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Article as it appeared in The Daily Herald on Friday, December 8, 2006:

“Area Paint Supplier Wins Environmental Award”
By Alicia Fabbre

Hank Godshalk knew that one day companies would need a more environmentally friendly paint to coat their products – so he set out to develop one. His efforts – which began back in 1970 with the start of his company – were recognized recently with an award from the governor’s office. The company, Finishes Unlimited, Inc.  was presented the Pollution Prevention Award for its success in reducing pollution by making water reducible paints and coatings.

“The founder of our company decided years ago that this was going to be the future,” said Ken Burton, president of the Sugar Grove company.  “He knew that we needed to reduce VOC (volatile organic compound) emissions in the U.S. – worldwide, actually.”

Burton said Godshalk founded the company after many years in the paint industry.  According to the company’s Web site, Godshalk worked as a research chemist for DuPont, Inc. before he and his wife , Zoe, created Finishes Unlimited, Inc.

The company, which is employee owned, produces paints where water acts as the solvent.  The paints the company produces are used by manufacturers on products such as lockers, storage shelving and a variety of glassware, steel products and concrete. The company boasts 400 active customers worldwide, including some 120 in Illinois.  In 2005, the company helped convert three Illinois companies to its paint.

By using water reducible paints, the three companies reduced the amount of volatile organic compounds emitted from their plants by 27.87 tons and cut their hazardous air pollutants by 9.7 tons.  The companies also cut their paint and disposal costs by $200,00 per year, according to the application for the state award.

Henry Moerlien, senior buyer for ITT Bell & Gossett in Morton Grove, estimates saving about $200,000 a year since making the switch last year.  In addition, by eliminating the disposal costs associated with solvent-based paints, the company also is paying less for the paint that covers the centrifugal pumps it makes.

Moerlien added the water reducible paints have better coverage than the paint they were using.

“We had a lot of side benefits that were huge savings,” Moerlien said, adding the company’s fire insurance rates also likely will drop because of the switch.

He said the company had a few fires in its plant and decided to switch to the water reducible paints to replace the flammable solvent based paints workers were using.

“It was a huge success for us,” Moerlin said of the switch.

Though the company has been producing the paints for years, Burton said it was not until last year that he realized the state recognized companies for their pollution reduction efforts.

Burton was made aware of the award when working with one of the companies – ITT Bell & Gossett – that converted to Finishes Unlimited Coatings last year.  It was during that process that state officials told Burton Finishes Unlimited should apply for the award.

Finishes Unlimited was one of nine companies that received the governor’s award. The company continues to research new products in the field.  According to its Web site, the company has developed a coating with near-zero levels of volatile organic compounds.

Burton said the company, which has 18 employees, is considering options for expansion in the near future.  He would not explain further, only saying that the company planned to stay in Sugar Grove.

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