inPAINT T H E M AG A Z I N E FO R PR O FE SS I O N AL S
SEP/O C T 2020
PROS ON THEIR GO-TO STAINS FOR BEAUTY AND PROTECTION
Business UNusual 4 pros respond to COVID-19 Caulk: prep, application & avoiding common failures
Sep/Oct 2020 | inPAINT
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“All failure is failure to adapt; all success is successful adaptation.” —Max McKeown, author, consultant and researcher specializing in innovation strategy, leadership and culture
o, here we are. Heading into the last few months of a completely unpredictable and unprecedented year. And, here’s what we know: for the foreseeable future, the future will be unforeseeable. That said, being in the painting trade has probably prepared you well for this moment in time. After all, who hasn’t shown up at a jobsite to discover an unforeseen problem—the wrong coating delivered, furniture or equipment still in the space to be painted, or the unexpected absence of crew members. What do you do? You assess your objective, your resources, your options, and you make decisions on how to move forward. You adapt. For this issue of inPAINT, we interviewed four of our Editorial Advisory Board members to learn how they have adapted their business practices and strategies during COVID-19 (Business UNusual). The scale and scope of their adaptations are as varied as the size and nature of their businesses. But one interesting theme throughout is how the solutions created to address the emergent problems actually served to solve other long-standing—albeit lower-grade— problems. I also found it interesting that none of the pros plan to return to their old ways once the pandemic is past. We also feature a builder who found ways to maximize the downtime COVID-19 created to address some training issues for his team (Ask a Pro); offer some ideas for adapting your approach to finances for a more secure future (Bottom Line); and we talked to a few color experts on how consumers are using color choices to help them cope with uncertainty (Trend in Focus). No matter what the challenges you are facing are, I hope the articles that follow provide you some insight and guidance and that, above all, you are inspired to adapt and find the possibilities that exist amid all the impossibilities. Cheers,
Amanda Haar Amanda Haar Managing Editor, inPAINT
2020 EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD LeAnn Day President, Paint & Decorating Retailers Association Doug Imhoff Owner, Imhoff Fine Residential Painting
inPAINT | Sep/Oct 2020
Larry Marler Owner, The Works Remodeling and Finishing, LLC Tara Riley President, Fresh Coat Painters Dave Scaturro VP & Director of Commercial Estimating, Alpine Painting & Sandblasting Contractors
Nick Slavik Proprietor, Nick Slavik Painting & Restoration Co., and Host of Ask a Painter! Live Art Snarzyk Owner, InnerView Advisors, Inc.
NICK MAY AND CHRIS SHANK HAVE JOINED FORCES TO
ELEVATE THE TRADE
SAVE THE DATE FOR OUR PREMIER CRANK.0 VIRTUAL CONFERENCE: JAN 12â€“14, 2021
Text: Elevate the Trade to 72,000
PROVIDING PAINTING CONTRACTORS WITH THE FOUNDATIONAL KNOWLEDGE AND TOOLS NEEDED TO RUN A PROFITABLE PAINTING BUSINESS
JOIN A COMMUNITY
PROPAINTERNETWORK.COM Sep/Oct 2020 | inPAINT
This issue’s contributing experts PUBLISHER Edward McAdams MANAGING EDITOR Amanda Haar DESIGN Carl Bezuidenhout CREATIVE SERVICES DIRECTOR Cindy Puskar
CONTRIBUTING WRITER Brian Sodoma
EDITORIAL amanda@inPAINTmag.com ADVERTISE 602-296-5391 ed@inPAINTmag.com SUBSCRIBE inPAINTmag.com/subscribe inPAINTmag.com
publishing group REM Publishing Group LLC 8924 E Pinnacle Peak Rd Suite G5 #575 Scottsdale, AZ 85255
Hayden Croxall Croxall Painting Company Marylizbeth Elms MS Paint Shane Garrett Garrett Painting Ray Heck Tower Sealants Doug Imhoff Imhoff Fine Residential Painting Stephanie Keith MS Paint Cameron Loughlin Mountain Skyline Painting Jason Lunn 3M Larry Marler The Works Remodeling and Finishing Jason Matthews Matthews’ Painting Company Sara McLean Dunn-Edwards Paints Jack Miller Jack Miller Contractors Chris Moore Elite Business Advisors Ron Rice Ron Rice Painting & Consulting Dave Scaturro Alpine Painting & Sandblasting Contractors Dee Schlotter PPG Paints
©2020 REM Publishing Group LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction or use of content in any manner without written permission by the publisher is strictly prohibited. Opinions expressed in signed columns and articles do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. Publisher assumes no liability for any damages or loss of any kind that might arise from the use, misuse or inability to use the materials or information contained in this publication. All material and information appearing in this publication is distributed and transmitted ‘as is,’ without warranties of any kind, either expressed or implied, and is subject to the terms and conditions stated in this disclaimer. 6
inPAINT | Sep/Oct 2020
John Shearer Shearer Painting Nick Slavik Nick Slavik Painting & Restoration Co.
GOING THE EXTRA MILE
SPECIAL SECTION NOV/DEC ISSUE
What the industry is doing to support the pro through products and services
inPAINT® Sep/Oct 2020
From assessment and prep to technique and troubleshooting
4 pros’ responses to COVID-19
4 pros’ go-to stains that deliver beauty and protection
The inPAINT Interview
John Shearer on Shearer Painting’s culture and their keys to success
This Page's Photos Courtesy of Shearer Painting
32 DEPARTMENTS 10 The News Industry ins and outs
34 Tools of the Trade What’s in today’s professional toolbox?
14 5 Good Questions Painting contractor credits success to cash reserves and marketing
36 Teach to Fish Now there’s a faster, easier way to repair a large hole in drywall
16 Trends A fast look at the forces at work in our industry
38 Upcoming Events The what, where and when of the industry’s leading events
17 Trend in Focus How working from home during COVID is impacting color choices
39 Bottom Line Tips for running a lean and profitable business during economic downturns
18 Ask a Pro Investing in employees through continued education
inPAINT | Sep/Oct 2020
Cover photo courtesy of ZK Painting of Providence, RI, who stripped and stained this Garapa Gold and IPE deck four years ago with Armstrong-Clark Hardwood/IPE stain in Black Walnut. This summer, the crew washed the deck and applied another coat of Armstrong-Clark. IG @ zkpainting
Dunn-Edwards launches stain-resistant interior paint T Featuring an ultra-low-VOC, 100%-acrylic formula, EXQUISITE Matte from Dunn-Edwards is an all-new washable interior matte paint. Incorporating the company’s durable ChromaStay Technology and Ceramic Technology, EXQUISITE provides superior protection against stains, scuffs, burnish and color rub-off. Available in all Perfect Palette colors and stock classic white and stock black, it’s ideal for use on high-end residential and upscale retail projects as well as schools, hospitals, commercial spaces and other high-use areas where durable, ultra-low-VOC products are desired. DunnEdwards.com/EXQUISITE
Graco launches line of airless disinfectant sprayers T In an effort to do their part to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Graco recently developed and launched the SaniSpray HP, the industry’s first airless high-production sprayer built specifically for sanitizing, disinfecting and deodorizing jobs. While it uses the same technology found in Graco airless sprayers for coatings, much of the machine had to be reworked to accommodate the disinfecting product going through the system. The new purpose-built sprayer comes in five models ranging from handheld to larger units that can run multiple hoses and applicators—providing options for pros who use anywhere from 15 gallons of disinfectant a week to those who need to sanitize arenas and other large public spaces and might go through more than 300 gallons of sanitizer a week. Graco.com
PPG ULTRALAST interior paint + primer features CLEAN SURFACE TECHNOLOGY
T PPG Paints recently responded to consumer demand for an interior product that allows them to wash off everyday stains and scuffs with ease and provides a durable barrier against future stains with the introduction of ULTRALAST interior paint + primer. Featuring CLEAN SURFACE TECHNOLOGY, an integration of both automotive exterior and consumer electronics coatings technology, this super-premium paint repels stubborn stains, preventing them from seeping into the paint film, to help extend the freshly painted look of interior walls. Ideal for high-use areas such as in kitchens, bathrooms, playrooms, restaurants, retail spaces, educational facilities and other commercial spaces, it reduces the need for abrasive cleaners and sponges that remove color from walls and cause burnishing. The dry paint film also resists mildew. Exceptional stain and scuff resistance may extend repaint cycles, which could help save time and money. Available at PPG Paint stores, select independent retailers, and The Home Depot. PPGPaints.com/ultralast
inPAINT | Sep/Oct 2020
New partnership brings order to the chaos of virtual operations T Online messaging platform Hatch recently partnered with the virtual sales platform One Click Contractor to provide pros with a seamless end-to-end customer communication, sales and project management solution. Especially important during the time of COVID-19, One Click Contractor consolidates commonly used trade technologies and simplifies the process of going virtual with your entire business. From your sales pipeline and virtual estimates to projects in process and payment trackingâ€”and all the customer communication that takes place in betweenâ€”your entire team can now have real-time access to the information they need. UseHatchApp.com & OneClickContractor.com
TID 18 Impact Driver
T18 Easy Drill Driver
Lightweight cordless drills deliver heavy-duty performance T Festool USA recently introduced two new cordless power tools in the U.S. market. Both the TID 18 Impact Driver and the T18 Easy Drill Driver are powered with the new Li HighPower 4.0 HPC-ASI 18 V Battery Pack and are backed by a 3-year wear-and-tear warranty, including the battery pack and charger. The TID 18 features a standard quick-release chuck and T-Mode control for intelligent fastening. The T18 Easy Drill Driver features a single, keyless chuck, two-speed gearbox and stepless speed control. Both tools include an EC TEC brushless motor, magnetic bit storage and removable belt clip, and their lightweight construction minimizes arm fatigue even in hard-to-reach spaces. FestoolUSA.com/cordless
ChoreRelief waives commission during COVID T As a gesture of goodwill during the pandemic, home repair and maintenance app ChoreRelief is waiving its standard fee for matching home improvement professionals and customers. Because of the need for social distancing, the app is seeing an uptick in interest from consumers, as it allows pros to bid jobs, provide job updates, submit invoices, and be paid without any direct customer contact. Under normal circumstances, a portion of each job billed is returned to ChoreRelief, which makes this limited-time commission-free period a great way to try out the app. ChoreRelief.com
OSHA launches COVID-19 website for construction and in-home repair workers T OSHA recently launched a series of new webpages featuring information on COVID-19 control and prevention. Two pages address specific concerns and practices related to the construction and in-home repair professions. While the new resources do not create any legal obligations for employers, they do provide employers with guidance for creating the safest and healthiest worksite possible. OSHA.gov/SLTC/covid-19/in-home-repair.html Sep/Oct 2020 | inPAINT
An electric airless sprayer tough enough for level 5 finishes T Titan recently introduced the Impact 1040T Electric Airless Sprayer, specifically designed for maximum durability when applying smooth texture and abrasive coatings such as level 5 finishes, knockdown texture and high-build coatings. The Impact 1040T’s fluid section features an efficient siphoning system with a submerged foot valve for handling heavy-bodied coatings with ease. Ceramic balls and carbide seats are resistant to abrasive coatings, and the PermaLife Cylinder never wears so it never needs replacing. The selfadjusting and self-compensating Quad+ Packings extend the life of the fluid section and deliver the best performance on every job, and the Electronic Pressure Control provides consistent pressure and eliminates issues with deadband. The unit sits on a high rider EZ-Tilt Cart featuring a telescoping handle that allows you to tilt the unit back and reposition it with just one hand, while two extra-large 12" pneumatic tires make travel over rough surfaces easy. The Impact 1040T comes standard with a Titan RX-APEX gun, TR1 517 tip and 3/8" x 50' hose. Also included is a Splatter Nozzle designed to spray joint compound—perfect for heavy knockdown and orange peel textures. TitanTool.com/impact-1040T.html
DAP introduces sealant designed with paint pros in mind T DAP recently introduced a line of acrylic urethane sealants called Power Point 300, specifically formulated for paint contractors. The line features a unique urethanized formula with up to 600% stretch that seals gaps up to 3" wide without cracking, and its 14 colors are designed to match today’s top trim and siding colors. Able to withstand the constant expansion and contraction that homes go through as the seasons change, Power Point 300 provides a 100% waterproof and weatherproof seal that’s ready for paint in two hours. Backed by a lifetime guarantee, it’s compatible with most paints and won’t shine through, dull or discolor paint—or cause paint film cracking. DAP.com
Pro Painter Network launches T Described as a combination of an association and a franchise, the recently launched Pro Painter Network (PPN) seeks to elevate the trade of paint contracting. The brainchild of Nick May and Chris Shank of iMay Media, PPN is “intended to help pro painters build the kind of business that suits their life and helps them create the life they love.” PPN aims to provide painting contractors with foundational knowledge of running a profitable painting business from beginning to end, including access to peer-to-peer collaboration and mentoring, monthly webinars and workshops, regional training and networking events, leadership development opportunities, and more. In addition, members will have access to deep industry discounts, PPN-related marketing materials, a competitive national and regional awards program, and an annual networking meeting. ProPainterNetwork.com
T-Rex introduces Double-Sided Super Glue Tape T If you spend any time attaching chair rails or molding to walls, adhering foam insulation around windows and doors, installing LED lighting underneath cabinets, or reattaching wood veneer, then you’re definitely going to want to check out T-Rex Double-Sided Super Glue Tape from Shurtape Technologies. An easy, mess-free replacement for traditional liquid glues, it instantly adheres to surfaces without staining them, and it won’t bond to skin. TRexTape.com
inPAINT | Sep/Oct 2020
New & Improved
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Find your grit at HomeDepot.com. Sep/Oct 2020 | inPAINT
1 SHANE GARRETT founded Garrett Painting in 2000. Since that time, he’s built a company recognized for a high level of professionalism and quality. Accredited by the Better Business Bureau and a member of the Columbia Home Builders Association and the PCA, the company provides painting and floor-surfacing services to residential and commercial customers in midMissouri. GarrettPainting.net
QUESTIONS WITH SHANE GARRETT
What keeps you up at night? The volatility of the economy. Let’s face it, for the most part, painting is not essential, so when the economy is not doing well, it can really hurt our livelihood. COVID-19 clearly demonstrated how fast things can get bad and reminded me of two things: 1) the importance of keeping cash stockpiled, and 2) the importance of marketing. Our marketing mostly consists of organic social media efforts on Facebook and Instagram. We stay on top of it daily and, I believe, it’s what’s helped us keep crews up and running even when the economy was at its worst.
What aspect of building your business are you most proud of? I am very proud of our systems. We worked for years to get the office flow and production flow working together seamlessly. Every aspect of our business— from lead intake to the final follow-up call—is tracked and managed by one of two systems: Estimate Rocket and Basecamp. We spent three or four years trying out a number of different systems and then went all-in on these systems just over two years ago. The goals were to eliminate double entries, manage details so nothing falls through the cracks, and to create prompts and checklists so we’re not dependent on anyone to remember things. Now, when a request for a bid comes in, it gets put into the system, and all the players involved at every stage have access to the information they need to do their job. There’s no guessing if it’s been approved or what color paint to use. It’s absolutely improved our efficiency and eliminated errors.
What do you consider the most important aspect of the hiring process? The interview itself. This is where we get a chance to see if the prospect is a culture fit but, more importantly, we are able to ‘sell’ our culture and values to the potential new
inPAINT | Sep/Oct 2020
INSIGHT FROM A PAINTING BUSINESS OWNER
hire. The things we emphasize are the fact that we have great systems, great leaders—some who have been with us 15+ years—and that we’re a professional operation that offers a real and meaningful career path. For people coming from other trades or other less-buttoned-up painting companies, this carries a lot of weight.
In the last five years, what new belief, behavior or habit has most improved your life? Just positive thinking in general. After dealing with thousands of ‘emergencies’ over the last 20 years, I have come to realize that the problem is usually not as big of a deal as it initially seems. When something comes up on a job or a client’s unhappy, I don’t panic or get emotional. The key is to take a few deep breaths and focus on finding the solution rather than dwelling on the problem. Later, once we’ve worked through it, the leadership team will discuss the issue, look for causes, and, in some cases, take actions to address it. But not every issue that arises is one that can be fixed. For example, we’re in the summer months in Missouri. Our people are going to complain it’s hot. Not much I can do to change that except be encouraging and remind them we’ll get through it.
What changes have you made to your business in response to COVID-19? I can’t say I’m doing that much differently. I mentioned the importance of keeping plenty of cash in reserves. Toward that end, I’m trying to not spend money I don’t need to; that includes new equipment. The biggest COVID-related challenge I’m dealing with is hiring painters. Right now, the federal stimulus and unemployment offering add up to a lot more than the $12–$15/hour I can offer. I’m definitely working harder than ever to find team members.
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Home sweet office
According to a recent homeowner survey conducted by Houzz, 9 in 10 homeowners plan to make improvements to their homes after the pandemic. Here are the projects at the top of their lists:
Spaces homeowners plan to upgrade Outdoor spaces Master bathroom Kitchen Other bathroom Living room Master bedroom Garage Basement Laundry room Home office Closet Entry, foyer or mudroom Other bedroom Dining room Loft or attic Other
With many of our homes now serving as work spaces thanks to COVID-19, we thought it worth asking color experts at several paint manufacturers their top color choices for creating a productive work environment.
23% 18% 12% 10% 7% 7%
Behr Natural Almond PPU4-12
6% 6% 5% 4% 4% 4% 1% 7%
Dunn-Edwards Paints Golden Crest DE5353
New focus for the ‘new normal’
of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services.
PPG Paints Gargoyle PPG1127-4
According to the PCA, here are the most common ways pros have adjusted their business practices and focus during COVID-19: ■
■ ■ ■
Engaging in more charitable community ‘give-back’ efforts Concentrating on employee training Adding new service lines Focusing on business planning, development
Benjamin Moore Beacon Hill Damask HC-2
SOURCE: Salesforce.com, State of the Connected Customer
On the bright side ... The latest Small Business Optimism Index shows small business owners’ expectations about future sales have rebounded after the lowest reading in survey history last April. Survey respondents expect better business conditions over the next six months and are optimistic about the future of the economy. SOURCE: NFIB
inPAINT | Sep/Oct 2020
Sherwin-Williams Country Tweed SW 9519
TREND IN FOCUS
The pandemiccolor connection How working from home is influencing color
s we’ve all come to realize, there are very few aspects of our lives that haven’t been affected by COVID-19. And one’s preference for particular paint colors is no exception. According to PPG Paints Senior Color Marketing Manager Dee Schlotter, “Even prior to the pandemic, our research found that consumers were dealing with a lot of feelings of uncertainty and anxiety. When it came to color choices, people were craving tones and hues that instilled a sense of comfort and security. Then COVID-19 came along and those feelings weren’t just reinforced. They were compounded.”
Finding comfort in color Sara McLean, color marketing manager at Dunn-Edwards Paints, shares Schlotter’s perspective. “The pandemic is something so big and so unknown to all of us … it makes sense that people are drawn to colors that feel familiar, and offer a bit of comfort and a sense of optimism. The warming of colors we saw starting to take place last year has really accelerated during the crisis. Earthy pinks, yellows and peaches are stepping forward while cooler whites and grays are just starting to fall out of favor.” Both McLean and Schlotter foresee consumers looking for more nature-driven hues. Schlotter says, “People are rediscovering how restorative nature can be and they’re looking for ways to improve their physical and mental well-being. Colors like sage green, soft beige or wheat, and even clear blues that mimic nature can help create a bit of that desired Zen.” McLean thinks the shift to more nature-based hues also reflects a change in consumer values. “A year or so ago, it was all about luxury—what you had and how much of it. But after a few months of living at home with limited access to resources, people have come to value living with less and really appreciate certain aspects of sustainability and the way simply being in or surrounded by elements of nature can be enough. Their color preferences are starting to reflect that.”
Scaling back and toning down, inside and out While the recent volume of interior work has slowed for Cameron Loughlin, who owns Mountain Skyline Painting in Denver, CO, he has seen an uptick in the call for accent walls. “Most often, people are looking for a slightly bolder color for accent walls, but nothing dramatic like in years past. Honestly, customers are on edge and just aren’t taking the risks they did a year ago.” Another place Loughlin has noted a shift in customer color preferences is exteriors. “Last year, people were looking for three or even four colors for exteriors, sometimes with a bright pop on the front door. Now they’re paring back to two colors, and even those are what I’d call ‘safer’ color choices. Plus, the concern is really more about the condition of the house. People are looking to seal things up to prevent rot and just make sure the home is sound. Money that previously might have gone to appearance issues is being used to make sure the structure’s sound.” There’s still room for joy While McLean feels that comforting, earthy colors are going to rule consumer preference for the time being, she also feels there’s room for a bit of joy and whimsy. “In addition to being our office and gym, our home is now our playground. That is the place where you find joy and happiness. While you don’t want to go overboard, you shouldn’t fear hyperpigmented hues like cobalt. They can bring a bit of vibrancy to a home. I think that’s something we can all use during this anxiety-ridden time.”
Courtesy of Behr: Natural Almond PPU4-12
“ People are rediscovering how restorative nature can be and they’re looking for ways to improve their physical and mental well-being.” —DEE SCHLOTTER, PPG PAINTS
Sep/Oct 2020 | inPAINT
ASK A PRO
JACK MILLER learned the building trade from his father, a builder and remodeler in northeast Ohio. Inspired to choose a life in the trades, he studied business at Ashland University, spent a few years in the steel industry, and was a campus minister for 10 years where he learned the constructive skill of mentoring. His company, Jack Miller Contractors, specializes in traditional craftsmanship and applied building science. JackMillerContractors.com
inPAINT | Sep/Oct 2020
Courtesy of Kenzie Fields for Jack Miller Contractors, November 2019
What out-of-the box resources are you tapping to build your company?
The foundational operating principle of our company is to promote human dignity and respect for the individual. Continued education and investing in our employees aligns with this principle. Some of the best learning opportunities have come not from traditional hands-on training, but through a blend of old and new approaches. It’s an ongoing creative exercise to both identify and fund these efforts, but the rewards make it worthwhile. For example, we participate in several peer groups that have put some really great opportunities in front of us for lean process and improvement. Our office manager joined the Employers Association of the NorthEast, a group that provides information for small businesses including a human resource hotline, info sessions on new laws, and training resources for employees. These folks suggested we apply for a training grant and helped us figure out how to navigate the application. When we realized we had $15K available to us in a workforce training fund program, we were thrilled. We are using that funding to support several opportunities including leadership classes, lean-process training, and building professional/technical and soft skills. Although the grant we received is Massachusettsfunded, there are many organizations in other states that offer support to entrepreneurs. The Small Business Administration, for example, works to provide grants to small businesses and also offers free business counseling to its members. Access to the Paycheck Protection Program, designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep workers on the payroll as a result of the pandemic, allowed us to redirect our payroll funds to offer several employees access to OSHA AdvanceOnline and Passive House Institute UScertified builder trainings. And, because business was initially slowed by COVID-19, those employees actually had the time to participate in the training.
We’re big fans of networking programs to provide mentorship. Our general manager participates in the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association’s BuildingEnergy Bottom Lines, a business development program that uses a peer-coaching model consisting of six regional peer groups of its members dedicated to sustainability in the built environment, focusing on a triple bottom line: people, planet and profits. We also participate in the Remodelers Advantage Roundtable Programs for Business Owners and Production Managers, a world-class peer advisory service that brings together smart, motivated remodeling professionals to help one another grow. Joining these peer networks and being an active member of larger organizations has had a catalytic effect on the growth of our company. Internally, our management team participates in twice-weekly meetings as a point of connection and collective learning. We bring together project managers, estimators and administrators to review processes and gain some mental muscle memory. We rotate leadership of the meeting and discuss an ‘improvement of the day’ and ‘something I have learned’ that relates to our work to exchange ideas and share personal knowledge. We also offer in-house seminars on technical skill growth, and send employees to training sessions, conferences and trade shows focused on passive house building, building science, and sustainable energy. We constantly look for ways to provide opportunities for growth for our employees. As we promote this within our company, our employees benefit as skilled professionals, we create a more enjoyable company culture, and we find we are attracting better employees. The customer experience is improved as well—our customers benefit as they connect with a professional and high-functioning team that brings a constant improvement culture to every project. We couldn’t be more excited about where we are headed.
CAULK TALK Tips for successful application and avoiding common failures BY RAY HECK
n essential step in every painting project, caulking takes more than a strong wrist and a steady hand. Beginning with substrate assessment, followed by proper surface preparation, then skilled application and finishing technique, a successful caulk job should be virtually invisible to the property owner. What follows are some tips for minimizing the risk of failure and increasing the chances of achieving an attractive and durable seal. And just in case you inherit someone else’s caulk issues, you’ll also find troubleshooting tips for the most common—and some uncommon—caulk failures.
inPAINT | Sep/Oct 2020
All Photos Courtesy of Tower Sealants
Assessing the situation Joint size is critical, and most projects present a variety of joint sizes to be dealt with, so more than a single caulk product may be needed. Begin by comparing the joint size to the percentage of movement the caulk you are considering can take. If the joint is greater than 1/2" deep and 1/2" in width, it is important to use a backer rod in the joint to maintain the optimal sealant thickness and prevent the sealant from adhering to three sides. For instance, you want the caulk to adhere on the parallel sides of the joint to be sealed and not across the bottom. If all three sides are bonded, the joint can’t move. Large joints may require the use of elastomeric sealants to stretch and fill the space; typically, ASTM C-920 class sealants are used to successfully bridge large dynamic joints. When choosing a caulk, the reality is that many different products may work for any given application. The key to caulk selection is identifying the performance requirement and matching it to the product(s) that meet or exceed those requirements. It is also important to only apply caulk at the temperature the manufacturer has recommended to ensure the joint is at the optimum width. Adhering to the basic application guidelines on the product labels will minimize the risk of failure and increase your chances of achieving a durable and attractive seal that will last.
The key to caulk selection is identifying the performance requirement and matching it to the product(s) that meet or exceed those requirements. Preparing the surface Once you’ve determined the correct product(s) for the job, you are ready to prep the surface, which mainly consists of cleaning. Caulking over dirt or dust, or over paint that is not fully attached, will not allow the cured bead to adhere, so proper cleaning is a critical step not to be skipped. If you’re caulking a previously painted surface, remove any peeling or compromised coating. Next, blow as much dust and debris off as you can, and wipe the rest using lightly dampened rags until clean. If you’re working in a new construction, wipe down baseboards and around joints where drywall dust may have settled. Again, blow as much dust and debris off as possible, then wipe the rest using a damp, lint-free rag. Regardless of the substrate, never use a soaking-wet rag, as you don’t want to introduce moisture to the surface before caulking. It’s all in the tooling technique To begin, cut the tube’s tip (at an angle) slightly smaller than the width of the gap. Avoid cutting the nozzle tip too small to be able to release the yield needed to seal the joint. Practice on a scrap before beginning to assure all is working well. Position the gun so
At Mi-T-M, we pride ourselves on building mighty, damn good equipment. It’s what sets us apart from our competition. When you purchase equipment with the Mi-T-M name on it, you are buying dependable equipment that is designed, built, and tested by good people. Mighty. Damn. Good.
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Excessive tooling will remove too much caulk and may lead to a caulk cracking failure.
the sealant gets forced into the gap. Either pushing or pulling the gun along the surface is acceptable; keep the bead smooth with good contact to the substrate. Run a continuous bead whenever possible and, as a general rule, keep the bead slightly ahead of the tip to eliminate air pockets or overlap that leave an imperfect joint. And it is important to take your time; don’t rush this process.
Be careful not to remove caulk from the joint while tooling or you may leave the bead too small, leading to cracking failure. And never use a solvent when tooling, as that can also diminish the caulking. Once the caulk is in place, tooling will improve both surface adhesion and appearance.
TROUBLESHOOTING The following are some common and some less-common issues we’ve seen in caulking and, most importantly, some techniques to avoid them:
RAY HECK is the VP of Sales and Marketing for Tower Sealants, a division of M-D Building Products. His experience in the coatings, sealants and adhesives field spans 30 years and includes stints at The Flood Company and with GE Sealants and Adhesives, a division of GE Silicones. In 2014, he joined M-D Building Products and was a part of the team that developed Tower Sealants’ business. TowerSealants.com
inPAINT | Sep/Oct 2020
Caulk bead cracking We have noted an increase in complaints by customers who are experiencing problems with caulk separating from wood trim such as crown molding and kitchen cabinets. In some cases, it is not the caulk failing; it is actually a problem with the new wood’s shrinkage and movement due to the varying atmospheric conditions and excessive moisture content. The movement and/or change in joint size is a result of moisture reduction and shrinking of the wood fibers and, most commonly, it results in hairline cracks in caulk beads and painted joints, as well as separation in the panels of doors. When caulk is applied to unprimed new wood, that wood will wick moisture from the caulk while the caulk is trying to cure. The moisture imbalance will prevent the caulk from coalescing properly, resulting in a cracked or separated caulk bead. Priming the new wood substrate prior to caulking can help to prevent this issue. Paint film cracking Caulk users have also reported paint film cracking overtop of acrylic caulk beads. Once again, we have found that the problem is not with the caulk. Today’s paint manufacturers offer many products with enhanced attributes: easy to touch up, washable, mar resistant, and very fast drying. These higher-gloss paints, sealers and primers dry to a hard film that is rigid, and are not designed to flex or stretch. Caulk, depending on the thickness, can take 72 hours or more to fully cure and evaporate the water from its system. As the curing occurs, the caulk naturally shrinks. When the coatings dry faster than the caulk can cure, it puts a lot of stress on the primer or paint film and causes film cracking at the
interface of the caulk bead and paint. Allowing the caulk to fully cure before coating is one part of the solution. The other part of the solution is using a highperformance painter’s caulk. Caulk manufacturers can now formulate unique properties into specialty products designed to help reduce cracking of rigid coatings. And finally, avoid using entry-level caulks. Though they will save you money, they simply don’t have movement capability. To span wide gaps or move with dynamic joints, choose a caulk with elastomeric attributes or elongation properties. Plasticizer bleed Discoloration or paint ‘shiners’ has been noted in certain combinations of paint and caulk. Caulk manufacturers often use plasticizers in their formulations to increase flexibility. If they choose a plasticizer that is compatible with the acrylic polymer, it won’t leach out of the caulk. But, if the plasticizer is not compatible, it can migrate or ‘bleed’ out of the caulk and potentially result in discoloration, stiffening, excessive shrinkage or brittleness. Additionally, plasticizer migration to the caulk’s surface or through the paint film can promote dirt pickup or mold and mildew growth by merely increasing surface tack such that airborne nutrients stick to the surface. Today’s technology utilizes internal plasticized acrylic resin, eliminating the need for external plasticizers, and the plasticizer in these resins cannot bleed out. Sealants that incorporate this new technology are considered best in class. Search caulk labels for ‘internally plasticized,’ no paint shiners’ or ‘premium technology’—or contact the manufacturer to inquire. The future Owners, contractors and painters demand highperformance products, and many manufacturers today are dedicated to working hand in hand with contractors to develop innovative sealant products that deliver superior performance and value through technological execution. -
Business UNusual Four pros’ responses to COVID-19
Keeping your pipeline full and crews busy is a challenge in the best of times. And thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the challenge got a little bigger for pros running businesses of all sizes. We asked four business owners (who are also members of the 2020 inPAINT Editorial Advisory Board) to share how their businesses have been impacted by the pandemic and what they’re doing in response. Representing residential and commercial businesses across the country, the pros’ answers provide an interesting snapshot of the varying degrees of ‘business UNusual’ currently being experienced in the industry.
Larry Marler OWNER
The Works Remodeling and Finishing St. Louis, MO
The pause brought on by the virus gave me the chance to focus on our systems, and dive in and fix some things. Even in the earliest days of COVID-19, Larry Marler took the virus seriously. “My wife is immunocompromised so I wasn’t, and still am not, taking any chances. Our workload is usually 97% interior work year-round. But when COVID hit, I put a lot of projects on hold and made a push for exterior work. Now exterior work represents 65% of our work.” 24
inPAINT | Sep/Oct 2020
What, if any, marketing are you doing at this time? I’m reaching out to past interior customers to say that now’s a good time to get exterior work done, as we’ve put a pause on the interior projects. I’m doing this through a combination of email, followed by a phone call. I know it’s old school but, so far, my close rate using this method has been 100%. I’ve also bumped up my business presence on Facebook after watching my wife, who is working from home, spending more time than ever on the platform. I figured if she’s killing time there, other people probably are too. I’m now doing two or three Facebook Live broadcasts a week. I’ve done some howto videos in which I answer a specific question related to home repair; an instructional video on a fine-finishing sprayer; and I’ve started posting customer testimonial videos. The how-tos get about 1,500 average views and the testimonials get around 1,200 views.
Nick Slavik PROPRIETOR
Nick Slavik Painting & Restoration Co.
summer work. Frankly, there’s more work than we can handle. The only time I pay for marketing is October through June.
New Prague, MN
How has your bid process changed? I made changes to the query process on both our website and on Facebook. On the website, there’s now a checklist prospects can fill out with details and the dimensions of the project. I use that information to build an estimate that I email. I follow that up with a phone call and, if it’s got legs, an in-person visit. Facebook is the same process … prospects get the same seven questions, but automated. I build and submit the estimate and follow up the same way I do web queries. I haven’t honed the virtual process yet, but I close about 25% of the jobs that come in through the website and Facebook. Even so, I’d like to get better at it so I’m not running around so much. What changes have you made to your business practices? I’ve been wearing a mask since day one and we’ve stuck with the practice of wiping down surfaces with Lysol and a rag. And, we do a lot of elbow bumps or nods with customers. On the business side, I finally hired a business coach. The pause brought on by the virus gave me the chance to focus on our systems, and dive in and fix some things. I can already see how it will pay off. I’ve also been able to get back to my original plan for running my business, which was this: for every four weeks I work, I’ll serve for one. And by ‘serve’ I mean I help others in need. Sometimes it’s for people who can’t afford a repair or they’re disabled and can’t stain their deck. I did this very early on but as we got busier, it fell away. But I’ve picked it back up and now make a point to build it into the schedule. It’s a good reminder of what matters and, I guess, a good thing that’s come out of a tough time.
I’ve actually found my close rate with virtual bids matches my in-person bids or is higher. For Nick Slavik and his crews, COVID-19 hasn’t had much of an impact. According to Slavik, the biggest impact they felt since the pandemic started was an eight-week dip in production very early on when his painters sheltered. “I gave them the option to keep working full time if they wanted or to shelter. The entire leadership stayed on during that time and 70% of the crew sheltered the first week and then came back at about a 15% increase over the remaining seven weeks until we reached full strength again at the eight-week mark. The one exception was the week the government checks hit. All of the painters took that week off.” What, if any, marketing are you doing at this time? We’re not doing any paid marketing at this time—but then we never do at this time. Our window for exterior work is just so short in Minnesota that we don’t have to advertise for
VP & DIRECTOR OF COMMERCIAL DIVISION
Alpine Painting & Sandblasting Contractors Paterson, NJ
COVID is now a regular subject in our project kickoff meetings as well as how to address different levels of customer sensitivity.
How has your bid process changed? It really hasn’t. I’ve been doing virtual estimates for three years and pretty much have it down to a science. I’ve actually found my close rate with virtual bids matches my in-person bids or is higher. The process begins with a query on the website, then I ask for photos of the home and project areas. With that, I can turn an estimate out in about three hours. Maybe 2% of customers say they’re not comfortable with a virtual bid but the remaining 98% love it— particularly the speed of it. What changes have you made to your business practices? Obviously, we were mandated to adopt a COVID plan, but it’s really just a matter of common sense. Now, when I’m figuring out what I can and can’t do, I first look to the government for direction, and then I look to customers in terms of what they’re comfortable having us do. Early on, maybe one in 50 customers asked us to wear masks and we were happy to comply. But as of August 1, we implemented a very rigorous policy that mandates mask use 100% of the time while on official company business, as well as practicing social distancing and equipment sanitation.
Based just 15 miles east of Manhattan, the early epicenter of COVID-19 in the U.S., Alpine Painting & Sandblasting Contractors was quick to respond when the virus took hold. “Honestly, it was like time stood still,” says Dave Scaturro. “Ongoing projects came to screeching halt. My brothers and I, who are all co-owners, began having really deep daily conversations, trying to assess the situation. When we analyzed our burn rate—the rate we were depleting our cash pool—that first week, we realized we had to make concessions, and we ended up letting two people go. The next week, we asked salaried employees to take a 25% concession for 30 days. Sep/Oct 2020 | inPAINT
Photos Courtesy of Painting Contractors Association Early on in the pandemic, Alpine Painting & Sandblasting Contractors started holding virtual team meetings (above) and provided crews and customers with custom branded masks (right).
“Then we heard about the CARES Act and applied immediately at our local bank. As soon as the loan was confirmed, we hired back the two people and restored everyone to full salary. “Early on, about 75% of our office staff was working remotely to varying degrees. I continued to come in to the office daily. We mandated face masks, and actually had masks and BUFFs printed with our logo that we continue to provide. “As the situation evolved, we communicated daily with our employees about what we knew and the steps we were taking to ensure their safety. We acknowledged that we didn’t have all the answers, but that we were acting on the information we were sure about. Everyone returned to the office full time June 29th. “About that same time, we went from being on pause with projects to going fast-forward. May and June ended up being the best MayJune in our history. I attribute that to the fact that throughout it all, we had been reaching out to customers and letting them know what measures we were taking and that when they were comfortable and ready to begin work, we’d be there—and we’d be there safely.” What, if any, marketing are you doing at this time? Very early on, we went heavy with messaging related to cleaning and disinfecting. We thought there might be an opportunity for a two-phase offering. The first would be cleaning and disinfecting and the second would be applying microbicidal coatings. We got a few small jobs, but it didn’t amount to much. 26
inPAINT | Sep/Oct 2020
What had the biggest impact was personal outreach to customers. We sent handwritten notes along with our logoed masks. We said something like, “Thinking of you at this strange time … hope you’re safe … please use this mask, and if you need anything, call us.” People really appreciated that; they felt like we were in their corner. You have to stay in touch with customers, otherwise they forget you. How has your bid process changed? We really haven’t changed anything. I hear a lot of talk about virtual estimates, which may work well for residential projects, but for commercial and industrial work, you’ve got to go on-site. We wear masks when we do visits, we observe social distancing, and we don’t shake hands out of respect. But that’s really it. What changes have you made to your business practices? In addition to requiring masks in the office and on the jobsite when we’re within six feet of someone, we’ve installed hand sanitizers in our office’s entry vestibule and throughout the building. We’ve asked employees to respect social distancing and we’ve taken our team meetings online. The biggest investment was an air purification system that includes four scrubbing units. In addition, if someone feels even just a little unwell, they’re asked to stay home. COVID is now a regular subject in our project kickoff meetings as well as how to address different levels of customer sensitivity.
Doug Imhoff OWNER
Imhoff Fine Residential Painting Denver, CO
Committed to enforcing social distancing ... Imhoff reduced crew sizes on jobs from six to four, but upped the number of active jobs. Doug Imhoff’s team was among the earliest adopters of COVID-safe practices. “We began using masks and social distancing on jobs in late February,” says Imhoff. “They were small, but important, measures. Things got a little more real in April, when our normal workload of 40% exteriors jumped to 100%. It stayed at that level until mid-June.” Committed to enforcing social distancing among his crew, Imhoff reduced crew sizes on jobs from six to four, but upped the number of active jobs. “It requires a little more logistics but it keeps us busy and safe,” says Imhoff. “And we skipped the whole spring hiring push. We’ve stuck with our usual team of 15 and it’s working just fine.” What, if any, marketing are you doing at this time? We added some safety-related information to our website, but we haven’t added any new marketing efforts. Honestly, our best marketing comes from word-of-mouth and referrals. If we’re doing our job right, COVID shouldn’t impact that. The one marketing change we’ve made is related to messaging. I think now is a great
time to really differentiate your company from others by talking up that you’re a real business with structure, overhead, procedures, insurance, workers’ comp and so on. I’m finding that those conversations about being a company that pays into the system are having an impact that they didn’t have a year ago. Potential clients are looking for some stability and certainty. If you can offer it, you’ve got a much better shot at landing the job. How has your bid process changed? We’ve made some minor changes. I’m now much more comfortable coming up with ballpark estimates based on digital images, video walk arounds, and elevations supplied by the customer. Again, these are ballparks; not hard numbers. And, actually, I’m liking the change. I feel like we’re eliminating a lot of price shoppers. If they get three estimates and I’m one at $10,000 and the other two are at $5,000, I’m not wasting my time driving an hour to and from to look at a job I’m not going to get. As for previous customers and warm referrals, I go out to the site. I show up with gloves and a mask hanging off one ear so they can see I’ve got all my teeth. I pull it on before going into the home. So far, customers have not been resistant to having me in their space. What changes have you made to your business practices? COVID-19 is now a part of our regular company meeting discussions. These take place in our shop and now we’ve got everyone spaced six feet apart, so it pretty much takes up the whole space. We supply PPE for everyone—including reusable, washable masks—and all the trailers are outfitted with hand sanitizer and a stash of disposable N95 masks in case someone forgets or loses theirs. All our employees wear masks and gloves on all jobs with the exception of some exterior work, where they’re spaced more than six feet apart and no one else is around. We discourage them from sharing tools and we’re doing a lot of wipe-downs on high-touch surfaces. And as we learn more about the virus, we’ll continue to adapt as needed. -
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FINDING THE TALENT TO TAKE YOU TO THE NEXT LEVEL
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Pros’ go-to kitchen and bath coatings
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Subcontract or hire? Wallcoverings: where form and function meet
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4 pros on stains they trust to enhance and protect wood surfaces
Courtesy of Garrett Painting
1 JASON MATTHEWS
This Indiana-based pro does his share of exterior wood siding work and log cabin refinishes, and sees his share of smaller jobs like interior doors and railings as well. For decks with no previous coatings, and if the homeowner wants to see the natural wood grain, he has the best luck with a one-coat system: semitransparent, oil-based PPG PROLUXE SRD Wood Finish.* “It looks great in that first and second year, then it’s ready for a pressure wash and maintenance coat in its third year,” he said. For log home restoration projects, Matthews turns to the twocoat PPG PROLUXE CETOL Log & Siding Wood Finish.* This offering allows for all the natural wood character of the log home to shine through, but has considerable added protection, almost giving the wood a glossier furniture-like look. He then finishes with PPG PROLUXE CETOL Maintenance RE Wood Finish* in clear satin for further protection. For cedar siding or for decks that have a solid finish on them, Matthews likes the great color variety he gets from Benjamin Moore ARBORCOAT Exterior Stain. He says it dries and looks “like a flat house paint” and does a great job of resisting color loss from the sun. Matthews has also used Sherwin-Williams SuperDeck Exterior Waterborne Solid Color Deck Stain with the same success. It can last for five to seven years and protects the wood better than a translucent or semi-transparent coating, he says.
inPAINT | Sep/Oct 2020
JASON MATTHEWS Matthews’ Painting Company https://MatthewsPainting.com
RON RICE Ron Rice Painting & Consulting RonRicePainting.com
MARYLIZBETH ELMS & STEPHANIE KEITH MS Paint Facebook.com/MSPaint31
HAYDEN CROXALL Croxall Painting Company CroxallPainting.com
Wood adds a beautiful touch to any home, regardless of whether it’s a rugged log cabin look, the subtle addition of a railing, or a stunning entry door. Wood, however, requires upkeep in order to maintain its beauty and character, as well as the thoughtful understanding of a painting professional who knows which stains to use on it—and when. Here, we tapped four pros around the country to learn about the types of wood projects they typically deal with and the stains they turn to that make them look great.
2 RON RICE
This San Diego-based pro deals with surfaces exposed to harsh saltwater air as well as inland jobs where dry, hot desert air offers its own unique punishment for wood surfaces. Rice turns to Old Masters gel stain for all types of wood on interiors and exteriors. The highly pigmented oilbased stain offers tremendous color variety for the pro. “I find it very easy to manipulate the depth; I can make things darker and lighter, depending on the need,” he said. It can be used on fiberglass, metal and composite surfaces as well. Rice also turns to PPG PROLUXE SRD Wood Finish for exterior wood doors. “It holds up really well on exteriors and it’s incredibly easy to use. I can take the worst-looking door and make it look fantastic,” he added. Rice will also use Minwax Water Based OilModified Polyurethane as a go-to for interior doors and cabinet work. Being water-based, it’s lower odor than a solvent-based polyurethane and dries very quickly. “It’s one of the easiest to work with and one of the hardest-drying finishes out there,” Rice added.
700 + LBS
THE ABSOLUTE STRONGEST DUCT TAPE Jason Matthews used PPG PROLUXE CETOL Log & Siding Wood Finish and PPG PROLUXE CETOL Maintenance RE Wood Finish to bring beauty and protection to this home.
Holds more than 700 pounds with a single loop of tape. T-RexTape.com Extreme real-world test; tape not weight-rated for towing applications. ©Shurtape Technologies, LLC 2020/83747 All Rights Reserved.
Sep/Oct 2020 | inPAINT
3 MARYLIZBETH ELMS & STEPHANIE KEITH
These Austin-based paint pros see their share of decks and fence refinishing work, and they are partial to Sherwin Williams SuperDeck Exterior Waterborne Solid Color Deck Stain. “In Texas, we have a lot of intense sun that’s really rough on decks. With SuperDeck, it wears evenly and it’s ready to be redone every few years,” Keith said. For doors, the pair like the ease of use and durability that Minwax Water Based OilModified Polyurethane brings. It’s easy to sand and offers a nice, even color, Elms added.
Hayden Croxall completed the ceiling and door in these photos with Minwax Performance Series Tintable Wood Stains.
Courtesy of Ryan Dugger, Creative Revolver
4 HAYDEN CROXALL
Courtesy of Croxall Painting
This Chattanooga-based pro likes the performance of Ready Seal Wood Stain and Sealer for fences and decks. He prefers its ease of application and how it naturally brings out the wood grain. “You can spray it on and not worry about drips or puddling, and it’s oil-based so it penetrates better. It’s durable, and the reapplication process is very simple, too,” the pro noted. “You don’t have to jump through any hoops with it, either. You can just pressure wash, then reapply every couple years,” he said. If he’s needing a semi-solid or solid stain, he’ll turn to Sherwin-Williams SuperDeck Exterior Waterborne Solid Color Deck Stain for decks and fences. For doors, Croxall prefers Minwax Performance Series Tintable Wood Stains, particularly for how easily you can match shades and color tints using the product. For exterior siding and log homes, he turns to Sherwin-Williams WoodScapes Exterior House Stain. The durable formula comes in solid and semi-transparent formulas, and is known to withstand time. “I’ve seen people go 10 or 12 years between coatings. I tell them they should recoat about every seven, but it’s one of the more durable products out there and people will go a lot longer, and it still looks really good,” Croxall added. -
inPAINT | Sep/Oct 2020
Sep/Oct 2020 | inPAINT
THE inPAINT ® INTERVIEW
REPAINT CONTRACTOR What are the most important aspects of your company culture and how do you maintain them?
This elegant 1912 four-level historic Colonial interior and exterior restoration required 210 gallons of 7 different coatings and 675 hours to complete.
A strong company culture and willingness to adapt are keys to 30 years of success For the past 30 years, John Shearer has built a reputation for excellence in the residential repaint world in Seattle, WA. Operating with the same leadership management team since 1990, his company, Shearer Painting has tackled some of the city’s most prominent and historic buildings. “Painting is my life’s work. It’s the only job I’ve had as an adult and I really like it,” says Shearer. “A lot has changed since I started, but painting will always be necessary. Good painting really isn’t complicated, but it takes discipline to do it right. I was fortunate in my early years to have a number of older contractors take me under their wing and show me what ‘good’ looks like. Their mentorship really helped me grow my business into what it is now. And, in turn, I make an effort to try and do the same thing for other paint contractors.”
There are three things key to our culture: respect, honesty and craftsmanship. RESPECT is respecting customers’ privacy and property. It also extends to respecting customers’ sensitivity to having people in their private space and working on their property. I preach to my crews to cut customers a lot of slack. The situation our presence creates—even though they brought us there—makes some people nervous, so they can get edgy or testy. We have to not judge that but, rather, respect how they’re feeling and do our best to make them comfortable. HONESTY obviously involves telling the truth but, really, it goes a lot deeper. That is, when you make a mistake, don’t try to cover it up. If you’re late to work, you accidentally break a window, or things just didn’t turn out the way you want them to, honesty is the best policy. I try to be honest with my employees—sometimes I’m too brutally honest. But I’m not trying to run a county fair where everything’s fun and games and don’t worry about it. I’m trying to provide a service for customers and honesty is key to providing that service and building a relationship. And not just customer relationships, but also relationships with and between managers and coworkers. We all need to be there for each other and being honest with each other is key to establishing that trust. As for CRAFTSMANSHIP, we put hard work and expertise on a pedestal; and I really lump those two things under the heading of craftsmanship. The truth is, not everyone can be trained to be the best hand brusher, spray guy or faux finisher. But everyone can work hard, and that’s just as important. The majority of paint projects is prep work—site protection, caulking, etc. We need a lot of worker bees.
The Shearer Painting team brought out the beauty of this walnut staircase with a combination of wood conditioner, dye, stain, and a final brushing of Fine Paints of Europe Marine Yacht Varnish. 32
inPAINT | Sep/Oct 2020
Without them, even the best finish guys can’t do their work to the best of their ability. So we consistently recognize, reward and praise hard work. I have a lot of people who have worked with me for a long time and it’s because they value what I value: respect, honesty and craftsmanship. It’s not a mystery. We talk about it all the time. I can tell you that if someone doesn’t advance in our company, it’s because they’re lacking in one of those three things.
How do you parlay networking to build your brand and business?
Networking is and always has been very important to building our brand and our business. While I always did it, I really only got good at it once I figured out my networking sweet spot. In the past, we’ve been involved in Historic Seattle—a group of architects and designers who are interested in the preservation of older buildings in the city; the Seattle Art Museum Sponsors—a group of volunteer museum supporters; and Play for P.I.N.K.—a local breast cancer golf tournament run by an influencer and well-connected person. In a very sincere way, I believe in what all three of these organizations stand for and are aspiring to do. So, in terms of networking with them, I basically have put my money where my mouth is. If they came looking for money for their cause, I wrote a check … sometimes $1,000, sometimes $5,000. The donation and support both build goodwill. These are people who you normally wouldn’t be able to get on the phone but, with that donation, they were suddenly asking me what they can do to help me. I can’t say this is a strategy I started out with. I really couldn’t have afforded to write those kinds of checks. And I did participate in different, more formalized, networking groups, but they really weren’t very effective in helping me establish our brand. But what I’m doing now is working to establish recognition and loyalty within the market where we thrive.
Where do you look for inspiration on how to improve your company?
I’ve been at this for 30 years. In that time, not only has the business changed a lot, but so has consumer behavior … everything from how they find you to how they write online reviews and what their expectations are in terms of service. Throughout those year and changes, I’ve continually looked for companies that really excelled at service. I try to use them as my benchmark. Sometimes they’re a great service contractor in my city in another trade, or they’re painters like me that I might meet in a trade organization. I make an effort to engage in conversations with them and ask about what practices or tools they’re using to do
The Shearer Painting team tackling the all-important task of surface prep, key to ensuring the quality and durability of the finished project.
“ I have a lot of people who have worked with me for a long time and it’s because they value what I value: respect, honesty and craftsmanship.” things more efficiently or effectively. Not everything I hear about works for our company, but some of the ideas I’ve ‘borrowed’ have really had a major impact.
What changes are you currently making that you think will have a big, long-term impact?
One thing that’s completely changed our business is the use of Workplace from Facebook. It’s basically a social network just for your business that allows people to connect as teams or even one-on-one. The first social network we started with was Yammer, which I actually learned about by networking with companies outside of the painting world. I saw something good and decided to implement it in our business. We later switched to Workplace for a variety of reasons but, like Yammer, it provides a means for everyone to be connected, even when they’re working remotely. We create groups, chats and rooms for different jobs, training or even things like onboarding. We do live video, post photos, and people can ask for help and get it quickly and easily. I think it’s really contributed to keeping our culture strong even when we might not all see each other on a daily basis. In the summer, there might be a few people in the shop, but then we could have crews spread out around in the city in up to 10 jobsites. Through Workplace, we still manage to feel connected and people stay engaged. I think back to the mid-’90s, early 2000s when cell phones really started coming onto the scene. A lot of owners had ‘no cell phone’ rules. Even now, some owners aren’t always keen on seeing their crews looking at their screens. What we did was recognize that smartphones are what’s happening and we embraced it. One of the nice things about switching from Yammer to Workplace is that we don’t have to train anyone on how to use it. They’re already on Facebook so they know how to use Workplace. -
JOHN SHEARER started his business in 1990 after graduating from the University of Washington in Seattle. He has served on the PCA Standards Committee since 2014 and was named to the inaugural group of Master Certified Fine Paints of Europe (FPE) Contractors. He has presented to each annual FPE certification class in Vermont since 2013. ShearerPainting.com
Sep/Oct 2020 | inPAINT
CUTTING TOOLS OFIN THE TRADE
inPAINT | Sep/Oct 2020
What’s in today’s professional toolbox? 3M™ Pro Grade Precision™ Faster Sanding Sheets #1 Sanding Performance. 3M™ Pro Grade Precision™ Faster Sanding Sheets with enhanced mineral technology resists clogging and sands faster. Fold once and the NO-SLIP GRIP™ durable backing grips together to prevent slipping so you can sand longer with less hand fatigue. Superior cut durability from start to finish. For when endurance matters. 3M.com/Sanding
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Sep/Oct 2020 | inPAINT
TEACH TO FISH
inPAINT ® presents an industry-specific question and invites an expert to share their insight.
Is there a faster and easier way to repair a hole in drywall?
A: JASON LUNN is a senior application engineer for 3M and provides training and education on the company’s wall repair and safety products.
We’ve all tried the various traditional methods of hole repair such as a mesh screen, a California patch, or adhering wood supports to the backside of the wall to accommodate a replacement patch of drywall. These methods are often time-consuming, since they may require measuring and cutting of drywall patches, applying layers of mud over multiple days and, of course, lots of sanding (which we all know is the worst part). Another drawback to these methods is that if you don’t have a lot of experience with large-hole repairs, you may not feel confident enough that you’ll be able to create a professional-looking repair that blends in seamlessly when it’s completed. With that said, there is actually a faster, more efficient method out there for a large-hole repair (and you only have to sand once!). Not only that, it allows you to get a flush finish to the wall for a professional look, rather than having a large bump on the wall that you need to blend in with the existing wall. This large-hole repair method involves the use of a unique repair plate. It’s similar to having wood supports behind the hole but uses adhesive, rather than screws, to hold the plate in place. The plate covers the entire area of the hole behind the drywall, allowing you to fill in the hole completely with repair compound rather than another piece of drywall, eliminating the need to measure and cut out a replacement piece. This repair plate, and everything else you need to repair a large hole (3"–5" diameter), can be found in 3M’s High Strength Large Hole Repair Kit. Kit components and directions The 3M kit, which can be found at local hardware stores or online, includes fiber-reinforced spackling compound, a self-adhesive repair plate, a putty knife, fiber tape and a sanding pad. Here’s how it works. First, prepare the
inPAINT | Sep/Oct 2020
wall and hole by removing any broken drywall, dust and loose debris from both the inside and outside of the wall. Then, sand down the edges of the wall hole, making sure to remove all the loose paper from the surface. Next, you will need the repair plate. This plate is designed to curl in one direction but not the other, allowing you to curl it up, push it through the hole, and then pull it so that it unfurls and adheres to the backside of the drywall. If the repair plate doesn’t fit through the hole, you can easily trim it down as needed with a utility knife or scissors. Once in place, this plate creates a flat surface behind the hole that you can now fill in with the spackling compound. One of the real time-savers to this method is that you can fill the entire hole so that it’s flush to the surface of the wall. There’s no need to add layers of mud on top of the existing wall surface that must be carefully feathered out a couple of feet in all directions from the repair. Once the compound is dry, you sand it once so the repair is completely flush with the wall, then prime and paint. There you have it: a nice, flat, professional-looking hole repair that won’t shrink, crack or sag. Effective and versatile This is a quick and easy method that eliminates many aspects of traditional hole repairs and also drastically decreases the area of the wall affected. The 3M kit covers everything you need to repair a hole and works for both interior and exterior repairs. Also, because the repair compound is lightweight, you can even repair a hole in the ceiling, such as that from a recessed light or ceiling fan. If you have never attempted to repair a hole with this method before, give it a try the next time you need to repair a hole in drywall, or even stucco or wood, and see for yourself how well it works.
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ADVERTISER INDEX 3M 3M.com Pages 13 & 35 Armstrong-Clark ArmClark.com Page 9 Behr Behr.com Back Cover
What, Where & When
EPA EPA.gov Page 31
Mr. LongArm MrLongArm.com Page 19 Nix Sensor NixSensor.com Page 23 Pro Painter Network ProPainterNetwork.com Page 5
Due to COVID-19 regulations regarding gatherings, many events have been cancelled or rescheduled. Visit the event websites listed below for the latest information.
Habitat for Humanity Habitat.org Page 3 Mi-T-M MiTM.com Page 21
S E P T E M BE R 1
N OV E M B E R
23–25: PDCA Commercial Forum, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada pdcacommercialforum.org
8–13: International Pool | Spa | Patio Expo | DeckExpo, Las Vegas, NV poolspapatio.com/en/deckexpo.html
26: Wallcovering Installers Association TeleSummit 2020 – Online wallcoveringinstallers.org
16–18: Remodeling Show – Online remodelingshow.com
2 02 1 F E B R UA RY
12–15: National Hardware Show – Online nationalhardwareshow.com
9–11: Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS), Orlando, FL kbis.com
13–15: AEU LEAD: Transformational Skills for Executive Management – Online direc.to/ezvA 20–22: AEU LEAD: Leadership Skills for Front-Line Management – Online direc.to/ezub
Purdy Purdy.com Pages 2, 15 & 35 Shurtape T-RexTape.com Page 29
OCTOBER 12–15, 2020
Like previous live shows, this first-ever virtual event will feature a full slate of educational programming focused on today’s challenges and trending topics. Attendees will be able to tap into a virtual exhibitor directory, which is searchable by vendor and product categories, to view the newest products and tools. In addition, virtual appointments with exhibitors can be arranged via an online conference calendar app.
inPAINT | Sep/Oct 2020
How to remain financially fit in a COVID-19 world 5 tips for weathering the storm and being better prepared for the future
t’s safe to say the business world has a much different look and feel today compared to the beginning of 2020. There are operational protocols and new ways of doing business in place to protect your employees and customers. One thing hasn’t changed though, is the importance of running a lean and profitable business. In the midst of any crisis, including this ongoing pandemic, remaining financially fit in your business is the number one asset to help you survive the storm. Here are some tips to get you through the volatility of 2020 and help prepare you for another downturn in the future. Do an expense review One of the first things we recommended all of our clients to do last March as the pandemic started to take shape was a thorough audit of every expense incurred in the previous six months. I recommended going through line by line and marking each expense with one of three labels: P = a profit-generating expense R = an expense that could be replaced with a cheaper alternative U = an expense that is unnecessary to growing your revenue or profit By being aware of your unnecessary expenses and finding cheaper alternatives for products and services, you will not only make smarter purchasing decisions in the future, but will also increase your monthly cashflow to help weather any uncertainties. Work toward debt-free One of the most financially crippling aspects of a business is debt. Some accountants may advise for tax purposes that business debt can be a benefit but, in all honesty, it’s generally a pain point more than a positive. Not only can the interest that you’re paying on your debt hurt your bottom line, it can also take up a significant amount of your monthly cashflow. Focus on paying off your smallest debt balance first and then use that payment amount to pay extra on the next one, etc. Being a debt-free company is great when times are good, and it is one less thing to stress about when times aren’t so good. Take advantage of employee-retention credit For any business that did not receive a Small Business Association forgivable loan, you may be able to claim a refundable payroll tax credit for up to $5,000 per employee if you meet a few requirements that were
outlined as part of the CARES Act. You may also be eligible to defer the payment of payroll taxes for your business. Check with your tax professional to see if you may qualify for either of these benefits. Build up emergency savings While the concept of having emergency savings may not be something to help you right now, it will help you prepare for and survive any future slowdowns in business. We advise our clients to have at least three months of operating expenses (and owner’s compensation) on hand at all times. This may take some time to build up. I recommend to start contributing 5%–10% of profit (or revenue, if you can) to this separate account. Remember, something is better than nothing in the beginning and, over time, you’ll have a nice cushion to take some of the stress off. Prepare for taxes in advance You didn’t honestly think we could have a finance article without talking about everyone’s favorite Uncle Sam, did you? Withholding a percentage of revenue throughout the year to pay your taxes is a great strategy to avoid a financial roller coaster next spring. We recommend sitting down with your tax advisor at least twice a year (outside of filing your taxes) to tax plan for the current year. This is especially important for anyone who received a Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loan, as the qualified expenses from the proceeds of that loan cannot be deducted on your 2020 taxes as they normally would. These principles are a great start to become a financially fit company. They are applicable to your business during times of distress as well as when times are normal again … whenever that may be.
CHRIS MOORE has spent the last 10 years advising painting business owners in a variety of areas. He owned his own painting business before transitioning into a full-time business consultant. EliteBusinessAdvising.com
Sep/Oct 2020 | inPAINT
FLAT PAINT THAT’S TOO TOUGH TO SCUFF.
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