Brand Testimonial
Southwest Airlines, headquartered in Dallas, Texas, is the world’s largest low-cost carrier with more than 3,800 flights per day – traveling to more than 90 destinations throughout the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean. While consumers may only think of the planes that need to be maintained and serviced there’s also 17,000 pieces of ground equipment – from gas trucks to catering vehicles and push backs – that are part of the equation to provide excellent customer service. And, there’s one man that oversees that equipment for 33 cities, Allen Brown, senior manager of the Northeast region ground support. He’s been with the airliner for the past 20 years.
“Customer service is our number one priority and the ground equipment is one piece of a big puzzle. If the bags don’t get put on the plane, the catering vans or push back trucks aren’t functioning properly, that means delays and ultimately unhappy customers,” said Brown. “We need to make sure anytime we look for new products, such as parts and paint, it’s going to hold up and perform well.”
When Southwest started a complete rebranding in 2014 – including new paint colors, logo, uniforms, and airport remodeling – they turned to NAPA/Martin Senour for paint products to create a modern paint scheme on its ground equipment. The main color that changed is canyon blue which is now a bold blue. The deeper blue was developed to evoke a spirit of exploration in reaching new heights. Warm red, sunrise yellow, and summit silver colors are also used.
The task to change paint colors on the ground equipment has been in full swing since the acquisition of AirTran and is expected to be  completed over the next several years. To assist in efforts, there’s a paint booth in Dallas that’s used throughout the year.
The team uses the VORTEX® Premium Waterborne Refinish System and Prism® Commercial Refinish System. VORTEX is an easy-to-apply, fast-drying waterborne basecoat system that behaves like solventborne technology. It provides excellent color match to today’s OEM colors while meeting strict VOC limits in the United States and Canada.
Prism is a complete solution for fleet refinishing, commercial, and manufacturing applications offering easy application, excellent hiding properties, and fast dry times. Available in an extended color palette of solid, metallic, and pearl colors it easily met Southwest’s needs. Prism has both basecoat/clearcoat and single stage applications and is offered in multiple VOC levels, including 2.1 VOC, 2.8 VOC and 3.5 VOC, positioning it as the premium commercial refinishing system available for use nationwide.
NAPA/Martin Senour’s support for Southwest doesn’t end there. Brown added the brands have been great partners for training mechanics, providing parts, as well as offering an efficient parts program with NAPA’s IBS customized inventory management. “IBS has been a huge help. We’re not in the parts business and wanted a way to maintain stock…the sales representatives are always helpful and do what it takes for us to achieve maximum results,” said Brown. Southwest initially tested the program at Chicago Midway International Airport and continued it throughout other cities.
NAPA IBS increases productivity by providing a parts room onsite with inventory dedicated to a facility’s needs and 90 percent of orders are filled within minutes. Since NAPA owns and manages the inventory, facilities only pay for parts when they use them and can customize inventory based on their fleet.
Southwest Airlines’ brand makeover has been a work in progress for the past two years and NAPA/Martin Senour has helped make it a smooth ride by offering quality products and support.
Martin Senour training of paint technicians has been invaluable as well, he notes. Most every painter for Southwest has gone through a series of hands-on training with all the products at Martin Senour’s nearby dedicated Dallas training facility. There, the Southwest techs continue to learn and expand upon their knowledge of application techniques for the waterborne VORTEX system and Prism refinish coatings.
NAPA IBS and Martin Senour Keep Southwest Airlines Looking Good: From the Ground Up
While Southwest’s new bold blue look certainly makes a statement in the sky, its ground equipment and maintenance vehicles keep the brand look consistent on the ground. As Southwest’s partner for paint solutions at Dallas’ Love Field airport, the team at NAPA relies on Martin Senour coatings. “Our situation with Southwest is unique, because it’s not automotive or heavy duty; it’s somewhere in between,” said Eddie Marstaller, project manager at NAPA IBS in Dallas, Texas. Marstaller utilizes a network set-up within Southwest to transport parts and coatings – anytime and anywhere – within a 24-hour time frame. “It’s imperative we keep things moving as quickly as possible to service this account,” said Marstaller. NAPA’s commitment to quick, efficient service depends on putting the right resources in the right place for reliable performance. When it comes to the coatings on more than 17,000 pieces of ground equipment servicing the entire Southwest Airlines fleet at maintenance locations across the country, that means Martin Senour. “We really like working with Martin Senour,” said Marstaller. “Everything is really good – top notch.”