Paint Systems for Generations.
More than 135 years Spies Hecker.
Spies Hecker has been writing paint history for more than 130 years. With futuristic products for car and commercial vehicle repairs, we are one of the leading suppliers in this field today. We have a long tradition of pioneering the major paint developments of each epoch. From coach paint in 1882 to the modern vehicle refinish, Spies Hecker has come a long way. From these beginnings to today, customer-driven technical solutions and a close, cooperative relationship have always been at the core of our philosophy.
Read more about the Spies Hecker history...
Great inventors and entrepreneurs such as Daimler, Siemens and Zeiss laid the foundations for companies that still enjoy a worldwide reputation today. One of these people was A. Hecker, a young businessman who built up a paint factory in Cologne with visionary energy. He found the right partners in London, where the brothers Adolf and Hermann Spies provided funds and the key raw materials. Simultaneously in Cologne and London they founded the "Anglo Continental Varnish Company" with the addition "Spies, Hecker & Co."
People and continents moved closer together thanks to the telephone and telegraph. One of humanity's greatest dreams came true - that of flying, even if at first only with Count Zeppelin's "flying cigar". That was when coaches and automobiles were still lovingly brush painted and lettered. Previously focused on producing clear coats, the young company in Cologne now began to manufacture ready-to-use paints.
The high-quality paint products were marketed under the PERMANENT® brand name.
Higher, faster, further - this applied especially to automobiles. New speed records were set, and many unknown corners of the world explored. The growth in automobile production also had consequences for the paint industry. The first spray guns were launched on the market. Following the death of the committed company founder, Adolf Friedrich Hecker, his sons Fritz and Paul Hecker took over management of the company. On 1 January 1912 the company was converted into a corporation: Spies, Hecker & Co. GmbH.
This was a turbulent decade. The world's largest ship - the proud Titanic - sank in icy waters. Mass production meant that cars were now within the reach of the broader public. Both the automobile and paint industries concentrated on speed. Ideal for efficient automobile production were quick-drying nitro-cellulose paints. As early as the beginning of the 20's part of Spies Hecker's paint production was switched over to PERMALOID® nitro-cellulose paints. The First World War brought considerable setbacks for the company, but it managed to keep business going with a great deal of energy and careful budgeting of raw materials.
The Golden Twenties - elegant bodywork with flowing lines, long bonnets and curved wings. Nitro-cellulose paints and air spraying techniques revolutionised vehicle refinishing, while new techniques from America crossed the Atlantic. However, the beginning of the global economic crisis triggered by "black Friday" on the New York Stock Exchange ended the good times of the Roaring Twenties. Years of inflation, unemployment and bankruptcies set in. Paul Adolf Hecker took over running the business in 1929 and together with other members of the third generation he skilfully guided the business through difficult times.
A new outlook - television was invented and the first electron microscope built. Laboratories were also busy researching into new production processes for paints. Spies Hecker made a major contribution to the development of synthetic resin varnishes and bake-drying paints. Glossy PERMALOID® nitro-combination paint made polishing unnecessary. The first metallic color was presented at the World Exhibition. In 1932, to mark the company's 50th anniversary, Spies Hecker issued a jubilee paint. "The crown of the Rhine" was a white Japan enamel for interior and exterior refinishing. The company greatly extended its product range - until the outbreak of the Second World War.
By the end of the war, 80% of the company's facilities were destroyed, only ten employees still worked in Cologne, and small working groups were distributed around Germany. But as early as 1948 things were picking up again. A new company building with modern facilities was established and innovative technologies developed. Soon the new PERMANAL® brand, an air-drying alkyd resin paint, was No. 1 in car refinishing. Customers included not only bodyshops but also industrial enterprises in various sectors. Spies Hecker grew along with the "Wirtschaftswunder" economic boom.
This was when the economy really took off. Everywhere there was building, investment, consumption. The development of the car industry also boosted the paint industry, including Spies Hecker. The company built a hall for car refinishing with a spray booth according to the latest technology. Now the supply range covered paints and varnishes for almost every application using a wide variety of raw materials. Spies Hecker began to systematically tackle foreign markets, initially with agencies in the Netherlands and Denmark, followed by Greece, Italy and France. A strong distribution network provided the basis for more success.
The Swinging Sixties - the mini skirt caused a stir, the Beatles made musical history. Then the sensation in 1969 - the first man on the moon. More cars on the roads meant that the number of accidents increased and with it the number of refinishes. The demand for faster through-drying and hardening prompted the development of so-called 80 degrees paints . This was also the time when the management, led by Adolf Hecker II and Fritz Hecker jun., introduced a new trend - the "building block system" of base paint + hardener.
The computer began its advance. The Sony Walkman became a huge success, just like the new Golf that replaced the popular VW Beetle. The introduction of 2K technology can be called the second revolution in the refinishing trade, with 2K acrylic base and top coats (PERMACRON®) increasingly taking over from the mid-seventies. The expansion of the company both on the domestic and foreign markets demanded a strong partner in the chemicals industry, so Spies Hecker joined Hoechst AG in 1974. Rolf Hecker, the last of the founder family, left the company in 1982.
Color variety took off, there was a greater demand for refinishing paints in metallic and pearl-effect colors. Spies Hecker systematically improved its color documentation - including the Color Index that listed 9,500 colors. Given the large range of colors, it made sense to introduce a color mixing system. Using the PERMACOLOR® mixing system, refinishers were able to set up their own "paint factory". The all-round service for the trade now included consultancy, training seminars and extensive documentation.
The cycle of innovation turns ever more quickly. Terms like VOC, HVLP, HS or VHS determined day-to-day work. Increasing environment-consciousness and stricter regulations for refinishers were gaining ground. Spies Hecker developed more and more low-solvent products. To meet the demands on international markets, Spies Hecker joined the DuPont Group in 1999. All the time, new products and services were developed for more than 160,000 customers in 55 countries. Included here for example: waterborne paints such as the PERMAHYD® system, used by more than 2,000 refinishers the world over, the COLOR DIALOG spectrophotometer or the Wizard software for effective paint management.
To meet the growing requirements on international markets, Spies Hecker joined the US DuPont company in 1999. In the new millennium, the Cologne paint maker supplies customers in over 60 countries with innovative products and services. These also include know-how programmes and bodyshop systems such as Colors Unlimited International and IDENTICA. More and more bodyshops and refinishing firms are joining these systems and making use of Spies Hecker's accumulated experience.
In 2013 Spies Hecker were sold to the Carlyle group who has total faith in our product quality, forward-looking technology and customer service. Now as a part of the independent company AXALTA COATING SYSTEM with worldwide 11,000 employees.
Almost 50% of our customers on the European markets are using advanced Permahyd Hi-TEC 480 waterborne base coat. The new product system has already established itself in a very short time as it meets our customers' high expectations.
Spies Hecker has come a long way. From these beginnings to today, customer-driven technical solutions and a close, cooperative relationship have always been at the core of our philosophy. Spies Hecker will continue to give personal support to the customers with advanced product solution systems, expertise and commitment.
This solid foundation is the outcome of the dazzling trail of success that started more than 130 years ago with Adolf Hecker and the Spies brothers.