Executives at the U.S.-based Penray Companies Inc. have embarked on an enhanced global marketing plan with a sales formula that includes forming a partnership with an already-established overseas distributor.
Founded in 1954, Penray – a supplier of automotive, heavy duty and industrial chemicals and functional fluids – has long had a presence in North America and is currently selling its products in 22 nations, including Europe and Australia along with targeting emerging economies in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Israel, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia
The company sees the potential for further international growth in its current markets and major economies such as China, which is viewed as a huge aftermarket sales opportunity.
Having achieved success in selling to wholesale customers in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and South America with both Penray-branded product and private label lines, over the past several years management has been eying the international arena as being ripe for increased sales growth under the direction of Sarkis Aroyan, a native of Syria and a 10-year Penray veteran who is the company’s senior sales manager for international markets.
The universality of automotive service and maintenance chemicals and functional fluids makes them especially viable for export because, unlike various engine and chassis parts and other components, these types of products are not vehicle-specific, but rather are applicable to nearly all vehicles, according to Aroyan. Such offerings include fuel injector cleaner; oil, fuel and coolant additives; power steering fluid; and glass cleaner, plus a line of chemical products for fleet and heavy-duty vehicles using diesel fuel.
He said distributors worldwide recognize the potential of value-added, profit-generating items such as chemicals and functional fluids, and the company’s lineup of more than 300 products and blends presents “an attractive and valuable addition” to a distributor’s sales offerings.
Aroyan explains some of the complexities of selling products, particularly chemicals, to international customers. “Challenges vary from country to country depending on a number of factors,” he says. “The market for chemicals, additives and functional fluids is very price-sensitive. As such, currency exchange rates can make the difference between competitive and uncompetitive pricing.”
He goes on to note that “different countries manufacture selected chemical products within their own borders, making it difficult to compete with what is essentially a home-market product line. So, with each country, different product lines are viable for us. For instance, we have had success in selling tire inflator products into Israel, Turkey, the U.K. and Poland. Yet in Asia we have success selling products like carburetor cleaner, penetrant/lubricant and undercoating. So we have to be smart and selective in knowing which product lines should be promoted to different nations.”
However, Aroyan does point to the near-universal acknowledgement that products made in the U.S. are of consistently high quality and therefore enjoy widespread acceptance throughout the world. This acceptance, he says, enhances Penray’s prospects even when competing with locally made products.
And while adding an international field of sales people would seem to be the most obvious move, it occurred to Penray’s management that for the past eight years they had already been selling private-label chemicals to GardX, a U.K.-based manufacturer and distributor of vehicle protection products and other automotive accessories.
GardX has enjoyed broad acceptance and brand recognition in numerous nations – specifically in the Middle East, including Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, as well as in the attractive Chinese market and throughout the European continent, Aroyan said. The company is also in Australia and New Zealand, and is soon to launch operations in Hong Kong and Russia. In addition, GardX products have received approvals from several automakers, including Kia and Citroen, with other OEM certifications to come.
Subsequent negotiations resulted in a partnership agreement that has GardX representing Penray in the international marketplace.
View from the U.K.
“We have established local connections in markets that are ripe for the Penray product line,” says Martin Webb, GardX’s sales director. “We’re already throughout the U.K. and Europe, the Middle East and the Far East, so our sales reach matches Penray’s need for representation. Our field people know the language, the customs, the buying patterns and the service needs in the various regions and climates they serve. So we can tailor our offerings and salesmanship to the needs of individual markets.”
Customer training is an important element of the company’s sales tools, and GardX has that aspect “honed to precision,” according to Webb.
“We want our customers to know everything there is to know about the products they buy from us,” he says. “We have developed our own training modules and selling scripts to empower our customers to be as good at selling our products as we are. And we plan to do the same with the full line of Penray products. We want our customers to share our product knowledge and sales strategies so they will have the confidence to properly and effectively sell the Penray price/value proposition.”
With the new partnership in place, GardX is now establishing a dedicated Penray sales division. Among the priorities will be promoting sales of fuel, coolant and oil additives for diesel cars, light trucks and SUVs.
“Use of diesel power is far more prevalent outside of North America,” Webb says, adding “greater fuel economy and reduced needs for maintenance have made diesel power popular throughout the world. North America has been slower in accepting diesel power.”
Part of the GardX strategy is to promote Penray is via participation in automotive trade shows across the globe, such as Automechanika.
“It’s precisely because diesels as well as gasoline-powered and hybrid vehicles need less periodic maintenance that dictates the need for chemical additives,” Webb continues. “Extended oil and coolant change intervals deplete the effectiveness of various components of these fluids, making the need for supplemental additives like those offered by Penray even more critical. This is also true with diesel-powered fleet and heavy-duty vehicles and equipment that experience the same needs for sustained performance of functional fluids.”
Penray’s Aroyan concurs: “The confluence of a number of factors should allow us to make good penetration into the global diesel market,” he says, “particularly in the area of cooling system additives and rust/corrosion inhibitors. In many nations the only viable option for coolant is very hard water, which leads to corrosion and deposits that can clog or compromise radiators and other cooling system components.”
In addition, “Many nations, particularly those in the Middle East and other temperate climates, never see freezing temperatures, so in tight economies many opt to use just plain water and not use a mixture of ethylene glycol antifreeze/coolant,” says Aroyan.
“This is a maintenance mistake on several counts,” he notes. “Although ethylene glycol is most often associated with resistance to freeze-ups, it also raises the boiling point of the coolant. So it can offer boil-over protection in hot climate operation. Further, commercially available ethylene glycol blends sometimes include a modest level of corrosion protection, which is especially important given the threat posed by hard water,” according to Aroyan.
“As a result, in order to prevent cooling system problems that can cause expensive down time with commercial vehicles and off-highway equipment, there is a great need for the type of corrosion inhibitors offered by Penray,” he says.
“Typical coolant flush intervals for over-the-road trucks is every two years. Yet these vehicles need corrosion inhibitor refreshed every 25,000 miles to 30,000 miles, since the potency of these additives diminishes over time as they do their job,” says Aroyan. “And even with extended-life coolants that include their own corrosion-fighting characteristics, periodic replenishment of corrosion additives is needed, typically at coolant half-life.”
As the global chemical and additive alliance pursues sales growth, the plan is to establish regional distribution centers with region-specific products and packaging. Webb says that packaging and labeling will be language-appropriate and, where necessary, will include listings of chemical composition or compliance with industrial or environmental standards. In such cases, given their existing familiarity with local customs and practices, GardX will supply appropriate translations to Penray, and Penray will supply appropriately packaged goods for these markets.
“This new partnership between Penray and GardX is a win-win-win in the international arena,” says Aroyan. “Penray will enjoy increased sales and brand recognition throughout the international community and GardX will have a high-quality chemicals product line that will broaden the base of their product offerings that will, in turn, support their growth of new and existing markets.
“The third win,” Aroyan asserts, “encompasses the distributors, installers and vehicle owners who will benefit from the new-found availability of additives and functional fluids that will enhance their driving experience while protecting and extending the life of their vehicles.”
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