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Subsidiary of RPM
Traded as
Industry Coatings
Founded Evanston, IL, United States (1921)
  • Robert Fergusson
Headquarters Vernon Hills, IL, U.S.
Area served
Key people
Revenue nowrap (FY 2014)
Number of employees
1,000 [1] (Dec 2016)

Rust-Oleum is a manufacturer of protective paints and coatings for home and industrial use. It was founded in 1921 by Robert Fergusson (a sea captain, not the famous poet) after he noticed that raw fish oil spilled on rusty metal decks stopped corrosion from spreading. He soon incorporated whale oil into the formula, although many changes have been made over the years. Rust-Oleum products no longer contain whale oil, instead using resins derived from Alkyds, polyurethanes, epoxys, latex, etc.

Rust-Oleum remained a family owned company until 1994. Today, Rust-Oleum Corporation is owned by RPM International Inc. In 2015, the company reached one billion dollars in revenue.[3] Key brands include Stops Rust, High Performance, NeverWet, Painter's Touch, Universal, Varathane, Zinsser, and Watco. The company acquired Synta Inc., in 2012,[4] Krud Kutter, Inc. and Citadel Restoration and Repair, Inc. in 2014,[5][6] and Seal Krete in 2016.[7] Based on market share, Rust-Oleum holds the top position in the U.S. and Canada in the rust-preventative, decorative, specialty and professional segments of the small-project paint category.[8]

In 1979 the company's slogan, "Rust Never Sleeps", was adopted by Neil Young (upon a suggestion by Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo, who had actually invented the phrase for Rust-Oleum when he had previously worked in advertising) as a name for an album.[9]


Rust-Oleum Corporation's corporate headquarters are in Vernon Hills, Illinois, a northern suburb of Chicago. Rust-Oleum manufactures product in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin; Hagerstown, Maryland; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and multiple other locations in the United States and Europe.

The corporate headquarters building was designed by Helmut Jahn, and is shaped to give the impression of a steamboat, including pipes adorning the atrium.[10]

Corporate Culture[edit]

The Chicago Tribune has ranked Rust-Oleum among the top mid-sized work places in the region in 2013, 2014, and 2015.[11][12]

Sport venue[edit]

Vernon Hills High School's football stadium is named Rust-Oleum Field, as the company donated $100,000 in exchange for 20 year naming rights. Additionally, Libertyville High School's baseball program receives generous sponsorship from the corporation.[13][14]

Corporate Giving[edit]

The self-proclaimed company culture encourages giving back to the community, and Rust-Oleum is involved in philanthropy in addition to the local high school (see above). The company gives employees a paid volunteer day, matches contributions to non-profits up to $500, and in 2014 raised at least $17,000 by allowing employees to wear jeans in exchange for a $5 donation.[15]

Official Partners[edit]


External links[edit]