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Looking Ahead by Looking Back: Gaco and the 1962 World’s Fair

September 22, 2022 3:58 pm

Before Gaco was Gaco (back when it was called the Gates Company), the company focused on coatings used for more industrial applications, like corrosion protection in dams, generators, and plants. In 1955, Aubrey Davis, Gaco’s first president, purchased the company and saw an opportunity to expand into the architectural world using the coatings for roofing and decking applications. 

Seven years after purchasing the company, Aubrey Davis was invited to showcase Gaco’s deck coating system at the 1962 World’s Fair. Only 12 years old at the time, Aubrey’s son Peter attended that fair alongside him. Peter Davis went on to become president of Gaco before his recent retirement in 2017. 

We took the opportunity to catch up with Peter Davis to garner his words of wisdom and reflect on the past 60 years of Gaco history since the World’s Fair.

Aubrey and Peter Davis

1962: Gaco Makes an Impression at the World’s Fair

When attending the World’s Fair, Aubrey Davis had the opportunity to coat a walking deck into one of the major exhibits. He took full advantage of this opportunity and put down his new Gaco deck as a demonstration. 

“It was a great, great example of how strong the Gaco deck is,” says Peter Davis.

Not only did coating the walking deck showcase the strength of a Gaco decking system, but it also gave Aubrey Davis a chance to bring attention to the decking’s unique aggregate. Until this point, sand was used as the aggregate, but Aubrey Davis used walnut shell. Unsurprisingly, it was challenging to convince people that the different and new walnut shell was better than a traditional sand aggregate. 

Sand is coarse and harder than most coatings, so it scuffs through the coating over time, causing you to lose your aggregate. Walnut shell, on the other hand, wears equally because it’s the same durability as the coating. While many people were skeptical about the benefits of the walnut shell, coating a walking deck at the World’s Fair allowed Aubrey Davis to give a live demonstration to thousands of people walking on the Gaco deck coating. Attendees witnessed first-hand the performance of the walnut shell aggregate and were impressed. Today, GacoShell and GacoGrip use walnut shell to create a skid-resistant texture for pedestrian and automotive decks.

2022: Gaco Celebrates Its Long History of Innovation

Gaco’s innovation didn’t stop at the World’s Fair. For more than 60 years, we’ve been introducing cutting-edge roofing and decking solutions to our portfolio. From the launch of LM60 (which remains a popular waterproofing solution 60 years later) to the introduction of our silicone roof coatings, we have continued to provide contractors and building owners with the solutions they need to keep their roofs and decks in excellent condition. 


Gaco’s Portfolio of Roof and Deck Coatings

Our portfolio includes a range of roof and deck coatings designed for different uses, roof types, and climates. Every product is formulated for high performance and to meet the needs of our contractors.


Roof Coatings

  • Silicone Coatings can be applied to most existing roof substrates in temperatures as low as 33 °F (0.5 °C) and as high as 120 °F (48 °C). Because they’re waterproof, highly flexible, and resistant to ponding water, silicone coatings are popular in areas with a lot of precipitation and/or overall roof conditions that are not favorable to complete removal of water from the substrate’s surface.. 
  • Urethane Coatings are known for their durability, impact resistance, and chemical resistance. They also beat other coatings when it comes to tensile strength and can withstand extreme weather conditions.  
  • Acrylic Coatings are the most popular roof coatings. They can help extend the life of a roof and are highly reflective, which can help a building owner save on cooling costs. Acrylic coatings are normally used in high-heat, low-humidity locations where ponding water isn’t common. 
  • GacoRoofFoam: When paired with an approved coating, GacoRoofFoam creates a complete roofing system for new builds and repair projects. The foam is applied as a liquid and expands to form a single-layer roof insulation.


Deck Coatings

  • GacoAutoDeck Systems are protective membranes that can withstand years of extreme weather, heavy vehicle traffic, oil, and salt. 
  • GacoPedestrianDeck Systems are meant for use in areas with foot traffic, and they’re designed to expand and contract with temperature shifts to prevent cracking, peeling, lifting, and leaks. These deck systems often feature GacoShell walnut-base granules (the very same mentioned at the beginning of this article) for added slip resistance with outstanding durability. 
  • GacoFlex Crystal Deck is also designed for pedestrian traffic, but focuses more on increasing aesthetics. These decks feature colored crystal quartz granules for slip resistance and a stylish look. 


What Sets Gaco Apart From the Rest

Aside from our extensive product portfolio, what makes Gaco stand out from other manufacturers? We always keep our contractors top of mind, which helps us develop the best products and maintain lasting, valuable relationships.


Making Our Contractors Jobs Easier

Helping our contractors succeed is at the forefront of how we operate, and we are always seeking ways to provide innovative products and solutions that help make their business more efficient. Peter Davis shared his thoughts on this as well, “Gaco didn’t formulate to a cost — we’ve always formulated to a performance. We worked hard to develop some of the best products in the industry and focus on great durability, tensile strength, UV stability, reflectivity, and other factors that can help our contractors stand out.”


Offering Quality Products Our Contractors Can Trust

We know our roofing contractors have a lot of liability. They need a product they can trust will work properly and withstand the test of time. With other parts of a building, things can be 99 % good and still function fine. But with the roof, it’s that other 1 % that can lead to leaks that damage other assets inside the building. We help our contractors by developing products they know they can count on to get the job done right. “The one thing your roof has to be is 100 % good and correct, and what you want is a company that’s been here since 1955 and products that have proven themselves since 1955 that will work,” says Peter Davis.


Preparing Our Contractors With Technical Training and Resources

Application knowledge is a huge factor regarding our contractors’ liability, and we provide our Gaco Licensed Applicators with industry-leading training. Gaco’s incredible team of technical experts give our contractors the knowledge to properly apply our coatings, and the confidence to know the coatings will perform as intended.  Additionally, with programs such as GacoUniversity, we provide supplemental opportunities to improve your application skills, selling methods to build your book of business, and increase knowledge of the industry’s latest innovations and trends.


Fostering Lasting, Meaningful Relationships with Gaco’s Company Culture

When asked what he remembers most fondly about his time with Gaco, Peter Davis simply responded, “The people, they’re just amazing.” From the offices to the plant floor, Gaco has maintained the culture it was built on so many years ago – prioritizing respect, creativity, quality, and relentless hard work to bring our customers the best.

This culture helps our contractors when seamless collaboration is needed between sales, customer service, production, and shipping to complete a project within a building owner’s timeline. Thanks to the Gaco experience, our contractors know we’re a partner to them, and we’ll stand behind them if something goes wrong.

Can Gaco Help Your Business?

Experience the quality of Gaco’s people and products for yourself. Speak to your Local Gaco Area Manager today.