BodyShop Business
Illinois Restoration Shop Owner Invents Reusable Paint Mixing Cup
Jason Stahl

ronnie espig and his green cup
Ronnie Espig and his Green Cup
Ronnie Espig characterizes himself as a little guy in a small shop in the sticks. But he’s come up with a very big idea that could save shops a lot of money, not to mention help out the planet.

It’s called the Green Cup, which Espig says is the only 100 percent reusable paint mixing cup on the market. He came up with the idea in 2009 after starting his own restoration shop and becoming painfully familiar with the high cost of paint and materials.

“I found out that one of the biggest expenses was those plastic cups, so to eliminate that expense, I took the old idea of aluminum paint mixing sticks and turned it into a cup,” says Espig.

Espig had a friend who's a machinist create a prototype: an aluminum 32-ounce cup with the same measuring numbers a plastic cup has, only put inside the cup. It also has a pour spout and is stackable. And the best part? Cleaning it out with a little thinner between jobs, it can be used over and over again. He had tried cleaning out plastic cups before, but found there was always some residue left. Plus, the measurement numbers would eventually wear off.
Unlike a plastic cup, the measurement numbers are on the inside of the Green Cup.
Unlike a plastic cup, the measurement numbers are on the inside of the Green Cup.

As a one-man shop in Hebron, Ill., painting cars, motorcycles, goalie helmets and miscellaneous other things, Espig says he used to go through two boxes of plastic cups a month, so he estimates he’s now saving roughly $1,500 a year.

“The average MAACO in my area uses a whole pallet of them per month, so I can’t imagine what they would save,” he says.

The No. 1 question Espig gets asked about the Green Cup is, “Will someone understand how to use it?” But there is virtually no learning curve, says Espig, since the exact numbers that are printed on the outside of a plastic cup are on the inside now. The hard part is affecting a behavior change in painters.

“If I own a large shop of 10 guys or more and I’m going to save money from this, it’s a simple decision to have guys do this,” says Espig. “I’m still paying the guy regardless of what he’s doing. It’s not hard to put some thinner in there. Not only that, a lot of guys in between doing jobs will wash their guns, so you can throw the cup in the gun washing machine. You have to wait for flash time anyway. Once I tell people that, they say, ‘I guess you’re right.’”

Espig has sold about 450 Green Cups so far via local trade shows, Facebook and Twitter. He figures he has put roughly $5,000 of his own money into building a small inventory and pursuing a patent. Whether he gets that back or not isn’t important to him: it’s about helping the industry and the planet.

“We’re throwing money away and destroying Mother Earth, and right now, this planet needs all the help it can get.”

More information:

Green Cup on Facebook

Green Cup on Twitter

Ronnie can also be reached at (815) 307-3618 or [email protected].

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