O'Leary at Anderson
stores--on West Stadium and at 4573 Washtenaw.
"We thought if they represented our product, they could represent it as well as we could in that market ... and it would be more profitable for both of us," says co-owner Dave O'Leary, "and probably better for the customers as well. It was an unusual situation where you could have a win-win-win."
When the company opened in Ann Arbor thirty years ago, its name was Silver Lead Paint. The name had nothing to do with the lead that was used as an additive in some paints before being outlawed in 1977. Founded in 1891, the company was named after a mine in Colorado called the Silver Lead Mine--because the founder just liked the sound of it. "And that's a name we've been running from," O'Leary laughs. Dave and his brother, John, are the fourth generation of O'Learys to helm the company. "When we started manufacturing [our own paint] thirty years ago, we knew that we couldn't have the name Lead be on a label with paint," Dave says. "So we called the product O'Leary Paint. But then we had O'Leary Paint available exclusively in a Silver Lead store, which didn't make any sense. So we changed the name of the company."
Both Bob Anderson and Dave O'Leary single out longtime O'Leary store manager Steve Keith as being vital to the success of the venture. "Steve Keith is critical in making this thing work," O'Leary says. "If he wasn't going to be part of the program, I don't know if there would have been a program."