inPAINT Magazine Sep/Oct 2023

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Products and systems that meet pro demands

Painters partnering with private equity firms

Two pros on adding gutter installs to their service offerings

*Compared to 3M conventional sanding sponges. © 3M 2023. All rights reserved. 3M and PRO GRADE PRECISION are trademarks of 3M. FOR WHEN ENDURANCE MATTERS. 3M ™ PRO GRADE PRECISION ™ Dust Channeling Sanding Block Sponge Dust-channeling design for less clogging and a faster finish.* It’s a dual-purpose tool for both detail and flat sanding. A tool that’s engineered for endurance. built to perform

Whether your specialty is residential, commercial, kitchen cabinets, water towers or exteriors, painting contractors as a whole face a lot of the same challenges. From having to apply paint in less-than-ideal conditions to waiting for other trades to complete their work, some issues are universal. But, as you’ll learn in the pages that follow, not all responses are.

I’m excited to share this issue’s Ask a Pro column featuring Zach Kenney explaining his novel approach to addressing the challenge of applying thick paint in cold weather. I first heard Zach talk about this method at a PCA Craftsmanship Forum. As I watched the eyes of every pro in the room grow in amazement as he talked, I knew this was some innovative thinking and problem-solving that needed to be shared.

In a similar vein, in What It Takes Jason Phillips shares how he overcame the challenge of having to wait for gutter guys to complete their work before tackling exteriors. Spoiler alert: he added gutters to his service offerings. And there are the three pros who, when faced with very different, yet common, challenges to growing their businesses, took the unusual step of partnering with an investor (see Private Equity). Again, an uncommon approach to a common problem.

I’m grateful to all the pros featured in this issue who kindly shared their time and stories to create one of our most inspired issues yet.

If you’ve got an interesting approach to a common problem or some secret sauce you’re willing to divulge, please reach out. I’ve always got time for a great idea.

Cheers, Amanda Haar, Managing Editor, inPAINT


Ryan Adamski

Bryce Benfield

Peter Berke


Edward McAdams


Amanda Haar


Carl Bezuidenhout


Cindy Puskar


Brian Sodoma


Zach Ausherman Ausherman Painting

Brent Borror Ausherman Painting Ryan Davis ServiceLegend

Andrew Hoffman Hoffman Floor Covering

Daniel Honan

Jason Humrichous Heritage Custom Painting

Michael Jordan Get Pro Painting

Zach Kenney ZK Painting

Brandon Lewis The Academy of Professional Painting Contractors

Kevin Lightfoot Full Spectrum Coatings

Jim Miles Paint Medics

Lauren Fink


Christian Militello Militello Painting & Powerwashing

Suhaiba Neill The Full Circle Business

Jason Paris Paris Painting

Anthony Pezzotti Pezzotti Painting

Jason Phillips Phillips Home Improvement

Marc Poulos Marc Poulos Painting

Will Reyes Battle Born Painting

Micah Stelter Aleph Holdings

Danny Thomas Ganado Painting & Wallcovering

Adam Weinzetl JMJ Painters


Larry Marler

ADVERTISE 602-296-5391

©2023 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.


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4 inPAINT | Sep/Oct 2023
“If everyone is thinking alike, then someone isn’t thinking.”
—George S. Patton, U.S. Army General

Private Equity

5 Sep/Oct 2023 | inPAINT TRENDS inPAINT ® Sep/Oct 2023 DEPARTMENTS 6 The News Industry ins and outs 8 Trends A fast look at the forces at work in our industry 9 Trend in Focus TikTok: not just for kids anymore; now a marketing must-have 10 What’s New New tools and coatings for the trade 12 Ask a Pro How do you deliver a consistent finish in the winter months? 28 Tools of the Trade What’s in today’s professional toolbox? 30 Upcoming Events The what, where and when of the industry’s leading events 31 Bottom Line Start planning now for a successful 2023 14 18 22 26
Two pros’ differing experiences to adding gutter installs to their service offerings
Industry Three pros on the challenges and benefits behind scaling their business this way
Picks Four pros talk flooring products and systems Project Snapshots Challenges, coatings and color choices for two unique projects FEATURES 22 CONTENTS
for the Painting
Courtesy of Hoffman Floor Covering

Don’t blame Barbie

> It’s not easy living in a Barbie world. That’s especially true for the production design team for the live-action Barbie movie released in late July. To authentically recreate Barbie’s world, the team turned to Rosco, the premier company in scenic paint, for a fluorescent pink hue. The company’s iconic pink was used to hand-paint virtually every element of the set, triggering what some in the media deemed “a worldwide shortage of pink.” And while it’s true the production team did deplete the company’s entire stock of pink paint, Barbie was not entirely at fault. Global supply chain issues and lingering effects of the February 2021 deep freeze in Texas that damaged some of the materials used to make the paint also played a role—just not a starring one.

New reflective paint set to make a colorful splash

> Cooling, reflective paints are nothing new but what is new is that coating in something other than white.

Researchers at Stanford University have developed a coating that allows property owners to reap the benefits of a reflective coating while preserving the architectural character of their building thanks to vibrant color options.

Formulated to keep buildings cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, the promising new coating has been tested in white, blue, red, yellow, green, orange, purple and dark gray, with all performing 10x better at reflecting high mid-infrared light than the same-colored conventional paints.

While the reflection rates of the colored paint don’t match that of other white options, researchers anticipate the aesthetic appeal may lead to greater adoption of the technology.

FrogTape aims to jumpstart new paint pros

> There’s good news for anyone who embraces the ‘hire for attitude and teach skills’ approach to hiring. FrogTape brand has developed a free, downloadable essential skills training tool for new painters. Designed to supplement on-the-job skills training, the Rookie Painter’s Handbook, covers everything from prep, paint composition and application to fall protection, communication skills and, of course, tips for choosing the right tape for the job.

Add ‘mood ring’ to your list of color options

> Whether you’re looking to create a dramatic effect or to please a customer who can’t settle on a color, can help. The FL-based company’s Make it Thermal temperature-sensitive coating technology can shift a room’s color across a spectrum of 12 hues. While available in multiple forms, the water-based Liquid Crystal Mood Paint is ideal for large surfaces, as it can be applied using a paint sprayer. For the most dramatic effect, the coating should be applied to surfaces that are painted or primed black and, once dried, the surface should be protected with a coat of urethane or epoxy resin. Then it’s time to stand back and watch the magic happen as the color shifts from pink to purple to blue to red, etc. in response to temperature changes in the room or from direct contact with a warm hand.

> If you’re a female business owner/entrepreneur, you’re going to want to bookmark Established by WomensNet in 1998 to help women achieve their business dreams, one monthly $10,000 Amber Grant is awarded to a woman entrepreneur in one of 12 business categories (good news: ‘skilled trades’ IS a category). Winners of the monthly awards are also eligible for an additional year-end $25,000 Amber Grant. Unlike often-complicated government grants, the Amber Grant application literally takes just a few minutes to complete, and submitting one application makes you eligible for all grants related to your business.

6 inPAINT | Sep/Oct 2023 THE NEWS

Click-click, ka-ching!

According to LocaliQ/WordStream’s 2023 Google Ads Industry Benchmarks, here’s how click-throughs are tracking for the Home & Home Improvement industry so far in 2023:

Average click-through rate

3.95% Average cost per click $5.74 Average conversion rate 10.73% Average cost per lead $53.50

Video for the win

When it comes to ROI for media formats, here’s how the top six options stack up:

Fast facts on Gen Zers*


of Gen Zers owned a home in 2022

Courtesy of Uni Pro Painting

SOURCE: HubSpot State of Marketing 2023

Money-making gray

A new study from Zillow found that charcoal-gray rooms can help a home sell for as much as $2,512 more. Specifically:

■ Homes with a charcoal-gray kitchen can sell for an estimated $2,512 more than similar homes.

■ A dark-gray living room can command offers of $1,755 more.

38% 67%

of Gen Zers spend more than four hours a day on social media of Gen Zers use TikTok, making it the second most popular social media platform behind YouTube (69%)

*As defined by Redfin, Gen Zers were born between 1997 and 2012. Only adult Gen Zers (19–25 years old) were included in this analysis.

SOURCES: Redfin, Morning Consult,

Customer experience matters

According to RingCentral’s The US Customer Experience Decision-Makers’ Guide 2022-23, more B2C companies are placing greater emphasis on the customer experience. In fact, the percentage of companies citing customer experience as the thing they wish to compete on primarily grew by 18% in the past year.

TRENDS 8 inPAINT | Sep/Oct 2023
25% 12% 9% 8% 7% 7%
Videos Images Blog posts Case studies Infographics Podcasts or other audio content

TikTok is growing up

And so are its users

While still a playground for teens and tweens eager to jump on the next viral video trend, TikTok is evolving into a meaningful platform for businesses and service contractors. Like the video app itself, the earliest adopters have also done some growing up in the seven years since its launch. In fact, people 20-29 (aka Gen Zers) now make up nearly 30% of the entire 73.7 million U.S. user base. The total number of U.S.-based Gen Z users is expected to reach nearly 50 million by 2025, making it second only to Snapchat in terms of popularity.

Given Gen Zers are tracking ahead of their parents’ homeownership rate (30% of 25-year-olds owned a home in 2022, higher than the 27% rate for Gen Xers when they were the same age), contractors who want to earn their attention—and business—need to consider establishing a presence on TikTok.

Another channel, another opportunity

According to Ryan Davis of the digital marketing company ServiceLegend, TikTok is another channel of opportunity that pros need to seriously consider. “The big play with this platform,” he says, “is awareness. The short-form video lets you show off what you do in a more casual, entertaining way. It’s great for introducing yourself or your team and sharing your passion in an entertaining manner.”

Davis notes that in terms of attracting attention and qualifying leads, “TikTok is very much at the top of the funnel. The key thing is that you need to push any traffic you garner to either your Instagram, Facebook or website. That’s where they’ll really get to know your company. Some people may think, ‘If I’ve already got a Facebook page or a website, then I probably don’t need another channel.’ But, in my opinion, that’s a mistake. I believe every business should be on TikTok.”

Grow your views with hashtags

In addition to compelling videos, hashtags are essential to any TikTok strategy. Here’s why: Hashtags tell TikTok what your content is about, which makes it easier for users searching for the specific product or service you tagged to be connected to your videos.

Davis notes, “The key to a good hashtag is specificity. If you’re specialty is epoxy floors in Omaha, tagging your videos #epoxyfloors#Omaha will greatly increase your chances of landing in front of prospective customers near you.”

TikTok provides a big presence for small companies

Anthony Pezzotti, of Pezzotti Painting in Philadelphia, embraced TikTok two years ago. A sole proprietor of a business focusing on residential interiors and cabinets, he was already using Instagram (IG) and Facebook. He says, “This was before IG introduced reels, so the video aspect of TikTok caught my attention.”

With nearly 600,000 followers, Pezzotti’s videos feature work in progress over a bed of contemporary music. “At the start of the day, I think about what I’m going to be doing and what part will be visually pleasing to viewers. I’m looking to feature great colors and interesting practices—like squeegeeing a roller—that will draw people in. I like to use a steady, single-angle shot and then I pick an upbeat song and match action to it. TikTok has recommended music and allows you to speed up or slow down your video to bring it all together.”

Pezzotti notes that while 100% of his business comes from IG, he considers TikTok a must-have, as it levels the playing field between big and small companies. “Posting videos every day helps push me up on Google searches. Plus, videos act like visual referrals. People can clearly see the quality of your work; they rarely, if ever, ask me for referrals now.”

His biggest pro tip for others considering TikTok: “Be sure to wear your company t-shirt with the name and number big on the back.”

Tik Tokers Talk

According to the 2021 Path to Purchase study that TikTok commissioned from Material, TikTok users are nearly 2x more likely than non-users to recommend a product, and 1.5x more likely to convince others to try a product they’ve seen on the app.

TREND IN FOCUS 9 Sep/Oct 2023 | inPAINT

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10 inPAINT | Sep/Oct 2023


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Interior Door Spray & Dry SeriesTM

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■ Works with various widths and heights of doors

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■ Door contact point is only 1/2" by 11/2" at the hinge pocket

■ Portable for easy transport & storage with the included carry bag

■ Eliminate the need to seal the entire room for spraying when coupled with our Portable Jobsite Spray Booth, Extension, and XL Liners (sold separately)

■ Minimal assembly required

11 Sep/Oct 2023 | inPAINT

ZACH KENNEY, the owner of ZK Painting, is a Boston-based custom paint contractor. As one of 13 Master Certified Fine Paints of Europe painters in the country, his company specializes in high-end coatings applications. Kenney thrives on pushing the limits of both painting techniques and the customer experience.

Q:How do you deliver a consistent finish during the winter months?

A:Being located in the northeast, temperature changes are always a challenge when applying coatings. This is especially true for thicker coatings, like the Fine Paints of Europe products we lean on heavily for our cabinet work.

As with any liquid, temperature has a big impact on a coating’s viscosity. It’s typically fine in the summer months but when the temperature starts to drop, coatings tend to thicken and move slowly, which can lead to unpredictable results during application.

There are basically two ways to overcome that: you can thin the paint or you can heat it.

I’m not a big fan of thinning with solvents or water, as most paints aren’t designed to be diluted. You’re basically solving one problem but creating another. In some cases, you’ll end up with ‘solvent pop,’ which is when the thinner becomes ‘trapped’ in the paint film when the surface layer skins over too quickly. When the solvent vaporizes, it creates bubbles that push through the surface, leaving craters or pinholes.

Another problem with thinning paint is that you’re diluting the solids and reducing the mil build. If your aim is to get a certain level of mils on a surface, you may have to apply more coats—which is more time/money—to achieve the desired finish.

Given all that, I prefer to heat my paint. I do this primarily with oil primers, oil-based topcoats, and alkyd acrylic topcoats.

The method I like to use is an inline paint heater. This is basically a giant heated coil that you run your paint line through before connecting it to your sprayer.

The heater we use weighs about 15 pounds and is attached to our sprayer cart, which keeps things easy and tight. In most cases, we’re aiming to get the paint to just under 100˚ F. I’m big on testing things out and found that if you heat a topcoat any more than that, it will skin up but the coating beneath will be soft. And, if you heat water-based products higher than 100˚ F, they tend to dry too fast and don’t lay out right.

While I like the inline heater to deliver a consistent finish, it is a bit pricey. The model I have runs about $4,000. However, there’s another way to achieve the same effect for a lot less money using a crockpot.

For this approach, you put the sealed can of paint in a crockpot and fill the pot with water, then heat it. When it gets to just under 100˚ F—use a thermometer to check— you remove the paint and apply it as you normally would. While heating paint may sound a little extreme to some, I’ve found that both these methods make it easier to do fine finishes at scale without spending money on thinner or compromising the quality of the product.

12 inPAINT | Sep/Oct 2023 ASK A PRO
Courtesy of ZK Painting
Visit ©Shurtape Technologies, LLC 2023/ASW00491 FrogTape® performance priced for the pro FrogTape® Pro Grade: The only blue tape good enough to be FrogTape ®


With very few exceptions, most American homes are equipped with gutters. For pro painters who do residential repaints, that’s either a nightmare—as you often have to wait for another tradesperson to show up and complete their work before you can even get started—or it’s an opportunity in the making. Here, we talk to two pros who seized the opportunity to add gutter installation to their list of service offerings. Read how it has impacted their business and bottom line.

Gutter installation



Estimated initial expenses; cost will vary by market and equipment:

Box truck or trailer $5,000-50,000

Gutter extruder $7,000-12,000

Roller stand $160-250

Coil dispenser $500

Extension ladders (16,� 24,� and 36�) $150-700

Ladder stabilizer $80

Adjustable ladder leveler $150-250

Cordless drill/screwdriver $50–200

Downspout hole punch $200

Tool belt $45-175

Sheet metal snips $25-75

Miter saw $180-250

Gloves $4-20

Heavy-duty extension cord $30-80

Shop vac $60-325

Portable generator $300-575 (optional)

Assorted sundries* Costs will vary.

*Includes corners, bracket screws, miters, downspout brackets, gutter wedges, gutter flashing, soffits, trim, funnels, diverters, end caps, gutter hangers, fasteners, touch-up paint


Liability insurance. Recommended you inform your provider when adding this service. Workers’ comp may be higher, as gutter installers are considered ‘decorative metal workers.’


Strongly recommended: Contact your gutter vendor for installation training

14 inPAINT | Sep/Oct 2023
Courtesy of Phillips Home Improvement

When Jason Phillips launched his painting company in 1997, he began by knocking on doors and pitching interior and exterior services. As business began to take off, he quickly learned that bad gutters and rotten fascia boards were part and parcel of most exterior repaints. His initial fix for the problem was to refer customers to a local gutter guy. “There were a couple of problems with that approach,” says Phillips, “The first was that we ended up working on the gutter guy’s schedule. I hated having a delay that was out of my control. The second issue was that, for customers, getting the gutters fixed and the house painted were the solution to a single problem. Only now they had two jobs in terms of dealing with two vendors. I wanted to be the single solution to what they saw as a single problem.”

Today, Phillips runs Phillips Home Improvement that provides painting, gutter and roofing services in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. He says, “To get started in gutters, I reached out to a local aluminum vendor and told them what I wanted to do, but admitted I didn’t quite know how to do it. He told me that if I bought my equipment and aluminum from him, he’d come out and train my team. I took him up on that, and gutters now account for 15% of our net revenue.”

Like Phillips, Will Reyes of Battle Born Painting in Reno, NV, spent several years turning to an outside vendor for gutter repairs and installs. “Then, one day I spoke to him about taking gutters on as a new business. He kind of discouraged me, saying the market was saturated. But with 80% of the houses we work on needing gutter work, I decided to pursue it anyway.”

Reyes was fortunate to hire a seasoned gutter pro to both train others and help manage the business, which he runs as separate entity: Battle Born Gutters.

Structured for success

While both companies are finding success in the world of gutters, their approaches to selling the service differ.

Phillips likes to bring all his company’s service to the table as part of a singular pitch, simplifying things for customers. “One thing I’ve learned from doing gutter work that’s not part of a paint project is that the paint-gutter customers are less sensitive to the cost of the gutter work when it’s part of a complete solution,”

he says. “It works for us to build it in and have all the work managed by one team. We have separate crews who do painting and gutter work but from the customer’s perspective, it’s all one team.”

As mentioned, Reyes operates separate businesses for painting and gutters (along with two other businesses that tackle epoxy flooring and cabinet repaints). “The way it works is that if we’re bidding a repaint and there’s a need for gutters, we let them know we offer the service, and ask if they’d like us to bid it. We could cross-train our guys, but my feeling is, a) people don’t like being upsold on painting, and b) this approach is working well.” The word ‘well’ might be considered an understatement by some, as Reyes’ gutter division grossed $900,000 within 18 months of its launch.

15 Sep/Oct 2023 | inPAINT
“This is by far the most profitable thing we’ve done in a long time. I wish I had done it sooner.”
Courtesy of Battle Born Gutters

Ease and expenses

Both Phillips and Reyes agree that compared to painting, gutters are a much easier service to sell and deliver. A principal reason for that is lack of options.

Phillips explains, “Gutters come pre-painted. That means that unlike paint, which comes in thousands of colors, there really are only about 18-30 options from which to choose. Often, that choice drives the paint color choices and speeds up that whole process.”

“Plus,” Reyes adds, “gutters are more about function than aesthetics. Customers don’t typically scrutinize them the way they do paint on the wall.”

However, Reyes does caution pros thinking about adding gutters to their portfolio to be realistic about what they can or can’t do.

“I’d say if you’re still actually out in the field doing bids or painting, this isn’t for you. You really need the infrastructure in place and people in the office to help manage vendors, materials and everything else. If you don’t have that, you’ll burn yourself out trying to keep up and blow a lot of money on some pretty expensive equipment.”

To help control costs, Phillips advises gutter-curious pros to make sure they find a quality vendor and to dig deep into pricing. “You want to interview two to three vendors and be direct. Ask what they’ll offer. Different vendors structure pricing differently. It’s really helpful to price the same ‘sample’ job out with the different vendors for comparison. Some will give you a great by-the-pound

price for the coil (aluminum sheeting) but their per-piece costs for accessories will be really high. Also, be sure to ask about early pay discounts.”

As for tracking expenses, Phillips developed a quoting system in his earliest painting days. “We’ve since moved it to the cloud and adapted it for gutter work. It now reflects every variable, and that’s important because it’s easy to lose profit if you don’t track the details.” He notes that many gutter pros base bids on linear feet. “That’s fine for super-simple structure jobs, but it’s not ideal for a typical house. Once you start counting every bend and turn on a house and maybe adding in extra downspouts, you’re losing money if you just bid by the foot. Our system accounts for every miter, turn, fastener, etc. and better reflects our actual costs.” Phillips admits it’s a lot of detail to track for what makes up maybe 30% of a typical repaint job. But he also notes that, “While the ticket size for gutter projects is smaller than painting, the profit margin is greater.”

Another way Phillips found to maximize profit is on the materials-management front. He says, “It’s a huge waste of time to send your crew to the gutter vendor to pick up aluminum. Honestly, you can lose two to three hours waiting on an order. It’s worse than a paint store. Instead, we now place a weekly order that gets delivered to our warehouse.”

License and insurance considerations

Phillips lives in Texas, where a license is not required for painting or gutter work, but Reyes’ home state of Nevada requires different licenses for each trade. “While our painting, flooring and cabinets all fall under one painting and decorating license, we had to get a license specific to working with sheet metal to launch the gutter business. And to be honest, it wasn’t easy to get. You have to be fully backed and bonded before they even qualify you. The whole process took about six months.”

That said, Reyes is quick to say this about gutters: “This is by far the most profitable thing we’ve done in a long time. I wish I had done it sooner.” ■

16 inPAINT | Sep/Oct 2023
“While the ticket size for gutter projects is smaller than painting, the profit margin is greater.”
Battle Born Painting’s gutter division grossed $900,000 within 18 months of its launch. Courtesy of Phillips Home Improvement



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Is it the right move for your painting business?

Three pros share the challenges and benefits of partnering with a hands-on investor to help scale their business

18 inPAINT | Sep/Oct 2023

rivate equity is a term not often heard in painting contractor circles. The notion of having someone buy-in and become part owner to help grow a business isn’t always attractive to many paint pros set on running the show their own way. But one small MN-based private equity firm is looking to shift that perspective.

Since its 2019 start, Aleph Holdings has partnered with 15 painting companies, buying a 40–45% stake in each to actively manage and grow them. Referring to itself as ‘a small venture group,’ its sweetspot partner is an owner with between $1.5 million and $1.8 million in annual sales, who is looking for that next level, explains Aleph cofounder Micah Stelter.

“Our idea is to buy in and hold. That’s where the true value in a painting company is, not in selling it,” he says. “We want to link up side by side and take the harder approach, scaling and holding it with profitability for a long time.”

While giving up a portion of ownership may not sound attractive to some, we spoke with three painting professionals at different stages of their careers who took the plunge. They shared their ups and downs— and we also tapped some outside experts (see page 20) for tips for someone considering such a move. Here’s what we learned.

Three pros take the plunge

The early-career pro

Adam Weinzetl of MN-based JMJ Painters started his company four years ago after spending time in insurance sales. He grew to roughly $1 million in annual revenue. He met Jason Paris in the early days of starting his company, and in 2021, Paris proposed Weinzetl partner with Aleph. The timing was right.

“I felt my personal weaknesses were a hindrance to our growth,” he recalls. “I couldn’t go any further knowing what I knew. I could sell more work, but I couldn’t fix our marketing issues or build systems for the future.”

Starting with Aleph in early 2022, he had three full-time employees. Today he has 11. Aleph quickly suggested some small fixes early on, increasing deposits to 33% from 25% for better cashflow, and upgrading certain subcontractor crews. Weinzetl added a fractional marketing position, which dramatically improved his direct mail efforts.

“We saved ourselves a lot of headaches. They care as much as we do but they aren’t as emotional. They say ‘here’s the data, let’s fix the problem.’” Weinzetl says.

Wallogy also provides systems and operating procedures he didn’t have to create from scratch, allowing Weinzetl to develop his CEO strengths—keeping the

The path to $5 million

Aleph’s origins trace back to 2012, when Jason Paris opened Paris Painting in Minnesota. He took the company to about $1.5 million in annual revenue on his own, then partnered with Chet Funk in 2017. They grew revenue to $2 million, along with profits. Funk was more of the visionary CEO type and Paris was the boots-on-the-ground COO. They grew fast but realized they couldn’t expand further without help.

Through their own trials, errors and research, they found that companies that scale to $5 million-plus have five critical seats filled: the CEO (visionary), COO (integrator/implementor of the vision), sales and marketing, finance, and production oversight. “When you’re small, at some point, you as the owner are playing some part of every one of these roles,” Stelter adds.

Once those roles are filled, it’s easier to scale fast. As Funk and Paris tinkered with the personnel side of things, they also developed software, now called ‘Wallogy,’ to track profitability and manage production, scheduling, estimating and more. Once Paris Painting exceeded $5 million in revenue and was thriving, they realized their model could possibly work for other pros. In 2019, Aleph was born and established its first partnerships in 2021.

Filling those seats full time may not be financially possible early on, so one of the foundational pieces of the Aleph partnership is to fill them on a ‘fractional’ basis until full-time positions are created. Early on, a role like marketing or production oversight, for example, may only require 10 or 20 hours a month anyway. Aleph has in-house experts to tap for a fractional role or it will help an owner hire someone.

company vision and communicating goals to others. In the first year, which was focused on onboarding rather than big results, JMJ grew to $1.6 million; for 2023, the goal is $3.5 million.

The mid-career pro

Christian Militello started PA-based Militello Painting & Powerwashing 22 years ago. He still openly embraces a bit of his initial rebel business-owner spirit, and candidly admits he’s “not employable by anyone other than myself.” Fittingly, he was skeptical about Aleph at first, but he also saw his shortcomings as an owner, and that was enough to take the risk.

“My ‘why’ was so strong that I felt compelled to try this,” Militello says. “My bandwidth and weaknesses were getting in the way. I saw good people I wanted to see grow here leave. … I really did this for the people here to have the best opportunity to advance their careers.”

The journey, however, has been rocky. One of the first to sign on with Aleph in late 2021, the following year was plagued with glitches from integrating Wallogy and taking on hires who were not the right fit for the company. The technology was a particular thorn, but there was a reason for keeping it.

“We were an established company; we had estimating, scheduling and communications software—we had it all— it’s just that we didn’t have a way to teach it well,” he adds.

19 Sep/Oct 2023 | inPAINT
“I really did this for the people here to have the best opportunity to advance their careers.”

“Aleph’s systems have a manual behind them. You can teach them to someone. Mine was all in my head.”

Unfortunately, Wallogy’s estimating software initially performed poorly with interior work.

“What we used prior was better for us—cleaner, faster and looked better,” according to Militello; but Aleph took the feedback to improve Wallogy. “We finally started to hit our stride about 10 months in, but I won’t lie. There were times I really questioned doing this.”

Militello has also taken on a fractional COO from Aleph. “Having access to those have been a huge help. I was not the best at holding people accountable, and the addition is helping to grow the professionalism of the company,” he adds.

With a rough onboarding year behind him, he has his sights on revenues of about $3.4 million for this year, up from about $2 million when he partnered with Aleph.

“Honestly, I don’t know where this is going to take me, which is kind of exciting,” he concludes. “I don’t have any preconceived notions. I know what’s in front of me now and what to do this year. I need to follow through on my ‘why’ and create career opportunities for people here to continue to move up. That must come to fruition.”

The late-career pro

Marc Poulos is a Chicago-area painting professional who has been in the business for 25 years. The current

Insights and opinions from industry experts

For pros considering a private equity partner, there are many questions to ask before jumping in. Here, a few experts share some tips and considerations.

“Really vet the partner and make sure they’re going to bring something to the table that helps you meet your goals,” he cautions.

“You will need to like them and connect at multiple levels,” adds Jason Humrichous, the co-owner of IN-based Heritage Custom Painting. Humrichous merged his company with Jason Finney, another local paint pro, in 2019. Their combined strengths have helped their business grow. The pair are now considering sharing their knowledge as private equity partners with pros in the future. “[My partner] sharpens me like iron sharpens iron; sometimes it’s painful but I can cut better after being with him.”


the partnership as a marriage

That means a breakup will be painful, explains Daniel Honan, the founder of, which offers back-office solutions for painting contractors. Honan has been tapped by clients for guidance on private equity opportunities.

Ask yourself if you can achieve your goal without a partner

This question may require a little soulsearching, says Humrichous, who realized he was ‘the bottleneck’ to his growth. “I knew who I was and I knew I couldn’t accomplish on my own what my vision was for my company,” he says.

iteration of his company has been in place since 2009 and the bulk of his work is residential repaints. Marc Poulos Painting does between $1.5 million and $2 million with 12 employees and some subcontractor crews. He has an operations manager and salesperson, but up until two years ago, he was doing all of it himself. The 61-year-old pro partnered with Aleph in February of this year.

“I’ve created a good lifestyle business, but now I want to take it to the next level,” he says. “I’ve been a lone wolf for so long, the collaboration was probably the biggest attraction.”

So far, Poulos appreciates the feedback on the current state of the company and regular meetings that keep him focused. He has taken on a fractional bookkeeper and Aleph is helping with onboarding a new project manager. He admits to working harder than ever, as he eyes growth to 10 times his current size—or greater. He is not wired for retirement either.

“When you set a 10-x goal, you really don’t know what that looks like. You put a number out there but what does the organization look like once you get to that point?” he asks. “There’s a lot of stuff that I’m still trying to navigate … their systems, their estimating software … but I feel great. I really do. I woke up in the middle of the night about a week ago thinking ‘what about this and that’? It was all positive. I haven’t been this excited in over five years.”

You can also hire a consultant to help you scale without giving up ownership, adds Brandon Lewis, founder of The Academy for Professional Painting Contractors. Lewis says fixing stalled growth often comes down to addressing a few small problems. “Because painting businesses are so fundamentally simple, there is no need to sacrifice 40% of your equity or income for eternity—simply to solve the temporary problems caused by profitable growth,” he adds.

Scrutinize the operating agreement

A partnership involves the creation of a whole new business entity. The operating agreement must be well thought out, Honan insists. It should spell out how ownership is allocated through shares of the new company, the responsibilities of

both parties, and even how to exit the situation. Have an attorney and tax planner review the document. When a partner buys in, whether the money is paid to the company or directly to the owner, it brings different tax implications. An advisor can clarify tax responsibilities for the owner giving up a portion of the business.

If you do partner, use a third party to oversee internal financial controls

This assures both sides are held accountable for their financial responsibilities and decisions, Honan says. “You want to have someone who is outside of the situation, a neutral person to provide tax guidance and support for an entity that now has multiple partners putting capital in and taking it out,” he says. ■

“I’ve created a good lifestyle business, but now I want to take it to the next level.”
inPAINT | Sep/Oct 2023 20
21 Sep/Oct 2023 | inPAINT your skills are needed to help families in your community. Join Habitat for Humanity and help families near you build affordable places to call home. Volunteer or donate at


4 floor experts on products and systems

Today, painting professionals enjoy a wide selection of floor coatings that can tackle just about any situation. From the demands of a residential garage floor to commercial kitchens, manufacturing facilities, automotive shops and more, pros who specialize in floors have their brand preferences, but also recognize that certain jobs may call for different product types, systems or combinations in order to meet durability and aesthetic needs.

It could be an epoxy or a urethane one day and a polyaspartic or polyurea the next; or there may be some unique combination a pro has discovered through the years that does the trick for certain surfaces and environmental conditions. It’s safe to say, most floor pros have a few tricks up their sleeves. Here, four experts share which products and systems meet their customers’ demands and keep their floor businesses growing.


This MI-based pro performs a lot of work in Chicago and has been in business for nearly two decades. Commercial and residential garages make up the majority of his floor work. One of his go-to systems is PPG PSX 700. It’s durable and he also likes how thin the product is, which makes it easier to create marble effects. He also appreciates its 4-hour work window.

“The heat of tires will pick up the epoxy if you don’t use the right product. This covers well and is extremely user friendly. It dries hard, it’s low VOC and does a great job of locking in flakes. It’s used in car dealership back shops, airport hangars and mechanical rooms. The chemistry is very good,” he said.

He also turns to Torginol FLAKE for jobs where he uses the PSX 700, as he likes the color variety the product offers. For solidcolor garage floors, he prefers PPG AMERLOCK 2 , which he will use as both the primer and topcoat. For added weather resistance, he turns to PPG PITTHANE ULTRA/95-812 SERIES, a glossy aliphatic urethane topcoat whose strong UV resistance minimizes the potential for yellowing. For added traction, he will also sometimes add ZINSSER Skid Tex ST30 Non-Skid Additive to a system.

22 inPAINT | Sep/Oct 2023


Based in Livonia, MI, Jordan’s company has been in business since 1999. He sees a wide range of project types that can include residential garages and basements as well as commercial retail, industrial and manufacturing, among others.

Jordan’s go-to system is the PPG FLOORING 100% SOLIDS POLYASPARTIC. He likes the durability and how it protects against tire marks and is UV and chemical resistant. And he believes it is superior in its ability to resist yellowing, a problem he has encountered with other products in the past.

Jordan preps the floor by diamond grinding and thoroughly cleaning with Xylene to open the concrete pores. For non-flaked floors, a strategy he’s learned through the years to avoid outgassing and to get better penetration, is to thin the primer coat by 15%. It adheres better to the concrete and offers more bite for the topcoat, he said. He also allows for at least 12 hours between primer and topcoats.

It’s not uncommon for him to use PPG POLYASPARTIC for both his primer and topcoat, but he’ll sometimes turn to PPG FLOORING CONCRETE EPOXY PRIMER for the base instead. He likes the aesthetics and the traction he gets on the floor when combining the epoxy primer and the polyaspartic.

For older floors that require heavy prep and need to be brought back online quickly, he turns to a polyurea-polyaspartic combination system using PPG POLYASPARTIC with the National Polymers Novolac System

“The combination of the polyurea and polyaspartic provides more flexibility and durability and gives you a chance to get on the floor quicker,” he added. “This is a top-of-the-line combination; it’s really a Class-A system.”

23 Sep/Oct 2023 | inPAINT 4 1 2 3
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“The combination of the polyurea and polyaspartic provides more flexibility and durability and gives you a chance to get on the floor quicker.”
▲ Hoffman Floor Covering teamed up with Bedrock Resin to create a super durable floor that would hold up to the foot traffic on Citi Field’s Shea Bridge.


A seasoned floor pro with more than three decades of both residential and commercial experience, Hoffman’s Farmingdale, NY-based company is an approved applicator for most major manufacturers. On any given day, he may be considering a couple dozen systems for jobs. His company specializes in high-build floor projects with customer requests ranging from solid colors to highly decorative custom floors. While he works with many manufacturers, Dur-A-Flex, Key Resin, ProREZ, Sika and Bedrock Resin are the ones he uses most often.

For smaller garage and bathroom floors, Dur-A-Flex

ACCELERA, a UV-resistant polymer blend, is a good choice for him. “ACCELERA is a high-shine material with good chemical resistance. It can cure within a few hours and be recoated with less down-time than other material,” he said.

He also works with Sika’s Sikafloor-304 W regularly, a waterbased polyurethane topcoat that brings the advantage of “little to no odor with good control over the gloss level.” It also has an attractive and durable matte finish, which customers like, he added.

Key Resin’s Key Urecon is a moisture-tolerant urethane cement he frequently uses in commercial kitchens. Bedrock Resin Green Concrete Primer (GCP) is a product that allows for the application of various Bedrock resins as soon as the day after the new concrete is poured, instead of waiting 28 days for the concrete to hydrate, Hoffman explained. He also frequently works with ProREZ ProQuartz. This 1/8" flooring system has many color options, which his customers appreciate.

“ProQuartz has a broad range of uses,” he noted. “It could be used for heavy vehicular traffic, such as ambulance bays and fire departments, and in more decorative or retail environments. The degree of slip resistance can be adjusted as required, and you get good value for the money.”


This northwest MI-based paint pro has been in business since 2015. His company serves both residential and commercial customers, and epoxy floors have been an important and growing part of his business for the past five years. About three years ago, Lightfoot made the decision to exclusively use WRAP Resins floor coating systems.

For creative floors in homes and businesses, he turns to the company’s MarbleWRAP, a designer epoxy with a marble look. It allows Lightfoot to create flowing-river designs and distinctive color effects—essentially answering just about any customer request.

“Since it has been on the market, most manufacturers have been trying to replicate what this product is doing for installers,” he said. “It’s more user-friendly than other products I’ve used and the performance is excellent.”

When using MarbleWRAP, he mixes it the day before the project starts—in addition to just before applying it—to avoid clumping. The product gives him about two hours of work time, which he likes. “With that amount of time, we can do an entire application in one fluid pour,” he added.


His workhorse product, however, is EpoWRAP, a 2-component epoxy requiring about 12–18 hours to cure. For a garage floor, after diamond grinding and shot-blasting prep, he applies about 12 mils of EpoWRAP, and then follows with polyaspartic polyurea PolyWRAP, an 85% solid with flakes. PolyWRAP can take foot traffic in three hours but requires 24 hours to cure, he said. For added scratch resistance on floors with heavy foot traffic, he also likes their SatinWRAP Aliphatic Urethane Topcoat

For older, below-grade floors without a moisture barrier, he turns to the VaporWRAP MVB Base Coat for his primer coat, which can repel up to 25 pounds of vapor emissions, about double to triple the level of typical epoxies, Lightfoot added. He then uses either MarbleWRAP or EpoWRAP for the topcoat. ■

24 inPAINT | Sep/Oct 2023
Full Spectrum Coatings created this dramatic floor with MarbleWRAP system from WRAP Resins. For the floor at Sister Lakes Brewing in Dowagiac, MI, Paint Medics used PPG Amerlock 2.
inPAINT THE MAGAZINE FOR PROFESSIONALS | WINTER 2022/2023 ® How the industry is supporting pros The ins and outs of epoxy floors + Booking profitable repaints year-round SPECIAL SECTION inPAINT THE MAGAZINE FOR PROFESSIONALS | MAY/JUN 2022 ® RESULTS OF OUR 2022 READERS SURVEY Two pros compare onboarding strategies Project snapshots: Challenges and coating choices + Pros on their trusted deck coatings SUBSCRIBE Painting Contractors | Remodelers | General Contractors Property Managers | Architects | Designers IT’S FREE! inPAINT THE MAGAZINE FOR PROFESSIONALS | MAY/JUN 2023 ® + What it takes: kitchen cabinets Escaping the entrepreneur’s trap Pros on their preferred exterior coatings RESULTS OF OUR 2023 READERS SURVEY inPAINT THE MAGAZINE FOR PROFESSIONALS | MAR/APR 2023 ® Four pros share their trusted brushes and roller covers Hiring talent—even when they’re not looking + Creating raving fans through relationship marketing PRO PICKS PRODUCT SHOWCASE 2023



Location: York, PA

Paint contractor:

Zach Ausherman, owner Ausherman Painting

Time frame: 5 weeks

Crew size: 3-4 people

Equipment used:

■ Scaffolding

■ Sprayers

■ Rollers


■ Repositioning and climbing up and down scaffolding up to 30 times a day

■ Taping off 16� stained-glass windows

■ Protecting a permanently mounted painting behind the altar


Ceilings: Benjamin Moore Waterborne Ceiling Paint (ultra flat) in:

Pro project comment:

Walls: Benjamin Moore Ultra Spec SCUFF-X Interior Latex Paint (eggshell) in:

Pro product comment:

“We chose SCUFF-X because of the durability it offers in a busy, high-traffic setting. The fast dry time helped speed up production and kept us moving at a pace we couldn’t achieve with other coating options.”

Trim: Benjamin Moore Ultra Spec SCUFF-X Interior Latex (semi-gloss) in:

This was a very big and very physical job that was largely performed from scaffolding. There was a tremendous amount of trim that we sprayed first. Then, we cut in and rolled the 30� walls from top to bottom. We had to keep things moving to avoid flashing as we worked our way down. But the hard work paid off, as both our team and the client were very pleased with the final outcome.”

26 inPAINT | Sep/Oct 2023
City Loft SW 7631 Sherwin-Williams
Sherwin-Williams Extra White SW 7006 1 PROJECT No.
Cosmos SW 6528


Location: Goodyear, AZ

Paint contractor:

Danny Thomas, & Cesar Palacios

Ganado Painting & Wallcovering

Time frame: 20 weeks

Crew size: 3 people

Equipment used:

■ 65� boom lift

■ Speeflow 8900 sprayers


■ Project had numerous add-ons and extensions

■ Staying on top of ever-shifting product needs for each day’s tasks



Concrete walls:

EFF-STOP Select Interior/Exterior Masonry Primer/Sealer

ACRI-HUES Exterior Paint (flat) in:


VINYLASTIC Plus Interior Latex Wall Sealer

SPARTAWALL Interior Paint in eggshell.

Metal surfaces:


Preventative Metal Primer

ARISTOSHIELD Interior/Exterior Enamel Paint in semi-gloss.

Pro project comment:

Metal surfaces:


Preventative Metal Primer

ARISTOSHIELD Interior/Exterior Enamel Paint (semi-gloss) in:

“The project involved painting 350,000 sq. ft. of added space to an existing 600,000-sq.-ft. site to expand capabilities and capacity. A roughly 3-milelong concrete wall was also built around the building. In total, the concrete tilt-up project involved more than 6,500 gallons of paint.”

Pro product comment:

“We used ACRI-HUES for the exterior because it is a true ‘dead’ flat finish and helps hide the flaws in the concrete tilt panels. Some flat products have side sheens and they tend to show how bad the concrete really is.”

27 Sep/Oct 2023 | inPAINT
Dunn-Edwards DE6083 Badlands Sunset Dunn-Edwards DE6192 Nomadic Taupe Dunn-Edwards DE6226 Foggy Day Dunn-Edwards DEC750 Bison Beige Dunn-Edwards DE5825 Deepest Sea
28 inPAINT | Sep/Oct 2023 TOOLS OF THE TRADE
Courtesy of ALL IN Painting

What’s in today’s professional toolbox?

3M™ Cool Flow™ Valve Quick Latch Reusable Respirator

Designed for the professional painter, the 3M™ Cool Flow™ Valve Quick Latch Reusable Respirator-Paint Project helps give you convenience and protection on the job. Equipped with our proprietary Quick Latch system, this reusable respirator is easy to take on and off in non-contaminated areas, and there’s no need to adjust straps as you’re raising and lowering your respirator. When you’re outside the hazardous area, this respirator lets you take a quick break or have a conversation with a simple flip of the lever.

Purdy® 18" Fixed Frame

Purdy® Revolution™ 18" Fixed Roller Frame makes it easy to get rolling fast. The strong metal frame holds the roller cover in place for great coverage and smooth release of paint. Ideal for large-scale projects, the frame allows you to apply even pressure without wiggle for a perfect finish. Purdy Revolution 18" Fixed Frame is easy to load, use and clean, making it the perfect choice for increasing jobsite productivity.

The Best Paint Jobs Start With Scotch® Painter’s Tape!

The best paint jobs all start the same way, with Scotch® Painter’s Tapes. Scotch® Brand has a full line of painter’s tapes to help you conquer whatever surface you’re painting. It’s the #1 most trusted brand by professional painters*. The best paint jobs start with Scotch® Painter’s Tape. *Based on 2020 TNS Kantar U.S. Brand Health Survey.

Learn more at

29 Sep/Oct 2023 | inPAINT
®3M 2023. All rights reserved. Scotch is a trademark of 3M.



Pages 2, 7 & 29

Behr Page 7

Blue Dolphin Page 10

FrogTape Page 13


Back Cover

Habitat for Humanity

Page 21


Page 3 & 7

Mi-T-M Page 23


Page 10

PaintLine Page 11

Purdy Page 29

Tower Sealants Page 11

What, Where & When


18–20: PCA Craftsmanship Forum, Savannah, GA

25–27: Women in Residential+Commercial Construction, Nashville, TN


1–3: PCA Commercial Painting Conference, Nashville, TN

2 & 3: PCA Women in Paint Conference, Nashville, TN

6–10: TPC Connect: Industrial Coatings, Henderson, NV (formerly Contractor Connect)

15–17: PCA Contractor Reboot Conference, Seattle, WA

Women in Paint Conference November 2 & 3, Nashville, TN


25–27: Painting Profits Summit, Chattanooga, TN

27 & 28: 2024 Build & Remodel Expo, Madison, WI


Feb 26–Mar 1: PCA EXPO, Orlando, FL

27–29: NAHB International Builders’ Show, Las Vegas, NV


26–28: National Hardware Show, Las Vegas, NV

The PCA is proud to host the first-ever conference for women in the industry. Designed to provide a holistic look at harnessing the power of being a woman in a male-dominated trade, this inaugural womenonly, 2-day event will provide the opportunity to learn how to not only grow fully, but to lead fully. Attendees can look forward to stimulating presentations including ‘Know Your Numbers’ by Linnea Blair, ‘Intention Setting’ by Dr. Lauren DeYoe, ‘Changing Lives Through Paint’ by Michal Cheney, and ‘Building Professional and Personal Boundaries’ by Ashely Boyd. Plus, there will be plenty of opportunities for connecting and networking with other women who are passionate about the trade. A limited number of scholarships are available.

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1 5 10 11 6 3 2 7 8 9 4

Preplanning for a successful 2024

Three tips to ensure you’re ready to hit the ground running

We’ve all heard the saying, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.” As far as business planning for next year goes, the best time to get started is in the fall, and, coincidentally, the second-best time is in the fall.

Here are three tips for creating a clear and concise plan, including a simple strategy for consistent execution, which is the true key to success.

1. Start early

Making time in September and October to begin planning for the coming year provides the time needed to craft a solid game plan that you can act on when January 1st rolls around. Don’t make the mistake of counting on that ‘free time’ around the holidays. Start early so that any actual free time can be shared with family.

2. Map out your entire year by month

There are key activities that need to happen in every business over the course of each year. Before the new year begins, map out what needs to happen and when, breaking it down by month for easier execution. Here are a few examples to get you started:

■ January & February: Hiring blitz

■ March: Marketing push for the spring season

■ July: Six-month profitability review

■ August: Marketing push for winter work

■ September & October: Start planning for next year

Your plan should include all company meetings, insurance renewals, hiring, training, marketing, monthly financial reviews, quarterly reviews, etc.

Creating a monthly to-do list and posting it where you will see it every day is one way to keep it top of mind if you’re not at your desk every day. To help you keep on track with your plan, delegate tasks where possible and set check-in meetings to make sure things are getting taken care of in a timely fashion.


Add EVERYTHING to your digital calendar as well (with reminders) to make sure you don’t miss an important deadline.

3. Create a detailed budget

If you have a detailed budget for your business already, great, you can make a copy then make the updates needed for 2024. If you don’t have one, you really, really should. Break it out into sections that include: income, direct costs, variable expenses and general expenses. The more detailed you can get, the better. Once you have a true snapshot of your business, you can play what I like to call the ‘what if …’ game.

What if I add a new salesperson?

What if I add a new service?

What if I increase my marketing budget?

What if I hire two more painters?

Mapping out several scenarios and seeing what it does to your top- and bottom-line numbers is a great way to appreciate what big—or even small—changes could mean to your business. This will also give you a chance to wrap your mind around what else may need to be adjusted to make it all work.

Ultimately, the goal is to start each year from a place of clarity and calmness, as opposed to confusion and chaos, which are the result of poor planning and lack of preparation. And the good news is, you’ll only have to do this from scratch once. Next year, when your calendar reminder alerts you in September that it’s time to start planning for 2025 (hint, hint), all you’ll have to do is pull out your 2024 plan, make a copy, then update it for the year ahead.

SUHAIBA NEILL is the owner of The Full Circle Business, a consulting company founded to help fellow contractors get from stressed to streamlined. Using her 19 years of experience managing the family painting business, she has crafted proven strategies to help others increase their productivity and profitability through the use of systems and processes.

31 Sep/Oct 2023 | inPAINT BOTTOM LINE
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