An American Story:
Independent Spirit Drives Business since 1970
Leading to the Bicentennial in 1976, cities across the United States were revitalizing historical downtown areas. Restoration fervor caught hold of Jack Tadych, a sandblasting contractor new to the field. “There was a growing consciousness of our national landmarks,” Jack recalls. “The empathy was for preservation. At the time, the standard method for restoring was sandblasting. I felt that I could find a process less destructive to the architecture of these buildings and move the technology ahead.”
“I always had an interest in restoring things,” Jack says. Jack was endlessly curious and he soon invented an acid-based masonry cleaner based on his research of paint strippers.
The product was revolutionary. “Even before we had it perfected,” Jack comments, “people were more than interested in what we were doing. We beat the status quo. Because we had something no one else had, that worked better and used less manpower, we negotiated on projects that we couldn’t get before.” Old House Journal agreed, featuring ABR for the first time in 1975. After winning the Milwaukee Downtown Beautification Award in 1971, Jack moved the company into full-time manufacturing—but still keeping close with contractors in the field. “We’ve always been in touch with our customer base. That’s kept us aware of real areas for innovation.” ABR products were used on Pearl Harbor, the White House, and many more national landmarks. The building booms of the 1980s and 1990s shifted the emphasis of ABR to preserving new construction, especially wood. Jack talks about the origin of its flagship product, X-100 Natural Seal®: “Wood exteriors were big—cedar decks, shake roofs, log homes, etc. One of our top masonry customers in Hawaii asked us what we had for wood. That’s how most of our products begin. Someone calls up and asks do you have? And we reply, maybe we do! So I applied our experience of masonry to wood coatings.
Early testing of X-100 Natural Seal® with the Texas A&M Forestry Lab showed it outperformed all major brands on the market. Unlike its film-forming competitors, X-100 Natural Seal® penetrated the wood grain with anti-decay agents—another first of its kind. Jack remarks, “The way you succeed in the industry is by stepping out of the mainstream. You have to challenge the standard methods. A company like ours has the advantage of adopting new ideas quickly, unlike the big players where interests get entrenched.” Sixty specialty products later, the spirit of independence still drives the operation at ABR. It’s a company philosophy that Jack describes as local, targeted, and interactive: “Our interest is in the independent dealer and the contractor buying the product. If you have a problem in the field, we’re on the phone till we get it solved.” ABR will continue to invest in technical training, Jack says. “We will be training in all our categories of expertise in a variety of formats—in stores, online, and DVDs. We want to empower our customers with the half-century of knowledge we’ve gained in the field. When you use ABR products, you become a specialist in restoration.” The Architectural Use Guide, offered for the first time in this catalog, is the keystone of ABR’s training program. Reflecting on his tenure at ABR, Jack concludes, “It’s a blessing to rise from humble circumstances to acceptance in the industry. Our contribution today is to help others do the same thing.”