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 strong 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’s manufacturing facilities and established plants in Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo were expanded. The business tripled during Martin’s administration.

George Abraham Martin was born in Montello, Wisconsin on November 7, 1865, and was moved to Chicago as a baby. After seven years in grade school, he decided he wanted a job and at the age of 12 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 and then went to work for a small company engaged in making paint specialties that were sold to railroads and industrial accounts. He failed to sell his product to one of the larger railroads that were using a Sherwin-Williams product. In later years, he sold his product to his competitor.

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 was placed in charge of the entire Eastern Division. In 1905, Martin was 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. He is buried in Lake View Cemetery