RPM International Inc. has a diverse portfolio with hundreds of brand-name products, many of which hold the leadership position for market share and sales in the markets they serve. Brand leadership affords RPM’s operating companies a number of advantages, including the ability to command premium pricing, shorten sales cycles and gain repeat purchases due to brand loyalty. These benefits are what make brand leadership a key element of RPM’s growth strategy across its consumer, construction products, performance coatings and specialty products segments.

Culture: The Value of 168

The Value of 168 is a statement of the corporate philosophy of RPM.

RPM International Inc. (NYSE: RPM) owns subsidiaries that are world leaders in specialty coatings and sealants serving both industrial and consumer markets. This description, however, tells only part of the story. Equally important to understanding our company is a philosophy that we know simply as "The Value of 168."


Our founder, Frank C. Sullivan (right), displayed this figure on his car license plate. It was his favorite number because it represents the total hours in a week; thus, it served as a reminder that each of us has a limited amount of time, and a duty to use this gift wisely and productively.


At RPM, the value of 168 comes to life through motivated employees who enjoy their work and create the conditions that allow our customers to grow and our stockholders to prosper.


It is a unique form of corporate governance, guiding our relationships with one another and our customers, and demanding integrity in the operation of our businesses and the reporting of our results. In short, it is a vital aspect of our heritage.

The Heritage and Values of RPM

In May 1947, Frank C. Sullivan founded Republic Powdered Metals, the forerunner to RPM International Inc. The company manufactured and sold a heavy-duty aluminum roof coating called Alumanation, which is still sold today. Sales in the first year reached $90,000. From the beginning Sullivan determined that the success of the business would rest with its people. “Hire the best people you can find,” he said. “Create an atmosphere that will keep them. Then, let them do their jobs.” RPM operates under this same philosophy today. Every year under his leadership, the company attained sales and earnings increases.


In August 1971, Frank Sullivan died suddenly. Later that same year, RPM, Inc. was formed to develop a more aggressive acquisition program in a rapidly consolidating paint and coatings industry. Frank’s son, Thomas C. Sullivan, who was previously president of Republic Powdered Metals, became chairman and chief executive officer RPM, Inc.. He and James A. Karman, who was elected president and chief operating officer in 1978, led RPM for more than three decades.


After more than 30 years at the company’s helm, Sullivan and Karman retired as executive officers of the company in 2002. During their tenure, net sales increased to $2 billion from $11 million, net income increased to $101.6 million from $0.6 million, cash dividends per share increased to $0.50 from $0.0035 (split-adjusted), and a $1,000 investment in RPM shares in 1971 would have been worth more than $100,000.


Tom was succeeded by his son, Frank C. Sullivan, who became president and chief executive officer in 2002. He has continued to lead the company in a manner consistent with the legacy created by his father and grandfather before him. RPM’s strategy for growth is to: conduct a strategic acquisition program, pioneer cutting-edge product innovations, promote a culture of collaboration among its operating companies, expand its global footprint, and drive continuous improvement and operational excellence across its business segments.