From running a family-owned traffic-markings business to now serving as Latin America business director for our Traffic Solutions business, Javier Benatuil has been helping make roads safer and serving as a partner rather than a supplier to his customers for nearly a quarter century.
From His Family to Ours
Javier’s personal and professional roots became firmly intertwined when, in 2001, he joined the business his father and uncle founded. Based in Argentina, Cristacol was a small manufacturing company dedicated exclusively to traffic paint and thermoplastic marking materials.
Over the next 10 years, both the business and Javier’s industry experience grew. His academic pedigree expanded as well with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in finance.
After his uncle passed away in 2015, the family decided to sell the business to Ennis-Flint, a worldwide leader in the traffic safety and pavement-marking industry. Four years later, we acquired Ennis-Flint and Javier’s deep knowledge of the Latin American traffic-markings industry.
As we started being integrated into the Traffic Solutions business
, I realized that there were many similarities regarding culture. The PPG Way
was music to my ears. Run it like you own it, do better today than yesterday, partner with our customers, trust in people and make it happen were 100% related to what we did before.
Navigating Latin American Roadway Safety
Javier puts those principles into practice each day as he oversees all aspects of our traffic-markings business in Latin America. Our strong presence in the south was developed through Javier’s former family business, with 100 employees and a manufacturing facility in Argentina. In Mexico, Traffic Solutions products are sold through our COMEX™ paint retail stores and distributors. The rest of the Latin American region is ripe for growth.
“Every country has its own requirements for traffic-marking products depending on climate, road surfaces and other factors. Our customers see us as the technical leader with products that can meet those requirements and help make their roads safer.”
Customers in Uruguay, for example, were having difficulty using thermoplastic markings on the country’s vast network of concrete roads. More durable and sustainable than traditional roadway paint and tape, thermoplastic markings start as a solid before being melted and applied to a road. When our experts determined the alkalinity in the concrete was causing the bonding between the marking and roadway to fail, we developed a thermoplastic product that was resistant to alkaline.
In Chile, where a rainy climate requires road markings with high wet-night visibility, we developed a structured thermoplastic marking that rises above the road to slough off rain and improve visibility. After an initial test, the marking is now mandatory in the country.
Mexico is a current focus for product development. In 2024, we’ll be introducing two products for the municipality market. The first is a waterborne coating that will be an alternative to the solvent-based paints that have dominated the Mexican market.
The second new product is a thermoplastic marking designed specifically for use in cities, which often have more road dirt, artificial light, pedestrians and stop-and-start vehicle traffic compared to other roadways. The new product retains less dirt, reduces retro-reflectivity properties because of a city’s already high ambient lighting, and increases anti-skid properties to help enhance both pedestrian and vehicle safety. It will be manufactured in Mexico.
“We have to make sure we have the right products, right approach and right relationships with our customers.”
A Focus on the Personal
This trinity is what Javier believes will drive continued growth in the region. Most of his customers are small and medium-sized family-run businesses, something with which he is intimately familiar.
“I know our customers very well and have close relationships with many of them. They talk with me regularly, and I think that’s important to them because they require a partner, not just a supplier.”
Despite always being available to his customers, Javier feels he has a good work/life balance that includes time for his wife, sons and himself.
“I try to find joy at work and in my personal life because that’s one of the most important things that you can do in this one life that you’re given.”