Kelly-Moore Paints closes abruptly

Kelly-Moore Paints is going out of business and has closed all of its stores.

The paint supply business, which was started in San Carlos in 1948, announced Friday it was immediately ceasing operations. Kelly-Moore has faced thousands of claims in court due to its past use of asbestos in cement and texture products.

The company had 157 stores, including dozens in the Bay Area, and hundreds of employees. A sign at one location in San Francisco said the shop was "permanently closed."

In a statement, Kelly-Moore CEO Charles Gassenheimer said he was "extremely disappointed and saddened" by the outcome, adding that despite the company’s best efforts, "We simply couldn’t overcome the massive legal and financial burdens that have been weighing on the company for many years."

"That’s kind of a shocker because it seemed like an iconic San Francisco business forever," said contractor Pierre LaBelle. "They’re my go-to place and have been for years…not only for work but for my personal use at my house. It's tragic, what else can you say, especially if it was some sort of company malfeasance as opposed to a downturn in the economy or some more legitimate reason."

A former Kelly-Moore employee told KTVU that ex-colleagues got an email yesterday saying they were losing their jobs.

"I work amongst people who have been with the company for 40 years, 25 years, 30 years... their entire careers," said Tyra Lamar from Sonoma County. "I look at the families that have young children that aren't going to have benefits after this month and I'm just devastated. I'm devastated to see what the Moore family created 77 years ago and what it has now become."

Lamar added that the status of most workers' retirement plans remains unclear.       

Officials say they have enough inventory at a distribution facility in Union City to fill all existing orders.

The business was founded by William Kelly and William Moore and touted itself on its website "as the leading independent paint company in the U.S.", but was acquired by Pleuger Chemicals in 2022. The new owners moved the headquarters to Texas.

KTVU reporter Zak Sos contributed to this report.