Although his job title is perhaps one of the most complex in our company – global account director, automotive market director, Italy, and managing director, PPG Italia Sales and Services – Rudi Saporiti follows a simple mantra. Help our automotive original equipment manufacturer (OEM) customers keep their lines running and their brands successful.
Building Customer Trust Each Day
Rudi entered the world of automotive coatings when he joined a small Italian powder coatings company in 1992. While there, he had the opportunity to interact with some of our employees, eventually joining us two years later. Aside from a stint in our Industrial Coatings business, he’s spent his entire career working with automotive OEMs.
As global account director, Rudi is directly responsible for managing our business with Stellantis in the EMEA East and South America regions as well as Ferrari and truck manufacturer Iveco globally. When he wears his automotive market director hat, he oversees a team of market managers who handle all other automotive customers in Italy. The managing director role makes him our legal representative for the Italian selling entity.
“My overarching role is to ensure we’re serving our automotive OEM customers as efficiently as possible and that we have their trust every single day. I tell my team that an automotive customer is like an elephant. Their size is massive. Both look slow, but they can run pretty fast when they decide to. They also have a long memory. If you make a mistake today, they may react slowly but will not forget that you made a mistake. This is an industry, where mistakes are not an option due to high production volumes.”
The Future Delivered To The Customer
Rudi’s customer Stellantis is one of the world’s most important automotive OEMs in terms of number of cars produced and breadth of iconic brands. The latter ranges from mainstream Fiat, to premium Alfa Romeo, to luxury Maserati.
“The biggest challenge I face is to strike the right balance between the needs of a customer’s varying brands. Mainstream brands have a higher focus on cost. Luxury brands want quality and innovation. I also have to manage the expectations of different customer segments within an automaker. For example, stylists want wow-inspiring colors and effects. A paint engineer wants a robust coating that can be applied reliably day in day out. Sometimes these two needs are at odds, but our job is to find a workable solution that pleases everyone.”
One of the ways Rudi and his team does this is through a biennial Color Show, where our experts present trends in automotive color and graphics for the next three years as well as other innovations linked to styling, design and production. Around 65 stylists, designers and paint engineers from Stellantis and Ferrari attended the 2023 event, where we unveiled our 2024 Color of the Year – Limitless – and 43 complementary hues.
It’s clear that our customers see value in this event, because we have more participants attend each time. I feel this year they were inspired by what they saw and will transfer that to the new color palettes they’ll be introducing. I’m also confident that we’re very much aligned with our customer’s goals not only for styling but also for sustainability and mobility.
Beyond colors, the 2023 event showcased a number of recent innovations to improve customer sustainability. These included automotive paint films, which lower energy consumption and emissions while offering new aesthetic options like easier special effects. We’re also involved in helping our customers capture a share of the growing electric vehicle market, providing, among other things, specialized battery coatings focused on safety and performance.
Our People Meet The Mission
Getting technologies like these off the shelf and onto customer vehicles requires the right people, a topic that Rudi is passionate about.
“I never forget that at the end of the day, it’s people who make the difference. If you have the right people around you, you’ll solve whatever you need to solve. I’m very proud of the close relationship of my team, which is like a family. I’m also very proud of how my company places a high value on ethics and environment, health and safety. We’re walking the talk in these areas.”
Rudi also loves seeing his team’s work and that of his colleagues around the world every single minute of the day. From cars and buildings to furniture and electronics, Rudi has constant reminders of how our company is achieving its mission of protecting and beautifying the world.
I find this to be a simply fantastic aspect of my job and another reason why I’m so happy and proud to work for such a great company.