My Biz: Klinger Paint keeps it in the family

The founder's great grandson started managing the manufacturing facility in February

Liz Martin photos/The Gazette

Factory foreman Luke Christen of Downey rinses pigment off the sides of a vat April 9 while making a 1,000-gallon batch of top coat at Klinger Paint in southwest Cedar Rapids.
Liz Martin photos/The Gazette Factory foreman Luke Christen of Downey rinses pigment off the sides of a vat April 9 while making a 1,000-gallon batch of top coat at Klinger Paint in southwest Cedar Rapids.

The Klinger Paint location in downtown Cedar Rapids has been a fixture in the community since the company was founded in 1900.

But the company also has a manufacturing facility tucked away on the city’s southwest side. It’s where Klinger not only makes its line of residential paint — sold in the store downtown and around the country — but also where it manufacture industrial paints such as protective coatings and paints for pools, LP tanks, building exteriors and construction equipment.

The company also manufacture about 100,000 cans of spray paint a year.

“No one knows we are out here,” said, Brian Klinger, great grandson of the original founder. “But we do a lot of industrial work locally and around Eastern Iowa. Plus we ship products all over the U.S. and internationally.”

Klinger is responsible for running the factory operations and manages the 20 employees who work there. He keeps busy throughout the week by making paint formula tickets, mixing batches of paint and making sure customer orders are fulfilled.

“I’m here to make sure our day-to-day operations run smoothly,” he said, noting that most often they are a “just in time” supplier, mixing up orders and shipping them out as they come in.

A huge part of Klinger’s job is making sure they are adhering to the various, and rigorous, industry regulations.

“I make sure we are in line with the EPA and the City and other government agencies,” he said. “There are many, changing regulations. Staying on top of all of that is a big deal. A large company would have a department just to take care of regulations. Here, I’m the one that’s in charge of it.”

It’s a task that is especially daunting when you consider the amount of paint being manufactured at any given time. Klinger said that the business is seasonal, with spring and fall being the busiest times.

The company’s monthly production can fluctuate anywhere from 16,000 gallons to 35,000 gallons.

Though Klinger grew up always knowing he’d want to play a role in the family business, thanks in part to his fascination with coatings and the chemistry involved in creating them, it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that he became actively involved at Klinger Paint.

Klinger went to Mount Mercy where he got his management and marketing degree. He spent several years working in investments at AEGON before starting at Klinger Paint four years ago.

“I wanted to try other things for a while, but I always wanted to aim for this,” he said.

He started working on the sales side of Klinger Paint before he transitioned a year ago to working in the factory. He spent about six months as an apprentice under the former factory manager who retired after working with the company for 46 years, He took over the role in February.

Klinger is just one family member at the company today. His dad, two uncles and two cousins all help run the family business.

Klinger said he is excited for what the future holds.

“Right now is an exciting time for us with new product lines and customers were serving,” he said. “We try to do a lot of forward thinking and trying to stay ahead of the mark on products. We’re all very motivated.”

Name: Brian Klinger

Company: Klinger Paint

Address: 5555 Willow Creek Dr. SW, Cedar Rapids

Phone: (319) 366-7735


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