Sherwin Williams keeps colors popping for 150 years

8 years ago

Houlton location celebrates 60th anniversary

     HOULTON, Maine — When it comes to paint and paint supplies, the Sherwin-Williams Company seeks excellence above all else.

     That’s part of the reason why the company has been in business nationwide for 150 years and for 60 years in Houlton.

     Owned by shareholders, Sherwin-Williams Company was founded by Henry Sherwin and Edward Williams in 1866 and has not only grown to be the largest producer of paints and coatings in the United States, but is among the largest producers in the world.

     Specializing in paint and paint-related products, Sherwin-Williams Company also carries a wide variety of wallcoverings and can custom order blinds and shade products for the home.

     Store manager Alfred Hanscom and assistant manager Murray Williams are the men who keep the business running smoothly. The two have knowledge of what paint is needed for a particular project that is second to none.

     The two also remain up-to-date on all the latest trends and have a vast knowledge of the more environment-friendly paint products that are available in today’s market. Those that have questions on which type of paint or stain is right for them need only ask the knowledgeable staff.

     Browsing through the Houlton store, one will find a vast array of paint, stains, as well as a huge collection of top of the line paint brushes and rollers.

     Adorning one section of the store is a collection of historical photographs showing some of the larger, more impressive homes in the greater-Houlton area that have distinct color schemes. Another corner of the showroom features samples of miniature blinds, cellular shades and vertical blinds, which are available through custom orders.

     During the 60 years that Sherwin Williams has been in Houlton, there have been just three managers — Jack Ketch, Gary Shaw and now Hanscom. Williams has been with the company for 29 of those 60 years and has seen many changes in the industry.

     “When I first started in 1987, we had three choices of interior paint,” Williams said. “We now have probably more than 15 different choices. Including exterior paint, we probably have 30 styles in the store.”

     “Internet technology has truly helped the business,” Hanscom said. “We also sell machine and farm equipment paint that is made to withstand the outdoor elements.”

     Williams explained that several manufacturers in the Houlton area purchase paint of this type for their vehicles. That paint is a special commercial order that represents a large portion of the company’s business.

     Because of technology, virtually any color, shade or hue can be replicated in the store.

     “You can go online now and come up with all sorts of colors,” Williams added. “People can take a photo of something and we can create that paint, as well as provide four of five coordinating colors if they wish. They can do all that without ever coming into the store.”

     Williams said when he first started, nearly every room was painted off-white. That is no longer the case.

     “We sell so many colors now that when I first started we would never dream would be the case,” Williams said. “When I started, I don’t think we sold a gallon of red paint in a year. Now, people are going with deep wines and burgundies. Color sets a tone for the room. It may close it in a bit, and make it feel smaller, but it makes it feels warm and cozy.”

     Other big changes in the industry is the shift from oil-based paints to latex and a decline in the number of people who use wallpaper in their homes.

     “Wallpaper is never going to go away, but it has changed,” Williams said. “The big thing now is borders separating two different colors.”

     Competition from box stores has also increased over the years. In the past, a hardware store focused solely on carpentry and plumbing supplies, but now many of those businesses have added paint lines.

     “We have had to change our way of thinking with pricing and service if we wanted to beat the competition,” Hanscom said.

     Sherwin Williams is located at 2 Smyrna St., but got its start in historic downtown Houlton.

     “We came up to our current location in 1989,” he said. “Before, we were downtown on Main Street. We had the left half of where Main Street fitness currently is. We were there from 1956 to 1989.”

     The company’s secret to staying in business in this region for so long is simple. They provide top-notch customer service to every person that walks through their doors, whether they be someone looking for advice on a weekend painting project, or a wholesaler looking for large quantities of products.

     “Sherwin Williams is all about quality,” Williams said. “Paint is one of those things that you truly get what you pay for. The higher the quality, the better it will cover.”

     The company also saves all of a customer’s paint purchase history in a database for about 10 years, Williams said. That way, if a person has to order additional paint of the same color, it can be replicated easily.

     It is that emphasis on quality products and service that help ensure repeat customers for the long-standing business.

     The Houlton store employs two full-time and two part-time employees and is conveniently open seven days a week (Mondays through Fridays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.)

     There is also a Caribou Sherwin-Williams store at 118 Bennett Drive. Their store hours are the same as the Houlton site.

     For more information, call 532-2558 for Houlton, 493-3150 for Caribou or visit www.sherwin-williams.com.