CCBR Business Review

B R I S T O L PA I N T S E R I N A C H A R M H A V E N F E AT U R E AN ENDURING LANDMARK on the Central Coast Highway at Erina opposite Fountain Plaza is the big red drive-in BRISTOL PAINT CENTRE. It’s been there for over 20 years! However, the Bristol Paints story goes back to 1985 when three young blokes decided to go into business together! Brian (Longie) Long and John Murray (the remaining directors) have grown Bristol Paints from these humble beginnings to become the largest and most successful independent paint retailer on the Central Coast. Their success is a result of their relentless adherence to the basic business formula of SERVICE, QUALITY and CUSTOMER RELATIONS. As Longie and John Murray say, “we owe this success to our extremely loyal custom- er base, both retail and trade and our solid relationship with our suppliers. The journey John Murray and Steve Ward worked in the paint department of Sterland Bros, one of the oldest and most respected building supplies companies during the early 1980s. At the time Sterlands were the largest Mitre 10 store in NSW. It is also worth noting that the Central Coast economy was flying on the back of a residential building boom. Sterland’s trade customers were ‘rusted on’ and in the paint department it was exactly the same. The relationship was personal. Meanwhile, Brian Long was the Central Coast representative for Taubmans Paints, one of the oldest paint brands on the market. He knew the Central Coast paint indus- try inside out, and he knew his customers intimately. Things changed around 1985 when Sterland Bros sold out to BBC Hardware, the forerunner of Bunnings. BBC’s business model was a whole lot different to the old fashioned Sterland business model. Says ‘Longy’ (these days Brian Long is an institution in the paint trade), “BBC did not understand that trade customers were in fact our customers who we had serviced so well for so long.” The three could see there was an oppor- tunity so decided to have a go themselves. Bristol Paints comes to town To be successful though they needed to have a product that was new to NSW, and different. They approached Victorian paint manu- facturer, Bristol Paints and spoke to the owner Bob White. “Mr White liked our enthusiasm and told us we could be a Trade Distributor of their products in NSW and the first in the State,” Longy says. The challenge then was to introduce a vir- tually unknown brand to the Central Coast. “It worked. Bristol was a top quality paint and we knew and were trusted by every- one in the paint business on the Coast.” Coastal Paint & Hire was set up and in no time the Bristol Paints brand was established. The three partners had succeeded well beyond their expectations - and that of Bristol. Their success soon created a problem – growing pains! The shop at North Gosford/ Wyoming soon became too small so they relocated to one of the most prominent spots in Erina where they could carry a label range of products and be a complete paint shop. Meanwhile the paint industry in Australia was going through considerable turmoil. In 1988 BobWhite sold Bristol Paints to Ford dealer, Lanes Limited who, inspired by Central Coast’s sales figures decided to open com- pany owned stores in the Sydney metro area however they did not flourish as expected. Taubmans, by this time were owned by British company, Courtalds Limited who in turn were bought out by South African brand man- agement company, Barloworld. Barloworld now owned both Taubmans and Bristol. In 2007 PPG Industries, a US Forbes 500 company, and one of the largest paint suppliers in thewsorld with over 47,000 employees, acquired Taubmans along with Bristol and White Knight Paints. Bristol is now the retail arm of PPG and PPG is a major player in Australia’s paint industry. During this turbulent time in the paint industry the local paint business was doing very well selling a range of paint brands under the PPG banner. They were the com- plete paint shop. Subsequently Taubmans, who had three trade outlets on the Central Coast, decided that company owned stores were too hard to manage, and in most cases were not viable. They offered the Erina store to Longy, Murray and Ward because the three had proved their ongoing success and not long after the Charmhaven store which, with new staff, new stock and new attitude is a success story of its own. In the interim Steve Ward had decided to move on leaving Longy and John Murray and their team at Erina and Charmhaven, which Longy says is the best team of peo- ple in the industry, to carry on. Bristol Paints and the Central Coast connection Bristol Paints’Erina Store Bristol Paints’Erina Team: Manager, Adam Mula, Colour Consultant Gloria Chaplin, Trade Manager Daniel Devine and Ty Drew Trade Manager Charmhaven