The Marcus family arrived in America from Prussia, Germany in 1838. Herman and Christine Marcus traveled to Louisville Kentucky. Like many immigrants during the 1830s – 1840s the appeal of the Western world was only bolstered with promises of the 1st Industrial Revolution, cheap farmland, and the promise of a future they could create. We do not quite know why they left their homeland or what they came to America to accomplish, but in 1853 H. Marcus Paint Company opened and catered to serve the German community they joined when they arrived.
The early iteration of Marcus Paint was a multi-purpose general store for various paint ingredients and supplies. Typically, at this time, you would buy many of the ingredients to make paint and mix it yourself! Oils, pastes, and driers as well as cans and brushes! We also sold window glass! Around 1899 an article was published claiming that E. H. Marcus Company had Louisville’s largest selection of glass available!
In 1915 the company developed and sold early transportation refinishing materials from glass to paint for automobiles (to think a model T!) and horse-drawn carriage paint! The company was officially incorporated in 1924 by Herman’s son Edward Marcus. In the year 1924, the 10 millionth Ford Model T was produced which happened to be the very same year we incorporated.
A quick story about the possible first drive-up bank transaction! In 1930, Herman “Bud” Marcus drove a Bantam Austin up the steps, and through the lobby of Liberty Bank located at 2nd & Market. He pulled to the teller window, much to the shock of onlooking spectators, handed the teller his money for a deposit, and when the transaction was completed, turned his car around, drove out the front door, down the steps, and proceeded on his way. Luckily, someone from the newspaper was inside with their camera and was able to snap a photo of the transaction, you can find the article on our Marcus Paint Timeline!
In 1934, Louisa Marcus became President of E.H. Marcus Company when her husband Edward passed away. This trivial time in the company ushered in a new era for the company as she was likely the first female president of a company in the coatings industry and possibly one of the first female presidents in modern companies. With innovations and ideas brought by a new perspective, the company started manufacturing its paint for sale. Gone were the days of buying the materials and ingredients and the customers mixing themselves. Three decades later in 1964, Marcus Paint began to shift its focus to Paints, Primers, Epoxies, and Stains more geared to homeowners and personal use materials. Marcus Paint opened two Louisville location decoration centers. One near Hikes Point and one near Dixie Highway. These locations were early versions of what you would see today if you went to a Sherwin-Williams storefront or a PPG location looking for help with design.
Between 1967 and 1969 The third generation took over the business after Louisa Marcus retired. Calvin Sr. and Herman “Bud” Marcus ran the company. Also, during this time, a warehouse in Nashville was opened which supplied more capacity for manufacturing and storage, but also security should anything happen to the Louisville Location.
In 1979, Marcus Paint shifted gears and phased its way out of trade sales and maintenance coatings and started to shift its focus to OEM manufacturing, specifically water-reducible coatings. Both locations increased their capacity during this time and the first member of the 5th generation Terri Marcus began employment with Marcus Paint.
1982 was a big year for regulation changes across the country which led to novel changes in the Paint Industry. Marcus Paint had already made a shift over to water base coatings about 3 years earlier. This opportunity allowed Marcus Paint to search and acquire new businesses to provide coatings to as most of the existing formula base had been modified or replaced. Several years later in 1986 the second member of the 5th generation Steve Marcus began his career with Marcus Paint. In 1995, Marcus Paint had the opportunity to open a new division of Marcus Paint, Performance Powders, LLC. It was one of the first Powder Coatings Plants in Kentucky at the time of its opening!
Innovations Solutions Since 1853! As the brand and logo were updated in 2003 to the “Blue Swirl” design, Marcus Paint re-aligned its look to match its current coatings manufacturing. The water-reducible market and the Powder Coatings market, where Marcus Paint looked to hone their focus and take their corner of the market. A couple of years later the Fifth-Generation cousins Terri and Steve Marcus took office as President and Vice President respectively, by the Board of Directors.
Over the next decade, with the guidance of Terri and Steve, the businesses were upgraded with the latest IT hardware and R&D testing equipment. ERP and CRM system upgrades to allow the company to grow into the next generation. Marcus Paint partnered with EOS and Predictive Index to invest in the success and future of their employees. In 2017, Marcus Paint exited the powder coating industry and sold Performance Powders to IGP as they were looking for a North American presence. We shifted our focus targeting a consultative strategy within our core liquid coating. Also, that year the sixth generation of the Marcus family, Alex Armstrong and Tyler Marcus, came to work full-time.
Preparing for the 170th anniversary, the directors began to look for new branding and marketing ideas in 2019. “Protecting What’s Important” couldn’t have been better developed as Marcus Paint withstood the pandemic. Our customer base needed coatings and we partnered with suppliers to ensure we had their backs. Which inspired the tagline We’ve Got You Covered.
We take pride in our work and our coatings. We listen to our customers’ needs and partner with them to find solutions. We don’t succeed until the customer’s product is a success in the field. September 2023 began our 170th year in business. It all started as a family-owned DIY general store and has grown to a sixth-generation multi-million-dollar OEM coatings manufacturing. That’s the Marcus Way!