Aexcel Corporation


Aexcel Corporation was founded in 1963,  as DeSantis Coatings by Erminio and Vincent DeSantis. The company had modest beginnings, in Willoughby, Ohio, starting with only three entrepreneurial spirited people, one high-speed mixer and a passion. A year later in 1964 Aexcel was able tosuccessfully land a contract with the State of Ohio, to supply them with 600,000 gallons of paint. That  prominent contract, led the way for them to land many other accounts and set the company on their way to building a successful company.

Within four years, in 1968, Aexcel was fast growing and even added an additional 10,000-square-foot to the plant, and introduced other products including bridge and structural steel paints.

Sadly, only a year later in 1969, one of the company founders, Erminio DeSantis passed away, but his dream and passion was living on, as the business soared to success.

With the passion of Erminio living on , in 1973, despite the oil embargo, that cut deeply into the availability of raw materials, Aexcel was able to add an additional 30,000-square-feet, including a new office and laboratory the ever growing plant. In that same year, the company lost another founder, when Vincent DeSantis passed away, just as he was seeing his dream become a reality.

Within the next year, in 1974, after losing the original founders,  a new ownership and a management team were established. The company was headed by Joseph B. Milgram, Jr., a chemical engineer and businessman with extensive experience of developing new technologies for successful  businesses in the chemical industry.

In the late 1970s - Early 1980s,  Aexcel coped with inflation in the U.S. economy and with the petrochemical raw material base in particular. The “Rust Belt Recession” of 1981 and 1982 squeezed many manufacturing firms, including Aexcel’s customers. However, innovations in management practices and an atmosphere of teamwork at DeSantis, combined to strengthen the company and allow it to continue to grow.


By the mid-1980s, Aexcel rebounded nicely with the Rust Belt Recovery and focused on value-adding coatings of superior performance at a time when Midwestern manufacturers were concentrating on improving quality and lowering total cost.

And shortly, thereafter, in the late 1980s ,the Uthane brand of proprietary polyurethane coatings really took off and many products coated with the company’s high-performance paints were found in several consumer retail locations.


In this same timeframe, in 1988 the company adopted its new name, Aexcel Corporation. Along with a stronger marketing effort on behalf of our original product line,Traffic Safety Paints, was introduced.

In 1989 the company completed its move into a brand new 70,000-square-foot building on eight acres in Mentor, Ohio. The new plant was designed to incorporate the latest concepts of efficiency, safety, productivity, and concern for the environment. A large warehouse was added shortly thereafter, in order to keep up with the rapid growth we were experiencing.

From 1986-1993 the company had more than doubled its sales. Confirming that the company was headed in the right direction.

Also in 1993Mr. John S. Milgram was appointed president of Aexcel and led the company as we continued to work on the development of improved Uthane technologies and was successful, in the face of stiff competition from powder coatings.

In 1997, Aexcel became a  game changing company, providing the Indiana Department of Transportation with 603,000 gallons of on-time and problem-free paints. Making our mark in the industry.

From 1999 - 2001 Aexcel began to restructure, due to the dot-com bust’s repercussions in Ohio. Many of our customers (and their customers) filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11 and our products were eliminated. Competition in traffic paint was intense as prices were lowered across the board by large companies seeking only to increase market share. Manufacturers were consolidating plants, standardizing products with national suppliers and moving to lower-labor-cost locations. Outsourcing was the word in many markets.

This led to management cutting the company back in size, in 2001, from what it was in 1987 andfocused only on core products, best customers and key quality materials.


Also, in 2001 Aexcel joined the industry-leading purchasing cooperative, GuildCPO, and worked diligently on improving quality and delivery to our dedicated customer group. The payoff has been the growth in customers with additional business.

Currently, Aexcel works hard to remain independent, for now and into the future, in a competitive and consolidating marketplace. Knowing there is nothing more powerful, to meet this goal than the objective of keeping satisfied customers. The company’s strong emphasis on customer service, teamwork, R&D, and the ability to deliver uniformly high quality, high performance products have placed Aexcel in a position to compete strongly in the markets of today and well into the future.


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