Not the most interesting of topics for a blog post we have ever written, but one of the most informative and open looks at the current climate within our industry. As I’ve previously mentioned on our social media platforms, raw materials and packaging costs have gone up massively over the last year, to eye watering levels unseen previously. Many raw materials come from the EU and beyond, and with Brexit and new customs rulings being introduced, the cost to import chemical products has sky rocketed, along with the implications of the Covid pandemic that has caused havoc with driver and staff shortages all over the world.

Chemical Materials

To be exact, the main raw material has gone up almost bi-monthly to a point of 112.5% from Feb 21 – Nov 21, and has currently stabilised at that price (from November-currently). This is the bulk of the recipe for cold stripping chemicals.

Other ingredients involved in making cold stripping acid have gone up anywhere from 15% to 25%. 

Containers

• 25L drums have gone up in price by 9%. 

• 205L barrels have stayed the same currently, but availability is extremely low and when we are needing to buy from an alternative supplier, the price is 90% more for them (and these are the second cheapest option).

• IBC prices for an empty has risen by 25%.

We’ve even seen price increases on the labels we put on our drums (12% due to rising costs of materials).

So what are we doing?

We have fought tirelessly to absorb as much of these increases as possible, and liaising with suppliers across the country and EU to source quality material at a lower cost. That has included us bulk ordering all of our materials (we have even opened a new depot to allow us to store larger quantities on site!).

We pride ourselves on sourcing Grade A materials from consistent suppliers whom are key players within the industry. We have mentioned the benefits of buying grade A materials in an earlier blog post, and whilst it would appease our customers to shave off a couple of ££ from a drum at the moment, we must enlighten you as to why we have decided to continue as we are…

Buy cheap, buy twice?

We have been offered cheaper materials from another supplier and asked for a sample from these to try in our own workshop. We have the luxury of utilising our own 2000sq ft paint stripping yard, and we will always run “real life” trials on any new material before we put it into our products, as we want to know how it performs in workshop conditions, not in a beaker at room temperature in a lab. This is our unique selling point, we use our own chemicals in house, designing them to meet the needs of our industry, fast turn around and performance, high quality, minimal waste.

The 2 material samples arrived with a Certificate of Analysis (CofA), which told us that the raw material was Grade A and 98.5% pure. Morbid curiosity got the better of us and we sent a sample to a lab for testing. The results that came back showed that the material sent to us with a CofA proving 98.5% purity were actually only 92.5% and 93.3% pure. Along with this poor grade material, the additional chemical products found in the samples could have a significant affect on the life span of the raw material and hinder its stripping power (not to mention the possible chemical reactions when mixed with the other raw ingredients!).

sample1
Sample 1 – as you can see, the actual amount of the raw material is 92.5%. So in every 1000L IBC, there would be 75L of “other chemicals” and water content.
sample2
Sample 2 – as you can see, the actual amount of the raw material is 93.3%. So in every 1000L IBC, there would be 64.7L of “other chemicals” and water content.

Our current and trusted supplier guarantees a minimum of 96% (the level marked as Grade A), but earmark material which has a CofA of 99% and above for us as they know this is crucial to the products we are producing.

Product Testing and Comparisons

We mixed the samples with our other raw ingredients to make our product and sent a drum to our stripping workshop, alongside a drum from our usual supplier.

Our workshop processes so many chemical stripping jobs that we often turn around what our customers would in a week in a day! So this allowed us to really get a feel for how the cheaper product would perform over time for our customer base.

The cheaper material was found by our workshop staff to strip slower even to begin with, and took a considerably longer time to strip what our usual product managed with ease.

On day two, they found that the sample cheaper material was hardly affecting the coatings on metal at all, with stripping times significantly reducing by the end of day two to almost nothing. Our staff were frustrated as they were waiting for the chemical to do its job, which put them back on their timeframes.

As you can imagine, this is massive false economy. Buying on price is one thing, but buying cheap to buy twice is a senseless way of running a business and puts the end user at a commercial disadvantage as they are spending more time waiting for things to strip, and money replenishing the product when it has burnt out quickly. 

Why we won’t compromise on quality

Our initial thoughts were to trial this cheaper material to offer an economy product alongside our current product, to appease the customers buying on price alone. Our plan was to give all of the above info, stating it was a lesser grade product, but with a lower price tag that a handful of our customers find more appealing than the quality, as they buy on price and price alone.

Within 24 hours, when we began day two of the trial, we realised that this cheaper material wasn’t even fit for this, and as such, we weren’t happy to put our name to it, even with a prewarning the material was of lower grade, as we would have had some extremely unhappy customers.

We may not always be the cheapest, but I’d like to think we are the most open and honest with our customers. I am a firm believer that a spade is a spade, we don’t try and sugar-coat anything, we aren’t willing to gamble with your livelihood as well as ours to save a couple of ££ on a barrel when that couple of ££ could be the difference between needing to order every 1-2 weeks instead of every 4-6 weeks! It is false economy. Our own paint stripping workshop would not be able to work long term using these products, and couldn’t afford to replenish the acid as frequently as would be needed. Not only that, but the cost of disposing of so much waste/flat chemical would be astronomical.

Please get in touch if you have any questions about our products or the costs involved. As always, we are happy to help.

01772 202227 / info@paint-strip.co.uk

Thank you,

Team Ribble