US exports surge for natural paint manufacturer

Leeds-based Brouns & Co, which produces paints based on linseed oil made from Yorkshire-grown flax, has seen orders from the US for its natural products rise by more than 120% in the last 12 months.

It has been backed by the Department for International Trade (DIT) in Yorkshire and the US.

CEO Michiel Brouns is about to embark on his third visit this year to the east coast of the US as demand for the firm’s products grows. A series of landmark restoration projects have recently been completed using Brouns & Co linseed paint in New England, Virginia, North and South Carolina and Georgia.

Brouns said: “Thanks to US architectural heritage, there are huge numbers of timber-build properties in the States and we’ve been focusing our efforts over there, particularly on the east coast, where the maintenance and preservation of historic wooden buildings is a major conservation priority.

“In Europe we assume the US does not have old buildings, but the majority of the historic properties there, as in Britain, date from Georgian and Victorian times.

“The great thing is that these American historic buildings are young enough that with the right care and maintenance they can easily exist for hundreds more years.

“Linseed paint is a centuries-old, natural way to protect timber from exposure to the elements, which is both sustainable and durable.”

One of only a handful of linseed paint manufacturers in Europe, Brouns & Co had already seen US orders, fulfilled from the firm’s Leeds warehouse, top over £100,000 for the first time in March this year.

Orders are now coming in every day from US clients, compared to weekly just two years ago.

On this month’s US trip Brouns will visit restoration projects recently completed using his company’s linseed paint including a landmark Maine bakery, and the Printmaker’s Inn, a luxury hotel in Savannah, Georgia.

The paint will also be used on the Wilton House Museum, a 1750s building converted to a museum in Richmond, Virginia.

Conservation expert Brouns, originally from the Netherlands, relocated to Yorkshire in 2006, launching his Garforth-based business with Histoglass, a specialised thin double-glazing product ideal for historic properties, before recognising the demand for high quality natural paints.