Sikkens Wood Care Products,
Centuries of experience and continuing dedication to product development make this manufacturer a leader in the coatings market.
by Bruce Hackett
to find a company in the coatings industry whose origins date back as far as Sikkens Wood Care Products. Founded in the Netherlands in 1792, Sikkens enjoys a time-honored reputation for industry leadership and superior quality in its translucent and solid color wood-stain products. That tradition entered the North American market in the 1970s and continues today as the company prepares to roll out its “Next Wave of Technology” products later this year and in 2005.
Sikkens is part of Akzo Nobel, a huge international company that also manufactures chemicals and pharmaceuticals. As Tim Stephens, marketing communications manager for Decorative Coatings North America, points out, “Being part of such a large company gives us access to substantial research and development budgets and a long history as a leader in alkyd technology R&D, which [in turn] gives us an advantage in new product development that our competitors can’t match.”
When house painter Wiert Willem Sikkens began producing premier lacquers at the end of the 18th century, his products quickly earned a reputation for quality and craftsmanship throughout much of Western Europe. By the mid-20th century, through emerging technological advances and mergers with other quality European companies, Sikkens evolved into Akzo Coatings, which then merged with the Swedish firm Nobel, a lacquer and varnish specialist, in 1993.
The “Next Wave of Technology” slogan Sikkens is using to promote its new line actually refers to its introduction in North America, Stephens explains. “Our premium alkyd technology is new to the United States and Canada, but these formulas have been used extensively in Europe. These are proven formulas that have met with great success in the European marketplace, and now we’re bringing them here.”
The first new product will be Rubbol Siding Finish, a hybrid alkyd acrylic coating “that combines the quality, durability, penetration and adhesion of our oil-based products with the more user-friendly properties of water-based coatings,” says Stephens. “We have maintained the durability and high-end quality our customers have come to expect from Sikkens while now focusing on the applicator and his desire for faster drying times and easier cleanup.”
A number of surveys have shown that customers are often leery of any kind of change in a product’s formula, assuming that the quality will suffer. “That’s simply not the case here,” he added. “These are proven formulas that are now being introduced to the U.S. market. We would never bring anything into the marketplace that didn’t live up to the expectations our customers have regarding quality and durability.”
While Sikkens’ Cetol translucent product line allows the wood grain to show through, its Rubbol Solid Collection is designed to fully color the wood, almost like paint. “Rubbol is almost like rubber, a highly durable, flexible coating that has no problems with cracking, peeling, or fading,” Stephens notes. “I wouldn’t go so far as to call it an elastomeric coating, but that’s sort of the idea. Rubbol Siding Finish is a flexible, breathable coating meant for siding, fencing and vertical exterior wood surfaces.”
Sikkens wood care products are also successfully used on interior wood trim and cabinetry and throughout the interior of log homes.
Akzo Nobel’s coatings division is the largest of its three divisions, with headquarters in the Netherlands. Its products are sold in more than 80 countries worldwide. Sikkens Decorative Coatings North America employs approximately 150 people throughout North America. Sikkens wood care products are sold in the United States only through independent paint stores, hardware stores and lumberyards.
Sikkens expects to stay a leader in the periodic introduction of new products, says Stephens. “New technologies are always more expensive, especially when you’re bringing something out for the first time. But we have buying power, and after a while, as more and more people use our products, the raw material costs go down because of economies of scale. That’s one of the benefits of being part of a large international company.”
To learn more, please visit the Sikkens Wood Care Products Web site.