We didn’t invent colour. We’re just perfecting it.
Our industry-leading innovations will
help your company design and deliver successful
Welcome to the future.
Welcome to Colwell.
At Colwell, we are driven by an entrepreneurial spirit, a Customer-centered approach and a passion for colour and the impact it has on our lives. What does this mean? It means we continually examine every facet of what we do to deliver the success that our clients deserve. We are fascinated with discovering what’s beyond the horizon. Our innovations, big and small, can be seen in materials, processes, production methods, finance, logistics and consumer approaches.
Colwell’s quest to be the global colour-merchandising leader is supported by our commitment to exceptional talent, a focus on market leaders, solution-centered approaches to both old and new market and consumer challenges and by adapting to marketplace intelligence so we’re leading rather than following. By constantly raising the bar on ourselves, we seek to deliver exceptional products and services to our valued Customers … products and services beyond compare.
Colwell Industries is a family-owned business, now in its fifth generation. In 1893, T.H. Colwell purchased half of the University Press in Minneapolis. More than 115 years later, the original Colwell Press building still stands today at 123 N. Main Street. In the 1950s, Colwell introduced the colour card concept to the market for the first time, manufacturing colour cards for Minnesota Paints. This was the catalyst for Colwell’s obsession with colour.
Our core colour-sampling business allows us to serve many industries, including architectural coatings, cosmetics, automotive, contract furniture, stationery, fine paper, window treatment and the accompanying business services.
It is interesting to note that throughout the years our Chairman, Tom Colwell, has been involved in a variety of successful business ventures but his passion has always remained on colour-merchandising tools and the visual excitement they bring to the exploding decorative arena. Tom’s passion for colour, as well as his unique and entrepreneurial spirit, continues to inspire each of us at Colwell, every day.
At Colwell we are proud … proud of our roots and proud that we have expanded throughout the world, from our humble beginnings in Minneapolis.
Innovation. It is the driving force behind what makes Colwell’s colour-merchandising plants the most sophisticated in the world. We realize that innovation is synonymous with success in today’s competitive landscape, so we’re committed to a continuing innovation-centered conversation within our manufacturing centers to keep ahead of the needs of the changing marketplace. Every year, our capabilities and workflow strategies are strengthened and redistributed to deliver greater efficiency and faster turnaround.
WHO WOULD HAVE GUESSED?
At Colwell, we’re proud to be a preferred supplier to the most prestigious coatings companies in the world and highly value the collaborative and entrepreneurial relationships we’ve built with each of them.
Because our reach covers much of the coatings world — from mass merchants to paint and hardware stores — you’ll find Colwell’s products nearly everywhere paint is sold or colour is considered.
Whether you are an architect, designer, specifier or simply colour-curious, you can count on Colwell to help select colour with confidence.
The core of our business (and the success of yours) rests on accurate, non-metameric colour reproduction. This is what sets us apart from colour produced by print (ink-based) or any other method. Colwell doesn’t deal in “close enough” or “almost.” In our business fractions truly mean the difference between a precise colour representation and a product that could disappoint consumers and cost them thousands of dollars.
“Failing to plan is planning to fail.”
– Alan Lakein
Production planning meetings are some of the most creative meetings at Colwell. Held both prior to estimating and prior to production, these meetings gather talented people from manufacturing, engineering, estimating, finance, scheduling, customer service and sales to freshly consider each job and determine how it could be run more efficiently and/or delivered faster while maintaining our exceptional quality standards.
Colwell’s value engineering process includes a multi-disciplined team with experience and expertise relative to the type of project to be studied. The systematic and structural approach comes from the value engineering job plan, consisting of multiple phases:
While an individual production run might involve millions of pieces, each job we take on is unique to some degree. Whether it involves sizing, configuration or materials, nothing is boilerplate at Colwell. And, by incorporating “flexible factory” principles, nearly every piece of equipment on our floor can be moved and incorporated into new configurations and work cells to maximize efficiency for a job. These flexible factory innovations have lead to significant improvements in two-sided chip mounting, large-format colour-card production and take-home card bagging.
Value engineering is extremely important. It allows us to optimize raw materials, reduce setup times and increase run speeds. It also is another way for Colwell to pass quality – and savings – on to our customers.
Since first introducing colour cards to the paint industry, Colwell has been focused on how to do it better. We’re proud to say our entire organization is committed to a continuing and continuous effort to improve our products, services and processes. We believe it’s about more than just industrial practices…it’s about doing what’s right…for our Customers, our company and our communities. Our efforts seek both ‘incremental’ and ‘breakthrough’ improvements, acknowledging that these are generally co-dependent versus mutually exclusive. We’ve built our approach on a foundation consisting of three key measures: Efficiency, Effectiveness and Flexibility. You’ll see it in our approach…and in your end product.
Plan the work, work the plan. This phrase serves us (and ultimately, our customers) well. Our Customer service and scheduling groups operate on a simple premise: “How a project starts is how it goes.”
Following intensive production planning, Colwell manufacturing and customer service teams are supported by an information technology infrastructure that facilitates robust production reporting. This ‘dashboard’ supports real-time changes while it tracks the job, start to finish. Experienced analysts monitor all facets of daily production, quickly identifying any potential problems and when necessary, pulling specialized teams together to develop and implement resolutions with little or no schedule disruption.
Colwell’s Customer service team is the glue that keeps the Colwell machine working, actively coordinating the many moving parts of a production run with our Customers and internal resources to ensure on-time and in-full delivery at quality levels that exceed our Customers’ expectations.
Let’s say your colour system has 2,500 different SKUs, is distributed through multiple distribution centers to hundreds (if not thousands) of stores and will be pulled at different rates by hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of customers. Add in new store openings, seasonal usage fluctuation, inventory adjustments and potential out-of-stock penalties, and the prospect of staying on top of take-home card production could make a grown man (or two VPs) cry. That’s where Colwell can step in.
As tinted paint sales have accelerated over the past two decades, Colwell has coupled usage reporting with predictive systems and analyses to create nearly flawless inventory management processes. Our efforts have significantly reduced our customers’ on-hand inventories, reducing investment in inventory by as much as 75 percent and ensuring that their DCs and stores have stock available 365 days a year.
Colwell has been warehousing and distributing goods for our customers for more than 25 years. We offer a full-service call center; 55,000 square feet of climate-controlled, random-access, on-site warehousing; and 15,000 square feet dedicated to daily fulfillment service. A robust IT infrastructure helps us manage fulfillment programs and create custom reporting that best serves each client. Fulfillment services are offered as a stand-alone option, but they are often integrated with Colwell’s comprehensive inventory management programs, dramatically reducing overall program costs and inventory levels.
Fulfillment programs include:
Like many companies, in keeping with major environmental initiatives, sustainability has become integrated in the fabric of our business, impacting even small, day-to-day choices. Colwell considers sustainability along four planks: toxicity, energy impact, sustainability and efficiency. We have made considerable strides in all four areas. In 2011, we were pleased to be awarded FSC Certification (Forest Stewardship Council), allowing us to reassure our Customers and their end-users that the paper used for their colour merchandising program is from responsibly managed forests.
Colwell’s Colour Studio provides colour analysis and styling services to companies all over the globe.
Colour Systems Development
The Colwell Colour Studio combines objective, instrument-based colour evaluation, experience and intuition to style the right palette for your target consumers. We begin by developing an understanding of your channel, customers and objectives. We then profile the palettes of your competitors. Using this information, we get to work developing your unique colour collection. With experience in the commercial development of colour, we can work hand-in-glove with your colour lab to ensure efficient formulation, shortening your timeline by weeks or even months.
Colour Card, Collection and Trend Styling
Following global colour trends as well as regional decorating tendencies, the Colwell Colour Studio team is a dynamic resource to help your brand create colour collections, scheming recommendations and trend pieces.
Great colour-merchandising design starts with understanding the customer’s state of mind and motivation and then building in specific cues and triggers to eliminate barriers to a buying decision. Whether your target customers are reluctant painters or an ultra-savvy do-it-yourselfer a designer or an architect a builder or a painting contractor, Colwell will help you create colour-merchandising solutions that are educational and inspiring so selecting colour with confidence becomes the predictable end result.
Store merchandising has been referred to as ‘theater that requires a coherent story to be executed in a compelling way’. We are keenly aware that colour-merchandising design is a means to achieve very real and very different brand and business objectives. The colour-merchandising approach for a brand that wants to leverage their connection to the design community will be far different than a brand whose focus is on a retail DIY’er. Likewise, a company whose goal is to boost margin will require a different approach than a company interested in increasing market share. For these reasons and more, we truly believe that there is not a “one size fits all” approach to marketing paint in-store, and we will work with your company to ensure that the merchandising program that is developed delivers the very best ROI for your business.
It all started in 1998 with Gordon MacKenzie’s “Orbiting the Giant Hairball.” The epiphany at the time was that to truly innovate, we needed to purposefully shed the traditions and the “knowns” of colour merchandising.
In what soon was dubbed “Creative Camps,” Colwell pulled together creative minds from across our organization, looking outside the industry for new inspiration to challenges new and old. Colwell Creative Camps quickly became catalysts for better consumer and marketing solutions, now often involving our customers in inspiring and thought-provoking sessions. While the format and objectives are ever changing, the constants are these: get campers out of their comfort zone; fanatically observe (gather clues from other industries and points of view) and ideate without constraint (sketch, doodle, turn things sideways and upside down). Seek true and meaningful innovation. Take nothing for granted. Reinvent the unreinventable.
Author Jack London wrote, “Don’t loaf and invite inspiration; light out after it with a club.” Following is a (much) abridged list of people, companies, organizations and authors that inspire us. In addition, there is our Colwell “art gallery,” which includes colourful works that have been found around our factory and can be downloaded to your desktop, tablet or mobile device.
Howard Schultz – Embracing Status Quo is Dead
Tom Peters – What Do YOU Think?
Jim Collins – Secrets to Surviving in Tough Times – 20 Mile March
Tom Kelley – IDEO – The Art of Innovation
Marcus Buckingham – Putting Strengths to Work
Youngme Moon – Different
Seth Godin – Avoiding Mediocre
Alan Mulally – American Icon
Gordon MacKenzie – Orbiting the Giant Hairball
Seth Godin – Purple Cow
Daniel Pink – A Whole New Mind
Tom Peters – Re-Imagine!
Tom Kelley – The Ten Faces of Innovation