Protective coatings maker Rust-Oleum Corp.—the company launched by a sea captain’s mishap—has received a 2012 Presidential “E Star” Award for its ongoing contributions to increasing U.S. exports.
A subsidiary of RPM International, Rust-Oleum was the only paint and coatings company among this year’s 41 ‘E’ Award winners, who were honored last month in a White House ceremony.
Photos: Rust-Oleum Corp.
|Founded in 1921, Rust-Oleum has a broad portfolio of well-known brands, including Painter’s Touch, American Accents, EPOXY SHIELD, Varathane, Zinsser, Wolman Wood Care Products and Watco.|
Rust-Oleum’s near-century in protective coatings development began serendipitously in 1921, when Scottish sea captain Robert Fergusson spilled raw fish oil on the rusty metal decks of his boat. Fergusson noticed that the oil stopped the spread of corrosion and went on, so the story goes, to develop the world’s first corrosion-fighting paint.
Today, Rust-Oleum’s broad product portfolio includes industrial coatings, epoxy garage floor coatings, primers, wood finishes and decorative fashion paints. Its well-known brands include Painter’s Touch, American Accents, EPOXY SHIELD, Varathane, Zinsser, Wolman Wood Care Products and Watco.
“I am pleased to recognize Rust-Oleum Corp. for receiving the President’s ‘E’ Award, which honors companies that make significant contributions toward increasing U.S. exports,” U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson said at last month’s ceremony.
“This Administration is committed to leveling the playing field for American businesses and workers to help U.S. companies build things here and sell them around the world.
“‘E’ Awards winners like Rust-Oleum Corp. have excelled in this effort, demonstrating four years of successive export growth. It is companies like this that are helping to grow our economy and put more Americans back to work.”
The “E” honors trace their roots to World War II, when more than 4,000 "E Pennants" were presented to war plants in recognition of production excellence. The famous flag emblazoned with the big "E" became a badge of patriotism in action.
|Sea captain Robert Fergusson founded Rust-Oleum after accidentally spilling fish oil on his rusty metal decks—and noticing that the substance stopped corrosion from spreading.|
In 1961, President Kennedy revived the "E" symbol of excellence to recognize America's exporters, establishing the "E" Award Program by Executive Order 10978. In 1969, the "E Star" Award was added to recognize "E" Award winners who made continuing efforts toward export expansion.
Rust-Oleum, based in Vernon Hills, IL, was honored with an “E” Award in the program’s very first year. This year, the company was one of 10 to receive the “E Star” Award.
‘Committed to Growing Globally’
“We were honored 50 years ago to receive the first-ever ‘E’ Award from President Kennedy in 1963, and are equally as proud today,” said Tom Reed, Rust-Oleum’s President and Chief Operating Officer. “We are committed to growing our business globally, and this award is confirmation of our efforts.”
A business client of the Commerce Department’s U.S. Commercial Service, Rust-Oleum says it has benefited from export counseling, trade shows, market research and business matchmaking to greatly expand its export sales.
While Europe represents a significant portion of the company's foreign market sales, the company also does business in several other regions of the world. Rust-Oleum demonstrated a substantial increase in the volume of exports over a four-year period—a major criterion for the award.
About the Award
U.S. companies are nominated for the “E” Awards through the U.S. Commercial Service office network in 108 U.S. cities and more than 75 countries. Applicants must demonstrate a significant, measurable, innovative, sustainable contribution that broadly impacts U.S. export expansion.
Nominations are reviewed by the “E” Award Committee, which is chaired by the Department of Commerce and includes representatives of ExIm Bank, the Small Business Administration, and the Departments of Agriculture, Labor, State and Transportation.