Local paint and coatings manufacturer is “the official paint” of the NHL

National Hockey League Columbus Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins

(Courtesy of Guest Blogger Jim Priddy, PPG plant manager, Euclid, Ohio)

When was the company or division founded, by whom and why?

PPG was founded in 1883 by Capt. John B. Ford and John Pitcairn in Creighton, Pa. Since then, we have maintained our commitment to innovation and quality products and have shifted our portfolio to focus on paint, coatings and specialty products. PPG coats the planes you fly in, the cars you drive, the mobile devices you use and the walls of your home.

Why did you locate in Euclid, Ohio?

PPG purchased the former Man-Gill Chemical Company facility in Euclid in 1997 as a way to enhance our resources and technology to better serve the automotive, industrial and packaging coatings markets. The Euclid facility complements our strong network of other PPG facilities in the Northeast Ohio region to provide a broad range of products to our customers.

What do you make here?

PPG’s Euclid, Ohio, industrial coatings plant produces pre-treatment and specialty products, including alkaline and acid cleaners and zinc phosphates.

What types of customers buy your products or for what industries?

PPG’s industrial coatings products serve customers in the automotive, transportation, appliance, coil, extrusion, and other markets.

In what ways are your products used?

The products produced in the PPG Euclid facility are utilized primarily in metal processing applications to clean, coat, and provide corrosion resistance, as well as in preparing the metal surface for priming and painting. Our products are used on metal automotive parts, such as body panels, underbody components and fasteners, as well as metal appliance frames and heavy-duty equipment parts.

How many employees and in what types of roles? What types of skilled labor do you hire?

Globally, PPG has approximately 47,000 employees. We employ approximately 90 people at our Euclid facility in a variety of manufacturing, technical, sales and data management roles.

What is your role at the company, and what do you enjoy most about what you do?

I am the plant manager for PPG’s Euclid manufacturing plant. For me, it’s all about our people. We have a great, engaged workforce, and I really enjoy working as a team with our employees to continuously improve our operation to be successful in today’s competitive business environment.

What role does the company play in the manufacturing industry locally? Do you use local suppliers or have local customers?

PPG has a strong presence in Northern Ohio with our Euclid, Strongsville, Cleveland, Huron and Barberton facilities. We utilize many local suppliers, and while many of our customers are in the Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania regional area, we serve additional customers nationally and across the globe. In addition, we donated a combined $130,000 in PPG Foundation grants in 2017 to local organizations in the Cleveland area, which supported STEM educational and community sustainability programs.

In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge that manufacturing currently faces?

The manufacturing sector as a whole currently faces challenges around hiring skilled labor and addressing the educational gap. For current students and recent graduates, there is often a misconception that manufacturing only involves physical labor in a plant. However, PPG is working to educate the next generation of manufacturers to understand that the industry is highly technical and offers a variety of strong opportunities tied to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

What is the state of manufacturing in Ohio or the area?

Manufacturing is an important business sector in Ohio and has been on a growth trend since 2009. Ohio is one of the top 10 states in the nation for both percentage of employees in manufacturing and manufacturing as a percentage of gross state product.

What does the future of manufacturing look like?

Manufacturing is a promising industry and will continue to evolve based on industry needs. Manufacturers like PPG are continually working to provide opportunities and educate the next generation of manufacturers about the various skilled opportunities within the industry. Careers in STEM fields will continue to be essential for the growth and prosperity of manufacturing.

Anything else that we missed but you would like to include? Some interesting fact that readers would be interested in?

PPG has an exclusive paint partnership with the National Hockey League (NHL), which makes PPG paint brands “the Official Paint of the NHL in the U.S. and Canada. You can learn more here.

PPG color draw down

Sheffield Bronze’s founder: from printer to paint-powder distributor, car salesman, auto lessor, and finally paint manufacturer by 1927

Mel Hart, president of Sheffield Bronze

Mel Hart, president of Sheffield Bronze Paint Corp., 17814 S. Waterloo Rd., Cleveland, is a self-made man with captivating stories to tell about the history of Cleveland and of his family, especially his grandfather, Abe Gross, the founder of Sheffield Bronze.

In the 1920s, Hart’s grandfather worked for Star Printing as an apprentice printer and lived with his parents and siblings in a rooming house on Scovill Ave. When Star Printing’s owner died, Gross was only a teenager. But, he bought the company from the owner’s wife by making payments over time. Star Printing was a prominent printer that made laundry tickets, Hanna parking garage tickets, and labels, among other items. One of the jobs Star Printing took, on a handshake, was to print labels for bronze powder, used to make copper, gold, brass and silver paint.

When he went to collect the payment for the labels, the owner of the company admitted that he was going out of business. To pay for the labels, he turned over the labels, cans and powder to Gross. A business was born in 1927. The bronze powder sold well; so, he bought more powder from England to package and resell, while continuing to run his printing business. He decided that he wanted to sell aluminum powder (pulverized aluminum scrap that is used to make aluminum paint) and contacted Alcoa. This powder was used to make paint for the World War II effort and for many purposes, including pipes, window and door screens that were painted aluminum.

At this time, fine steel was being produced in Sheffield, England, to make Sheffield knives and other steel items. The name “Sheffield” became synonymous with fine steel then, eventually, came to encompass all fine metal. Gross took the name for his paint-manufacturing company, and Sheffield Bronze Paint Corp. was born.

The company was moved from the original location of Star Printing on E. 55th to another location at E. 55th and Woodland Ave. It moved again to Lakeview Rd. and Euclid Ave. In 1949, Gross bought the land where the company still is located in Collinwood because it was inexpensive due to being next to the railroad tracks but convenient for the company since it would receive shipments of paint cans by train.

Unfortunately, one year later, he passed away, and his two sons took over. One year later, on the same day, their sister, Hart’s mother, passed away when he was 13 years old. Hart had worked with her after school in the restaurant that she owned, Hickory House, 7804 Carnegie Ave., Cleveland. He moved in with his father (his parents had divorced when he was two) who sold cars and began to work with him. They sold the restaurant to The Lancer Steakhouse. The building was lost in a fire and torn down in 2009.

Hart’s uncle, Sanford Gross, said to him, “If you can sell cars, you can sell paint” and asked Hart to work for him. Hart took a chance and hoped for a future. When each of his uncles passed away in 1998 and 2008, he bought out their shares from his aunts. Through the years, he had worked his way up in the company from selling paint, to running the plant, to purchasing, to general manager to sales manager and, finally, to president. Hart says, “I have to know how to do everything in order to train people.”

Sheffield Bronze employs 14-20 people. It produces decorative metallic paints (gold, silver, bronze, copper) that are sold to paint manufacturers and through paint distributors to hardware stores and paint stores, including Ace, True Value, ALLPRO and Sherwin-Williams. The paints are purchased by home owners, contractors, architects, and interior designers for use in touching up porcelain and cast-iron stoves, chalkboard paint on walls for children, paint tints, on church domes, such as St. Theodosius in Tremont, roof canopies, carousels (Euclid Beach Park Grand Carousel housed at the Western Reserve Historical Society), and ornate ceilings and trim, including the theaters in Playhouse Square.

A lab technician, fillers, labelers, packagers, and shipping, receiving and office staff work for Sheffield Bronze. The raw materials come in to Shipping, are taken by elevator upstairs where they are manufactured. The pigments come down through gravity feed tubes into mixers that grind the pigment to fine, uniform dust, which is then used to make the paint. Hart has purchased some of his equipment, including a heat sealer, paint tanks and filling equipment, locally, from HGR Industrial Surplus.

Hart says, “My biggest challenge is finding the right customers that are quality, like Sherwin-Williams. They are human, understanding and make a great team.” To be a successful manufacturer, he says Sheffield Bronze takes in an order today and gets it out tomorrow. It handles small volume that other manufacturers don’t want to handle. He continues to keep the company at its current size so that he has a niche market that other larger companies cannot duplicate.

Through the years, he’s had to change his business model. The company used to call on small hardware and paint stores and had reps throughout the country. He shifted to a distributor model; therefore, the company no longer sells direct to consumers. He shares other industry challenges: “It’s a problem for the little guy because there are less and less people to sell to. The big guys get bigger, and the small guys are out of business. So, I need to be a help to the big guys, not a competitor or a hindrance.” He also says that salaries are up, and he can’t hire someone to do his job at what he makes; so, he may end up having to sell the business when it’s time to retire in a few years.

Outside of work, when he was younger, Hart loved boating and motorcycling. He used to ride his motorcycle through the Cleveland Metroparks from Chagrin Falls to Valley View with only two traffic lights then take the old trail to Peninsula and have lunch. He also used to horseback ride around Shaker Lakes and groom horses at the 107th Cavalry Regiment’s stables, as well as at Sleepy Hollow Stable in the “country” on SOM Center Road and the Cleveland Police Mounted Unit.