M.A.B. Paints to be sold

Sherwin-Williams is buying the family-owned firm. Succession was the big reason for the sale.

M.A. Bruder & Sons Inc., the 108-year-old family-run institution with its M.A.B. paint stores planted all over the Philadelphia area, said yesterday that it was being purchased by the Sherwin-Williams Co., of Cleveland.

M.A.B. Paints has 35 percent to 40 percent of the local paint market and strong operations in Florida, St. Louis and Indianapolis. The Broomall company reports $146 million in annual sales and runs 132 stores nationwide. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The acquisition will likely face scrutiny from federal antitrust regulators because Sherwin-Williams is one of M.A.B.'s largest competitors in the Philadelphia area. Other competitors include the Home Depot Inc., Lowe's Cos. Inc., Benjamin Moore & Co., and Finneran & Haley Inc., a Conshohocken company. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of this year.

Jim Renshaw, M.A.B. Paints general manager, said yesterday that the three Bruder brothers were in their mid-60s to early 70s and that no one in the family was making a strong run to take the company reins.

The brothers are grandsons of founder Michael Bruder, who began with a single outlet in South Philadelphia in 1899.

Other business issues and environmental concerns also led to the sale to Sherwin-Williams, Renshaw said, but the biggest issue was succession.

M.A. Bruder employees were informed of the sale at noon yesterday and "it was pretty much a shock," Renshaw said. "The company was doing relatively well."

The company employs 730 nationwide, with half of its workforce in the Philadelphia area.

The company's headquarters is in Broomall; it has a plant in Grays Ferry and operates 76 stores in the Philadelphia area.

Sherwin-Williams has not said what it will do with the M.A.B. employees, Renshaw said.

"I know they want to keep the brand. . . . We're as big as anybody in the marketplace," he said. He noted that the closest Sherwin-Williams plant is in Baltimore.

In 2006, Sherwin-Williams reported sales of $7.8 billion and net income of $576.1 million. It operates 3,046 Sherwin-Williams paint stores and also markets the Dutch Boy brand.

"It's a great company and a great fit for us," said Sherwin-Williams spokesman Mike Conway. When it buys a family-run business, "we continue to maintain their name and brand," he said.

Christopher M. Connor, Sherwin-Williams' chief executive officer and chairman, said in a statement that M.A. Bruder's customers would be served by the company's existing stores and manufacturing plants.

 


Contact staff writer Bob Fernandez at 215-854-5897 or bob.fernandez@phillynews.com.