General Finishes was founded in 1928, and when
I bought the company in 1984, annual sales were just
$200,000. The facility was a tiny store front, once a
dry cleaner, in West Allis, Wisconsin. There were just
two of us. Rob Szwedo made the products one can
at a time, and I sold them one store at a time.
We moved to a real factory in 1988 and added a six-head pour machine with an automatic lidder (wow!). We bought a used forklift (and called her Elle, she was gorgeous) and our ranks swelled from two to six.
By 1992 we were still just another oil-based finish company with a limited future. We then made the decision that changed General Finishes forever: We committed our resources to water-based finishes, something few manufacturers were interested in at the time. With dogged persistence through some tough times, we created a diverse product line of great water-based stains and finishes.
We won the first of three major water-based competitions against national manufacturers in 1996, and by 2000 we were recognized as a leading innovator in the development of water-based stains and finishes. In 2020 General Finishes introduced “renewable resources” into its water-based products, a technology that is the future of coatings. These biobased resources are made from fibers and oils, such as corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton and even marigolds. Best of all, they replace petroleum ingredients and do not compromise results.
Over the years, General Finishes has grown in production capacity, sales, staff and, most importantly, water-based innovation. Although not a comparatively big manufacturer by size, we have the deepest line of water-based and oil-based products in the country. General Finishes is sophisticated enough to tackle all your needs and small enough to give you service the big guys don’t have time for.
George C. Adams, President General Finishes Corporation