Stefano Sarti, Sales & Marketing Manager at VALPAINT, tells the story of this Italian leader in the decorative paint and coatings sector.
1) 1988–2020: for 32 years, VALPAINT S.p.A. has been a market-leading manufacturer of paints and coatings for interior and exterior decorating. Tell us about the company’s history
VALPAINT was officially founded in 1988. But the story begins a little earlier...
Back in 1974, Ferdinando Sarti, still Chairman of the Company to this day, launched a small production business in the paint sector.
The roots of the company can be traced all the way back to that first entrepreneurial spirit. Many years have passed since then, and in this time VALPAINT has continued to grow and innovate, becoming a public limited company in 2004.
Today, it is us, the founder’s children, who deal with the Sales & Marketing and Administrative areas. A dynamic and highly motivated focus on business success has always characterised our work and will continue to do so.
Our current headquarters, located in Polverigi (province of Ancona, Italy), were recently built to extremely high design and functional standards. The facility has an area of 5,000 m2 of indoor space on a site of over 20,000 m2. Currently, some 2,000 m2 are reserved for the Production Department, 2,000 m2 for the Finished Products and Raw Materials Warehouse while the remaining 1,000 m2 are occupied by offices.
We have a team of 50 employees, in addition to Sales Reps that take our products around the world. Because our business is not limited to the Italian market...
There is a VALPAINT branch in Tunisia, in Zaghouan to be precise, 70 km from Tunis. Since 2001, this hub has been producing the same decorative paints as our Italian plant (with the same technical specifications and high quality). But that's not all: is also manages the production of a line of traditional paints that are subject to high demand in areas with high levels of working-class residential development.
The VALPAINT brand extends across Europe and worldwide, in many different countries, either with branches or subsidiaries of the Group. Other areas where the brand features prominently include former Soviet nations, the Middle East and China.
2) In 2006 and in 2009, VALPAINT achieved two important certifications: ISO 9001 quality certification and ISO 14001 environmental certification. What role does environmental awareness play in the company philosophy?
I believe that respecting the environment should be a primary consideration in everything that we do. And this not only applies to production but also to each of our individual day-to-day responsibilities.
This approach has also been introduced within the company, not only relative to the product itself and the relative materials, but throughout the entire production chain and all associated activities.
The company's respect for the environment is also demonstrated by our many certifications. Although for us this is purely a formality, further validating the characteristics of our decorative paints.
During the product conception phase, we think and act strictly adhering to applicable environmental standards. We have always taken this approach and creating a decorative product capable of reducing and completely eliminating any environmental pollution that may be generated is not simply a goal but a genuine mission.
For this reason, the company has equipped itself with a Quality and Environment Management System aimed at improving its efficiency, while providing an increasingly reliable service to partners and guaranteeing quality levels that can be verified over time. This document finds application:
• internally within the company for the system's operational management, alongside the procedures, operating instructions and documentation
• externally to demonstrate the conformity of the Quality and Environment Management System to applicable laws and regulations, namely ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 14001:2015.
We are convinced that living in an environment decorated with certified products not only allows you to live better but also to appreciate the true concept of a “healthy” home.
If we consider the remarkable current situation, which has seen us requested to remain in our homes, for obvious health reasons, we can further appreciate the value of living in an environment that is free from harmful substances.
3) When the great cellist and conductor Pablo Casals reached his 95 birthday, a young journalist asked him:
“Mr Casals, you are 95 years old and the greatest cellist ever to live. Why do you continue to practice for six hours a day?”
Pablo Casals replied:
“Because I think I’m making progress”.Can we say that your R&D laboratory represents the point of departure for the symphonies of colour that you produce? How does the process work?
A decorative paint represents the synthesis of three elements: AESTHETICS - CHEMISTRY - TECHNIQUE These three aspects are not fixed but continually evolving. The product itself never stands still, it changes constantly.
This is why VALPAINT considers research and development to be the only tool allowing constant improvement of our products and all components.
At VALPAINT, research can be compared to the continual practice of Mr Casals.
The Research and Development Laboratory is the nerve centre for the design of a decorative effect capable of combining the three elements which I mentioned.
The most valued feature of a decorative paint is certainly its aesthetic qualities, the aspect of the product that draws the attention immediately with its texture and colour.
But to design a product with the desired aesthetic impact, a whole research process is undertaken in our laboratory to find the right inspiration so that the end result has a strong appeal in the contemporary market.
According to our philosophy, a decorative paint is not a building material but a furnishing in the truest sense. And products must be researched, conceived and developed with this perspective.
Having defined the desired aesthetic qualities, development proceeds in our laboratory, where a process of experiments, testing and reworking generates a series of proposed solutions to create the product. The result not only has to meet the aesthetic profile, the other two aspects must be considered. The chemical composition determines a series of properties that give the product its mechanical, structural and application qualities.
The result of this complex design phase has to meet various requirements: aesthetic (colours, textures and feel), chemical (mechanical properties, respect for the environment and users of the product) and last but not least, application requirements, i.e. simplicity of product application and quality of decorative results.
4) Which new products in your range of interior and exterior decorative paints are you most proud of?
Ah, now that’s a difficult question.
VALPAINT offers many products, each with very different features. First of all, there are our original products, that form part of the company's history, followed by the more classic lines that have become our core production, and then there are our bolder finishes targeted at the world of design. And we must not forget the latest products introduced with great drive into the world of interior architecture, with special solutions for continuous surfaces...
Yes, it is certainly a difficult choice to make. There is an indescribable emotional attachment to each and every project, from the oldest to the most recent, and this makes it very difficult to pick some and leave others out.
If I was forced to choose amongst our decorative paints and coatings, I would say that I am particularly enthusiastic about our line of metallic products named KLONDIKE. The KLONDIKE line features a selection of finishes: KLONDIKE, KLONDIKE LIGHT, KLONDIKE CORTEN AND KLONDIKE FERRO.
Each of these products has different features, applications and finishes, although grouped in the same line. The unique feature that they all share is the aesthetic effect which, depending on the nuances of the individual finishes, simply recreates classic metallic colours and textures.
All of these metallic finishes can be used for interior decorating, whilst KLONDIKE CORTEN stands out as it is also suitable for outdoor use. The technical characteristics of this product guarantee colour stability and mechanical resistance when used in outdoor settings.
In addition to excellent technical characteristics, this decorative finish has generated great interest in the world of architecture and design. This is because it can confidently be used to replace original Cor-Ten steel (read more about this in our guide “Corten-effect paint: the elegance of a rusty glow”). We are hugely proud of this product also for the link that it creates between VALPAINT industry and the world of contemporary architecture.
From our range of decorative products, I would also like to mention the most recent offering from VALPAINT. Shortly before the current health emergency, we presented our concept for continuous surfaces, which has now become reality with the new VALPAINT I-BETON.
This is a decorative coating with a micro-cement effect that can be used on newly created surfaces and also on existing surfaces, such as tiles. Its characteristics not only allow application on large horizontal and vertical surfaces, but also on surfaces in contact with water and moisture, such as the flooring and walls of showers, inside bathrooms and other similar environments.
VALPAINT I-BETON succeeds in combining high levels of mechanical performance with design aesthetics, ideal for contemporary interiors (to find out more, have a look at our article “VALPAINT I-BETON, resin for walls and floors: the continuous-surface coating”).
5) The word “professional” is thrown around a lot these days, perhaps without really considering what it means. What importance do you place on training your painters? How do you promote knowledge and best practices in the decorative paint sector?
I believe that a professional approach is the result of training, awareness and knowledge. Without appropriate preparation (always achieved through detailed training), it is impossible to be and to appear professional.
VALPAINT strongly believes and invests in training. Throughout the year, the company organises ongoing training courses for painters and also for retailers.
These courses see participation not only of Italian professionals, but also figures from all of the other countries where VALPAINT operates. During these events, we offer in-depth training on products and their features, and take a detailed look at application techniques and the correct use of relative equipment.
The training cycle is completed by considering aspects relative to the importance of a decorative product in the context of an interior design or architecture project.
Training is fundamental to maintain balance in the entire process from creation of a product to the final decorative result.
VALPAINT has set itself the goal of focusing on training, in all its forms, in order to maintain the virtuous cycle between production and application.
In addition to direct training at our headquarters in Polverigi, courses and updating sessions are held on an ongoing basis at our customers’ premises, provided by our technical/sales personnel.
6) In Italy, VALPAINT is a recognised, trusted brand. Tell us about your international growth strategy. Which foreign countries do you operate in?
VALPAINT has a presence in many countries around the world, but in recent years we have intensified efforts to expand our business in countries where we didn’t previously operate.
We currently export to around 65 countries worldwide through a network of direct branches, retailers and distributors.
The path that the company is taking is aimed at promoting the decorative product not merely as a building material but to placing it firmly in the context of the design world.
We are keenly aware that Italian design is one of the sectors with the strongest traction in foreign markets
In fact, I believe that for foreign markets, Italian fashion has always been a model to emulate and pursue. We see our decorative paints in exactly this way: like highly refined garments, placing great attention on every detail, allowing us to dress different environments.
7) What is a detail? Detail makes the difference between something good and something outstanding.
You have made a lovely video in which you presented VALPAINT in this way.
But what are these “details” that make you one of the most advanced Italian companies in the paint sector?
Detail can be considering like the final touches on a work of art.
Care and attention to detail represent the added value offered by a product. But that’s not all... detail is what turns a good job into an exceptional one. Because sometimes the detail is not evident, but you sense it and it can always be perceived.
VALPAINT carefully examines all the nuances and details of its products, not only in terms of their aesthetics but also regarding technical properties. In a previous question I mentioned the three core aspects of a decorative product, and at VALPAINT we consider detail for each one of these.
In terms of aesthetics, for example, detail can be seen in the fine chromatic difference in the colour itself, or in the structure of the texture.
Considering production, detail is not visibly evident, but great attention to the selection of component materials in itself represents a level of detail that makes all the difference to the final result.
Finally, there is another type of detail that we do not see, but that painters perceive and check on a daily basis: the ease of application of the product and the final aesthetic result.