George Martin - President of Sherwin-Williams

12725 Lake Shore Boulevard
George Martin 1938 Passport Photo
George Martin 1938 Passport Photo

George Martin became the third president of Sherwin Williams when Walter Cottingham retired in 1922. During Martin’s tenure as president, Sherwin-Williams developed products that made possible the brilliant finishes for automobiles in the 1920s and also reduced the drying time from twenty-one days to a few hours.

Martin, like Walter Cottingham, believed in aggresive advertising for his company and its products. He sponsored the “Metropolitan Opera Auditions of the Air,” a successful radio program that ran for years.

Martin’s vision focused on finding ways to expand the company and increase its profits. During his presidency, Sherwin-Williams bought several other high-quality, innovative, and nationally known companies. He believed that Latin America offered a great opportunity. In 1929, Sherwin-Williams bought the Bredell Paint Company of Havana, Cuba. The company expanded manufacturing facilities and established plants in Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo. The business tripled during Martin’s administration.

George Abraham Martin was born in Montello, Wisconsin, on November 7, 1865, and moved to Chicago as a baby. After seven years in grade school, he decided he wanted a job, and, at the age of twelve, was hired as a messenger by the Chicago Packing Provision Company.

Choosing to leave the stockyard job, young George spent several years in the brass manufacturing business. He then went to work for a small company engaged in making paint specialties that sold to railroads and industrial accounts. George failed to sell his product to one of the larger railroads that were using a Sherwin-Williams product. Later, Sherwin Williams acquired the company.

George, an ambitious young man, was hired to run the 1988 Sherwin-Williams acquisition of the Calumet Paint Company near Chicago. By 1898, Sherwin Williams had developed rapidly, and Martin became in charge of the entire Eastern Division. In 1905, Martin transferred to Cleveland and, in 1916, was named vice-president.

Martin was also a director of the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, the Erie Railroad, and Wilson & Company of Chicago.

George was a partner in a large cattle ranch in New Mexico, and every year spent some time there where he lived the regular life of the cowhands. He was a director of the Cleveland Baseball Company and an ardent Cleveland Indians fan. He was director of the Northern Ohio Opera Association and the Metropolitan Opera Association of New York.

After 18 years, Arthur Steudel replaced Martin as CEO in 1940.  George died on November 1, 1944, and buried in Lake View Cemetery