RameyArjun Dhake and B.G. Dhake of Dhake Industries.
In an industry dominated by multibillion-dollar powerhouses, a thriving family-operated paint and coating company in Plymouth Township is planning to expand its research and development operations.
Dhake Industries, just north of Plymouth, plans to build an 8,000-square-foot, two-story office building next to the office and manufacturing plant it has occupied for 23 years.
The company employs 25.
The plan is to move the office functions into the new building and expand the R&D operations in the existing office space, said CEO B.G. Dhake.
He said the key to the company’s survival has been cultivating buyers as far away as China, Vietnam and Brazil. “Otherwise, we go out of business,” he said.
That’s because sales from long-term clients in Detroit are waning. “We have the same customers buying less volume,” Dhake said. “We didn’t lose any customers.”
Pending tax abatement approval, construction on the $1.35 million building will begin in August and wrap up by February, Dhake said. He is seeking a 50 percent tax abatement over 12 years; a public hearing has been scheduled for Aug. 19 by the township Board of Trustees.
Dhake, a native of India, said there’s a long tradition of business ownership in his family. Dhake’s son Arjun Dhake is vice-president for business development for the company and a University of Michigan graduate.
Once the new R&D space is available, the plan is to try to enter the consumer electronics market, B.G. Dhake said.
Arjun Dhake said more effort will be focused on finding new customers. “We’re looking to have more people in sales and marketing,” he said.
According to Troy-based Paint and Coatings Industry magazine, each of the top five companies in the sector have coating sales of more than $2 billion a year: PPG Industries has sales of $7.46 billion, number two DuPont Coatings & Color Technologies Group has $6.6 billion, and third-place Sherwin-Williams has $6 billion.
Magazine publisher Donna Campbell said the trend has been for larger companies to buy out smaller, independent firms. “They snatch up the smaller companies,” he said. “If (Dhake) is surviving, that’s wonderful.”
She also said rising raw materials costs are putting pressure on the industry.
“For a small company to be able to survive escalating prices of raw materials is amazing,” Campbell said.
Arjun Dhake said the company has been approached by larger companies to be purchased several times, but Dhake Industries is not for sale.
He also said the company has either had to simply absorb the increased materials costs or find ways to save money in its operations.
B.G. Dhake has patented some of his paint and coating products, and helped create the typewriter correction product Wite-Out. He said it was a lucrative effort but quickly became obsolete.
The key attributes of the white liquid – non-flammable, quick-drying and flexible – were not very difficult to attain, he said.
“It was easy to come up with the product,” he said. “It was hard to find the brush and the bottle.”
Contact Dan Meisler at (734) 302-1721 or firstname.lastname@example.org.