Systematic investments in research and product development as well as surveying the market potential of the target markets have contributed to the success of Maston and its entry into the exports market.
"We would not have achieved this without Business Finland's support and extensive expert networks in Finland and around the world. We have collaborated extensively with various business consultants, chemical companies, and top universities," shares Teemu Parviainen, Maston's international sales and marketing manager.
The innovative family-owned company has developed an exceptional 2-component, ready-to-use spray paint, and now the company's patented aerosol paints have generated interest around the world, including the United States.
Maston has more than a thousand different spray paints in its product range. Patented 2-component spray paints, which have been designed for export, are most commonly used in car refinishing. Other applications include industrial refinishing, where coatings require extremely high performance.
The product also has great consumer market potential for various uses, such as home maintenance and hobbies. The patented 2-component technology is differentiated in particular by the fact that the product does not have to be activated separately. It is immediately ready to use because the components are premixed inside the aerosol pack and the curing agent only activates during painting. The remaining paint can be used for future projects.
"Our goal has been to make small painting easy. Our big dream for the future is to replace solvent-based spray paints with environmentally friendly and safer water-based products. There are no manufacturers like this in the market yet," remarks Parviainen.
Maston is run by two generations of the Parviainen family. In 2010, the Parviainen family acquired Maston, and Teemu's father and current CEO Ilkka Parviainen began to run the business. It was then that the company decided to try and differentiate its products through innovation and seek growth in the international market in this way.
Maston, a pioneer in spray paint technology, also survived the Covid-19 pandemic as a winner when consumers' enthusiasm for renovation reached a peak. The year 2020 was Maston's best year for domestic sales.
"Our cooperation with Business Finland began in 2014. The first R&D loan focused on the development of our 2-component spray paint. We needed a truly innovative product to stand out in the desired customer segment in the international markets."
A major leap towards the international markets and reaching the right target groups first took place in Germany at Europe's most important car fair.
"We participated in the German fair for the first time in 2016 as part of Business Finland's Exhibition Explorer -service.
With the help of the Tempo funding, Maston redesigned its internationalization strategy and management model in 2017. The ownership of the company was also restructured so that almost all shares were transferred to the Chair of the Board, Ilkka Parviainen, while Sales Manager Jyri Arponen purchased a minority stake. At the same time, Ilkka Parviainen was appointed CEO of Maston.
Finnvera's contribution as a guarantor enabled both the ownership arrangement and continued international growth, since after the ownership arrangement, the company began to focus strongly on opening up sales channels around the world.
In 2019, Maston joined the (Global Access Program) coordinated by Business Finland. In the program, business professionals create Finnish companies a Market Entry plan that is tailored to their specific needs as they enter the United States. At the same time, the plan is part of these professionals' MBA degree at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
We would not have ended up in the U.S. market this quickly, if at all, without the GAP program and the contacts who were familiar with the local markets. GAP enabled us to send a very skilled team on the spot to conduct research – and fortunately, they discovered market potential.
"In the USA, the automotive segment in particular is easy to pinpoint. Professional mechanics and car enthusiasts are familiar with the products on the market, and they are also well acquainted with 2-component technologies. Of course, we also include other products in our containers in case our dealers feel that there is demand for our other spray paints."
The positive experience with the GAP program also encouraged the company to join the MAP program (Market Access Programs) for the Chinese/Southeast Asian market, which was launched in 2021.
Prior to this, Maston took advantage of Business Finland's Talent Explorer service by hiring Kevin Feng, who speaks Chinese and is familiar with the local markets.
“Without Kevin and the MAP program’s background team, we wouldn’t be where we are now. China has totally unique regulations. Currently, our products are waiting for the export license to China, where a local agent will take care of the negotiations with the dealers.”
With the help of the very latest Market Explorerin, the company conducted a market survey in Japan, which Maston also continued on a self-financing basis. As a country of high purchasing power, Japan seems to have market potential, although much remains to be investigated in areas such as terminology and local legislation.
"My message to SMEs seeking internationalization is to take enough on your plate. The more daring you are and the more you examine things, the more opportunities open up. High-risk projects and poor decisions are bound to take place, but you will find the right direction in the end."
"The whole team at Business Finland and especially our contact person Mauri Marjaniemi have always been there for us at the right moment, providing tips and advice. With the support of Business Finland, even our very latest dream has taken off. The RRF project involves launching our largest product development project so far, in which we are looking for a solution to transferring our entire spray paint range to a water-based one."
RRF (Recovery and Resilience Facility) is part of the EU Recovery Facility coordinated by Business Finland, which promotes structural reforms in business and industry and the creation of a competitive edge based on Finnish companies' sustainable solutions.
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Maston personnel Sari Tuomikoski and Jari Lust in photos. Photos: Maston.