Two Companies Merge to Provide Quality Pigments Worldwide
DCC LANSCO, created from the merger of industry leaders Dominion Colour Corporation (DCC) and Lansco Colors, creates pigments and pigment mixtures for ink, coatings, and plastics manufacturers, making our world a more colourful place.
As well as powdered pigments, DCC LANSCO manufactures and distributes mixtures known as dispersions and preparations. A dispersion is a liquidized form of a pigment that is not dissolved like a dye, but is in suspension. Dispersions can be water or solvent-based. The water-based dispersion is best for low-VOC (volatile organic compound) products that are common particularly in North America and Europe where there is a push for a healthier environment. However, there are some applications where a solvent-based system is required.
A preparation is made from a concentrated pigment in a plastic resin. “We actually melt the plastic resin, and the pigment becomes encapsulated in that plastic resin. At the end, you could have seventy percent pigment encapsulated into thirty percent of plastic resin, and it’s non-dusting, so it’s just a very clean way of dealing with pigments,” says Dr. Bruce Howie, Global Product Marketing Manager at DCC LANSCO.
DCC LANSCO has manufacturing facilities in the UK, Netherlands, and Canada. There are three locations in Ontario: the New Toronto facility creates organic pigments, the Ajax facility primarily makes inorganic pigments but is beginning to include a small amount of organic pigments as well, and the smaller facility in Mississauga makes custom dispersions (for example, coil, industrial and automotive coatings), custom coatings (for example, architectural and protective coatings including those for wood stains, metal doors and vinyl windows), specialty coatings (for example, flame retardant coatings, and fluorescent and scenic latex paints, and office furniture coatings) and inks (for example, di-electric ink for Nickel production facilities). The Mississauga manufacturing facility provides DCC LANSCO with these products and is heavily involved with the local contracting scene.
The three main markets for DCC LANSCO products are coatings, plastics, and inks, and those categories can be broken down into several subsections. For example, within the coatings division, there are the industrial, architectural, automotive, and coil sectors, among others. The industrial market for coatings can then be broken down into agriculture, construction, and earthmoving, as well as the marine and oil and gas sectors.
The distinction between a pigment and a dye is that a pigment is insoluble and suspended in the medium through which it is applied, whereas a dye will dissolve. A pigment can sometimes be manufactured from a dye by complexing or ‘laking’ the dye with a particular metallic salt, and the result is called a lake pigment. “We create a lake pigment where you basically take a dye and react it with certain metal complexes. The metals bond with the dye and actually cause the dye to become a pigment, so it becomes insoluble into the medium in which it’s applied,” says Bruce.
Some industries, particularly those involving engineering resins (plastics) use solvent dyes due to their high heat stability and robust molecular structures, although there are pigment options that can be used in the same industries. The choice depends on the desired shade and the performance characteristics for the end use.
Earlier this year, Dominion Colour Corporation (DCC) and Lansco Colors merged to build on the strengths of each company under the name DCC LANSCO. DCC began in 1946, making pigments as a division of a wallpaper company. The Toronto-headquartered manufacturer grew rapidly over the years through acquisition and organic growth. Lansco Colors, previously known as Landers-Segal Color Company, was founded in 1926 in New York. This distributor imported pigments from manufacturers in countries around the world. Together, the complementary capabilities create a pigment firm with impressive reach.
Much of the integration process is ongoing; it is focusing on getting the reporting structure in place and integrating its product lines and management systems. The company’s recent merger boosted its employee count to over three hundred. It is an exciting time for DCC LANSCO as it experiences new changes and people moving within positions at the company. Both DCC and Lansco Colors had very low staff turnover and have many long-term, experienced employees with careers as long as twenty to thirty years. Today, people enjoy working at DCC LANSCO and it is an international team with plenty of diversity.
The merger has expanded the opportunities and possibilities. DCC LANSCO now has a broadened product portfolio, as well as a global sales and technical service team, that is more cost competitive. It has allowed the company to deliver more solutions to the newly combined customer base. “Lansco was primarily based in the U.S., and they existed under a very specific go-to-market strategy, and at DCC, we have a slightly different strategy globally, and surprisingly, there was very little overlap between the product ranges,” says Bruce.
The two original companies did serve some of the same customers but were selling different products to those same customers. The product lines have supplemented each other very well. “Lansco has a broad product range, especially in organics. They have some that are not in our range, so very much complementary, and also, they’ve got a strong sales and marketing team. All these things together do make things look very rosy for the future,” says Bruce.
The marketing team is particularly skilled at helping clients select the correct product for their needs. Specific pigments are used for different applications, and deciding on which one is required depends on the product’s purpose, the complexity of its chemical structure, and its particle shape. The general applications of the pigment are split up into three performance levels: standard, medium, and high-performance. A standard-performance pigment has a simple chemical structure that would not require excessive dispersion methods to allow the products to homogeneously mix within the coatings, plastic or ink matrix. It would not require strong acids or alkalis to activate the product to the system in which it is applied, and it would be used mainly for interior applications such as interior decorative paints, interior powder coatings, and some plastic materials that are not designed to have particularly long shelf lives.
The medium-performance products are used in exterior applications that require resistance to weather damage. The pigment has to be more durable and chemical and heat stable for outdoor temperature extremes. “Some paints have to have higher heat stability depending on geographically where it’s going to be used. As for the processing temperature, if something is going to be oven-dried at 160 degrees, you wouldn’t want to use a pigment that only had the heat stability of 140,” says Bruce.
The higher-performance pigments are used on heavy-duty products such as vehicles and high-end industrial coating systems. “If you imagine a John Deere tractor or a Kubota digger that’s going to be outside, and it’s going to be used in a mine or to dig out something from the ground, the coating on the piece of machinery must be really tough and robust. And the pigment really helps with the performance of the coating or the plastic in that sense,” says Bruce.
The personal way that DCC LANSCO delivers customer service sets it apart in the industry. Some of the companies with which it competes do not have the luxury of being able to work closely with customers. These firms have a defined product range and do not have the ability to provide flexible, customized solutions. The competition may offer a lower price due to the economies of scale, but it often comes with a lack of customer care.
DCC LANSCO will travel to a particular site or facility to work with a customer to design a very specific and customized solution. “It has been a big success of ours to get in there with the customer and create that relationship because it’s not just us servicing them, we’re helping each other. We learn from them; they learn from us, and we give them the products that they require for their specific projects, and that’s really a hand-in-hand partnership,” says Bruce.
The primary challenges for DCC LANSCO are adapting to consumer trends, the changing styles of the products, and the environmental regulations and political factors that have suddenly come into play. The Chinese government has implemented a large number of environmental shutdowns, which has caused a great deal of consternation. The environmental regulations are meant to reduce the emissions from the Chinese industrial zones, and that is a wonderful plan, yet the suddenness of how it was implemented has affected many businesses negatively. DCC LANSCO is fortunate to have procurement teams that use suppliers from a variety of countries and has other options.
The company’s top priority at the moment is to focus on its integration of Lansco and DCC. In the meantime, it is continuing to look at new products and different chemistries to incorporate more product lines. It recently invented and released a new colour index pigment called Pigment Orange 86 to the market and hopes to soon expand the colour gamut. It also plans to increase the colour strength and develop more chromatic vivid shades as they become more relevant, particularly in the automotive industry. DCC LANSCO holds its research and development teams in high regard as it continues to bring out products that offer significant value to customers.