DecoArt – Artful Inspiration
DecoArt, a manufacturer of the highest quality acrylic paints and craft supplies has enjoyed rapid growth during the pandemic, as people re-discover their creative talents.
Kentucky-based DecoArt manufactures a wide variety of acrylic paint and speciality finishes for arts, crafts, education and home decoration. A focus on the concepts of quality, value and service has carried the business far and proved to be particularly invaluable during the pandemic.
The company’s 35th anniversary in 2020 could not be celebrated in better shape – over the last 12 months, DecoArt has experienced a 300% increase in sales, as people in lockdown were pushed to look for meaningful, rewarding activities that could be safely performed in their homes, be it redecorating or venturing into more creative activities.
In its core business line, craft paints, DecoArt enjoys a prominent market position, being one of the two largest companies in this segment in the US. The company’s wide range satisfies diverse customer groups from crafters, DIYers and fine artists through to decorative painters and mixed media artists.
“We pretty much dominate the landscape of all the major chains in the United States, which is our key market. International markets are also important, although there we face strong competition, as most countries have their local well-established paint manufacturers. Nevertheless, we export to some 70 countries worldwide,” says CEO Stan Clifford.
He points out that as a family-owned company, DecoArt takes pride in producing the highest quality acrylic paints that customers can trust, whether they are engaged in projects big or small. The products undergo extensive research, development and testing before arriving on the customer’s shelf. DecoArt works hard to keep its costs down, in order to provide the best possible product at the most competitive price, while continuously improving the customer service experience.
The company offers an impressive product range to please all likes and preferences. Its flagship acrylic paint brand – Americana® Acrylics, the first brand that the company launched 35 years ago, is still the strongest product group. Available in hundreds of colours, Americana® Acrylics is the trusted brand for artists, crafters, art educators, students and painting enthusiasts.
Mr Clifford acknowledges that apart from innovation, one of the issues that the company is now looking closely at is sustainability. DecoArt’s paints are sold in plastic jars that are all recyclable but unlike in Europe, recyclability levels in the US are still relatively low. “We as a company recycle everything. In terms of the products themselves – they are passed strict toxicology requirements in various countries. We don’t want to sell anything toxic.”
Growing by innovation
He affirms that innovation is a continuous process at DecoArt. “New products are launched every year and 2021 has been no exception. We have recently introduced two new lines – the water marbling paint programme, a complete system of ready-to-use water prep, vibrant marbling acrylics, surface preparation, and tools. All safe and non-toxic.”
All that is needed, he says, is to dissolve the Marbling Magic Medium in distilled water; drop the vibrant, perfectly balanced marbling acrylics onto the surface and use the tools to swirl and create individual designers – no limits to creativity.
The second innovation is the wax-effect concept – ready-to-use straight from the jar, these acrylic waxes recreate the sheer and luminous qualities of traditional beeswax encaustic. Again, customers may buy all the tools and accessories they require.
“Quality was our initial competitive advantage and one that continues today. The utmost quality and product consistency are what our customers really appreciate,” says Stan Clifford. “We listen carefully to our customers and try to supply exactly what they want. Customers drive our product development.”
While increasing the business, DecoArt will continue to support the community and its makers – the influences that have helped to spread the company’s reputation. “For 35 years, we have been committed to supporting artists and art educators to do their best work using our products. We will continue with our The DecoArt® Helping Artist, a programme for artists who teach art classes in some form and/or publish the artwork in magazines, digital magazines, or other publications.”
In addition, the company has also launched the Art for Everyone project, free online art lessons – an initiative inspired by the pandemic. “Art is great for everyone and we are going to expand the project to include every demographic,” says Mr Clifford.
DecoArt currently employs some 200 people at its location in Stanford, Kentucky, consisting of a production facility, a distribution centre and headquarters with support functions. But given the rising demand, the company is in expansion mode.
“We are in the process of hiring an additional 50, or possibly more, people for both production and office roles, and investing in increased capacity. This will include increasing our bottling capacity with 3 new production lines to support the filling of all product lines, and an installation of state-of-the-art mixing equipment that will more than double our base making capabilities,” says Mr Clifford.
Following a record-breaking 2020 with tripled sales, Mr Clifford hopes that at least 30% of those who found their hidden artistic skills during the lockdown will sustain the interest once the pandemic is under control. “The fact is that we were growing by 10-15% per annum even before the pandemic, as more channels started to look at craft painting.”
“One aspect of the pandemic is the shift to online commerce. Even people who would never have done it before have started shopping online. This will never stop, and online sales are going to be another growth factor for the company.”
The investment worth about $2 million will further boost the company’s already strong position and will hopefully satisfy demand. Since 1985, DecoArt has armed artists and enthusiasts with the colours and tools they need to help the world see something extraordinary through their creations. A noble task that is clearly going to continue on a grander scale.