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Sustainable Products and Processes

“Sustain: to keep in existence, maintain”

– American Heritage Dictionary

Sustainability Statement

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 and prosperity.

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 their careers.

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 harsh environments.


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, sustainable performance.

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