After six years of home ownership, my hallways and living room needed some touching up. We host parties with lots of guests. Our daughter plays with her toys. Two dogs run and play all day. It seems that “everyday living” in our home takes a toll on the walls, just as it does in homes all around the world. Over time, various nicks and spots and scuffs and streaks make their way onto the walls. The easiest fix is to simply paint over the imperfections and start the clock over until it’s time to touch up the walls again a few years down the line.
The records we kept when the home was built indicated the name of the paint manufacturer and listed the color as “Canvas.” Simple enough…away I went to the paint store to order a gallon of “Canvas” in a flat finish. An hour later I was back home and ready to work. With brush in hand, I addressed all the hallmarks of a home well-loved and lived in. There were scuffs left by tricycle tires against the hallway walls when our daughter was learning to ride. A chip where I’d bumped the wall while moving a coffee table years ago. One after another, I touched up and repainted all the little spots that add up over time. And in a few places that were simply dirty, I cheated and painted over that as well (even though I know better). Content with my work, I left the paint to dry for a few hours before checking on each spot.
“I know a perfect interior decorator who can help you…”
“We work with a printing company that would be great for producing the flyers you need…”
“Let me contact a colleague of mine…that new website design you need is right up his alley.”
One of the best ways to grow any business is to find partners to work with. Working with someone else that offers a different, but complementary, service to your offerings can help lead to better solutions for your customers and increased revenue for you both. While a vendor is a company that sells you a good or service for a flat fee, a partner relationship is much more organic. A partner is someone with common interests that can help you just as you help them in return, so your relationships with your partners will evolve and change as both of your businesses grow.
Automobiles and motorcycles feature some of the most complex paint work anywhere. Not only do the coatings have to look great from bumper to bumper, the paint must also hold up well against sun damage, wind, and rain, while also preventing rust and corrosion of the substrate for years on end. Properly painting a car, truck, or motorcycle requires some of the most complex layering of paint and protective coating of any product or structure. But long before the first sprayer starts painting, the surface must be properly prepared. One of the world’s most popular motorcycle manufacturers, Harley Davidson, has a unique approach to surface preparation that blends robotic precision with human craftwork.
Justin saw the problem right away. The new member of his paint team had done a great job on the entire room….except for a spot the size of a dinner plate that looked terrible.
“You didn’t clean the wall, did you?” he asked. The new member of the team looked dumbfounded. Justin continued, “That area on the wall was dirty before you started. And now the paint is different on that spot because you tried to paint over something that wasn’t supposed to be there. My guess is that it’s some old glue or grease that the builder didn’t see on the sheetrock.”
It didn’t matter to Justin or the client that the rest of the room looked great. That one spot was an eye-sore and would have to be addressed right away.
“Jack’s paint work was sloppy. We were very dissatisfied.”
“The painter showed up two hours late to do the work in dirty clothes.”
“The workers were unprofessional and left empty paint cans behind when they were finished”
“We had to hire a different painter to come in and repaint the room. I wouldn’t hire ABC Paint company ever again.”
As a professional painter, your intentions are likely genuine. Your hope is that every client loves your work and says good things about you. Reality is much different. Some people are impossible to satisfy and sometimes things simply don’t work out for one reason or another. How do you tell your side of the story in a professional and dignified manner? Is it even possible to get a word into the conversation?
“There’s a treasury agent on the phone?”
“I said, ‘there is a treasury agent on the phone.’ He’d like to speak with the owner of the business.”
Heath was startled and confused by what his assistant was telling him. What on earth did a treasury agent want with him this morning? He picked up the receiver.
“Good morning Mr. Young…” The voice on the other end of the line was blunt and direct. “I’d like to speak to you about a few members of your paint crew.”
Heath’s stomach dropped. This could be trouble of the worst kind for both him and his paint business.
Jesse saw the high ceilings as soon as the client opened the door. They were at least fourteen feet high, probably closer to sixteen. It was a beautiful entryway for a beautiful home with a chandelier and moldings. The new coat of paint was going to look sensational… a mild beige for the walls and a glossy ivory for the trim.
Jesse stole a look out the door to his truck parked in front of the client’s house. The ladder strapped to the roof was only eight feet tall. He could probably manage to get the walls painted using the extension handle on his roller, but the trim was an entirely different matter. After reviewing the rest of the rooms he would be painting, Jesse excused himself to go back to the truck and gather his materials. As he walked down the driveway, he made a quick call back to the office: “My work sheet doesn’t say anything about high ceilings and trim….we’re going to need scaffolding out here…”
The development and creation of paint most often happens in a laboratory far away from paint stores and job sites. Chemists and scientists spend hours upon hours formulating the exact right combination of materials to make a paint that performs exactly as they intend. From holding color, to protecting the substrate, to adhering to the surface and not cracking for years on end, formulating a paint that can be utilized in a production environment is a rigorous and detail-oriented process.
In the laboratory, these scientists and engineers count on a number of tools to help them make sure that what they are making can be repeated on a large scale and utilized by professional painters on paint jobs all over the world. And while tools like spectrophotometers, adhesion testers, and gloss meters provide a wealth of information about a paint’s true chemical characteristics, this represents only half of the test equation.
In our previous post, you were introduced to a young man who sought to take over his father’s paint business. Little did Jason know, the work would not be easy and success wouldn’t happen overnight. Jason agreed to answer a few questions about how he learned to be a great painter and what it means to carry on his family’s paint business.
Gardner Laboratories: When did it ‘click’ for you that being a professional painter required more than simply showing up for the job?
Jason S.: It came from a desire to show my father, who founded the business, that I could do the work. He challenged me to actually apply myself and try to be good at something. I took for granted that he’d just give me the business eventually. He always said he had three children…my sister, me, and the business. He wasn’t going to give me anything I didn’t earn.
Jason was about to join the business his father, Wesley, owned. For twenty five years – since before Jason was born – the company had offered interior painting services to homes and offices around the Topeka area. For the first few years, Wesley worked on all the jobs himself. But in the last two decades, he had carefully added new employees both in the field performing paint work and also in the office to make sure that everything ran smoothly. The plan was for Jason to spend time with each department, learning the ins-and-outs of the business so that one day, when Wesley retired, Jason could take over the family business.
The first job Wesley wanted Jason exposed to was the paint work itself. “Son,” he said, “the business end of things might be more interesting to you, but the core of what we do revolves around painting walls and making people happy. Get used to it, because you’re not going to do anything else around here until you prove to me that you know the paint work inside and out. Our team follows my lead and they all know that I can grab a brush and get to work if I have to.”