“Sustain: to keep in existence, maintain”
– American Heritage Dictionary
At RPM, sustainability is more than simply “greening” our
products and operations. It is much broader. Sustainability
is about the continued existence and growth of our business
to the benefit of our customers, employees, suppliers,
communities and shareholders. RPM applies the principles
of sustainability through its:
- Products. They help our customers minimize their environmental footprint.
- Processes. We proactively manage our operational impact on the environment.
- People. We hire the best and create an atmosphere that will keep them.
- Place. We help our communities flourish.
- Prosperity. We reward our shareholders by continually growing the business.
Sustainability. The term has as many meanings as there are
businesses. Generally, they tie back to a company’s products
and processes. At RPM, the company also looks at sustainability
through a broader lens by applying its principles to its employees,
communities and their impact on RPM’s financial growth.
In so doing, RPM focuses on what it has identified as the five
“Ps” of sustainability – products, processes, people, place
In keeping with the company’s decentralized structure, the
execution of these five “Ps” is carried out by its operating
companies. Because, at RPM, it is believed that the foundation
of sustainable business practices is most effective at the operating
level, which is closest to the markets and individual customers
the company serves.
Many of RPM’s products and services help its customers minimize
their environmental footprint. Energy efficiency, zero landfill via
the three “Rs” (reduce + reuse + recycle), renewable resource use,
greener chemistry, life cycle analysis based on outcomes, LEED
support and emissions reductions are just some of the customer
expectations the company meets every day.
Below are a few specific examples from among the hundreds
offered by its operating companies:
Recyclable Packaging a Winner
By transitioning its product packaging from aluminum
pails to innovative cardboard boxes with plastic
liners, Stonhard created a winning situation.
The boxes cost less to produce, require much less
space to store and can be easily broken down
for recycling once they’ve been emptied on the
job site. This unique packaging prevents more than
4.8 million one-gallon pails and quart cans from
being dumped into landfills annually.
When it comes to RPM’s internal operations, the expectations for sustainability are simple: lead by example. The company’s operating businesses do so by taking a proactive approach to
managing their environmental impact. Among recent highlights are:
- Packaging material and waste reduction. Stonhard and Flowcrete have moved from rigid metal pails to flexible pouches that cost less to produce and ship, require less storage space and are easily recycled.
- Sustainable innovation. Tremco's sealants business incorporates sustainability at the very forefront of its product innovation process, which includes the reduction and elimination of chemicals of concern.
- Energy-saving systems. Corporate-wide, RPM has audited and improved the systems that use the most energy, such as those for compressed air use, heating and cooling, water and facility control. Lighting upgrades, for example, have resulted in annual energy and maintenance savings of nearly $500,000 with an average return on investment in only two years.
- Water recycling. DAP’s Baltimore manufacturing facility has reduced water consumption by 50%, or 19.2 million gallons over the past four years, by taking water that cools its mixers, running it through a chiller and reusing it.
When considering employees from the perspective of sustainability,
RPM founder Frank C. Sullivan was ahead of his time. His
philosophy, when he established the company in 1947, was to
“Hire the best people you can find. Create an atmosphere that will
keep them. Then, let them do their jobs.” RPM continues to practice
this philosophy today by providing its employees with:
- Compensation and benefits designed to reward and retain them;
- An indoctrination into the company’s culture and values, plus an understanding of the RPM structure and their important role within it;
- A safe and healthy workplace;
- A work environment grounded in ethical practices, fairness, integrity and respect; and
- Equal employment opportunities with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment.
These practices are sustainable in that they enable RPM to continue
to hire the best employees and retain them through the course of
A History of Sustainability
RPM has a long history of sustainability through
its many products that renew, repair and protect
materials and provide energy efficiency. Rust-Oleum’s small project
paints, which repair and maintain items around
the home to give them new life; DAP’s caulks and
sealants that make homes and buildings more
energy efficient; and Carboline’s corrosion control
coatings, which have protective qualities that extend
the life of materials and allow them to operate in
RPM has nearly 9,000 employees and 77 manufacturing facilities
in 20 countries. Regardless of where they are located, the
company strives to be a good corporate citizen and sustain the
communities that have welcomed it by:
- Supporting charities, civic causes and economic development;
- Providing of its associates’ time and talent, in addition to financial resources;
- Operating safely and being respectful of its neighbors;
- Working to minimize the environmental impact of its operations and products; and
- Complying with all laws and regulations.
Through these actions, RPM makes a positive difference in the
communities in which it operates and helps them to thrive.
Embracing sustainability by way of RPM’s products, operations,
people and communities is certainly rewarding on many levels.
A positive byproduct of these efforts is that they extend to RPM’s
bottom line, thus allowing its shareholders to continue to prosper.
For 57 of the last 61 years, the company has produced record
earnings per share. It has increased its dividend for 36 consecutive
years, enabled by its continued strong cash from operations,
which was $204 million in fiscal 2010. This sustained dividend
performance places RPM in an elite category. Of all 19,000
publicly traded U.S. companies, only 56 other companies, besides
RPM, have consecutively paid an increasing annual dividend for
this period of time or longer, according to the 2010 edition of
America’s Finest Companies. Investors who have held RPM stock
for 25 years now enjoy a 24% dividend yield on their original
investment. In addition, RPM’s total return to shareholders, including
both capital appreciation and reinvestment of dividends, has
considerably outperformed its peer group and the S&P 500 Index
for the past five- and ten-year periods.
As the above demonstrate, long-term shareholders, in particular,
have been rewarded for their confidence in RPM by this consistent,