Painting the town
Inside the manufacturing and retail headquarters of Anchor Paint, ‘Tulsa’s paint store’
“Watching paint dry”: It’s a clichéd joke often tossed around at Anchor Paint. But the true story is that the third generation family-owned, Tulsa-based paint company is in a continuous state of improvement.
The company opened in 1962 near East Third Street and South Wheeling Avenue before moving to 6707 E. 14th St. There, Anchor makes 600,000-800,000 gallons of paint a year for everyone from homeowners and contractors to international industrial clients.
A recent dip in oil and gas sales caused Anchor Paint to rethink their business model, says Chief Operating Officer Justin Meade. “We thought, ‘How else can we do this? What are we passionate about, and what can we make money at?’”
As oil and gas clients have tightened their belts, Anchor Paint has grown its B2B line. It makes oil-based paints for several companies on the coasts, which have more stringent environmental requirements than Oklahoma, according to Chief Operating Officer Justin Meade. Several of the company’s products are sold internationally.
The majority of Kelly-Moore’s oil-based paints are made by Anchor in Tulsa. “They’re made here, they have to be shipped to a distribution center and then some of them end up being sold at (Kelly-Moore’s store at) 41st and Sheridan,” Meade laughs.
Meade describes the paint-making process like baking a cake. “Chemists create the recipe, and chefs make the cake,” he says. “At the end, you have to ‘taste test’ it, right? So we have quality control.”
Most of the company’s manufacturing process is done manually. For example, once formulated, paint is typically hand-poured into metal buckets. Sixty-five percent of Anchor’s paint is solvent based.
Meade says some national companies are touting new small-batch “luxury” paints that sell for more than $100 a gallon. Other companies won’t make custom formulas in a quantity smaller than 5,000 gallons. He says Anchor regularly makes small, custom batches with turnaround times ranging from four hours to seven days.
Marketing Specialist Jen Jones says many Tulsans recall accompanying their parents to buy paint at Anchor and playing on the company’s loading dock. “Before Lowe’s and Home Depot, we were Tulsa’s paint store,” she says. The company still has a retail store at its headquarters at East 14th Street and South Sheridan Road.