ReturnMontana Colors, the Catalan aerosols that paint the world
Jordi Rubio suggested making spray paint for graffiti artists to his ex boss. The idea was rejected so he founded Montana Colors, which today has a turnover of 36 million euros.
Jordi Rubio Rocabert was 26 years old and working for a paint company when he met a couple of young people from Barcelona who were involved in graffiti. After talking to them, he realised that the paint industry wasn’t aware of the movement, and detected a new market in the making. He went to talk to his boss to explain the idea. "He told me to stick to my job, he didn't even give me five minutes," he recalls.
In 1994 at the age of 27, he quit and created Montana Colors with his partner Miquel Galea. A company that would be dedicated to the production of spray paint for these people who were considered thugs. It now has an annual turnover of 36 million euros, with six subsidiaries, exporting to over 80 countries. It is the global leader for graffiti products, the company that created the graffiti industry.
A date with destiny
His story with spray paint came from a chance encounter. He’d previously started a law degree, but dropped out. He needed a job and ended up in at paint company. "I got the job because they were looking for a person who had a motorcycle, which I did. I could have ended up at a croissant company," he explains. Some time later, he went to the laboratory and did some training in chemistry.
It was that job that put him in contact with a group that was doing graffiti in Barcelona. "I saw that they had a lot of energy and a great passion for artistic creation," he says. He got on very well with them and saw that, despite being consumers of spray paint, brands didn’t have them in mind: "They were thought of as criminals." It was then that he went to his boss with the idea, which was ignored.
Go your own way
Rubio was certain that his path had to be entrepreneurship, being his own boss. And the opportunity came when he was 27. "Montana Colors emerged organically. It was created as a result of my personal need to undertake and manage my own work. It was very difficult for me to understand the world of work without being responsible for carrying out the ideas", says Rubio, adding: "Entrepreneurs are born, not made.”
So Montana was born, thanks to a series of chance events, that Rubio sums up like this: "The right person, working in a paint company, in the right place, Barcelona, where graffiti entered Spain, and at the right time, when no other paint company contemplated graffiti.” And that man was was a pioneer and an innovator. He spotted a new market and built it.
Jordi Rubio: "We loved graffiti then and we love it now.”
The worldwide graffiti graffiti scene drove Montana from the beginning. “It's an international movement, which plays with the established rules which is very powerful in such an orderly and regulated world," he explains. Rubio spoke to this world and provided what they wanted. Since then, Montana and graffiti have grown together: "We loved graffiti then and we love it now. It is part of freedom of expression, of a city that’s alive."
From its arrival, Montana became well known among artists and demand came from all over the world. Its growth has been unstoppable. In 2016 it had a turnover of €20 million annually and manufactured 8 million aerosols a year. Four years later, it the figure has risen to €36 million and 15 million cans. In 1994 the team consisted of two people. Now there are about 285.
All Montana products are produced in the two plants in the Barcelona area: Esparreguera and Sant Vicenç de Castellet. Relocation of the activity has never been considered. "I come from Vallès, which made its name through the textile industry and exported all over the world. The need to produce is in my genes. Catalonia is a country of production,” he insists. What’s more, proximity allows you to keep tabs on the product.
Jordi Rubio: "Our reputation is built on the history of the brand”
As Montana grew exponentially, traditional paint companies became aware of the new market opening. Some copied it, and a German company even tried to buy them. "Now, what differentiates us is not the product, everything we do has already been copied. We are not better or worse. Our reputation is built on the history of the brand." Most of all, Montana were the first to listen to the graffiti artists - unlike Rubio’s old boss - and offer them what they needed, growing the art of graffiti together.
Today, they are the market benchmark. They don’t just produce paint for graffiti artists, they are part of the movement. They have subsidiaries in Brazil, Mexico, the United States, Germany, Australia and Belgium. Next year they will open another in France. Growth is guaranteed.
Jordi Rubio: "I didn't create Montana to get rich. I did it because the project was worthwhile”
Rubio perceives the company as synonymous with innovation. "Montana came from an expression of innovation: changing the way that things are done," he emphasizes. He has also opened several specialist graffiti shops, where artists can buy Montana spray paint. They have about twenty points of sale around the world: from Barcelona to Bangkok, from Los Angeles to Kuala Lumpur, from Tokyo to Istanbul.
The life philosophy of Jordi Rubio: an entrepreneur who dared to start company, unafraid of what could happen. If one day its success ends, he wouldn’t see it as a tragedy. "I didn't create Montana to get rich. I did it because the project was worthwhile.”
This article was originally published by viaempresa.cat on the 8th February, 2021.
ShareFebruary 22, 2021