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Pittsburgh-based firm to buy Iowa Paint

The parent company of Iowa Paint, a fixture in Des Moines construction for more than 70 years, will be sold to Pittsburgh-based PPG Industries, a global manufacturer and distributor of glass and paint, the companies said Tuesday.

No sale price was announced.

Iowa Paint's parent, IPM Group Inc., has sales of about $56 million a year with 42 stores in eight states. PPG had sales last year of $9.5 billion, with 108 manufacturing plants in more than 20 countries and 337 paint stores in 23 states.

IPM makes and sells paint under the brand names Iowa Paint and Sterling Paint.

Most of its customers are architects, builders, painting contractors and others in the construction industry, although the company has a small retail operation.

Iowa Paint has supplied paint and coatings for projects ranging from U.S. missile silos and rockets during the 1960s to the space shuttle during the 1980s. It was also a supplier of coatings to locks and dams operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Iowa Paint owner Tom Goldman said he and a business broker selected the new owner from a handful of potential buyers.

Waves of consolidation have swept the paint industry in the East and South in recent years and will soon hit the Midwest, said Goldman, 59. "I wanted to sell on my terms before consolidation forced a sale," he said.

"I wanted a buyer who valued people," and who will offer opportunities to all of IPM's 275 employees, including about 90 in Des Moines, Goldman said. His family has owned Iowa Paint since 1952.

PPG will acquire all of IPM's assets, except for a wall-covering division called Comwall, which is a distributor for Ohio-based RJF International. RJF will acquire Comwall and its 12 employees, Goldman said.

About 35 employees are union members and work at a manufacturing plant and warehouse in Des Moines. PPG expects to phase out the plant during a six- to 18-month period, Goldman said.

When that happens, he said, the new owner will offer the plant and warehouse employees jobs in other PPG locations or provide severance packages based on their years of service to Iowa Paint, Goldman said.

PPG will continue to sell IPM's two brands, Iowa Paint and Sterling Paint, and it will keep 42 stores that IPM has in eight states, including Iowa, Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota.

PPG is a good fit for Iowa Paint because the new owner has few overlapping operations in the Midwest, Goldman said.

"This geographic extension will expand the reach of our distribution network and add to the vitality and strength of our business," PPG vice president Richard Beuke said in a statement.

PPG makes paints under the brand names Pittsburgh, Olympic, Porter and Monarch.

The company was founded as a the nation's first commercial maker of plate glass in 1883.

It acquired a Milwaukee paint company in 1900 and was first listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1945. PPG earned $683 million in 2004 and had earned $483 million through the third quarter of 2005.

PPG shares finished Tuesday at $57.79, down 6 cents. The Iowa Paint acquisition was announced after the market closed.

December 15th, 2005

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