Insl-x Products Corp.,
As part of an industry that is increasingly geared toward consolidation, Insl-x stands out as a leader.
Stony Point, N.Y.
by Liz Trauring
and today this 57-year-old company, once a small manufacturer of drum enamels for the drum reconditioning industry, employs more than 400 people and distributes products from latex to lacquers throughout the U.S. and abroad.
The company’s history began in 1948 when Martin Weil founded Stevens Paint Company. In 1960, Weil and his partners acquired Insl-x Products Corp., a manufacturer of insulating varnishes. In 1973, Weil’s son, James, a law student, took what he thought was a leave of absence to help his father. But James never returned to law school and to this day, has no regrets.
James Weil bought out his father and his partners in 1979 and began to transform Stevens Paint into a broad-based company operating as Insl-x Products Corporation. “We realized at the time that we had to expand into products other than drum enamels and insulating varnishes,” he says, “so we started manufacturing some niche products, such as fast-dry enamels and swimming pool paints, under the Insl-x label.”
Since then, the company has grown through Weil’s niche product development approach, his strategic acquisitions, and his expansion into the trade sales business.
In 1985, Weil purchased Proctor Paint, a private-label manufacturer selling under the Sapolin label. This event marked Insl-x’s first foray into trade sales, and subsequent small acquisitions further expanded this market potential. “Insl-x has always been a company that develops specialty products,” Weil explains, “but our larger acquisitions have been in companies that manufacture trade-sale products with some specialty products incorporated in their lines.”
With the recent acquisitions of Coronado Paint and the Bruning/Kyanize brands, Insl-x has expanded into full product lines reaching both the contractor and consumer.
Meanwhile, the recent acquisition of Lenmar Inc. has enabled the company to expand further into specialty markets such as coatings for wood floors, furniture and cabinets.
Insl-x’s Coronado brand is sold exclusively through independent dealers, as is the newly developed Master Finishes line of lacquers and clear floor finishes. Most of the Coronado brand’s sales come from the Southeast, Southwest and Midwest. Bruning products are also distributed through independents, mostly in the Middle Atlantic states and the Northeast, as well as in hardware stores and lumberyards. The Insl-x line is distributed to independents, other paint manufacturers and home centers for specialty coatings in the U.S. as well as in Europe, South America and the Caribbean.
Weil points out that the number of paint manufacturers has shrunk. “There is no doubt in my mind that every year will see fewer companies in this industry,” he says, “but we feel that if we produce the best products, put them out to the broadest number of customers, and reinvest in our company, it will return to us and pay off.
“According to Coatings World, we are the 61st largest paint company in the world with sales of $115 million, and the 25th largest in North America,” he adds. “If that’s what they’re saying, I guess we’re doing something right.”
While Weil’s acquisition strategy has led the growth of Insl-x, he believes that new product development has also been critical to the company’s success. As examples, he cites the 1983 introduction of Aqualock, the market’s first water-reducible primer-sealer-stain killer, which brought Insl-x a lot of attention in the coatings industry. The company has since introduced Hot Trax garage floor paint; Garage Guard, a two-part water -based epoxy; Cabinet Coat, a specialty coating for cabinets and trim; and, this past year, Stix, a primer that utilizes new technology to deliver an extremely high level of adhesion.
To accommodate its growth, Insl-x in 1990 purchased 23 acres in Stony Point, N.Y., and built a 160,000-square-foot plant that is one of the most environmentally compliant in the country. In 1993, the company won the NPCA Pollution Prevention Award in recognition of its commitment to the environment.
Acquisitions have also increased Insl-x’s national holdings. The Coronado Paint deal added a 190,000-square-foot manufacturing and distribution facility in Edgewater, Fla., and the Lenmar acquisition brought with it a new 142,000-square-foot facility in Baltimore. The company is currently moving equipment and implementing major retrofitting projects at the Edgewater and Stony Point facilities to increase production in both locations.
Upgrading facilities and systems is a continuous process, Weil says. The company is currently integrating the computer systems for all the brand lines in all of its plants, as well as adding new inventory controls and tracking systems. “By reinvesting in the business,” Weil says, “we are better able to service our customers, because that’s what it’s all about: Better customer service equates with better sales.”
It’s obvious that Weil enjoys his work and appreciates his employees. “I try to know as many of the people who work for us as I can,” he says, “and whenever I walk through any of the plants, I am gratified to see people who have worked for Insl-x for years.
ome have been with the company for 30 years. It is exciting to watch their families grow and to hear about their children’s accomplishments. It makes me feel as if the company is one large, extended family. Our goal is to run a profitable, healthy business that allows all of us to work and grow together.”
Weil is past president of the New York Paint & Coatings Association, serves on the board of directors of the National Paint & Coatings Association, for which he chairs the membership committee, and is on the board of the State Affairs Committee of the NPCA. So, when he comments on changes affecting the industry, he knows what he’s talking about. “Stringent regulatory legislation is coming to the entire country, not just to California,” he says. “We are developing products to keep the company ahead of the curve, instead of being reactive.
“Industry changes, particularly regulatory changes, create problems, but they also create opportunities. Business is all about having the opportunity to take care of problems. I really enjoy doing that, and by doing that in the proper way you have a successful business.”
His vision for the future includes more growth and new markets. “I feel there is tremendous growth potential for us as we integrate our new facilities and increase our distribution network. We certainly have the opportunity to grow our business and enter many other markets, both in the specialty and architectural businesses, and I look forward to taking Insl-x to the next level.”
Is there a third generation Weil in Insl-x’s future? Maybe, maybe not. His daughter is an art therapist and his son is in the real estate business. “But he’s only 22, so you never know what will happen,” Weil says. “Look at me.”
To learn more about Insl-x, visit www.insl-x.com or call (800) 225-5554.