Niles company coated with family tradition, legacy
Published 10:00 am Friday, March 1, 2019
When former Sen. John Proos visited NCP Coating in 2018 to help the privately-owned Niles business celebrate its 70th anniversary, company leaders Nat and Ben Hannewyk were presented with a special legislative tribute and took part in several photo opportunities with the then sitting state senator.
Throughout its tenure, this family-driven business has quietly been a staple of the Michiana community, while providing clients from across the U.S. and internationally with high-quality coatings for military vehicles, naval ships, industrial equipment, forestry and more. NCP Coatings is so accomplished that when locals are introduced to the company, they are generally surprised that they have never heard of it before.
“Once people learn that we’re here, they’re like, ‘how have I lived here my whole life and didn’t know about this place?’” said HR Director Lisa Muñoz. “We get that a lot. We’re shipping all over the world. You know, it’s pretty cool, and we’re competing with some really big companies.”
Other than the boxes and cans their products are shipped in, NCP Coatings and its roughly 90 employees manufacture everything in the Michiana area and mostly at 225 Fort St. in Niles. Its other location is in Mishawaka, which is where most of the company’s forestry coatings are produced.
NCP Coatings is currently in its third generation of the Hannewyk Family. Originally named Niles Chemical Paint, the company was founded in 1948 by C.M. “Marvin” Hannewyk II.
“My two older brothers, Nat and Ben, kind of run the ship at this point,” Muñoz said. “My brother Ben is our CEO and my brother Nat is our COO.”
Their father, Neil, is still the president, but Muñoz said that he is mostly retired.
The Hannewyks’ multi-generational tradition of working together has produced a family-centric culture for all of its employees, which Muñoz says includes excellent benefits, an above industry-standard minimum wage and a commitment to weekends off.
“We’ve got a lot of families here, myself included,” Muñoz said. “I’ve got a 2-year-old. We want people to be able to enjoy their time away from work so that they can come back refreshed and able to make the best paint that they can.”
Another benefit that comes with being a part of the company is its annual employee appreciation party in August and annual Christmas party during the holiday season.
“During the employee appreciation party in August we put up a huge tent,” Muñoz said. “We have food catered. We give away vacation days, $100 bills and other prizes from our vendors. We also give away 20-year watches if anybody has been with us for 20 years. I think we gave away two this last year, and we had five people retire this year, one of which was here for over 40 years.”
Many of NCP’s employees attended Brandywine, Niles or Buchanan schools, which is one of the reasons the company gives back to the local community. Muñoz, who graduated from Niles High School in 2003, is always on the lookout for local philanthropic opportunities. She frequently has NCP Coatings donate to the Niles Education Foundation, Project Graduation, area athletic teams and programs, the Niles-Buchanan YMCA and other charitable causes in the greater Niles area.
“I really try to keep a pulse on what’s going on in the community and make sure that we’re contributing to it,” she said.
NCP Coatings also donates its high-quality, industrial-grade paint products to local organizations, such as local baseball facilities, the Berrien County and Cass County fairs and the St. Joseph Lighthouse, which needs a tough coat because of the beating it receives throughout the year.
Going forward, Muñoz said her family’s business plans to stay a family business. Their model has served the company well for generations, and with any luck, it will do the same for decades to come.
“We’re just hoping to be here for another 70 years,” she said, “and as long as we continue to make high-quality products, I think we will continue to have [dedicated] customers.”
Photography by Emily Sobecki