A 179-year-old marine paint newcomer

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Italy-based Boero, a big name in Europe, taps Interlux veteran to build a foothold in U.S. market

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The name may be unfamiliar on this side of the Atlantic, but Boero Yacht Coatings has been a major player in Europe for more than a century. Now, the 179-year-old marine paint company is entering the North American market.

"The timing is right," says Steve Schultz, head of North America operations, who is confident Boero can capture market share in a down economy. "The bottoms need to be painted, regardless of the state of the economy."

Schultz, 59, joined Boero (pronounced "bow-arrow") in March after 24 years as managing director of Interlux.

"Coming from a well-known brand to one not well-known in this country is a challenge," he says. "But joining a company with a strong technology core and building business is both challenging and rewarding."

Schultz is based in Parsippany, N.J. Corporate headquarters is in Genoa, Italy. Boero Yacht Coatings was founded in 1831 by Bartolomeo Boero and remains with the family today. It lists yacht builders Baglietto, Benetti and Ferretti among its customers. The 289-foot three-masted clipper megayacht Maltese Falcon, built by Perini Navi, is featured in the Boero brochure - one of 600 superyachts coated with a Boero product, according to the company. Customers also include pleasure boats from 10 to 80 feet.

Boero supplies both topside and bottom coatings to 40 percent of steel/aluminum new construction in the European superyacht market, according to Schultz. Boero touts its lightweight fillers, primers and low-VOC top and under coatings, and expects to move from the current three to seven antifouling paints approved for the U.S. market by the fall boat show season. The products, consisting of both self-polishing ablative and hard matrix antifouling paints, will be priced "competitively with other major yacht paint manufacturers in the U.S.," Schultz says.

In the North American market, about 55 percent of marine coatings are professionally applied, 45 percent by do-it-yourselfers, Schultz says. The focus in the next two to three years will be on the top end and medium range of the market. Schultz says he hopes to build Boero to the No. 3 brand in the North American antifouling market within five to eight years.

Schultz says Boero is presently recruiting distributors, boatyards and dealers who will focus on the professional applications market. Starting on the East Coast (with an emphasis on Florida), Boero sales reps will visit yards with sample panels painted with Boero and other coatings. The plan is to hang them in the water and revisit them over time to show the varying effectiveness of the coatings, "so we can prove that our products do exactly what we say they do," Schultz says.

This article originally appeared in the August 2010 issue.

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