Coatings Group

The South African Paint Manufacturing Association has come a long way in the past 80 years

The South African Paint Manufacturing Association (SAPMA), is celebrating the 80th anniversary of operations in 2018. Deryck Spence, Executive Director, SAPMA, reports on the first eight decades.

From its early development in Durban, where most of the paint manufacturers were located during SAPMA’s early years, the association has grown exponentially in terms of membership along with its role in promoting the interests of members and the industry in general. 

In harmony with the growth of the industry and the individual manufacturers during the ensuing years, SAPMA joined the migration north and SAPMA’s Johannesburg office was opened in 1997. In 2001, a Director of SAPMA was appointed and permanent staff established in Johannesburg. Membership at that time was 34 manufacturing members and 35 suppliers.

In the ensuing years significant milestones were achieved, with the introduction of newsletters, advertising and press releases in industry journals and the introduction of a website. The SA Paint Industry Training Institute (SAPITI) – SAPMA’s training arm – developed a computerised ‘Windows’ learner database and the SAPMA Paint Technology training course was accredited through Port Elizabeth Technikon (part of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University). SAPMA’s statistical scheme was introduced and short training courses were developed to cover the Introduction to Paint Technology, Health and Safety and Labelling, and Carriage of Dangerous Goods. The year 2004 heralded the first biennial OCCA/SAPMA Coatings Conference, leading to closer ties and co-operation between Britain’s Oil & Colour Chemists’ Association and SAPMA.


In 2009, came a change in strategy regarding SAPMA’s membership categories with the amalgamation of the Manufacturing and Association Members’ executive committees. This was followed by a successful promotional drive for membership, which was expanded to include a wider definition of the industry and incorporated, for the first time, the Retail and Contracting sectors of the industry.

The SAPMA website was substantially upgraded in January 2010 to a fully interactive webpage offering members, non-members and consumers a myriad of information pertaining to the coatings industry.

SAPMA and OCCA entered into a co-operation agreement regarding the management and development of the coatings conference with the inaugural Coatings for Africa Conference at Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand, followed by a second conference at Sandton Convention Centre in 2015.


Many milestones have been achieved in the interim years as SAPMA developed lasting relationships with international paint and coatings associations, membership of IPPIC (International Paint and Printing Ink Council) and membership of the Multistakeholder Committee for Chemicals Management under the auspices of the SA government’s Department of Environmental Affairs.

SAPMA has furthermore, played a leading role in the interpretation of the S. A. Agricultural Remedies Legislation by preventing the planned banning of biocides in paint and has established a professional working relationship with the Department of Agriculture.

SAPMA’s relationship with government departments has also led to the imminent removal of lead from paint and finally persuading the Government to change legislation for the total elimination of lead and lead pigments by 2019. 

In its role as spokesman for the industry, SAPMA has fought tirelessly to prevent the dumping of cheaper paint products and raw material onto the South African market, as well as playing watchdog to the manipulation of import duties and tariffs which posed a threat to South Africa’s manufacturing base. Negotiations are currently in progress to establish Compulsory Specifications for the importation of coatings products to further protect local manufacturers and raw material suppliers.

As 2018 unfolds, SAPMA now represents companies who produce 85-90% of paint manufactured in South Africa and approximately 70% of raw material suppliers, as well as a significant sector of the retail market. The association has also made progress in penetrating the contractors market. 
SAPMA’s mandate to members to provide industry training to their staff and produce paint chemists for the future is manifested by the accreditation of the SAPMA Technical programme as a qualification, registered with the QCTO (Quality Council for Trades and Occupations) with all the ancillary training programmes accredited by CHIETA (Chemicals Industry Education and Training Authority).

This year, the first SAPMA video training programmes for retail sales personnel were launched. These allow retail staff to be trained without leaving their stores.  

SAPMA has received the mandate of its members to become a professional body during 2018 in order to extend the benefits to its members, to develop designations and certification of competency in all the facets of the product and industry mix, and to secure the future of the Coatings Industry.

With the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) altering its mandate for the testing of products to national standards, a huge gap has been created in the continuance of quality standards in the South African market. SAPMA – through its Technical Committee – is in the process of negotiating for the establishment of alternate testing laboratories dedicated to the coatings industry.
SAPMA has travelled a long and sometimes bumpy road over the past 80 years, enduring major changes in technology, strategies, regulations and even governments and legislation. Proud of its pedigree, SAPMA feels there is no more fitting celebration of 80 years of endeavour than to participate with its partners, OCCA and exhibition organisers, dmg:events, in staging the 2018 Coatings for Africa Show in Johannesburg in May. The largest dedicated coatings show on the African continent, celebrates the coatings industry in South Africa  by showcasing its achievements to the world and announcing that as an industry it is here to stay.

Taken from the March 2018 Issue of PPCJ magazine


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