, empowering shippers with real-time visibility of railcar and goods movements to make informed decisions and optimize their operations. "We welcome CPKC to the RailPulse Coalition. Together, we will drive transformative change in the rail sector by combining our strengths and fostering a culture of innovation," said David Shannon, General Manager of RailPulse. "This partnership underscores our commitment to shaping the future of rail transportation." Response from RailPulse Members: "The Board of RailPulse is very excited to welcome CPKC," said Mike McClellan, RailPulse Board Chair and Sr. VP &Chief Strategy Officer at Norfolk Southern. "CPKC brings a breadth of railroading knowledge to the table, and the insights that CPKC will be able to contribute from operating in 3 countries will be invaluable as we drive RailPulse to serve all of North America." Forward looking information This news release contains certain forward-looking information and forward-looking statements (collectively, "forward-looking information") within the meaning of applicable securities laws in both the U.S. and Canada. Forward-looking information includes, but is not limited to, statements concerning expectations, beliefs, plans, goals, objectives, assumptions and statements about possible future events, conditions, and results of operations or performance. Forward-looking information may contain statements with words or headings such as "financial expectations", "key assumptions", "will", "anticipate", "believe", "expect", "plan", "should", "commit", "outlook", "guidance" or similar words suggesting future outcomes. This news release contains forward-looking information relating, but not limited, to statements about future technology and the potential for telematics technologies to increase safety, efficiency, and visibility across North America's freight rail industry and CPKC's expected benefits from such future technology. The forward-looking information contained in this news release is based on current expectations, estimates, projections, and assumptions, having regard to CPKC's experience and its perception of historical trends. Forward-looking information involves many inherent risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking information, including but not limited to the factors that are detailed from time to time in reports filed by CPKC with securities regulators in Canada and with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the United States. Reference should be made to "Item 1A - Risk Factors" and "Item 7 - Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations - Forward-Looking Statements" in CPKC's annual and interim reports on Form 10-K and 10-Q. Any forward-looking information contained in this news release is made as of the date hereof. Except as required by law, CPKC undertakes no obligation to update publicly or otherwise revise any forward-looking information, or the foregoing assumptions and risks affecting such forward-looking information, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

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Logistics, Supply Chain, Warehousing and Distribution

Harnessing the Transformative Power of Cold Chain Logistics with SSI Schaefer

SSI Schaefer | January 03, 2024

As average global temperatures rise and the demand for cold-chain storage grows worldwide, SSI Schaefer, a global leader in intralogistics and automated warehouses, is sharing best practices and key considerations on how logistics and operations managers can optimize efficiency and cost-effectiveness of cold storage warehouses. Cold storage warehouse managers -- particularly in the food and beverage industries, but also pharmaceutical distribution -- are facing the need to efficiently and effectively store, pick, retrieve, pack, and ship perishable and sensitive goods, which require special handling, monitoring, and carefully tuned environmental conditions. Yet they face additional challenges -- the cold-chain storage market is expanding, with some reports projecting a CAGR of 9% from 2023 to 2028, meaning that warehouse managers must balance surging demand for cold-stored goods with the increasing need to reduce energy costs and carbon emissions. "What we are seeing for refrigerated supply chains is this pinch -- a need to do ever more with ever less," notes Carsten Spiegelberg, Managing Director - Middle East & Africa, SSI Schaefer. "To meet the growing complexities of the industry, it's not enough to find a quick fix. Companies need material flow experts with industry know-how to consider all angles of a facility and seamlessly blend cold-chain logistics solutions with individual processes." Cold chain storage solutions Careful planning is always the first step in optimizing temperature-controlled infrastructure. To increase efficiency and cost-effectiveness of cold storage warehouses, there are several factors to consider from the beginning. Optimizing air circulation and product storage density Since different products and comestibles require different storage temperatures, cold storage warehouse temperatures can range from -34°C to 0°C, with some even reaching 21°C. However, there is often a trade-off between storage density and air flow. Selecting the right storage system that enhances the cooled air circulation while increasing the storage density in the given facility footprint is critical in the planning phase. Semi-automated solutions for cold storage space optimization Ideal for deep-freeze facilities for bulk storage in the manufacturing sector and delivering maximum space utilization, channel storage setups with semi-automated drive-in racking systems are an accessible step towards automation, offering high throughput, enhanced safety, and reduced time for workers in refrigerated facilities. Capable of following either the Last in-First Out (LIFO) or the First in-Last Out (FIFO) principle, these systems use channel vehicles like SSI Orbiter® and a corresponding docking station to store and retrieve pallets. Compared to a static, manual pallet rack system, a mobile racking storage system is an effective way to boost storage capacity in a given space -- by up to 85%, while maintaining full selectivity typically required in distribution centers. This system involves racks that move along floor rails via electric motors to create an aisle only where needed, and it offers smart lighting that only activates in occupied aisles for reducing energy consumption, as well as a night parking option that optimizes rack spacing for maximal cold air circulation. Future-ready automation systems for a seamless, cost-optimized cold chain Due to the need for cold goods to maintain strict timetables and a closed cold chain, storage systems must handle incoming goods efficiently and cope with expected and unexpected upticks in demand. The best way to systematically manage the complexities of cold-chain material flows is with a fully automated storage system that seamlessly interconnects components, such as: Pallets Automated storage & retrieval systems (ASRSs): The SSI Exyz is an automated high-density storage system with extremely high space utilization, particularly in high-bay warehouses, and it saves 25% of energy compared to conventional machines while functioning across different temperatures. Shuttle solutions: As a future-proof, fully automated channel storage option, the SSI Lift & Run Shuttle System (SLR) provides simultaneous access to multiple racks for top-tier performance and high storage density. Other storage types Shuttle solutions for layer trays: For high-volume picking of goods such as comestibles for shop deliveries, tray shuttles and conveying systems enable fully automated robotic picking or support efficient semi-automatic goods-to-person picking. Storage solutions for container, bin and carton loads: For loads of varying dimensions, scalable solutions using SSI Miniload, Flexi Shuttle or Cuby maximize storage density while accommodating specific load and performance requirements to support automatic or semi-automatic case and piece picking. Platforms for central control of refrigerated facilities Although there are various warehouse automation technologies that track material flows, issues such as coordinating multiple systems often arise and there is a clear need for centralized monitoring and control -- particularly with the complexities of refrigerated facilities. To tie all aspects of a cold storage warehouse together, end-to-end software such as WAMAS® or SAP EWM (Extended Warehouse Management) offer clear visualizations and comprehensive tools to manage processes, resources, and stock levels.

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