An appointment with destiny

July 18, 2022

Jeffery Li was always destined to work in the coatings industry. With a Masters Degree in Chemical Engineering, he had a natural interest in the raw materials and ingredients that make up a modern coating.

Jeffery holding up a camera to take a photograph.

Now as the Strategic Accounts Manager for AkzoNobel Aerospace Coatings in China, Jeffery is using his expert knowledge to help the principal OEMs and leading MROs to make the most of the products and technical support available.

Jeffery can remember the date he first started at AkzoNobel – 7th August 2010 – because his boss at the time had asked if he could start earlier: “I was working for Ciba Geigy on the specialty chemicals side, supplying resins and hardeners to the coatings industry and one of my customers was AkzoNobel,” he explains. “So it seems I was always destined to work in coatings, and always destined to work for AkzoNobel.”

Jeffery and colleagues posing for a photo in the snow with a commercial airplane.

Proud of working in sales and having spent time both as an area sales manager and in technical sales, Jeffery recounts the help provided to him by Mike Suhara, one of the Technical Services Consultants, while being trained on the AkzoNobel Aerospace Coatings’ range in the US: “I was always knowledgeable about the formulation of the coatings, but the application side was more of challenge. 

“Even today if a customer needs advice in setting up of a spray gun I can call upon Mike and his team for help.”

In his current role Jeffery is responsible for key accounts that include Airbus and Boeing. For the former this means supporting the coating requirements of the final assembly line in Tianjin for the A320 and A350 airplanes being delivered to the local market. For the latter he has a similar role in the supply chain, liaising with the Boeing 737 Completion and Delivery Center in Zhoushan where the new Boeing 737 Max airplanes have their paint liveries applied.

Jeffery standing with a colleague in front of a supplier composium banner.

“I help with forecasting, pricing, production and the importing of the products they need,” he says, “and with the technical information required to satisfy the authorities. No day is ever the same and no request too unusual. There are often many questions, especially about the environmental performance of our products.

“Our primers have been approved for use by both Boeing and Airbus for many years and have a long track record for consistency and performance. This means the OEMs only rarely need technical support as they are familiar with our products and how they are applied. With MROs it is different; they require one of us to be on site almost every time.”

As well as Airbus and Boeing, Jeffery is also responsible for COMAC, the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (The Boeing Delivery Center is in fact a joint venture between Boeing and COMAC). Whereas AkzoNobel’s Aerobase basecoat/clearcoat system is approved and widely specified, the company is now seeking COMAC approval for its branded colors as well as its structural primers, topcoats, and cabin interior coatings.

To this end, COMAC’s recently announced ‘Customization Center’ will enable Jeffery to showcase both the exterior and interior products within the AkzoNobel range. 

Wide angle image of the interior of the COMAC Customization Center.
“It’s an exciting development,” Jeffery concludes, “and a tremendous platform to convince new customers that we have the right products for their needs.”
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