When Gemini Industries opened its doors as Gemini Products in 1964, the paint and coatings business was a much simpler one. As Director of Marketing and Advertising Doug Lacina explains, most customers were concerned only about how long the product would last, and were satisfied with only a small selection of colors. “There was a day when customers were far less demanding and little industry regulation was in place, making this a much easier business and, as a result, there were more players in the market, but those days are long gone and so are many of the companies who were once a part of this industry.”
Today, the paint and coatings business is more complicated than ever, with customer demands for more variety, higher quality and lower environmental impact driving higher degrees of innovation. Gemini Industries has been a leader in the industry for more than 50 years, and the company strives every day to ensure that it remains in that top position no matter how the industry changes.
Founded by William H. Smith, Gemini Industries focused on lacquer products at first, eventually branching out into other areas of the coatings industry through acquisitions. Today, the company’s corporate headquarters and manufacturing facility is in El Reno, Okla., with additional distribution facilities in Texas, Virginia, Nevada and New York.
From those facilities, Gemini Industries serves three main customer types. The first consists of architectural customers, which includes paint stores. The company’s second primary customer base is made up of manufacturer end-users such as furniture, cabinetry and millwork shops and/or the distribution channel that services them. The third segment of the company’s business consists of various specialty coatings, aerosol products, custom packaging and touch-up products. This third segment represents a lot of growth potential for the company, and it is developing several new products to help increase its presence there.
As the company marks its 50th anniversary in 2014, there are several reasons why Gemini Industries has lasted this long in a highly competitive marketplace, with quality and dependability of its products among the main reasons, and there are numerous factors behind the scenes that contribute to the quality of those products.
One of the biggest factors contributing to Gemini Industries’ success is its status as an employee-owned company. The company’s conversion into an ESOP (employee stock ownership plan) began back in the 1980s with Smith as the majority owner and the employees as the minority owner and then when Michael Smith – son of founder Bill Smith – left the organization in 2003, it was sold to the employees and today is 100 percent employee-owned. Now every employee has a true stake in the company’s success, resulting in higher employee engagement and exemplary customer service.
“Every time you call Gemini, you’re talking to an owner, no matter who’s on the phone,” the company says.
Because the wood coatings business has become so complex over time, there are numerous points in the production cycle where potentially catastrophic mistakes can be made. Because Gemini Industries’ employees all have a greater degree of investment in the company’s success, everyone is focused on executing their jobs to the fullest extent. “There are a lot of opportunities for everyone as an owner to get it right,” Lacina says.
Today’s homebuilders and homeowners aren’t satisfied with simple wood finishes like they were 50 years ago, and Gemini Industries has been focused on continuous improvement in every aspect of its operations to give customers what they want. Gemini is committed to spending whatever it takes to ensure that its manufacturing facilities have the latest and most efficient technology, and that its employees bring the highest level of talent to the organization. The company says it is in the middle of and probably will always remain in a push to make the company more efficient. The company’s efforts to become more efficient not only help to keep costs down, but also offers more value to its customers.
Another area Gemini Industries is working hard to improve in is on the environmental side of the business. As customers become more conscious of the impact they make on the environment, they have turned to the coatings industry for products that provide the same level of protection and aesthetic value while utilizing solvents that are more environmentally friendly, the challenge being that these raw materials can have negative impact on the workability of the product. Gemini Industries is doing its part with a new and extensive line of low-VOC products. The company has dedicated a lot of resources to the research and development of these products to invent the proper formulation that meets all requirements.
An Excellent Future Ahead
The future of Gemini Industries will include much growth for the company as it continues to expand its product offerings to include a greater variety of coatings as well as complementary products.
In doing so, Gemini Industries says it strives to provide coverage to as much of the coatings market as it possibly can. “Our company slogan is ‘Finish With Excellence,’ and that word is even incorporated into our logo and we are committed each day to make sure our customers can in fact finish with excellence.”