Carbit History – Chicago Paint Company


The Westerman family has owned and managed Carbit Paint Co. since its founding by Lester Westerman in 1925. Lester was joined by his brother, George upon his graduation from college in 1929. The company incorporated in 1931.

In 1971, Lester’s son, David, and George’s son, James, completed their military service and began working full time at the company. David and James succeeded their fathers in 1981 when they became full owners.

In 1999, David’s son, David “Jr.” left an engineering firm and began his career at Carbit. He is the now the CEO of the operating company, Carbit Paint Co., LLC.

The dominant theme that has been the subject of the Westerman family’s business for three generations has been to maintain the quality of its coatings and the technical expertise of its service. The company looks forward to the challenges ahead, confident that the principles that have guided three generations of owners will continue to foster close relationships with its customers.


The company had moved four times in the near North Chicago neighborhood before it arrived in 1955 at its current location at 927 W. Blackhawk St. near downtown Chicago on the east branch of the Chicago River.

Its office, commercial property, and manufacturing building occupy the majority of the two acre site.

The neighborhood has changed much in the past fifty-eight years, and now boasts some of the area’s finest retail and residential properties. Close to the area’s expressways, Carbit ships its products quickly and efficiently from the Midwest’s largest transportation hub.

How Did Carbit Get Its Name?

Carbit’s name is derived from its first product. Lester Westerman sold a Carbon Bitumastic coating, which he had obtained the patent for, to the Chicago Stockyards to protect the structural steel and rolling stock from the corrosion caused by rock ice and salt-the only method of refrigeration in the 1920’s.

From 1925-1940, the company’s product line consisted of industrial finishes, steel primers and architectural coatings. 1940-1945, manufacturing changed to support the war effort. Mirror backings-a specialized coating for protecting the silver coating on mirrors were developed at this time.

Carbit experimented during the Second World War with the new raw materials it obtained as a war effort manufacturer. These materials replaced the natural oils and resins used prior to the war with manufactured resins like alkyds that offered improved durability. The company expanded its line in the middle 1950’s and 1960’s and developed a line of food industry maintenance finishes called Carbitile.

In the 1970s, the company augmented its maintenance coatings and primers with product finishes that it sold to Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) and equipment finishes.

In 1989, a water based strippable coating named Carbicote was introduced and was sold nationally through distributors. The next decade launched Carbithane, a two-component acrylic polyurethane that provided an in-house mixing capability for OEMs with broad color pallets.

Today, Carbit manufactures compliant and environment friendly green coatings that are designed to meet the specialized needs of its customers. High performance, one and two component waterbased coatings are in demand now, but our laboratory continues its research in other areas. We are always looking for new ways to serve our customers’ needs.