the PAINT AFICIoNADO
53 YEARS OF PAINT MAKING
It was a freezing winter in Columbus when Fred Stewart’s in-laws called telling him how amazing Florida was treating them. One month later, in February of 1962, Fred moved to Florida where he started working in a lab for $1.40 an hour. In 1979, he started working for Color Wheel where he defined their signature formulas.
In 2011 – after a couple of nice years enjoying retirement – Rick and Don Strube called telling him that they were starting up another paint factory. “No you’re not, you’re crazy!” he told them. They asked if he’d like to help out two days a week. Well, those two days soon turned into five.
We’re grateful to have Fred on board and for being such a big part of helping shape Florida Paints. He also makes a delicious raspberry pie.
Where the magic happens
We’re talking in the lab, a brand-new space inside our brand new paint plant, once called home to the world’s second largest citrus exporter in the world. You can feel the history. It’s a sterile room but with splashes of color – a periodic table of elements hangs on a wall alongside an old Highwaymen print. A pink and black hairdryer used for draw-downs hangs up next to the other tools. You’d imagine Fred would be wearing a white lab coat with big, yellow goggles. Instead, he wears a Canadian tuxedo as he’s mixing Zinc and Titanium.
“It’s always challenging. It’s always different. There’s always an opportunity to come up with new formulas.” Since he was young, Fred has always liked mathematics and chemistry – it just seemed innate. So evidently, paint was a good fit.
"It’s always challenging. It’s always different. There’s always an opportunity to come up with new formulas.”
The power of paint lives in the process
Paint is tricky. But somehow, Fred has a way of speaking so naturally about it, as if it’s just any other regular conversation.When I asked about the chemical makeup of what’s in paint? “Now, calcium-carbonate, they just pull that out of the ground and get all the iron out of it by magnets.” Easy as 1-2-3.
After spending just a bit of time with Fred, I gathered that the creation of paint really is an art form. Gathering so many raw materials and forming it into a substance that will be displayed on a wall for the world to see. It’s about the process. Fred tells us how he reads constantly to discover new ways to innovate our products. But what I found most compelling, is that Fred Stewart really has a heart for paint. And maybe that’s what the secret recipe is after all.
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