Founded in 1952, Elite Paint’s history goes back to the pre-independence era of Bangladesh. Founded and guided by the late Chairman of Elite Paint Mr. Serajuddin Ahmed, the company became one of the leading paint brands of the country. Since the early days, when Elite Paint was modest in stature, the company stressed on delivering customer satisfaction. That ethos lasts even today as the company continues to find more and more ways to deliver consumer satisfaction. The company’s leadership has now entered into the third generation, as the three new directors and grandchildren of Elite’s founder- Rahil Ahmed, Shajir Ahmed, and Rabez Ahmed take on the helm of the company.
In an interview with Bangladesh Brand Forum, the directors share their thoughts on the journey that lay ahead.
Elite paint has now stepped into the third generation of ownership. What is your take on the company values that have helped the company sustain and come this far?
As third-generation Entrepreneurs, we grew up cramming the significance of hard work and the nitty-gritty of our family business. Our dinner table settings often featured stories of true hardship and the sharing of wisdom. These stories were of our late grandfather Mr. Serajuddin Ahmed and of all the struggles and sacrifices he had to make to build the company. At the core of our company, the values and legacy are derived from his morals and beliefs. These values of integrity, accountability, and trust are what has kept the company thriving and they continue to act as guiding principles as we work with the drive to be the best in the industry.
That being said, our brand name, reputation, and identity might have already been ingrained but the continued growth of the company is in our hands. It is estimated that 90% of wealth is lost by the third generation since the business has been handed to them instead of being built by them. We are fully aware that the stakes are high for us and the road ahead is a bumpy one. With all these things in mind, we are working tirelessly to grow the company and maintain its success.
What are the major challenges that Elite Paint is currently facing in a rapidly changing market?
Managing any business comes with a fair share of challenges. In this industry, getting adequate skilled manpower, the absence of relevant skill development in academic curricula, information & resources, support from regulatory agencies, and the absence of harmonized tariff and non-tariff policies make it a challenging task to operate. Despite that, we ensure that our resources are committed to continued research and product development, maintaining product diversity. The industry is highly competitive and we appreciate healthy competition because that’s how we grew. We love challenges and we see them as opportunities to be more successful. Through highs and lows, we have been through all kinds of changes and passed all the tests that time threw at us.
How does Elite Paint foster innovation?
Being a Bangladeshi company, innovation is in our DNA as we prepare to meet the demands of the future as the country develops. We pursue innovation throughout the company starting from marketing and sales to production and management. We are among the first of paint companies to achieve QMS ISO 2009-2015. We have been manufacturing “lead-safe” paints for more than five years and are the only paint manufacturer in Bangladesh to be certified Lead-Safe by world-renowned organizations.
We at Elite Paint are fully aware of the onslaught of weather. Our recent innovations involve self-leveling epoxy paint “Floor Mask” – a new development that has antibacterial and seamless properties. “Floor Mask” had been used in the development of a world-class hospital financed by World Bank. We also brought “Powder Coatings” and construction chemicals like “Super Strength” and “Super Water Reducer”. Beyond the paint industry, our innovations have diversified to the Financial sector through “AB Bank Ltd.”, Insurance sector through “BGIC”, heavy industry sector “Super Refinery Pvt. Ltd.”, the first private Petroleum refinery in Bangladesh.
What is Elite Paint’s approach to maintaining the quality of products?
As our product portfolio diversifies, maintaining quality throughout remains a constant concern and to ensure quality we perform numerous quality checks throughout the production process up till the point where products are finalized for shipment. These checks are not only limited to regulatory compliance and internal standards but also to meet specifications of certain clients for reasons varying from safety to aesthetics. Also, on-process quality controls allow for improved yields and reduced rejection rates leading to greater profitability.
We use a wide variety of tools and methods to test for quality control. They range from simple flow cups to highly specialized, computerized systems that result in extremely high calibration and measurement capabilities. We check for Viscosity, Specific Gravity, Destructive Testing, and Environmental Compliance Testing.
We pride ourselves in knowing that many professionals in the market – painters, contractors, retailers, and dealers – have built their careers with the help of Elite Paints and the quality that we deliver. Prominent architects and engineers choose Elite Paint for their landmark creations and a host of prestigious establishments have adorned their edifices with Elite Paint.
Can you tell us about the product range that Elite Paint is offering?
Elite Paint has a massive product line catering to every facet of the Bangladeshi market. We have built on our initial success and are recognized industry-wide for introducing new ideas, products, and solutions to the market regularly.
Our enamel paint “Lucky Seven” has been a synonym for “rong” or paint for several decades in Bangladesh. “Master Coat” is our highest selling brand in the exterior emulsion paint category. “Bonntile” texture paint ensures more than 30 years of protection with aesthetic value to boot and the signature looks of many prominent buildings like Hotel Pan Pacific Sonargaon, and Balaka: Biman Bangladesh HQ are linked to this paint. “Silk De Luxe” is the luxury solution for interiors as it enhances the ambiance inside. To offer vibrant shades in an economy range, Elite Paint also introduced Distemper, Plastic paints and Enamel separately for tinting.
Elite Paint has a long list of industrial paints and many industries benefit from our product lines as they are some of the best paint for our climate. Bangladeshi electric cables, plastic/polymer products, leather, and shoe manufacturers rely on “DOP” from Elite Paint, whilst GEM Plant and Energypac rely on “Insulating Paint” for their production of world-class electrical transformers. Clients from the marine industry like Bangladesh Navy, Western Marine, Chittagong, and Khulna Shipyards Ltd. and many small and medium businesses depend on “Marelite” – our marine paint brand.
Can you tell us about some of the marketing efforts of Elite Paint?
Elite Paint organizes and runs a variety of promotional activities as part of its marketing plan. This includes promotions for applicators, contractors, and traders. Applicator promotions include painter meets, shop meets and seminars to demonstrate and educate applicators on products and application process, training programs and certifications for painters. We also run a partner loyalty program throughout the year. In the last 3 years, Elite Paint has trained more than 45000 union-level painters and organized CPD for engineers in government sectors to supervise painting works and their effectiveness.
We sponsor various events such as the Annual Boishakh Festival organized by the Institute of Fine Arts, the University of Chittagong for several decades and Women in Leadership Festival (WIL Fest) for the last 3 years. We have also hosted the 9th solo exhibition of renowned architect, Dr. Sajid Bin Doza at Galleria Elite. Elite understands that women play a great role in paint selection because of their ability to discriminate among colors, which is why many of our communication target our female audience as well. For women’s day, we recently partnered with GTV and Diamond World to bring out a quiz campaign titled “Salute to Inspiring Women”. We preach and practice the empowerment of different clusters in society. Hence in Elite, we have been creating different opportunities to uplift them and help them emerge as influencers.
What do you see for Elite Paint in the future?
Elite Paint may not be our brainchild but it is our legacy. We envision the company to be at the very top of the industry and also be at the forefront of innovation. To do that, we have plans to streamline our distribution channels, establish a state-of-the-art factory, create more environmentally friendly products, and provide our consumers with true experience to help them share the same connection with our products as we do. We want to revolutionize the paint industry and change the perception of paint by collaborating with talented artists, architects, and engineers who will be at the forefront of it all.
Lastly, we are aware Bangladesh is a developing country and therefore as the country develops, Elite paint will also continue to put practices in place that will give back to the community. Initiatives such as painting schools in the rural areas and homes for the less fortunate will continue to grow.