A Chemistry of Success


PT Propan Raya is a well-known Indonesian paint company expanding to other parts of Southeast Asia. CEO Kris Adidarma explains the connection between the paint business and environmental concern.

Interview by Andre Syahreza

At an international triathlon championship in Barcelona, an Indonesian businessman joins the field of participants. He is Kris Rianto Adidarma, a successful go-getter who has led an Indonesian company to a regional level. At the ‘Ironman Barcelona’ triathlon, he covers a total distance of around 227km, cycling 181km, swimming 3.9km, and running 42.2km along with participants from all over the world.

In Indonesia, Kris is better known as a member of the second generation of the family business, PT Propan Raya, a well-known paint company that has penetrated the market of several other Southeast Asian countries. His father, Hendra Adidarma, founded the company in 1979. After earning a Doctorate in Chemistry from Germany, he brought innovations in wood and rattan paint to Indonesia. Within a short time, Propan Paint dominated the domestic market, especially in wood and rattan paint. Today Propan’s products have expanded to include paints for walls, stone, iron, metal, floors, cars, ships and aerosols.

Since 2012, Kris has been entrusted to lead the company, running all operational and managerial aspects, while his father continues to be active behind the scenes, formulating new innovations. With its headquarters in Tangerang, it is the only paint company in the Asia Pacific region to own a German-manufactured Rapid Production System (RPS) machine, which can produce 100 million litres of paint per year.

Like his father, Kris studied chemistry, first at the University of Notre Dame, Illinois, USA, then continuing his studies at Western Michigan University, where he earned a Master of Science in Engineering Management, equipping him with the perfect combination of two fields of knowledge needed to lead Indonesia’s best-known paint company.

Despite it being his family business, Kris did not instantly become head of the company. He joined Propan Raya in 2002, starting his career from the bottom. Ten years later, having acquired a good understanding of all the company’s twists and turns, he was appointed CEO. During his seven years in charge, Kris has implemented various contemporary and digitally friendly operational policies to keep the company at the forefront of the industry across its 37 branches in Indonesia and one subsidiary company in Vietnam. Currently, Propan is preparing to open a branch in Myanmar as a step to further expand its business abroad.

Kris has pioneered the use of digital technology in Propan Raya, for mixing colours online using the Unicolor Tinting System. This innovation of a tinting machine system is the first of its kind in Indonesia, and perhaps in the world. The machine is connected directly with an application via Android, allowing the customer to select and customise colours, as well as monitoring and keeping up-to-date directly with all activities.

Environmentally Friendly

Propan Rayais more than just a paint producer; it is a company that actively researches and implements new technology. In response to climate change, which has required all large companies throughout the world to make adjustments, Propan Raya has developed environmentally friendly paint products. Since 2015, this company with more than 3,500 employees has produced water-based paint.

“The environment is a sensitive issue for chemical products. We actively adapt to this issue by continuing to develop new innovations. Water-based paint is one of our foremost steps in becoming environmentally friendly,” the company head explains.

Propan Raya’s concern for the environment is also reflected in its social activities. For a number of years it has held a series of National Architecture Design Competitions, starting with its own Propan Green Building Award Competition in 2012, and continuing with other architectural competitions supported by the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism and the Creative Economy Agency (Bekraf).

Kris told Colours that these activities would continue to take place as a form of the company’s commitment to environmental conservation. On environmental issues, PT Propan Raya will stand at the forefront as a company with a long history which has succeeded through various stages of business, not unlike the undertaking of a triathlon.

Kris sees that his company’s success is also largely due to its strong teamwork. Like the interaction of different chemical elements, success requires ’chemistry’ from the people working inside the company. “I believe that success cannot be achieved alone. In Propan Raya, I always emphasise the importance of togetherness and family as the foundation for running the company,” he says, summing up his business philosophy.