Q&A With Ashley Khan, Permatex Marketing Manager

Q&A With Ashley Khan, Permatex Marketing Manager

Khan shares how Permatex pushed the envelope this year amid a pandemic.

You were appointed Marketing Manager for ITW Permatex this past March but are no stranger to the ITW team. Tell us about your background with the company. 

I’ve been part of the ITW family for 4 ½ years, and being named Marketing Manager for Permatex marks my third management role with ITW Global Brands. Before I joined the Permatex team in the U.S., I served as the Brand Marketing Manager and Associate Brand Manager for Permatex Canada, where I managed our popular car care and tire repair brands, Rain-X, Slime, Fix-A-Flat, Black Magic, and Gumout. During my time at Permatex Canada, I spent a considerable amount of time working with our U.S. counterparts on a variety of projects and initiatives, so I am very well versed with Permatex’s retail, traditional, and international business operations. 

What are some of your short- and long-term goals in this new position? 

My primary focus is to grow our brands through increased innovation so we can continue to develop products that help mechanics and DIYers get the job done right. Innovation has been and is the enduring strength of this company. This year alone, we’ve launched over 25 new products that were developed specifically to address pain points we’ve identified from professional mechanics and DIYers about the work they do. Both in the long and short term, my focus is on modernizing the Permatex brand, increasing our educational capabilities, and growing our channel partners both domestically and internationally. 

The adage of “getting the job done right the first time” is critical to technicians both from a cost and reputation standpoint. How does Permatex support technicians in this endeavor?

Creating products that “get the job done right the first time” is the driving force behind Permatex’s success. The products we develop are the result of constantly engaging with our customers so we can learn more about their needs, identify the ‘pain points’ of their work, and help them find the most effective and efficient solutions. When you’re looking at the portfolio of products that we’ve launched just this year, it’s clear that they were created to directly address the common issues that our customers face. For example, in the development of our new high temperature Red Gasket Maker line, our customers told us that it was critical for them to be able to use a high temp formulation that would allow them to put vehicles back in service quickly. With our current line of The Right Stuff gasket makers, we already had gasket makers that would cure quickly, so it made sense for us to innovate and add a high temperature formulation to the mix. We did so with our new The Right Stuff Red High Temp and the response from the field has been excellent. 

With in-person interactions limited this year (and possibly into 2021) due to the pandemic, how is Permatex staying connected to customers? 

We pushed the envelope this year, with an increased focus in developing digital training for our professionals and end-users. Since everyone is at home and in-person communication is limited, it is imperative that we are able to continue delivering our messaging and educational materials to our customers. Some key areas of focus have been the development of product selection guides and informational product videos that are designed to help our customers choose the right product for their job. We’ve also increased our digital footprint with a stronger presence on social media platforms and a more engaging website, so we can keep our end users up to date with the latest Permatex news and key product application information. We have also been able to continue participating and engaging with our customers through virtual trade shows, which give us another opportunity to inform them about product innovations, as well as the educational tools we’ve developed. Our upcoming tradeshow participations includes the virtual AAPEX and SEMA360 shows.

Bring us up to speed on what’s been going on at Permatex this year. How has the pandemic impacted or changed your business? 

In spite of the constraints brought on by the ongoing pandemic, this year has turned out to be a banner year for the introduction of new Permatex product innovations, especially in our core technology lines. We’ve seen a noticeable shift in consumers working from home and spending more time and money on completing their own automotive repairs. This is one of the reasons we have been focusing so hard on developing a wide range of new training materials. 

Tell us about the new innovations that were developed during this time. What are some of the biggest advancements in vehicles that are leading to new product development for Permatex? 

Our core product launches in 2020 have included a new line of Permatex High Temp Red Gasket Makers that are specially engineered to withstand the extreme temperatures and high thermal cycling experienced in today’s engines. The new high temp gasket makers, which are offered in four formulations, were developed in response to customer requests, field studies, and the need to keep pace with the constant evolution of automotive design. Today’s engines are subject to a much higher range of thermal cycling, high temperatures, and vibration. As a result, Permatex’s R&D team saw the need to develop an advanced line of gasket makers that could withstand extreme temperature changes and still provide a strong, durable, and reliable seal.

Permatex also added new innovations to its core epoxy repair products to make automotive, marine, and home repairs even easier. After extensive R&D and focus studies, we were able to identify key concerns and common issues faced by epoxy users, and as a result developed a line of eight new epoxies designed to not only address these issues, but also provide the best solution needed for the job.  

In developing this core epoxy line, we employed several key innovations that differentiate the adhesives from other competitors in the market. These include a no-drip gel formulation for easy mess-free application, a ready-to-use indicator, so customers know when the product is ready to use, a high heat capability that delivers twice the range of standard epoxies, as well as color choices and substrate specific formulations.

This year also saw the introduction of the Permatex Bolt Mark line, an indicator paste that helps identify loose bolts, the expansion of our Black and Grey gasket maker lines to offer professional sizes, and the introduction of Orange Gel Threadlockers, an expansion on our Orange Threadlocker line.  

What’s next for Permatex? 

We’re not hitting the brakes anytime soon on new innovation and product line expansions. We’ll continue to take the momentum from 2020 and push into 2021 and beyond. I’m looking forward to continuing to drive the brand into the digital age and ensuring that our entire user-base, from professional mechanics to DIYers, have the tools they need to succeed. It’s all about our end users and understanding what they need to get that job done right. 

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