50 YEARS IN YACHT COATINGS
“SOMETIMES, I DON’T even know what it is that I know, until someone asks me a question,” chuckles Keith Ryman.
Over five decades, the 71-year-old has acquired an unrivalled understanding of yacht coatings, having devoted the majority of his career to leading development in laboratories in New Zealand before more recently becoming an integral part of the International brand’s Asia-pacific sales operation.
“I’ve learned a lot over the years,” he admits. Aged just 22, Keith joined renowned New Zealand brand Epiglass, which became part of International Yacht Coatings in 1989.
“I came onboard as a junior chemist and was thrown into this pretty dingy lab with three or four others. We were pretty much left to learn everything ourselves. We were told, ‘You’re the chemists – you sort it out’.
“At that stage the products were fairly basic – there were a few epoxies and a couple of top coats.”
From there Keith devoted himself to product development. One of the products he is most proud of is the HT9000 multipurpose epoxy resin system for professional and DIY use. It became an immediate hit in New Zealand before it was launched on the UK and US markets as well.
But it’s not just the development of products that kept Keith part of the International brand – it was also the development of young talent.
“Over the years we had a lot of young people come through and it was always really rewarding to see them grow and move on to bigger and better things.”
Keith also credits figures like International’s former Global Technical Yacht Manager Colin Anderson as having a significant impact on his own career.
Keith’s unrivalled expertise is now being put to use on International yacht coating’s social media platforms. He has become the go-to guy for answering customer queries that come in via Instagram and Facebook.
Having been at the epicentre of the Asia-pacific yacht coatings industry for half a century, what does Keith think the future holds?
“When I started, just about every second person had a boat. But that percentage has been steadily declining. The growth [for yacht coatings], in our region in particular, is being driven by the superyacht market. The technology hasn’t changed that much – we’ve just got better at producing paint and making it of better quality, but ultimately, it’s more about the people than the products.
“When you continue to have such passionate people in this business, like we do at International, then the future is in good hands.”
Does Keith plan to notch up a sixth decade in the business?
He was to retire last year, but Covid got in the way. Then International asked him to stay on until the end of this year, so we’ll see what happens... www.international-yachtpaint.com