Tony Nightingale
(1939 - 2003)

For service to Manufacturing

Resene was started in 1946 by Eastbourne builder, Ted Nightingale, a concrete enthusiast who needed an alkali resistant paint to cover his concrete buildings. With nothing available at the time, in typical kiwi style he developed his own in a cement mixer in his garage. In response to demand from other builders, Ted commenced producing his paint on a commercial basis under the name Stipplecote, later launching the first NZ waterborne paint under the brand name ‘Resene’ - a name derived from the main ingredient of paint - resin.

Tony Nightingale, Ted’s son, joined the business in the late 1950s, literally starting on the factory floor – he was granted no primogeniture favours! By the mid 1960’s he was effectively running the business and officially took over in 1972. He made two critically important decisions – adopting a policy of only producing lead-free paint and to market directly to commercial painters and architects. His farsighted decisions transformed not just Resene but the paint industry as a whole.

Both of these decisions were far reaching. Lead pigments were heavily relied upon by the paint industry of the time and the marketing of the products was through a strict, old boys network of channels. Tony decided to risk alienating the industry’s traditional sales outlets, instead using his own staff to sell directly to those in the trade. Unthinkable in that climate, but he considered the risks worth it. Ongoing and innovative product development provided a compelling case to the design community which saw Resene specified on an increasing number of projects and its profile and brand awareness grew.

In 1974 the purchase of Mason Handprints, a small bespoke wallpaper manufacturer, serendipitously provided the opportunity for Resene to expand into the retail market.  Mason’s Wellington showroom, by default became the first Resene ColorShop.

The position statement (chosen by Tony) of “Resene – the paint that the professionals use” was coined in 1969 and describes the mainstay of the business which continued to be professionals who wanted high quality paints and coatings, with a wide colour range, supported by excellent service and problem solving ability from the paint manufacturer. Tony and his Technical Director Colin Gooch solidified the reputation of Resene as the colour leader, with a number of firsts including setting up an innovative new colour system. The British Standard Specification range provided a range of strong colours at a time when New Zealanders were used to pastel colours. Resene also pioneered the development of coloured paint bases, where previously only white was used and was also the first to offer a range of testpots.  In 1985, the Total Colour Multi-Finish System was launched and has been the mainstay of Resene’s colour offer since.

The company successfully established a manufacturing plant in Fiji and later in Australia and expanded with purchases of Dimet coatings and Altex Coatings. Rockcote, which has evolved into Resene Construction Systems, was another quality acquisition as was the Automotive and light industrial business units. Today the Resene Group is the largest supplier of applied coatings to the New Zealand market.

Tony also lead Resene into leadership in the development of environmentally friendlier products, from the initial development of waterbased paints to removing lead from decorative paints in the late 1960’s well ahead of other manufacturers. Resene joined the Environmental Choice programme in 1996 with a comprehensive range of waterborne products, making it easier for environmentally aware consumers to select paints that are less impactful on the environment.

In 2004 after Tony’s passing the Resene PaintWise packaging recovery programme was introduced. It was the first comprehensive paint and paint packaging product stewardship programme in the world. Over 3 million paint containers have been recycled and over 250,000 litres of recycled paint has been donated to communities to cover graffiti.

Tony’s son Nick Nightingale was appointed General Manager in 1999, before becoming Managing Director just a few years later.

“Ted was an inventor and entrepreneur, but it was Tony who pushed the business forward,” says Nick. “He had a lot of his father’s inventiveness, and even more of his drive and energy. He was very innovative and bold – classic entrepreneurial traits.”