If you ask Ed Voorhees what he does for a living, he’ll respond without hesitation, “I’m in the happiness business.” The eternal optimist, positive thinker and CEO of Rust-Oleum is retiring on September 4, 2020, after 38 years of dedicated service.
Voorhees began his career with Rust-Oleum as its key accounts/district manager. Over the years, he moved up the ranks at the company, serving as national account executive, vice president of national accounts, senior vice president of sales, senior vice president of sales & marketing, president of sales & marketing, and president of Rust-Oleum North America. He was named CEO in 2018.
Voorhees remarks that he’s been amazed by Rust-Oleum’s growth over the years.
“When I joined Rust-Oleum, we had only one platform and $50 million in sales,” Voorhees said. “Today, we have 14 platforms, including cleaners and wall paint, and nearly $1.5 billion in sales. It’s more than any of us could have imagined.”
Voorhees navigated Rust-Oleum through some of the most turbulent times the company saw in its nearly 100-year history. This included streamlining functions to increase productivity and, most recently, ensuring uninterrupted manufacturing and distribution in the midst of a global pandemic. He says he had two main goals during his time as CEO.
“Frank Sullivan gave me a mission,” Voorhees said. “The goal was to stabilize the health of Rust-Oleum and to also find a leader who can take us into the next decade. With the help of a great team, we achieved those goals.”
A 20-year veteran of Rust-Oleum—most recently serving as president of Rust-Oleum North America—Bill Spaulding has been tapped as the company’s new leader.
“Bill is future-focused, sharp and brings years of proven leadership,” Voorhees said. “The timing is perfect, and I’m confident Bill can take Rust-Oleum to the next level.”
Spaulding is excited about the role and says working alongside Voorhees has prepared him for the challenges he’ll be facing.
"Ed has been the architect of our culture—he’s built it, fosters it and embodies it,” Spaulding said. “He has inspired me to be a better leader through his dedication and passion for Rust-Oleum, our associates and his respect for our heritage.”
Looking back over his career, Voorhees says he’s particularly proud of negotiating a number of sole supplier agreements, including giants like The Home Depot and Menards, and thrived on building long-lasting customer relationships.
Known for his legendary stand-up comedy routines at Rust-Oleum’s National Sales Meeting, Ed is never short on one-liners. “I’m going to miss the clowns, but not the circus,” he said with a smile.
On a more serious note, Voorhees says he’ll always look back fondly on his career.
“The CEO position I held at Rust-Oleum is the best job I’ve ever had. It was an honor and privilege to lead our company and our people,” he said. “I have no regrets. I wouldn’t change a thing and would do it all over again in a heartbeat.”