ENTREPRENEUR: Falls business finds new life for unused household paint
Niagara Falls entrepreneur Sarah Battaglia knows that many homeowners have about a dozen cans of unused paint in their basements.
“On the average, every homeowner has about 60 pounds of excess paint in their homes and a lot of times that paint is still good,” said Battaglia, founder of a recycled paint company in Niagara Falls.
Knowing about all those cans inspired the Youngstown woman to create a new line of environmentally friendly recycled paints, now available at three retail paint outlets in Western New York, the first commercially available recycled paint in New York state.
Her new brand is called Olive Ridley Paints, named for a sea turtle species, and her company is just the beginning of what Battaglia believes is an answer to efforts by homeowners and those in the construction industry to “go green” and be more environmentally conscious.
The unusual name, Olive Ridley, is also an effort to mimic the big box paint retailers with human-sounding names like Sherwin Williams and Benjamin Moore, she said.
“It really has a friendly and sophisticated ring to it, and really goes along with our brand,” she said of her company name.
In a way, Battaglia cut her teeth on environmental entrepreneurship, on her path to this new business.
Her dad and mentor, John Battaglia, is the founder of the engineering firm Ensol and is a partner in ECM2, an app for emergency responders.
“He is a fantastic mentor for me and he is a risk-taker,” she said. “He started Ensol in our living room in 1995 and today employs 30 people.”
His Environmental Service Group, where Sarah worked after she got her bachelor’s degree in communication design from the University at Buffalo, obtained a license to become a hazardous waste drop off center in 2012, the first privately held center in the state, where locals can take their paint to dispose of it for a fee. The center is called Hazman and is located at 177 Wales Ave. in Tonawanda.
While she was getting her master’s degree in business at Canisius College, she was inspired by her dad’s businesses efforts to explore other waste recycling opportunities. She traveled to major paint recycling plants in Montreal and Portland, where unused paint is converted into new paint, now available through Olive Ridley Paints.
Sarah opened Olive Ridley Paints in April, headquartered in an office building at Main Street and Pine Avenue. The paint is currently available at Schuele Paint stores in Amherst, Clarence and Buffalo.
Battaglia has been reaching out to construction businesses, architects and municipalities who need to meet green codes and make a certain number of certified purchases from women-owned businesses.
She is also working to sign municipalities across WNY, to provide recycling services paid for the municipalities but free to residents.
Married to Seth Hrywnak in 2013 and a new mom to 12-week-old Elijah Michael, Battaglia finds being an entrepreneur gives her satisfaction and freedom.
Eventually, she hopes to get a license to recycle paint in New York state, but cannot do so until she can prove that there is a demand for the recycled paint product.
She says her efforts fit right in with increasing attention being paid to the disposal of paints and similar waste materials throughout the nation.
“There is a lot of national attention on how we make drop off for specialized materials convenient and affordable,” she said.
For more information on Olive Ridley Paints, visit www.oliveridleypaints.com.