Innovations
Published: January 18, 2023
Innovations
Published: January 18, 2023

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Brian Bertino: Turning on the Afterburners in the Aerospace Aftermarket

If you want to see the results of Brian Bertino’s work, simply look to the skies. As our Aerospace maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) segment manager for coatings, sealants, packaging and adhesives in the North and South American aftermarket, he helps make planes vibrant, colorful and longer lasting.

Focused Shift to Grow Aftermarket Business

Brian joined us in 2013 as a research and development chemist for aerospace sealants before moving into various sales and marketing roles in the U.S. and France.

“I was 29 years old when I moved to France. I found it to be astonishingly different from the U.S., but it gave me an appreciation for not everything having to be done in a certain way. There may be better or different ways of doing something.”

He pulled upon that insight when he was named to his current California-based position in 2021 after our Aerospace business underwent a reorganization.

With this shift, we created a role that puts a lot more focus on bringing value to our airline and other aftermarket customers. Our priority has been original equipment manufacturer (OEM) customers. However, the aftermarket is just as significant in sales volume but hadn’t been getting quite as much attention as it deserved.

Any product or service for an aircraft once it leaves the OEM’s facility is considered aftermarket. This includes MRO activities like repainting or creating a livery, which is the paint scheme used to convey a brand or identity on the plane’s exterior.

Brian is responsible for developing and executing short- and long-term strategies to best meet existing and emerging customer needs for aftermarket coatings, sealants, packaging and adhesives that keep planes colorful and flying longer. He works with our product development specialists to create new or improved products and with manufacturing to produce those products and ensure availability of existing ones. Customers include airlines, distributors, maintenance facilities, paint facilities and the military.

“Unlike the OEM business, which is fairly predictable due to forecasted build rates by Boeing, Airbus and other commercial and military plane manufacturers, the aftermarket segment is somewhat unpredictable and reactive. There are regular maintenance and repainting schedules for aircraft, but we also have to respond quickly when one is unexpectedly grounded. Customers need to get that plane back in the air.”

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From the Lab to the Sky

Customers also want their liveries to stand out from the competition, with demand for bright, eye-popping color schemes shooting sky high.

Our European team had been exploring the idea of creating a lab where customers could engage directly with our color formulators and a livery design team, but the pandemic shelved it. In 2021, the idea resurfaced, and we put together a team to make it happen.

PPG LIVERY LAB℠ aircraft coatings and design facilities launched in Burbank, California, and Shildon, U.K., in 2022, with a third scheduled to open in Toulouse, France, in 2023. To further offer customers a unique service that combines paint supply with livery design, we entered into a partnership with airline brand and design consultancy Aerobrand.

Customers can visit a PPG Livery Lab facility to give direct input to our formulators and, when needed, Aerobrand experts to create a livery design using the many color and performance technologies available. This direct collaboration increases the speed and reduces the cost of creating a livery. Customers also can reap reduced waste and cost savings due to cost estimates with built-in paint volume requirements.

“When aircraft operators and owners want their brand to stand out, we want them to think of us. Through the labs, we can create new livery colors and also introduce customers to technologies they may not know existed. An example is solar reflective heat technology, which allows the use of darker colors for liveries without overheating the interior or causing heat damage to the plane’s surface over time. This opens up livery design possibilities since most airlines had been restricted to lighter colors in the past.”

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Faster, Easier Product Purchases

Looking beyond the surface of aftermarket needs, we’re developing offerings that will make it faster and easier for our customers to get the products they need for MRO work.

“We’re developing an e-commerce platform that will reduce current product lead times from four to six weeks to around two weeks – and as little as three days for expedited delivery. We launched our packaging webstore in September 2022, and we’ll launch webstores for additional products in 2023.”

The webstores pair well with another initiative to provide an airplane-on-ground (AOG) service to aftermarket customers who have an immediate need for a few kits of coating or sealant and can’t wait for the standard lead times.

Our customer-centric initiatives and the people who make them a reality keep Brian motivated.

I’m #PPGProud of how diverse and global our team is and how we all work together to provide our customers with a positive experience. Back when I was in the lab or sales, I wished I could do this or that. Now, I actually can make those changes and really affect positive change for our customers and my company. That’s really exciting to me.

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