A bit of Brooklyn in West Point

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Frankie Jones and Ashlee Stancil-Phillips (Christy Perry for The Cullman Tribune)

The following was printed in The Cullman Tribune’s special yearly edition, “Community Matters.”

WEST POINT, Ala. – Magnet Paints, located at 310 County Road 1246 in West Point, is a family-owned company that has been manufacturing commercial grade paints and shellac for more than 100 years. Chief Operating Officer Ashlee Stancil-Phillips gave The Tribune a behind the scenes peek at the West Point facility.

Magnet Paint & Shellac Co., Inc. was founded in 1915 in Brooklyn, New York by current President Mike Rosenthal’s great-grandfather.

Stancil-Phillips explained, “Then, his grandpa ran it as a hardware store and paint store. That was actually his mom’s dad. His mom passed away from cancer, so his dad actually took over the business when he (Rosenthal) was a youngster. He didn’t know what he wanted to do. He went to school and was taking pottery classes and stuff.”

Rosenthal decided that he needed to get serious and began learning the family business of making paint.

Stancil-Phillips continued, “His dad retired and left it to him. We were in New York and we have only been here for about six years now.”

The move to West Point, Alabama came as the expense of running a business in New York became greater and greater.

“Our offices were in Amityville and our factory was out in Brooklyn so we would have to go back and forth between making stuff and getting it to us out in Amityville and rent was crazy, said Stancil-Phillips. “It was so crazy that we paid so much for it and rented the back half out to somebody else just to cover the cost up there.”

They realized it was a smart decision to shut everything down and move to Alabama.

The culture shock was felt by Stancil-Phillips when her mom married Rosenthal after they met at a trade show in Birmingham. She moved to New York from Good Hope at the age of 15.

She said, “I home-schooled my last two years because I was intimidated by the school system up there. They took me to show me the high school and I was like, ‘NO!’”

Stancil-Phillips describes Rosenthal as the “mad scientist.”

“I was my father’s son who was in the paint business and I didn’t want to work for someone else. I’m creative so I learned all this on my own,” he smiled, and said with his thick Brooklyn accent, “I never took a chemistry class in my life. I took pottery. I’m good at math. I can do numbers in my head pretty well and it came naturally. I like creating stuff and learning how to formulate.”

Moving from New York might have been a huge culture shock for some people, but Rosenthal met his wife 10-15 years prior to moving. Some of the Southern colloquialisms baffle him, he said, and he keeps a freezer full of New York pizza pies that he has sent down, but otherwise, he enjoys the more relaxed pace of West Point and Cullman County.

Rosenthal also has his father-in-law Frankie Jones helping out at work. Both Jones and Stancil-Phillips are members of the West Point Town Council.

Magnet Paints ships all over the United States. It does industrial and automotive paint as well as DIY bedliners.

“The bedliners, that’s one of our main selling products. We have over 68 colors and the only ones on the market that are do-it-yourself and have that many colors,” said Stancil-Phillips. “I like to say that in the do-it-yourself market, we are the best one that is out there because we have so many options. We also try to work with our customers on their needs. He is always working to fit his customer’s needs.”

Magnet Paints has a wide variety of products from rust paint to acrylic polyurethane enamel to its Monstaliner high-performance roll-on bed liner. For more information, visit www.magnetpaints.com, www.facebook.com/Magnet-Paints-Cullman-Alabama-715063585175380 or www.monstaliner.com.

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Christy Perry

christy@cullmantribune.com