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The meaning of “Independent” The more things change, the more they stay the same: or so the expression goes. It has been over six years since I have written anything for The Paint Dealer magazine (more in a moment about how I have spent the last six years). That time has seen tremendous change in both the economy in general and in our industry, and in specifically in what it means to be an independent paint retailer. Notice the italics, my emphasis on the word independent. If you are reading this, there is a good chance that that word is part of your job title: Independent Paint Retailer! But, despite all the changes of the last few years, things are very much the same: we all still feed our families by selling paint! A little over six years ago, I was bored with my career as an independent paint retailer. Running my two stores had become fairly routine for me and at the time, if you recall, it was pretty easy to sell paint in an economy that was robust. In addition to an economy that was gangcontributing writer busters, manufacturers were supporting us. Mark I had good managers and a solid outside lipton rep growing my business and so I decided to run for public office. I had always felt that I wanted to do so at some point in my life. I ended up being the president of a Board of Education in the school district where we lived and where my daughter attended school. Our district had lots of employees (800+ at times), lots of students (4,000 or so)

g t te n si si ci Vi eb pri l r w ia ou pec rs


and a large budget ($115,000,000 or so). So right now, you are wondering “why am I telling you all this?” in a column in a magazine about paint. Simple really: what I learned in those six years, applies to me in my career as a businessman and an independent paint retailer. Running a school district as big as the one I was involved in requires that you always be looking far down the road. What a difference that was from my experience in my two stores! Oh sure, I used to think about the future, I even wrote about it in columns in this magazine on several occasions. But, I was 43 years old, far from retirement and so mostly I was spending my time making “day-to-day” decisions rather than making the long-term strategic decisions that I now understand are far more important. We have all faced troubles in the last few years, mainly from an unforgiving economy (and additionally for me from an unforgiving ex-wife and her lawyer!). As I have worked to get myself out of these troubles, I have tried to apply the lessons of strategic thinking. I run my stores very differently now. I think more about where I want to go and less about the choices that get me through the day. Almost every decision that I make now is viewed through the prism of this high altitude thinking. For example, I used to just blindly take in new lines that our key vendors suggested (or required). Now, I am not such an easy sale to make. Does it fit with what I have now? Does it add to my offering in some significant way, or does it just make a vendor happy with me? Does a particular decision enhance my independence or make me less master and more slave? Does it help get me where I am trying to go? Over the coming months, I hope The head is made of 12 gauge high carbon steel, heat treated to Rockwell c 50. to share with you some of my thinking on this and many other topics. I The scraper has 4 sharpened blades which make it useful in almost any scraping situation. enjoyed my experience of stepping The nail-puller is situated next to the aged hardwood out of my stores for those six years. handle for optimum leverage. Serving my community as I did made The head of the tool has a large and tuff striking surface yet has a lightweight design for less fatigue. me a better and wiser independent paint retailer and I look forward to Hammer applying those lessons, now that I am back to serving myself. I have some ideas already about the topNail-Puller ics I want to write about but I am m always opened to hearing from you, r. c o e m the readers, about what topics are m ha r important to you. You can email me e ap r at if you want c .s "With the Scrammer™, I can scrape paint and pull to share your thoughts. ww or set nails as needed without switching tools.

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Mark Lipton is owner of Tremont Paint Supply in Bronx, NY. TPD

7 mark my words  
7 mark my words  

Owner of Tremont Paint and ALLPRO member Mark Lipton returns as a contributing writer to The Paint Dealer magazine.