An Exclusive Interview with René Lang, Mankiewicz Executive Managing Director
Şebnem Akalın: First and foremost, thank you for taking the time to speak with us today. Established in 1895, Mankiewicz has evolved to become a global leader with over 1,500 employees across 16 international locations. Could you please elaborate on your company's historical trajectory, organizational structure, and core capabilities?
René Lang: Since our foundation in 1895, Mankiewicz has been a family-owned and operated business. We value healthy growth and long-term relationships and continue to develop together and in partnership with our customers in many industries, always with the aim of being a process-oriented partner and not just a coatings supplier.
After all, paint should not be seen as just a product, but as part of the overall coating process. The coating must be perfectly matched to the customer's requirements. This starts with the setup of the paint shop, includes the climatic coating conditions, and extends to the operating conditions and required resistance of the finished component during harsh and long-term flight operations.
Thanks to this "paint as a process" approach, we can call many renowned OEMs our partners, far beyond the aviation industry. Mankiewicz has been innovating in a wide range of business areas for decades. These include the wind power industry, machinery, heavy equipment, automotive, appliances, yacht coatings and many more.
Global availability and good local technical support are key factors in all industries. With 16 locations on three continents and a worldwide network of application engineers, we can respond quickly and are close to our customers.
As Mankiewicz Turkey, we have been active in the Asian part of Istanbul for 13 years, serving local and global companies in the automotive, railroad, wind power, medical, white goods, and many other application areas.
Our branch office offers local and uncomplicated delivery of our products to our customers. Our Customer Care Department handles delivery and related import arrangements for our clients. According to received orders and forecasts, we also offer our customers local stocking in our warehouse and can guarantee swift deliveries within the whole Turkey. We also have a local technician team on site, which can help our customers with problems, tests, and commissioning new projects competently and quickly. In addition to that, we regularly offer our customers workshops in our facilities; all our employees in Türkiye are multilingual trained and speak German or English.
Şebnem Akalın: Mankiewicz is renowned for its high-quality coating systems across diverse industries, including general manufacturing, aviation, and automotive. In the context of this broad portfolio, could you inform us about the scope of your aviation-related production and operations network?
René Lang: Mankiewicz has been serving the aviation industry with coating solutions since the early days of commercial aviation. They have grown with the industry to meet the ever-increasing challenges and demands for safety, durability, appearance and sustainability, and have developed innovative generations of coatings. Qualifications for safe and high-performance products are a wide-ranging subject, especially in the aerospace industry, and Mankiewicz is qualified by all major OEMs for interior, exterior and structural parts.
"With our comprehensive product portfolio in all three segments, we highlight our claim to be a one-stop-shop for coating solutions for our customers. And this applies to both the OEM and the Refurbishment business”
In the exterior sector, Mankiewicz has often led the way in innovating coatings. The BaseCoat/ClearCoat system is renowned for its robust and efficient application and outstanding long-term performance. Recently, the paint manufacturer has revolutionized wing coatings. ALEXIT WingFlex replaces two products and offers the MRO simplified and shortened processes and the airline a perfect finish for a significantly extended lifespan. The product is also highly flexible and chemical resistant, meeting the specifications for both upper and lower wing surfaces.
Şebnem Akalın: Your company offers an array of innovative systems, extending beyond exterior coatings to also include interior solutions. Could you outline the specific systems you offer in this realm and explain their advantages to your clientele?
René Lang: In fact, Mankiewicz's roots in aviation are in aircraft interiors. Above all, cabins have to be light and safe. Both have implications for coatings. Lightweight means avoiding heavy materials such as metals. Instead, super-light materials are used, such as honeycomb, which would not inspire confidence if uncoated. Coatings can simulate various materials, such as metals or frosted glass, to meet the airlines' desire to offer their passengers a high-quality interior.
The second ever-present topic is safety. FST and heat release are the magic words here. These requirements apply to all interior materials. Mankiewicz has an extensive product portfolio ranging from standard finishes to sophisticated design effects and from fillers and primers to clearcoats. A lot of potential for airlines to differentiate themselves.
In addition, the surface has to look like new for many years, so it has to be very durable and easy to clean, despite the low level of passenger care in this shared space. Interior coatings therefore have a very diverse property profile, combining design, function and smart features. For example, coatings can also contain antimicrobial additives, such as ALEXIT FST PUReGuard.
Şebnem Akalın: While Mankiewicz is widely recognized for its excellence in exterior and interior coating systems, it also boasts significant achievements in the specialized area of coating structural components. Could you provide insights into this less-publicized facet of your operations?
René Lang: Coatings for structural parts, which are usually invisible after manufacture, have particularly high-performance requirements. Reliable corrosion protection over 30 years is essential for metal aircraft and a truly mammoth task for a paint system. Mankiewicz structural primers ensure that this very safety-relevant area is covered and also guarantee adhesion for subsequent exterior coatings.
If you think that with the popularity of composite aircraft, the requirements for paint are over, you'd be wrong. Aluminum was much smoother than composite today. However, the high-gloss exterior finishes of aircraft act as a magnifying glass for surface imperfections. This means that the substrate must first be prepared with fillers. Depending on the defect, different fillers are used, which in turn add as little weight as possible and can be sanded well, leaving only filler in the defect areas. It is important that the customer has the right product for the paint equipment and defect to ensure a lean process. To get the most out of these processes, Mankiewicz is proud to have helped many customers with its process experts.
Şebnem Akalın: Among your 16 global locations, one is strategically situated in Istanbul, Türkiye. Could you share details on collaborations or partnerships you have with Turkish aviation companies?
René Lang: We have been closely involved with the aerospace industry in Türkiye for decades. Our waterborne systems are used by the large TIERs that produce parts for Airbus and Boeing, particularly in the important area of structural parts. Sustainability and process efficiency with high quality results are convincing in this demanding area and, together with the expertise of the local TIERs, meet the high requirements of the OEMs.
In addition, local MROs and airlines rely on our expertise for efficient interior and exterior maintenance. Customers can access our full portfolio locally and have their cabin and exterior maintained sustainably and efficiently.
In addition to our strategically located office in Istanbul, which offers local customer proximity, production and service, we are represented by an agent with extensive aviation experience. In this way, all our strengths come together for the benefit of our customers.
Şebnem Akalın: Aviation and environmental sustainability have gained increasing prominence in recent years, prompting companies to take action in this direction. Could you elucidate the initiatives or practices that underscore Mankiewicz's commitment to sustainability within its production processes?
René Lang: Indeed, sustainability is an important subject that has been at the top of our customers' and our own agendas for many years. For example, our customers in the interior and structural parts sectors are already making extensive use of environmentally friendly waterborne coatings. Another aspect is our strong focus on optimal application processes. Fewer layers means less emissions, less weight, etc.
The most important sustainability benefit of our coatings is their ability to substantially prolong the life cycle of coated substrates and extend maintenance intervals. This is known as the green handprint. Without coatings, the lifespan would simply be much shorter and parts would have to be scrapped or recoated sooner. One example of this is the ALEXIT BaseCoat/ClearCoat system, which has been proven to double the life of exterior coatings. Even the harshest conditions have not affected the gloss, color and technical performance, even after 13 years.
As a chemical company, we have a huge responsibility to the environment. Right from the manufacturing stage, we optimize all parameters to ensure that our production is as environmentally friendly as possible. For example, we use green electricity. Other examples include recycling 90% of our cleaning solvents after distillation and recovering 70% of our heat. The fact that we have production facilities on three continents also helps to shorten the supply chain.