Company’s products protect and beautify surfaces throughout the Midwest; new Belden Village design center showcases products.
When brothers and business partners Mark and Patrick Lauber heard of the opportunity to take over Harrison Paint in 2000, it seemed like a perfect situation.
There was just one minor issue. Neither knew the first thing about paint.
The brothers were operating Invincible Air Flow Systems in Holmes County, and Harrison Paint had fallen on tough times.
The Laubers came to the rescue.
The brothers got incredible support from about 20 former Harrison Paint employees who had left to pursue other opportunities but came back to help resurrect the business. Many still work for the company.
“People stick around,” said Patrick. “We have little turnover. Several employees have been here more than 40 years.”
Mark was diagnosed with leukemia shortly after he and Patrick bought Harrison Paint and unfortunately lost his battle with the disease.
But Harrison Paint remains a family business. Mark’s son, Jake, Patrick’s son, Christian, and Anthony Moore, Patrick’s niece’s husband, represent the second generation of the Lauber family. The team of about 30 continues to maintain Harrison Paint’s reputation for outstanding quality and customer service.
Harrison Paint serves the independent paint dealer market, hardware stores, local community retail customers, OEMs and industrial companies with one of the broadest lines of paints, stains, varnishes and coatings available. The local store also offers paint-related items like brushes and rollers.
The company’s headquarters, manufacturing operation and factory store are located at 1329 Harrison Ave. SW in Canton. About a month ago, a new design center opened at 5156 Whipple Ave. NW, across from the Belden Village Mall.
Harrison Paint was founded in 1911 by Clarence E. Harrison as the C.E. Harrison Co. In 1929, Harrison sold the business to Gordon G. Walters. The name was changed to Harrison Paint and Varnish Co. in 1933, which featured the signature Dutch Standard brand.
In 1998, the Walters family agreed to a merger with Cook & Dunn Paints of New Jersey. Since 2000, when the Lauber family took over operations, Harrison Paint has acquired the Excelsior Coatings and Olde Century Colors brands.
Today, Harrison Paint offers the Dutch Standard, Excelsior and Old Century Colors brands. The company also private labels products for numerous other brands.
Harrison Paint manufactures products that cover three major categories: architectural coatings (inside and outside homes and businesses), industrial and OEM coatings (for equipment and products for customers including Canton Elevator and Ohio Gratings) and specialty applications (such as football field and basketball floor coatings, including several major universities).
Being a paint manufacturer is a blessing and a curse.
“Anyone can use our coatings, so we have a huge potential market,” said Patrick. “But, it’s difficult to communicate effectively to such a broad audience.”
The company must win three times in its battles for customers.
“We need to convince wholesalers to sell our products,” said Patrick. “Then, stores must agree to sell our products. Then, customers have to walk into the store and pick our products when there are usually two or three choices.”
Harrison Paint, one of about 45 regional manufacturers in the nation, manufactures 900 unique formulas.
The company makes 90 percent of what it sells and buys from as many Ohio companies as possible.
“We’re small enough to provide unique solutions for customers, but large enough to take care of their needs,” said Patrick.
A good example is a specifically formulated blue paint for Canton Elevator.
Dutch Standard is a high-quality regional paint line that’s an excellent national brand alternative. Harrison Paint also offers Benjamin Moore paints in its local design center.
“We’re not the least expensive option,” said Patrick. “But our quality and durability make our products a great value. Mark used to say, ‘Sometimes you need to pay more to save money.’”
Patrick said buying the right raw materials and engineering the right paints makes all the difference.
He noticed this early on.
“I was painting a ceiling,” said Patrick. “I went to the chemists and said I wanted to try the new no-splatter ceiling paint they’d just developed. When I was done, I had only one drop of paint on my hands.”
Harrison Paint supports organizations including the United Way, local Eagle Scout projects and the Buddy Project in Tuscarawas County. The company has also provided in-kind donations to local churches and schools.
There’s plenty of room for growth.
“More people don’t know us than do,” said Patrick. “We continue to work on finding the right customers for us.”
There are plenty of smaller companies interested in working with a supplier willing to “jump through hoops” to satisfy their needs.
So, there’s no doubt Harrison Paint will keep finding good matches for its Stark County traditions of quality products and great customer service.