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MAB Paints and Coatings.

A small-business man with a dream and a corner store...that is where many corporate success stories begin. The tale of Michael A. Bruder, founder of MAB Paints and Coatings, is no different. The tiny south Philadelphia paint store he opened in 1899 has blossomed into one of the biggest names in the paint business, thanks in large part to its plant located in Terre Haute.

The Midwest plant was purchased in 1967 and officially became MAB Paints and Coatings seven years later. Formerly Smith-Alsop, a paint manufacturer and distributor, the new Terre Haute location expanded on ideas that were too big for just the Philadelphia plant to handle on its own. "The Terre Haute plant is the manufacturer of all products from interior and exterior paints to industrial, multi-component epoxy," sales manager Dave Bussing says.

In addition to storing MAB products, the Terre Haute location serves as a warehouse for painting accessories made elsewhere, including brushes and paint sprayers.

The Terre Haute plant employs 150 and, along with facilities in Philadelphia and Orlando, produces and distributes MAB products to more than 300 stores, dealers and Rich-Lux Home Centers in 18 states and the District of Columbia. According to Bussing, a healthy number of those stores can be found in Indiana. "There are 26 MAB stores in Indiana," Bussing says. "We also serve a large dealer network, which is made up of privately owned, hometown stores that sell MAB products."

The success story of MAB is not just one of luck or hard work by the Bruder family. It is one of innovation. When M. A. Bruder opened his first store in Philadelphia at the turn of the century, he was literally ahead of his time. By employing a new marketing technique, Bruder out-smarted his competitors before they even opened their first stores.

Bruder sold bulk painting materials that would allow customers to mix paint on their own time, which is what most people did in the 18th and 19th centuries. But in addition, Bruder blended his own recipe of paints and stocked the shelves with the newest convenience - the ready-to-spread variety. Gone were the days when painters had to mix pigment, linseed oil, turpentine and colorant just to paint their homes.

The Terre Haute, Philadelphia and Orlando plants all produce more than home paints. Ply-Mastic coating covers roughly four miles of steel that spans the Chesapeake Bay, while Ply-Tile coatings can withstand harsh chemicals in such environments as wastewater-treatment plants. Acra-Lastic texturizes and waterproofs building exteriors and Ply-Thane urethane activator can safely protect vital equipment in the petrochemical industry. MAB even produces a fire-retardant paint that inhibits fire from spreading. It is often used by schools in order to prevent fire from spreading to more than one classroom.

And as for attractiveness, MAB has a wide variety of examples, just in case customers have any doubt about the paint's quality. The informational brochure the company produces boasts of living examples of the use of MAB's products at such noteworthy places as the Baltimore Aquarium, Marriott hotels, the Philadelphia Art Museum and Miami's Joe Robbie Stadium.

MAB Paints and Coatings also led the way in home decorating. Just before World War II, home owners began painting their living rooms instead of applying wallpaper. The MAB stores took on the role of educator, as many of them offered instruction on proper paint preparation and application. Today's MAB stores take this concept a step further. Like other MAB dealers, the Terre Haute branches provide decorating ideas and professional sales representatives to assist customers. The Interior Design Department at MAB stores offers a wide selection of carpeting, window treatments and wallcoverings to accent interior paints.

To assure quality products, the individual laboratories at the Terre Haute plant are staffed by chemists and quality controllers who make it their business to produce safe and colorful paints and coatings. State-of-the-art technology is also utilized at the plant to assure a no-fault product.

The days of hand-mixing and hoping for the best results are gone. Today, specialized computers measure light reflection and absorption of colors to achieve lasting brilliance. By using the computers, chemists also maintain a level of consistency in each color they produce. In other words, every canary yellow will look the same.
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Copyright 1996 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Fredericks, Jen
Publication:Indiana Business Magazine
Article Type:Company Profile
Date:Oct 1, 1996
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