Eastman Chemical Company recently announced its acquisition of Ai-Red Technology (Dalian) Co. Ltd., a manufacturer and supplier of paint protection and window film for auto and architectural markets in the Asia Pacific region. PPFMAG caught up with Erin Bernhardt, vice president and general manager of Eastman Performance Films, to discuss the company’s latest addition and its upcoming European manufacturing expansion.
“These take time, especially as you’re building a relationship and getting to understand the nature of a business for a company across the globe,” Bernhardt says of the company’s acquisition of Dalian Ai-Red Technology. “We’ve been engaging with and getting to know the company for the past year and a half. They approached us through a counterpart because they recognized Eastman as one of the top leaders globally. Their products will be a good complement to our portfolio.”
The acquisition follows its fall 2021 addition of the business and assets of Matrix Films LLC and its UK affiliate, PremiumShield Limited, marketer of PremiumShield performance films.
Dalian Ai-Red Technology’s plant is based in China and features multiple production lines.
“This plant has been built over the last 10 years with equipment from high-quality vendors,” Bernhardt adds. “We’ve been able to test products, and they will fit into the quality standards and requirements that we have in serving the needs of our customers in the region.”
Bernhardt says Eastman doesn’t intend to acquire companies “for the sake of an acquisition,” but rather to advance growth through capabilities or market reach that complements its strategy and delivery to customers.
“Something important for our North American and European customers is that this is complimentary capacity,” she adds. “We have [production] coming online in Dresden, Germany, this next quarter. Both additions allow us to increase the support and supply from the U.S. operations as well.”
Bernhardt forecasts growth, even amid worldwide economic uncertainty.
“We are well-balanced, and I see growth for us,” she says. “Automotive vehicle sales and home/retail renovations are projecting only mild growth this year. However, there is still a lot of opportunity to grow automotive and architectural films through brand and category building with consumers and for dealers to upsell value-added products. We are committed to supporting our customers with the right products and services to help capture these growth opportunities.”