Paul Tredgold takes us through the Hella Sonne programme at Spellbound Cars
Some of you may have seen him in our Movers and Shaker’s section a few issues back, but for those who didn’t, Paul Tredgold is Head of Paint for Hella UK’s new paints division and Sonne programme that went live this September.
The Sonne brand has been used in in Spain for over 19 years, however Hella felt the time was right to bring the concept to the UK aftermarket; thus hiring Tredgold with his extensive knowledge and expertise of the refinishing industry. “I’ve been in and around body-shops all my working life”, he said. “I worked for a manufacturer initially then for a distributor in London and another manufacturer afterwards which has given me an excellent grounding, and subsequently why I was chosen to do this for Hella”.
One of three UK distributors, Automotive Paint Supplies, has started distributing the programme to repairers and classic car restoration workshops, one of which is Spellbound Cars, where we met up with Tredgold to see the programme in action.
On our visit, we watched a team at the garage take an Aston- Martin Lagonda back to bare metal. Tredgold provided a rundown of the processes involved. “There are three to four elements that make up the Sonne brand. You have your range of primers that are undercoats and you need to put them on before the colour”, he said. “Base coats are the colour and the clear coat is the varnish which goes over the top to make the vehicle shiny. This is followed by your ancillaries”. The Sonne programme totals 68 toners and 84 swatches, which generates the 70,000 colours listed on the system.
The refinishing specialist explained that cars entering the workshop would normally have a code on the vehicle identification (VIN) plate that can be looked up on the database to extract the colour code. He notes that workshops can also type in the vehicle model and colour on the system, usually leaving them with a hefty list of toners to match up the colour in question. However, in the case of the Aston in front of us, as well as the other rare cars in the workshop, the tool of choice for determining a colour code is a spectrometer which is a nifty gadget that is used to detect the vehicle’s colour if the code is not available on the system. The device is then hooked up to the main computer database via USB allowing experts to prepare and mix the correct toners together before repainting the vehicle. Tredgold said: “The Sonne programme is fully compliant. The UK has a solvent commissions law that says you have to use compliant products to EU rules and every product in the Sonne range is compliant. That would be one our main USPs”.
Tredgold and the Hella team have started the VIP distribution training by jetting customers over to Madrid to provide them with a comprehensive overview of the Sonne brand. “We take our distributors out to Madrid where we orientate them around Hella and all of its divisions”, said Tredgold: “We would look at the products with them on a technical basis and carry out a presentation about Sonne along with an overview of the product range and how they all work together. We will then go and do a practical demonstration”.
Although it’s still early days for the programme, Tredgold has a strategy to increase distribution. “Our strategy is ‘distribution not dilution’, so I’m hoping for any between 14-20 distributors in the UK that will manage the business for us” he said.
More importantly for Tredgold, it’s all about helping repairers match the colour and carry out the job effectively first time round to avoid making mistakes and losing out on business profits. “My main mantra is profitable sustainable business for all stakeholders. We want to put a bit of profit back into the industry”, he concluded: “Free to choose is becoming a bigger market, which is where we are into and is our target. I see a great opportunity for a brand like Sonne in free to choose markets”.
We look forward to seeing more of this concept in the near future – and will hopefully get a return visit to Spellbound Cars.