A Conversation with Michael Cash, Axalta Coating Systems

Michael Cash is senior vice president and president of Industrial Coatings of Axalta Coating Systems.


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PF: How are you bringing Axalta brands to new markets?

MC: Our world starts and ends with the customer, so our team makes every effort to communicate our story to the market through any means possible. We innovate with purpose, with our customer’s guidance, ideas and direction. We strive to make personal connections with our customers.

PF: What are coaters asking for these days?

MC: Customers are leading through their own drive and determination in innovating their businesses. This is ultimately what led to recent product additions like AquaEC 6100, our cathodic epoxy electrocoat which was designed specifically for the industrial applicator. This product typifies what customers are asking for­: better for the environment, lower cure, less material usage, better coverage and an overall more impressive finish to build upon. We will launch more than 100 new industrial products globally this year, and every one of them started with a specific customer need or request in mind. 

PF: What new coating trends are you seeing?

MC: Sustainability. The market is looking for new products with environmental benefits such as waterborne coatings and zero-VOC powder coatings that still improve efficiency.

PF: What’s the best piece of advice you were given?

MC: My father said always be humble and polite. 

PF: What was your first job, and what did you learn from it?

MC: A pizza parlor in high school and in the summers during college. This was my first true experience of the power of great customer service, and always putting the customer first. 

PF: What was your first car, and what is your dream car?

MC: My first car after college was a Chevy Camaro; I paid for it with the mileage allowance I received by visiting Sherwin-Williams house paint stores all along the East Coast. It was a sad day when I traded it in for a minivan after my daughter was born. My dream car would be a Tesla; we supply them with our electrical insulation coatings, which are an integral advantage in the operation of the electrical motors, so I know first-hand the degree of engineering and care that go into each part of that car and this is what I value.

PF: What did you want to be when you grew up?

MC: A professional basketball player.

PF: Night owl or early bird?

MC: I’m usually in the office by 6 a.m., clearing out my email so I can spend the day interacting with customers and our team in person or by phone.

PF: Favorite place you have lived?

MC: Shanghai, China. Each day was a new adventure. I never stopped learning, and was in constant amazement of how things get done quickly when you ignore barriers.

PF: Where would we find you on a typical Saturday?

MC: With my wife and some combination of my kids and granddaughter; nothing better than a family bike ride, cook-out, euchre card game or college football game.

PF: Best way to keep competitive edge?

MC: Actively listening to customers; if you ask enough questions about what is important to their business and their customers—and what challenges they’re facing—you’ll continuously have feedback on where your focus and goals need to be.  



Get to know Michael

Family:  Wife of 30 years, Annemarie; three children: Kirsten, a speech pathologist in Chicago; Timmy Sean, a great marketing talent who lives in Chicago and has also fallen in love with the paint industry; and Rhett, a lawyer living in Nashville. And one granddaughter, Fiona, 18 months old and full of life.

Favorite hobby: Golf, and I am horrible at it.

Faborite movie: Caddyshack

Favorite book: Anything by Carl Hiaasen; I love laughing out loud while reading his stories.

Playing in your CD/radio: Zac Brown Band


Originally published in the December 2016 issue.