Chapin International Inc.

First in sprayers and spreaders in North America for 130 years
Written by: 
Molly Shaw
Produced by: 
Elizabeth Towne

After 130 years in business, Chapin International is now the largest manufacturer of industrial and retail sprayers in North America. Based in western New York, Chapin has used its manufacturing and marketing expertise in the sprayer business to develop a residential and professional line of lawn, garden and salt spreaders as well.

But no matter the direction the company has grown in over the course of century, producing a superior product remains the cornerstone of Chapin’s success. “Our niche has always been to produce the top-quality sprayers on the market,” says Chuck Mattes, vice president of sales and marketing. The Chapin line is designed for multiple jobs for both the homeowner and professional.

Today, the company is a sprayer and spreader industry name, but Chapin’s roots come from a very different market. “Surprisingly, our history is far from the sprayer-spreader market, but rather in kerosene gas cans and containers,” tells Mattes.

Industrial origins

Chapin’s long history of quality products began in Oakfield, New York in 1884 with founder Ralph Chapin. Then, homes were still illuminated with kerosene lamps and lanterns, which young Ralph sold at the hardware store he ran with his brother-in-law, Frank Harris.

Working at the store, Ralph noticed many of the cans his customers brought in to be filled with kerosene were so poorly made that they often leaked and caused a great mess. “He felt he could produce a better can and that’s how it all started,” recounts Mattes. “Ralph started making his own containers.”

The demand for the product was so great that soon Ralph sold his hardware store and set up a manufacturing site. “Chapin Manufacturing moved to Batavia, New York, which is only about 15 miles from the original site,” says Mattes.

The company quickly expanded and began making 55-gallon storage tanks and pumps. In 1903, Chapin began producing compressed-air sprayers and hand sprayers. “When Ralph came up with the concept for a compressed-air sprayer, it was the first of its kind in in the U.S.,” shares Mattes. “One reason the product really took off was because the country was in the midst of industrialization and ever since, Chapin has been a leader in sprayers.”

The first market foothold for Chapin was in industrial farming and agriculture, but soon the company began supplying the hardware channel. In the 1990s, Chapin expanded into metal and poly tanks.

Superior sprayers

Chapin sprayers are still made from the best materials, built to exceed the most exacting industry standards. From metal tri-proxy and stainless-steel sprayers to backpack or hand held sprayers and dusters, deck and wallpaper sprayers, pest control sprays, industrial and construction sprayers, cleaning and degreasing sprayers, light-duty or slide pump and cart, Chapin has an extensive sprayer selection.

“Chapin is the largest manufacturer of industrial and retail sprayers in North America and we’re one of the top in the world,” adds Mattes. “We own about 85 percent of the industrial sprayer market.”

Mattes says it is Chapin’s superior quality that truly shines. “When you buy a sprayer to spray sealant on a $10,000 concrete job and it fails that’s just not okay,” he measures. “Our best-selling sprayer is the 1949-model concrete sprayer and it retails for about $120. You can buy a sprayer elsewhere for $10, but it won’t get the job done like ours. If it doesn’t fulfill the need or breaks down, then what’s the worth?”

Chapin’s products have spread across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Europe, Australia and China. “We’re in every single retailer in the U.S., with the exception of Wal-Mart and Home Depot,” tells Mattes. “10 percent of our business is overseas as well.”

But even with so much market share, Mattes says Chapin was looking for the next breakthrough.

Spreading out

In 2010, the company added a new category –backpack sprayers. “This became a very big business for us as we gained landscaping and turf customers doing a high volume of spraying,” explains Mattes. “This side of the business grew so well that we noticed other opportunities in the landscape business and Chapin got into garden spreaders.”

“We wanted to take it to the next level, to supply the high-end consumer with a rugged spreader, not a run-of-the-mill kind you’d find in any hardware store, but something more along the lines of something you would find at a landscape dealer,” adds Mattes.

Since spreading out, things have not slowed for Chapin, even in a frigid western New York winter. “We realized the need for salt spreaders through the winter and now that’s a growing sector of our business,” shares Mattes.

Through constant problem-solving, Chapin has hit a pace of record growth over the last 10 years. “We have plans to double our business within the next two years,” reveals Mattes. “But we’re still a privately-held and family-owned company. Andris Chapin is chairman of the board and she is the fifth generation of ownership.”

Chapin International has realized a need and filled it for more than 130 years, spreading and spraying its way to the top.

Strategic Partnership(s): 
Polymer Engineered Products Inc.