An Account of the History of Solomon Colors

By Adam Solomon

TimelinePhotos from the Timeline video

My name is Adam Solomon. In 2006 I became the fourth generation to work in the family business. I am extremely proud of our history. Here’s the story behind Solomon Colors.

How the Company Started

Robert C. Solomon was born in 1882. His father, also named Robert, was orphaned during the Civil War. Robert C. went to work as a coal miner at the age of thirteen. As an adult, he owned and operated mines with his sons in Springfield, Illinois.

Robert C. Solomon founded Solomon Griding Service in 1927. He had the idea to pulverize a mining byproduct called black carbonaceous slate to create pigments for mortar and cement. In the beginning, Solomon Grinding Service also mined coal underground, giving them access to this material. The company also crushed, ground, and blended various natural minerals, including red iron ore from Michigan and yellow ochre from Georgia.

Panther Creek Mine No. 5 closed in 1952. Since this was the last mine owned by the Solomons, the company shifted its focus to providing ground iron ore to foundries and trace mineral industries. Their son Robert “Bob” Larson Solomon joined the company full-time after graduating from the University of Illinois in 1956, having spent most of his life in the family business. Upon Robert C. Solomon’s death in 1959, his wife and business partner Florence Larson Solomon took over the company.

How the Brand was Built

For 45 years, Solomon Grinding Service sold minerals to various industries and packaged them under private-label contracts. This all changed when Bob Solomon decided to market under his own label. This was a big decision, as Bob was forced to sell his home to make the initial investment for new equipment, raw materials, branding and packaging. On October 14, 1971, the first SGS-branded mortar color was introduced and sold to the market.

Bob’s son Rich, who had also grown up in the business, joined the company full-time in 1979. He focused on marketing and sales. With the introduction of A, H, and X Series Mortar Colors in the 1980s, mortar color grew to become the main source of revenue. Innovation and the expansion of product offerings continued with the development of the highest percent solids liquid color for concrete in the industry in 1986. In the 1990s, Solomon Colors entered the decorative concrete industry with the introduction of color hardener, powder release and stamps.

In 1996, Bob learned about the concept of ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan) and loved the idea. This model rewards dedicated employees by allowing them to benefit from the success of the company in the form of shares of stock. This created a positive culture that we are proud of, and which continues to this day.

One milestone that impacted Solomon Colors in a large way, was the introduction of the automated color dispenser department. In 1998, the company introduced the liquid ColorSelect System, and the ready mix and concrete products industry took notice. It became clear that the original custom grinding operation was not the future of the company, so the decision was made to sell off the mineral grinding division and use the money to build a new liquid color manufacturing facility in Rialto, California.

In 2002, Solomon Grinding Service changed its name to Solomon Colors to reflect that the sole focus of the company was now providing innovative coloring solutions to the concrete industry. This continued growth meant additional investments. This included new production facilities for dispensers and dry bagged pigment in 2005, as well as a new liquid color facility and shipping warehouse in 2007.  

How Solomon Colors is Expanding

In 2008 Solomon Colors purchased Brickform Products and became the largest independently-owned decorative products manufacturer in the world. The Brickform brand expanded our product offerings with additional stamp designs, stains, concrete sealers, and overlays.

In 2010 Solomon Colors began having granular pigment toll blended in Georgia. This led to the introduction of the very first granular dispensing system designed for distributors and ready-mix suppliers. With the growing granular division, research began on how Solomon Colors could produce granular pigment in a cost-effective manner. When financing became available, a new advanced process for granulating pigment was developed and a plant was built in Springfield in 2017. Three years later, capacity in Springfield was achieved and work has now begun on a second facility in California, to provide increased product availability and easier access for our West Coast customers.

I look forward to continuing to invest in and grow this company so that we can be around for another one hundred years or more. My commitment to all of you is that we will continue to be a family-managed, employee-owned company that adheres to our shared core values following Bob Solomon’s rules.

Bob Solomon’s Rules

  • Take care of the customer with great service
  • All of the packaging must be clean
  • The color product must be consistent from lot to lot.
  • If there are ever problems with the product, make it right to the customer’s satisfaction.
  • Treat everyone with kindness and respect             

What do we do?

Solomon Colors, Inc. Core Value:  Superior Product Support, Centric Customer Service, Innovative Technology, Quality Products, Honesty, Integrity.

How will we succeed?

Implement our Core Values to our customers and stand behind our products with our customers.

What is important right now?

The Solomon Team:  You and I must Build Customer Loyalty by implementing our Core Value. If we focus every day on our Core Values, the rest will come.

Solomon Colors Vision Statement

We are an employee-owned company that manufactures an innovative line of products providing solutions to enhance the value of architectural concrete.

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