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Obituary: Angus Wurtele, Valspar CEO

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

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C. Angus Wurtele, Valspar's former CEO who built the company up over the course of his career, died earlier this month at age 83.

Wurtele became known as both an important figure in the paint industry and a philanthropist in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul over his decades in the business. He went to work at Minnesota Paints in 1961 at age 27, first working in industrial sales, and took the position of president and CEO in 1965; his father had previously served in both positions.

Corporate Growth

At Minnesota, Wurtele began a series of acquisitions aimed at growing the $7 million, privately held company: The firm bought W.H. Sweeney, then the Rev line of agricultural coatings from Mobil Chemical. In 1968, Minnesota bought Sun Chemical Company’s Industrial Coatings business.

C. Angus Wurtele
Archival Valspar images

C. Angus Wurtele led Minnesota Paints through the 1960s, then helmed Valspar beginning in 1974 after the two companies merged.

In 1970, Minnesota Paints, now bringing in $24 million in annual sales, merged with the slightly larger Valspar, with the new company’s headquarters moving to Minneapolis.

Wurtele became CEO of Valspar in 1973, and during his tenure, Valspar shifted from a company primarily concerned with consumer paints to one with a major stake in the industrial and protective coatings industry. In 1984, the company acquired Mobil’s chemical coatings business; in 1987, Valspar bought Enterprise Paint Companies, and in 1990, it added coil and extrusion coatings units acquired from DeSoto Inc.

Throughout the 1990s, Wurtele began to wind down his involvement with the company, with Richard Rompala taking over as president in 1994, and CEO in 1995. Wurtele remained chairman until 1998, and stepped down from the Valspar board completely in 2000 at the age of 66.

The Sherwin-Williams Company acquired Valspar earlier this year in a blockbuster $11.3 billion deal. In its final full fiscal year as a publicly traded company, Valspar reported $4.19 billion in net sales.


Wurtele spent 30 years on the board of Valspar, including 25 as chairman, in addition to his eight years with Minnesota Paints prior to the two firms’ merger. He oversaw the growth of his company from the $7 million privately owned Minnesota Paints in 1962 to the multibillion-dollar Valspar at the time of his retirement. In 1996, he was named Executive of the Year by Corporate Report Minnesota.

Angus Wurtele (right)

Wurtele (right) expanded Valspar's industrial and protective coating offerings through a series of acquisitions in the 1980s.

He also served on corporate boards including packaging firm Bemis Company Inc. and American Express AXP Mutual Funds Group. Wurtele was known in the Twin Cities as a philanthropist; he and wife Margaret gave millions to local causes including the Walker Art Center, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy and Minnesota Public Radio, as well as Angus’ alma mater, Yale University.

Wurtele was a Navy veteran, and earned his MBA from Stanford before returning to the family business.

In his retirement, Wurtele owned and operated Terra Valentine Winery, in California, with his wife. He is survived by Margaret, along with two sons, a daughter and two granddaughters.


Tagged categories: Obituaries; Personnel; Valspar

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