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It Takes 2K to Really Tango

Is it time to totally re-examine your seam sealing process? We caught up with Tom Widmer from SEM Products to hear why he believes the company’s Dual-Mix™ Seam Sealer technology is a game changer for the local market.

Headquartered in Rock Hill, South Carolina, SEM Products is a relatively modest company, employing around 80 people. It manufacturers repair and refinish products, used primarily for automotive and other transportation applications, which are very well known in North America but much less so here. That began changing in late 2018 when PPG acquired the company and, via its global network, opened it up to a potential planet-wide audience. The very first to take advantage was the Australia / New Zealand market, initially with 1K seam sealers and now with SEM Product’s 2K technology, dubbed Dual-Mix, which covers seam sealers and plastic repair solutions. On his second visit Down Under in 12 months to support the local PPG team, Tom Widmer reckons he now has a good gauge of the advantages Dual-Mix Seam Sealers can offer local repairers.


Q. Welcome Tom. Your official title is National Technical Sales Manager – what does that involve?

A. I am kind of a liaison between the technical side of the business and the sales side. I do a lot of training with customers right around North America so my expertise is as a guy who has a finger on the pulse in real world applications. As well as helping on the sales side, I work closely with the development laboratory and the application centre – not only to help come up with new ideas but also to test some products. It’s the most fun job I have ever had in my life!


Q. How does seam sealing differ between here and the US?

A. For the most part, only 2K seam sealers are used in the US and it has been that way for many, many years. Australia and New Zealand seem to have followed the European market in using 1K seam sealers and have then built the long curing time into their repair process. When I look at that, I just see big opportunities from switching to 2K technology.


Q. What does the SEM Products Dual-Mix Seam Sealer range bring to the table?

A. These are actually the first 2K seam sealers on the local market and there are four products – Dual-Mix Seam Sealer, Dual-Mix Heavy Bodied Seam Sealer, Dual-Mix Self Levelling Seam Sealer and Dual-Mix High-build Self Levelling Seam Sealer. In the modern repair process, we are constantly trying to build in speed and efficiency in order to reduce cycle-time and 2K technology lends itself extremely well to that. For a start, these SEM Products Dual-Mix Seam Sealers cure in no more than 15 minutes, rather than a minimum four hours for 1K technology. Even when applied thickly, it’s just as fast whereas 1K gets even slower. Rather than seam sealing and having to go work on something else while it cures, the technician can stay focused on the job and get it out the door faster. All it takes is a small shift in thinking to get the benefits.


Q. What about cost?

A. Of course, any step up in technology is going to cost more but when you factor in the incredible speed, Dual-Mix Seam Sealers are unbelievably productive! To calculate what it’s worth to a repairer in terms of productivity and reduced cycle-time, we actually brought in Greg Tunks, PPG MVP Business Solutions Manager ANZ. For a large repair job, using a Dual-Mix Seam Sealer worked out to be less than ten dollars more than a 1K alternative but, at the same time, it lets repairers reduce costly labour time. It’s also about making the vehicle repair time shorter so you can finish the job, get paid for it and bring the next job in. When you look at it in that context, a few extra dollars for 2K seam sealer is a really good investment.


Q. I believe SEM Products has an interesting philosophy when developing products?

A. As well as making user-friendly products, we also aim to make our products what I call ‘abuser-friendly’! In other words, the whole process is so simple, there is less room for errors to creep in. Technicians don’t deliberately make mistakes but they do happen occasionally so we aim to make it easier to do it the right way than to do it wrong. For example, all of our Dual-Mix Seam Sealers, as well as all our 1K seam sealer range, can be applied direct to metal and are paintable immediately. The technician doesn’t have to think about it too much – they can just get on with the job.


Q. Tell us about the SEM Products YouTube channel?

A. That is something we really pride ourselves on. It’s where customers can find lots of videos on the latest products, with lots of information, tips and techniques. And people can access that information right at the job. All of our products have a QR code so the technician can just scan it with their cell phone and it goes right to the correct SEM Products page to get ‘how to’ videos, as well as the Technical Data Sheet and Material Safety Data Sheet.


Q. Anything else?

A. When you look at a collision repair centre, every bay is there to make profit for the business. If a vehicle is sitting there not being worked on because it’s waiting for the seam sealer to dry, it’s not making money. If making a simple change to Dual-Mix Seam Sealers could do that for your business, why wouldn’t you do it?


SEM Products is a PPG company. A range of products are available from SEM Products authorised distributors.