Mapaero: Style Meets Sustainability

Business has taken off for this French firm thanks to its commitment to stylish, environmentally friendly aerospace paints.

If you’re going to take flight, you might as well look good. That’s part of the thinking that drives aerospace paint manufacturer Mapaero. Headquartered in Pamiers, France, the aerospace and aviation industry paint manufacturer is known for its stylish innovations, which include pearled, tilt, satin, textured and even velvet finishes.

But looks only tell part of the story. The company uses a proprietary technology that allows the paint to become ready for use by adding just the right amount of water during the manufacturing process. That allows Mapaero to make a tangible environmental contribution by offering paint with relatively few solvents. Heavily solvent-based paints release volatile organic compounds during the drying process and are a common source of air pollution. While water-based paints do contain some solvents, they are significantly better for the environment. And paint technology has advanced to the point where they are now considered as good, if not better, than their solvent-based counterparts.

Thanks in part to this melding of form and function, Mapaero has grown rapidly since its 1992 founding. It now has 85 employees and a global roster of clients. And there’s still a lot of runway left — the company has ambitious plans for global expansion.

The growth hasn’t come without challenges, however. For example, the aerospace and aviation industries rely heavily on fast turnaround times, as grounded aircraft do not generate revenue. On top of that, each country has its own strict regulations on the shipping of aviation products.

Managing those logistics can be an art in itself. “Some countries require a specific certification form delivered by an independent body to avoid counterfeit issues or to meet the final destination’s standards requirements,” says Julie Bonnemaison, Mapaero’s logistics manager. “This is the case in most African, Arabian and Indonesian nations. But for delivering to China, that’s a whole other process involving specific labeling and marking in the Chinese language.”

Despite those demands, Mapaero has continued its growth pattern. It can now handle paint requirements for virtually any size of aircraft, from six-seat turboprop models to jetliners such as the Airbus A350 and Boeing 777.

FedEx has also played a role in the company’s development. Given Mapaero’s international expansion efforts, its customers are located in far-flung corners of the globe. The company relies on FedEx Express to ship everything from 12-ml tubes to 200-litre drums of paint, typically on tight schedules. “FedEx is the only company that knows how to ship hazardous materials so quickly — and adhere to aviation regulations as it does,” says Bonnemaison. “Everything’s much easier with FedEx, enabling us to offer turnkey delivery of a ready-to-use product. This strategy has paid off. Over the past five years, we’ve doubled our exports and won significant market share.”

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