Miller Paint: More beauty, smaller footprintMiller Paint Logo


For Ernest Miller, it was all about quality. In 1890, he started producing his own line of house paints because he couldn't find products that stood up to the demands of Northwest buildings and his own aesthetic tastes.

One hundred and twenty-five years later, the company he founded continues to set new standards in the paint industry, both for quality and sustainability. In fact, a primary goal is to demonstrate there's no need to sacrifice one for the other.

The employee owners of Miller Paint want to make sure they add beauty to the world -- while leaving as little impact on soil, air or water as possible. That means offsetting greenhouse gases through Smart Energy. It also means paying a little more for green power from local electric utilities, recycling and reusing as much as possible -- and being conscious of what goes into their products and processes.

Here are some ways Miller Paint has set new standards for paint production.

Paint composition.

The modern history of paint has been one of seeking ways to make products safer -- for painters, for those occupying painted rooms, and for the environment.

Miller's Dan Saunders said, "We're constantly challenging ourselves to find products that meet our Acro Pure canperformance expectations while exceeding environmental and health standards." So they have taken on the tough challenges -- and succeeded.

Solvents are liquid chemicals used to dissolve solid materials. While they're useful -- and used in many substances from marking pens to adhesives -- they aren't good for anybody's health. So 20 years ago, Miller stepped up to protect human health by removing solvents from its top product line. They also continue to reduce solvents in their other products, as well as in their manufacturing processes.

Volatile Organic Compounds are emitted from paints, varnishes and other substances. VOC's contribute to smog, and continued exposure can lead to long-term health problems. That's why indoor air quality is a high priority at Miller.

Today, most Miller Paint products fall well below the Green Shield standard (100 grams/meter for exterior paint; 50 grams/meter for interiors). Miller's Acro Pure product for interiors has fewer than 10 grams/meter.

Product recycling.

Recycled paint? It's beautiful -- to use and to help you reduce your own environmental footprint associated with house projects.

Miller Paint is a partner with Metro Paint, coordinated by the Portland metropolitan area's regional government, Metro. Miller Paint stores throughout Oregon are set up to collect unused paint. Then, Metro collects and combines that paint into a standard set of colors, which Miller carries alongside its own paint lines.

These recycled products are easy to use, affordable -- and add a feel-good effect to any painting project. Non-profits and government agencies are eligible for additional discounts.

Employee owned.

Does employee ownership make a difference to a company's environmental ethic? Absolutely.

"This is my company. I have the power to make things happen." So, Dan says, folks in the lab work a little harder and go a little farther to make the best possible products. They take pride in saying, "I produced this terrific product that works great for our customers -- and is some of the lowest-emission paint on the market today!"

Incentives to do better, pride in products and the ability to make change add up to a dedicated work force. "The newest lab employee has been here five years. The rest have worked here for more than 13 years. Longevity like that helps us keep learning -- and makes us continuously more helpful to our customers."

Miller Paint employees are proud of their 125-year history that started in Northeast Portland. "We plan to stay here, keeping the company's local feel, even while we're growing. And to do that, we need to make sure we're nurturing our environment -- in every way we can.