Sheboygan Paint Company Celebrates Centennial This Year, Cedartown Factory Joins Time Capsule Ceremony
When you think of a place like Sheboygan, Wisconsin – about 850 miles as the crow flies from Cedartown – you wouldn’t think there would be a local connection.
But for four decades now, the Sheboygan Paint Company has produced millions of gallons of industrial paint right here in Polk County as the company expanded its reach into the Southeast in the 1980s. Decades later, the company has an international reach and Cedartown’s products are distributed across the country, in Canada and Mexico.
What would the founders of Sheboygan Paint Company think of their company’s progress today based on where they started making wood varnish for a chair maker? Sure, it’s a question you can’t know, but one thing is certain: the Brownrigg family at the helm of the company are convinced that their company will still be there when in 2121, the eighth and ninth generations will unearth a time capsule and ask the same question.
CEO Peter Kirton addressed encouraging words to the employees and thanked them for their hard work past and present, as well as Chairman of the Board, Brock Brownrigg, who was delighted that the production capabilities of the Cedartown plant continue to grow and ship more paint than ever before.
“We are breaking records here because of the quality of the people we employ,” he said. “You guys made this possible. I am very happy to be here to honor 100 years, but also to honor all the people we have employed.
Kirton added that he expects the business to continue for an important reason: Customers will always need some sort of paint to protect their equipment.
“I think in 200 years we will still need industrial coatings, I just don’t know what they will look like,” he said.
A key to that future could have been buried on October 1. Plant manager Scott Porterfield explained the importance of everything going into the time capsule: including a full list of every Cedartown employee, a card they signed, memorabilia from the COVID-19 pandemic like masks and hand sanitizer, plus other items like a copy of a resolution passed by State Representative Trey Kelley for the occasion, and a sample of a new patent pending paint that Sheboygan Paint Company proposed.
Even a pencil was included, thought out in advance on a pen to prevent any leakage that could damage objects buried in the ground outside the main entrance to the factory.
The next generation family members to run the business worked to fill the gap where the time capsule now sits, covered in concrete and surrounded by a small brick patio. Employees even thought about including a laser-cut Sheboygan Paint Company logo in the metal as a marker of where it sits in the ground, while waiting for someone to come in a century and dig it up.
The local factory will remain busy until then doing what it does best: painting and helping the community where it can. A fundraising campaign – Pennies for a Purpose – is currently underway at the facility, in which employees are encouraged to donate change to help a good cause during the holiday season.
Sheboygan Paint set up its second and only other manufacturing facility in Cedartown in 1984, when its customer base began to expand into the Southeastern United States, particularly in Rome when General Electric produced mid-size transformers. in its West Rome factory. Most important to the company’s history here was to make sure they moved to a location in the south that looks a lot like what they had back home in Wisconsin.
The nationwide business began in Sheboygan in 1921 to produce wood varnish for the chair manufacturing industry and has expanded to other products for industrial customers. They expanded their production capabilities with a new plant in 1969, opened the plant in Cedartown 37 years ago and, through a merger in 2003, extended their service to the east coast with the acquisition of Sentry Paint.
Sheboygan Paint Company’s product lines are mostly found on surface products that you might not use on a daily basis, but you will likely see their paints covering things like dumpsters, air bottles, and dustbins. cylinders (think gas cylinders like those used for welding) on industrial machinery, and in various other applications.
Paint and dyes developed for livestock, molded plastics, textiles for items such as fire hoses, and even a coating used in industrial chimneys are also sourced from Sheboygan Paint.