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Jamestown Coating Technologies Company History
Victor Hugo Von Ehrhart founded the Jamestown Paint & Varnish Company in Jamestown, Pennsylvania in 1885.
Mr. Von Ehrhart had been a bookkeeper with a paint company located in Sharpsburg, PA, a suburb of Pittsburgh. Intrigued by the industry, he decided to launch his own paint company. Jamestown, PA was chosen for its location. The town was at the crossroads of two major railroads - the Pittsburgh and the Lake Erie Railroad and the New York Central Railroad. Jamestown is also centrally located between Chicago and New York City with easy access to Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Buffalo.
In the early 1900s, prior to the First World War, Mr. Von Ehrhart was able to corner the market on linseed oil futures. This enabled him to amass a considerable fortune. Around the same time, he began speculating in banking and real estate. He would go on to become one of the founders of the city of Miami, Florida and also the First National Bank of Miami.
Jamestown Paint & Varnish was then taken over by Mr. Von Ehrhart’s sons, John P. (Jack) and Wilbur W. (Cap) Ehrhart. (The Von was dropped from the family name during World War I because of anti-German sentiments.) The company had been heavily involved in mortar colors under Victor’s leadership. Jack and Cap made the decision to focus less on common mortar colors and switch to the newest technology of the time; Alkyd paints. During the early 1920s, they started using the trademark, “Japco” (for Jamestown Paint Company) and broadened their product offering; adding roof coatings, black lathe paints and industrial varnishes among other solutions.
In 1942, Victor Ehrhart passed away and Jack and Cap became heavily involved in their many other family holdings. They hired Joseph F. Walton, a Cleveland tax consultant, to help them with Japco’s finances. In 1946, after four years working with the company, Mr. Walton entered into a ten-year buyout agreement with the Ehrharts. His oldest son, Joseph M. Walton, began working for the company in 1947.
In 1951, the manufacturing plant was devastated by fire. Fortunately, Jamestown Paint Co. had the foresight to secure mutual disaster pacts with two other paint companies. In keeping with their characteristic dedication to customer service, the company never missed an order. Every night for several months, Joseph M. Walton and a crew of men would load raw materials in a truck and travel to Cleveland, where they made paint at an old Ferro plant, or to Oil City, PA where they would make paint in the Manion Paint plant. They worked during the third shift and transported the paint back to Jamestown for shipment the following day. They alternated sites depending on the host companies’ production schedules. This monumental effort continued until they were able to setup up mills under tents at the Jamestown Plant.
Sadly, three months after the fire, Joseph F. Walton passed away and his son Joseph M. Walton (J.M.) stepped up to run the company. J.M. rebuilt the plant and the company began to flourish. In 1954, his brother, Richard A. Walton, joined him and the two became partners in the company. They were joined by J.M.’s sons, J.P. and Mike in the early 1970’s.
Since then, the facility has undergone numerous changes; the manufacturing plant was expanded in 1985 and the laboratory was upgraded and expanded in 1990. In 1994 Jamestown Paint and Varnish made a change in its name to Jamestown Paint Company. This name more accurately reflects the company’s products. At that time, the “Japco” trade name was dropped from the company’s literature and packaging.
In 2004, Joseph M. Walton’s sons, Joseph P. and D. Michael Walton purchased the shares of the company and now each own 50% of Jamestown Paint’s stock. A fourth generation of Walton family management is now in place as Joseph D. and Michael P. Walton have joined their fathers in the family business.
The Waltons have been very active in the industry trade associations, both local and national. Joseph M. (J.M.) Walton has served on the Board of Directors and as a member of the National Paint and Coatings Association’s Management Information Committee. Michael P. Walton recently filled his seat on the Management Information Committee and was appointed to the NPCA board of directors in 2009. J.M. was also a president of the Cleveland Paint and Coatings Association. J.P. Walton was a member of the NPCA Manufacturing Management Committee, the FSCT Manufacturing Committee and the Executive Board of the CPCA. D. Michael Walton is a member of the CPCA and the Steel Shipping Containers Institute.
For J.M. and J.P., much of their time in 1995 was spent as Presidents of the national trade organizations. J.M. was President of the NPCA and J.P. was President of the FSCT. This was the first time in the history of these organizations that father and son were Presidents during the same year, and in fact it was the first time that the Presidents were from the same company.
In 2004, Jamestown once again embraced new technology and markets to include FDA-compliant flexible packaging coatings for food and pharmaceutical applications. Today, Jamestown is a manufacturer of specialty industrial coatings. Its products are used by a variety of Original Equipment Manufacturers to protect and decorate their products. The company’s products are used throughout the United States and also shipped around the globe. In 2009, to reflect their dedication to technical excellence and their broad range of coating solutions, the company name was changed to Jamestown Coating Technologies.
A sister company, Jamestown Powder Coatings was acquired in 2001 and produces specialty powder coatings.
Jamestown has been in business for over 120 years. We look forward to another 120 years as an industry leader, innovator and steward.