Mel Sauder
Title: President and CEO
Est: 1998 |

“We plan to bring the painting industry into the 21st century like cell phones did for communications and digital cameras did for picture taking.  We plan to improve the painting experience like Starbucks did for coffee.” – Mel Sauder, President and CEO of Microblend

There’s more to Microblend than just a bucket of paint. A lot more as a matter of fact. Although founder Danny McClain died after a protracted illness, his legacy lives on through his revolutionary way of making paint.

The company makes, installs, supplies and supports the Automated Paint Machine (APM), which uses six liquid components to get customers exactly the color and type of paint they need. The APM saves retailers from purchasing hundreds of different cans, because they only need to use the six liquid components that are delivered directly to the point of sale or production.

“This was the ‘Holy Grail’ of the paint industry to be able to create all these paints at the point of sale or production instead of in factories 1,000 miles away,” says David Philbrook, vice president of training and development at Microblend. “We can now create the full line of architectural paints in virtually any color in the spectrum, match any competitor color and offer our own color palette.”

The process is also greener than traditional paint production because it uses fewer raw materials, less energy during production, comes in reusable pails and more. The company’s efforts at sustainability were recognized during the annual Governor’s Celebration of Innovation when it was named one of the Green Innovators of the Year.

But the road to success hasn’t been an easy one and Microblend has surpassed numerous challenges to get to where it is today.

“Our single greatest challenge has been gaining market acceptance,” says Mel Sauder, CEO of Microblend. “We are a small company and we intend to change the paint industry the way digital photography changed the photo industry landscape and cell phones altered the communication industry.”

Microblend’s revolutionary way of making paint proved a hurdle and a blessing on the company’s path to success. Since the industry hadn’t seen a “major change since the introduction of water-based paint (latex) decades ago” Microblend’s revolutionary, and in Sauder’s own words, “disruptive innovation” wasn’t immediately welcomed by industry peers.

However, it’s this rogue mentality that set Microblend apart and has been integral in pushing the company to success. The Gilbert-based company’s products are currently featured in a few Costco, Home Depot and Sears locations, along with independent paint dealers. Still warming up to residential users, Microblend already is a hit with paint contractors who use it to work on major projects.

“The system is so efficient and so small it offers tons of advantages to non-traditional retailers,” Philbrook says. “We feel this is the future of paint. We are comfortable and confident that retailers will take the green advantage.”

Despite the economic climate, Microblend’s system is catching on judging by the 60 percent to 70 percent revenue increase Sauder is anticipating for 2009. Sales in mass market locations increased significantly over the previous year, and Sauder hopes that with more distribution in the future, sales will continue to grow.

“Don’t underestimate the effort, sacrifice and time it will take to achieve success,” he says. “And I believe most importantly, long-term success is dependent on an everyday trust/integrity, commitment to customers, vendors and staff alike.”

Arizona Business Magazine

February 2010