THE MAGAZINE FOR PROFESSIONALS | JUN/JUL 2015
IN PRAISE OF SPRAYERS
The rigs pros love most and why
Pro Tips for Quick Turns The Hows and Whys of Bonding Primer What the Healthy Housing Market Means for You
[ CUTTING IN ]
It doesn’t matter if you’re turning a 20-story building or repainting two rooms in a small house, there is one factor that can make every job run faster: Trust.
Amanda Haar ART DIRECTOR
Martha MacGregor DESIGNER
Kathryn Heeder Hocker
t’s what gives clients the confidence to choose you to do a job. It’s what allows you to make the right decisions about how a job should run without seeking approval at every turn. And, it’s what empowers employees to truly do their best every day. As trust goes up, so does speed. And when speed increases, costs go down. So how do you build trust? Mahan Khalsa and Randy Illig, authors of Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play: Transforming the Buyer/Seller Relationship, make the case that when it comes to building trust, intent is what matters most. In order to help a prospective client get the results they want, you need information. To get that, you need to ask questions. Correction: you need to ask a LOT of questions. How forthcoming they’ll be with information depends largely on why they think you’re asking those questions. Is it for your own gain or theirs? The same is true when working with crews. Are you asking them to handle a project a certain way because it benefits your budget or because it makes the best sense for the job and their efforts? In the end, we’re most successful when we focus on the success of others and not just ourselves and our bottom line. In this issue of inPAINT, we focus on your success by looking at a number of ways you can achieve even greater success. We take a look at a variety of products—from bonding primers and roller covers to tracking apps and sprayers—as well as offer insight into steps you can take before every job to ensure it runs smoothly. As always, we welcome your feedback and thoughts on future topics.
Cindy Puskar CONTRIBUTING WRITERS
Sally J. Clasen Lynn Fife Debra Gelbart Jake Poinier Brian Sodoma Jim Williams SOCIAL MEDIA
Jillian McAdams PUBLISHED BY
REM Publishing Group LLC 6501 E. Greenway Pkwy., Suite 103-273 Scottsdale, AZ 85254 (602) 296-5391
Amanda Haar Amanda Haar Managing Editor, inPAINT editor@inPAINTmag.com
COVER: The Graco GMAX 5900 Ironman was the rig of choice for painting this new residential neighborhood in San Marcos, CA. Featuring a MaxLife Extreme Duty Pump that runs six times longer between repacks and the ProConnect 2 pump removal system that lets you remove and replace the pump without tools, the GMAX 5900 Ironman was designed to keep you working longer so you can get the job done faster. ©Graco Inc.
inPAINT | Jun/Jul 2015
advertise@inPAINTmag.com inPAINTmag.com ©2015 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 express or implied, and is subject to the terms and conditions stated in this disclaimer.
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In Praise of Sprayers
Successful Paint Projects
Stain Savers to the Rescue
Pros reveal their sprayers of choice
Pro tips for streamlining the turn process
The hows and whys—what to use where
What to do before paint is chosen
Solving common wood-finishing problems
Using images to keep and attract new customers
10 DEPARTMENTS 6 Trends
38 Tools of the Trade
A fast look at the forces at work in our industry
Products to keep your job moving
7 Trend in Focus A healthy housing market bodes well for paint pros
8 Ask a Pro Time frame for following up on an estimate
10 Work Smart Crime prevention
inPAINT | Jun/Jul 2015
41 Upcoming Events The what, where and when of the industry’s leading events
42 Bottom Line How to choose the right training for your business
[ TRENDS ] HELP WANTED According to the houzz.com 2014 Houzz & Home Survey of homeowners planning a project in the next two years:
50+% plan to hire a general contractor 22% are looking for kitchen or bath remodelers
Growth Ahead Revenue for the interior and exterior paint industry in the
17% plan to hire an architect 17% plan to hire an interior designer SOURCE: 2014 Houzz & Home Survey, houzz.com
U.S. is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 5.0%
Single-Family Production On the Rise
during the next five years to reach $40.0 billion in 2019,
ACCORDING TO A REPORT FROM THE
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF HOME BUILDERS,
growth in 2015.
SINGLE-FAMILY PRODUCTION IS EXPECTED TO INCREASE 26% IN 2015 TO 802,000
SOURCE: IBISWorld Industry Report 23832, Painters in the U.S.: Market Research Report, ibisworld.com
AND THE COLOR OF THE YEAR IS …
MARSALA PANTONE 18-1438
AND REACH 1.1 MILLION IN 2016. SOURCE: NAHB, 2014 Fall Construction Forecast Webinar
According to Pantone, naturally robust and earthy wine-red Marsala enriches our minds, bodies and souls. And if the predictions are right, it will soon be enriching home interiors and exteriors, too. SOURCE: Pantone
Remodeling Market Index Reclaims All-Time High The National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) Remodeling Market Index (RMI) reclaimed the high-water mark of 57 in the third quarter of 2014. This is the sixth consecutive quarter for an RMI reading above 50. An RMI above 50 indicates that more remodelers report market activity is higher (compared to the prior quarter) than report it is lower. SOURCE: NAHB, Remodeling Market Index, October 2014
60 50 40 30 20 10
inPAINT | Jun/Jul 2015
PAINT BY THE NUMBERS According to U.S. News & World Report, in 2013: - The average painter earned a little more than $39,290, or approximately $18.89 per hour. The highest paid took home about $62,280 while the lowest paid earned $23,340 in that same period. - The electric power generation, transmission and distribution, and beverage manufacturing industries compensate painters best. - Some of the highest-earning metropolitan areas for the profession are Fairbanks, AK; Youngstown, OH; and Champaign, IL SOURCE: U.S. News & World Report, Best Jobs of 2013
[ TREND IN FOCUS ]
A Healthy Housing Market Bodes Well for Paint Pros
ver the last few years, we’ve all watched the multifamily market segment recover to the pre-bust levels of the early 2000s. In 2014, 350,000 apartments were produced and, if predictions are right, that number will climb even higher in 2015. But what about those single-family homes? When’s their rebound expected to hit? According to Dr. David Crowe, chief economist and senior VP of the National Home Builders Association, 2015 might just be their year. “Out of the past five years,” says Crowe, “2015 looks the most promising for single-family housing starts and, by extension, the most promising for paint professionals.” The reasons for Crowe’s optimism are two-fold. The first is jobs. Crowe says, “In 2014, the employment level finally reached the same peak we hit in 2007 and continues to slowly gain momentum. The number of people working today is the highest it’s ever been.” With jobs comes a feeling of security and, in the housing marketing, security typically leads to home buying. But security doesn’t inspire just first-time homebuyers to make a move. According to Crowe, “During the collapse, many homeowners found they had little or no equity in their home. But now, with prices recovering, they’re reclaiming some of that lost equity and, if they sell, discovering that they have enough for a down payment on their next home.” A second key factor spurring housing starts is low mortgage rates. While admitting that rates were already pretty low last year, Crowe says they’re even lower now. “Combine that with job security and you’ve further enhanced consumer comfort level with the notion of building or buying a home.” In addition, the easing of regulations put in place in reaction to the mortgage crisis will improve the likelihood of more people being approved for mortgages. What’s good for the consumer is good for the contractor So what does all this optimism and comfort mean for the residential paint contractor? According to Crowe, jobs. “In 2014, there were 640,000 single-family housing starts,” says Crowe. The NAHB anticipates that number climbing to 800,000 in 2015. But it’s not just the increased number of jobs that mean money to contractors. It’s the size of them. “Houses are getting larger,” says Crowe. “The houses built in 2014 were bigger than the houses built in 2011, 2012 and 2013. We expect that trend to continue.”
Not only are homes bigger, they have more rooms. In 2013, only 59,000 of the homes built had less than two bedrooms. More than 250,000 of the homes built that same year had four bedrooms or more. Bigger houses mean more exterior paint space, and more rooms mean more wall space. That means more paint and more labor all year long. Proceed with caution (and optimism) While improving employment numbers, lower mortgage rates, and an overall improved sense of financial security all point to a potentially stellar year for pro painters, Crowe advises taking a cautiously optimistic approach. “Without a doubt, there is a lot of pent-up demand for single-family homes,” says Crowe. “Millennials who have
It’s not just the increased number of jobs that mean money to “ contractors. It’s the size of them.
managed to get by in apartments or even living at home with family for the past few years are in the best position they’ve ever been in to buy or build a new home. But it’s not a lock.” Both local and global economies can be good indicators of how much work might come your way. “If they’re adding jobs in your community, chances are very good you’ll see more opportunities for work to develop,” he says. “But if the major employer in your community exports product to a country where the economy is going soft, jobs could dry up pretty quickly. It pays to keep your eyes and ears open to what’s going on, especially before expanding staff or acquiring pricey capital.” But even with that bit of caution, Crowe admits, “It really does look like the best year out of the past five for housing starts … if all the indicators continue in the direction they’re currently headed, it could be the biggest boom since 2005.” Jun/Jul 2015 | inPAINT
[ ASK A PRO ]
to it a w u o y o How long d timate? n es a n o p u fo l l o w
A: Following up on estimates is part of being a
professional painter. Sometimes, following up can make the difference between getting the job and not getting the job. There are a few things we do during the bidding process that have helped us to be successful—and it starts before we send the estimate.
NICK KUNST is the president and CEO of Kunst Bros. Painting Contractor Inc., based in Marin County, CA. A fourth-generation paint contractor, Nick has run the family business for 25 years. Kunst Bros., which handles interior and exterior paint jobs for commercial and residential clients, has repeatedly been voted Best House Painters in Marin and was included in the Marin County Hall of Fame in 2012, 2013 and 2014. Active in the community, Kunst is a trustee for the Allensby Trust Foundation and is the scholarship chairman for Elks Lodge #1108 San Rafael. He is also president of the Dixie Schoolhouse Foundation, Inc.
inPAINT | Jun/Jul 2015
Before sending the estimate First of all, we start every relationship with a face-to-face meeting. I make it a point to set technology aside, visit the job site and work on developing a personal relationship with the potential customer. Most paint professionals don’t do that, and customers are very surprised and pleased when we show up. Plus, when I meet with them, I can explain how we would tackle their job, so they feel more at ease with us and better understand what the estimate includes. The estimate and follow-up As for turnaround, I typically do three or four estimates in the morning, and send them out that afternoon. Our customers tell us that other painters make them wait up to two weeks for an estimate. That makes some customers wonder: If they’re this slow at giving me a bid, what will their customer service look like during the actual job? When we email an estimate to a prospective customer, we ask them to confirm receipt. If we don’t hear from them, we email and call to make sure they received the estimate and to ask if they have any questions. We generally get a good response with that. We usually follow up on all bids by the end of the week. Our goal is to have our office manager reach out to everyone we sent bids to in a given
week. If we’re very busy, however, we might not follow up as aggressively. After the estimate If customers have questions about their estimate, we respond quickly. I make it a point to be accessible by phone or email at all times. If customers have questions, I don’t want them to have to wait for me to get back to the office. If their question is about price, I offer flexibility. I recognize that estimates are not an exact science. This is my 25th year doing estimates, so I’ve gotten very good at it. But I’m always open to a conversation about price. And lastly, it’s important to be gracious if you don’t get the job. A lot of painters get angry when they lose a job and let the customer know it. That type of behavior is unprofessional and makes our whole industry look bad. When we lose a bid, I respond to the customer and say, “I’m sorry we can’t work for you on this project. But if something changes, we’re here.” Estimates and follow-ups are really about great communication and customer service. Doing it right, in our experience, can help yield more business.
Nick Kunst can be reached at kunstbros.com or (415) 456-4044
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[ WORK SMART ]
Crime-riddance YOU CAN PREVENT THEFT WITH COMMON SENSE AND ATTENTION TO DETAIL
What do lighting, fencing and locking ladder racks have in common? They’re all part of the concept of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design or CPTED (pronounced ‘sip-ted’). The majority of painting contractors are concerned about theft and burglary, and making sure loss of vehicles, equipment and supplies is prevented can be a big job. But CPTED can help, experts say.
BY DEBRA GELBART
inPAINT | Jun/Jul 2015
“Ensuring that the location of vehicles, supplies and equipment is secure is part of what we call ‘opportunity reduction techniques’ that minimize the likelihood of something getting stolen,” says Chuck Sczuroski, a former police officer and the master trainer at the National Crime Prevention Council in suburban Washington, D.C. A theft of anything you rely on every day isn’t just expensive and infuriating, he said. It impacts your livelihood. And it’s not a small problem. According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting program, more than 8.6 million property crimes were committed in the U.S. in 2013. Property crimes include burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson. The terms larceny and theft are typically used interchangeably, but some legal experts
have defined larceny as the unlawful taking of tangible property, and theft as the unlawful taking of tangible or intangible property, including intellectual property. Larceny-thefts accounted for just under 70% of reported property crimes in 2013. The largest number of arrests for property crimes were also for larceny-theft, and those totaled more than 1.2 million. That still left millions of cases of larceny-theft unsolved. “Essentially, every business owner is vulnerable,” Sczuroski says. But advocates of CPTED are trying to change that. The International CPTED Association notes on its web site that, ‘CPTED strategies rely upon the ability to influence offender decisions that precede criminal acts by affecting the built social and administrative environment.’ One of the first steps a painting contractor should take toward CPTED, Sczuroski advises, is building into a project estimate the time it takes to properly put away supplies and equipment at the end of each workday. “While it might be tempting to simply leave ladders, equipment and supplies in place—especially if they’re already indoors—at the end of the day, it’s more costeffective to add the time that it takes to move everything into a secured location to any project estimate.” If you
know you’d spend two hours doing that every day, add that time to a project estimate for every day you anticipate being on the job, he suggested. And then make sure that if you are moving equipment and supplies to somewhere on the customer’s property, that location is truly secure. “Don’t assume a homeowner’s or commercial customer’s basement, for example, is necessarily safe,” he says. Ask who has access to the basement. If a homeowner suggests moving equipment to the garage or a backyard shed, make sure it can be locked from the outside. “An easily accessed garage or shed can be an especially vulnerable place after hours, because anyone who’s been watching the customer’s location will know where painting equipment and supplies are being stored. An unlocked outdoor shed is not the place to store your ladder.” Sczuroski also notes a painting contractor may want to consider reloading the equipment onto his truck or van at the end of the day, particularly if the vehicle will not be driven home, but rather, back to a secured shop. For materials that can’t be moved at the end of the day, such as scaffolding, Sczuroski suggests putting up a barrier for the period of time crews won’t be nearby, to discourage theft or vandalism. Audible security alarms can be affordably and easily installed on trucks and vans, he said. A ladder rack on the vehicle should be able to be secured with a high-quality lock. “And when it comes to equipment you need for a job, at least one person on each team should be designated as responsible for all the things that need to be secured,” he suggests. “If you have a number of people working for you, don’t let keeping track of equipment become an overwhelming task,” he says. “Just look at it from a team perspective and designate a security coordinator for each crew or team, who is accountable for making sure all equipment and supplies are properly put away. Impress on the designated person how important it is for ladders and equipment to be secure.” Vigilance is key, painting contractors say. “Leaving trucks unlocked while they’re parked on a street with equipment in plain view is just inviting people to steal,” says Randy Fornoff, co-owner of MTS Painting and Property Service, Inc. in Mesa, AZ. “And if you allow a crew member to take a truck home, you have to be assured that the vehicle will be parked in a safe spot.” Travelers (insurance company) recommends keeping written records of identifying information (such as serial numbers) for all tools and equipment. Post signs on all equipment with warnings that serial numbers have been recorded. Consider engraving identifying information in a hidden place on all equipment. As Travelers points out, paint can be stripped but engravings can’t. Engraved information will help police determine that an item is indeed yours if it’s recovered.
Travelers also recommends controlling access to building and vehicle keys by limiting the number of people to whom ‘key control’ responsibility is given and by maintaining a log listing the type of key issued, to whom, on what date, and for what purposes. Keep all unissued keys under lock and keep extra keys to a minimum, Travelers advises. And change your locks periodically. What else can you do to protect yourself against theft and loss? Adequate lighting after dark is important but isn’t necessarily intended to keep you safe, says Sczuroski. Its purpose is to illuminate an area so that anyone nearby can see what’s going on with your property. Illegal activity can’t be hidden that way. The same reasoning applies to fencing, he says, even though it may seem counterintuitive. A tall block fence around a shop perimeter might sound like a better option to deter thieves, but the optimal choice for fencing is chain link or wrought iron, because it allows those nearby to see inside and outside of the fence and, thereby, keep an eye on your property. Install cameras at your shop or warehouse that have recording capability, advises Sczuroski. “When you’re pricing camera systems, don’t go with the cheapest available … and make sure that whoever is advising you
“ Leaving trucks unlocked while they’re parked on a street with equipment in plain view is just inviting people to steal.” —RANDY FORNOFF, MTS PAINTING AND PROPERTY SERVICE, INC.
about security camera installation has experience with lighting so that the images captured by the cameras will be clear and bright. Add signs warning that surveillance equipment is on the premises. That alone could be a significant deterrent to theft and adds to the layers of security and theft prevention that offer optimal protection.” A thief may be more inclined to bypass a property with warning signs, he explained, and move onto a property without all those layers of protection. In CPTED circles, this is known as ‘territorial reinforcement.’ Jun/Jul 2015 | inPAINT
To further this concept, consider installing an alarm system inside buildings or yards, as well as in company vehicles, suggests Sczuroski. Fornoff, too, has installed an alarm system in his 4,000-square-foot warehouse. Some experts recommend hiring a security guard, especially if you have equipment expensive enough that it would be difficult to replace if it were stolen. Employee theft can be a problem, too Theft, unfortunately, isn’t limited to strangers who happen to come in contact with your vehicle or equipment. It can occur if you don’t hire trustworthy employees. “Hire well,” Fornoff advises. “Do background checks and always check an applicant’s references.” If you’re looking to hire someone as a crew leader or a foreman, it’s imperative to check with former employers, Fornoff says, adding that he and his brother Jason, who together own their family business, consider their employees an extension of their family. “It all comes down to hiring people for their character,” says Fornoff. He adds that their company requires drug testing as a condition of employment and conducts —CHUCK SCZUROSKI, MASTER TRAINER, NATIONAL random drug testing periodically CRIME PREVENTION COUNCIL after someone is hired. New employees at John Neill Painting in suburban Philadelphia are always background-checked and drug-tested, says Suhaiba Neill, the company’s business manager and daughter of founder John Neill. In addition, she says, the company has installed GPS units in its dozen or so vehicles, “so we can keep track of all of our crews.” During peak season, she adds, the company has up to 35 painters assigned to projects. Caron Beesley, a writer for the Small Business Administration, said that studies show perpetrators of workplace crime or fraud feel pressured or underappreciated perceive that management is unethical or unfair. So they rationalize their own behavior by convincing themselves that they’re owed something or deserve it. How can you recognize possible criminal behavior? Here are some actions or characteristics, Beesley notes, that could indicate a problem: - Not taking vacations; many violations are discovered while the perpetrator is on vacation - Being overly protective or exclusive about their workspace - Prefers to be unsupervised by working after hours or taking work home - Financial records sometimes disappearing
“Essentially, every business owner is vulnerable.”
inPAINT | Jun/Jul 2015
- Unexplained debt - Unexpected change in behavior Travelers urges employers to clearly explain their policy to employees concerning gray areas, such as taking left-over supplies, personal use of company vehicles, or borrowing tools for overnight or weekend use. Travelers also recommends that employers ask employees to report theft to management via a phone number they can use after hours and on weekends. What kind of insurance coverage should you carry? A policy called a contractor’s Business Owner’s Policy (BOP) that bundles coverage and is intended for small contracting businesses with fewer than 20 employees. For larger companies, traditional separate policies may be more appropriate, explains Tim Quinn, president of Quinn Insurance, Inc. in Omaha, NE. A contractor’s BOP can include: - Property insurance that covers the owner’s buildings and all business-related possessions while they are located at the business’ location - Inland marine insurance that covers all scheduled (i.e., items listed separately in a policy as being covered for an additional premium) tools and equipment as well as job-related materials while they are at a job site or are in transit to a job site - Employee theft insurance that protects an owner against theft by an employee - Crime insurance, which protects an owner against theft by a third party - Comprehensive and collision auto insurance that protects a work vehicle against theft, damage and collision. “Depending on your circumstances, a contractor’s BOP may be ideal for you,” Quinn says. “But if you have a larger company, it’s a much better step to purchase more comprehensive coverage through separate policies.” Putting it all together All of these measures are designed and intended to give you peace of mind by making it less likely that you, your company, or any of your employees will become a victim of theft or burglary. Having the right insurance coverage means if you do encounter a thief, you’ll have some recourse. “It’s all about being smart in regards to protecting yourself and your business,” says Sczuroski. “Anticipating and being proactive could save you from some major headaches in the future.”
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IN PRAISE OF
PROS REVEAL THEIR SPRAYERS OF CHOICE; GRACO & TITAN DOMINATE THE CONVERSATION BY BRIAN SODOMA
inPAINT | Jun/Jul 2015
When Terry Begue started in the painting business nearly three decades ago, he quickly began to think that being a great painter didn’t always translate to profitability. That thinking changed about five years into running his company. Aluminum siding jobs are very prevalent in Akron, OH; so Begue began fine-tuning methods for quickly and effectively handling these jobs. That was when the pro learned that his sprayer is probably the most important tool at his disposal. “The key to this is, ‘spray everything you can possibly spray.’ Because of that, we’ve been killing it for the past 25 years,” he said. “Brushing and rolling requires a certain level of skill and it costs more. The sprayer is like the cash register. If it’s not pumping, the cash register is not ringing up sales.” Begue now markets his techniques to other paint contractors through his e-book: The Wealthy House Painter’s Guide to Having it All. While the book touches on important marketing techniques, it also goes into application principles that can speed along the job. Begue’s teams use them, and are able to paint about 120 houses every spring-summer painting season in northern Ohio. “With our system, everyone has a role on the job, and the unskilled guys do nothing but mask and cover ... we only brush about 10% of the time,” he added. Begue is not alone in relying on the sprayer to keep him profitable. Plenty of other painters will likely make similar claims. Begue, along with a few other pros,
recently shared which brands and models they’ve come to trust through the years. One pro’s view Having painted more than 3,000 homes in the past 25 years, Begue has always been impressed with the longevity he gets from his Titan Impact 440 airless sprayers. He has paid between $800 and $1,000 for the units through the years and usually gets about 400 to 500 jobs worth of service before making the decision to either rebuild or replace them. Begue says he often replaces machines once they need major maintenance like piston repacking or seal replacement. “I can buy new parts, but it’s really not worth it. The units are so cheap ... we could buy one every week and still be profitable,” he added. For maintenance, Begue has his teams run about 10 gallons of water through the system to clean it out after every job. He also stores his machines inside a heated garage, which can reduce some weathering as well. Jim Handzel, senior product manager for Wagner and Titan electric sprayers, says the Impact 440 is a, “longstanding, industry-known sprayer.” It was released in 1986 and was the first portable sprayer selling for less than $1,000, Handzel noted. He also says Titan utilizes considerable pro painter feedback when it comes to updating the 440 and other sprayers. Though the model hasn’t seen many changes, one upgrade was the auto-oiler, where with the push of a button, an ounce of oil sprays onto the piston and rod in the unit’s upper packing area to prevent excessive wear. In 2002, Titan introduced a higher-efficiency brushless DC motor for the 440 as well. “We try to get feedback in stores, through warranty registration information, and we’ll do field-testing, surveys,” Handzel noted. “We’re always listening to customers and many are wanting easy maintenance features.” Maintenance master Fabio Silva won the CertaPro Crew of the Year Award in 2014. He prides himself on speed, efficiency and quality when it comes to his jobs for his employer, CertaPro of the Main Line in PA. And he relies heavily on his Graco sprayers. The pro puts his trust in the Ultra Max II 595, 795 and 1095 airless paint sprayer models. A few thousand
dollars for the pro models is worth the investment, he says. He likes his 1095 for its ability to handle two hoses. It’s not uncommon for him to use it with painters on separate floors of a two-story apartment building. “I do a lot of big jobs; lots of commercial stuff. That machine really helps,” he said. Above all, Silva likes how easy it is to find parts for his Graco sprayers. He does his own maintenance and refurbishing. One of his machines is 17 years old and showing no signs of slowing. “I don’t want to pay someone to do the work when I know I can do it myself. Gracos are really easy to figure out and it’s easy to find parts. I replace the pump kit every two years and the piston every five to seven years myself and they just keep going,” he said. Another believer Bill Walloch, general manager of Brad Stoner Painting in San Diego, CA, believes in both Titans and Gracos. He uses Titan sprayers for smaller jobs, but leans heavily on his Graco pro units, like the 1095, for most of his big jobs. Brad Stoner Painting is a large painting contractor with 10 crews. Most of his teams are more familiar with Gracos and request them, he says. “Overall, we get over five years out of each unit. Usually, we’ll buy two new ones every three or four years and cycle out some of the older ones,” he said. Price, and working units to the max Not all painters are willing to spend thousands of dollars on a unit. But they still need to get the most out of what they have. Jeff Pinosky, owner of Classic Shades Painting, in Phoenix, AZ, primarily relies on Gracos as well. But Pinosky isn’t afraid to admit that he loves the smaller, portable models like the X7 and ProX9 airless sprayers. He typically finds them ranging in price from $300 to $500 new, and he can find reconditioned ones for a great price too.
“ Titan utilizes considerable pro painter feedback when it comes to updating the 440 and other sprayers.” —JIM HANDZEL, SENIOR PRODUCT MANAGER, WAGNER AND TITAN
Jun/Jul 2015 | inPAINT
“Gracos are really easy to figure out and it’s easy to find parts.” —FABIO SILVA, CERTAPRO OF THE MAIN LINE, PA
He uses a wheel bracket that allows him to mount a five-gallon bucket next to the sprayer. Pinosky is candid about the fact that he’s likely to burn through a machine after a year of painting a lot of stucco exteriors in the harsh Arizona desert, which can see high summer temperatures routinely climb above 110.˚ Like Silva, he says Graco machines are easy to maintain and fix, but sometimes he just spends his money on another unit instead. “Sometimes I’ll repack the piston, but sometimes it’s just not worth it,” he explained. While he’s largely loyal to Graco, Pinosky has seen success with Titan sprayers as well. But he steers clear of any other brands. “With sprayers, it really is like the difference between a Mercedes and a Hyundai,” he said. Pinosky also recommends keeping hose lengths reasonable for maximum performance. “Keep them between 75 and 100 feet. Otherwise, the machine has to work harder to pump,” he added. Sized right Karl Crowder of Crowder Painting in Colorado Springs, CO has been in the paint business for more than three decades and has come to rely on his Graco Ultra Max II 695 airless unit. Crowder says the sprayer can handle larger jobs but is still light enough for one person to cart around a job site. “I would say when it comes to sprayers, that size is a really good professional model,” he said. For about $150 to $200, Crowder has the piston and packing rings replaced every 300 to 500 gallons. “I just take it to the paint store and it’s done in a week. Professional machines are designed to be fixed. It’s expensive to buy them, but you can get them fixed, so they’re worth it.” Didn’t know better Sam Attenberg, founder of Advanced Painting Group in Carlsbad, CA, says he stumbled across his Graco 1095 airless sprayer about a decade ago when he was starting out in the business. Attenberg does a lot of custom-home painting, and paid more than $3,000 for his machines. He puts about
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$500 into a rebuild every few years and is happy with the results. “We’ve rebuilt them a couple times. I have two crews that can use two hoses at once. They’re great for all kinds of jobs. To be honest with you, I didn’t know any better … I needed a sprayer for a job and the guy at the counter showed me this one. I bought it and have been really happy,” he said. Attenberg is meticulous about maintenance, too. He shies away from doing any of it himself and would rather focus on building his business instead. But he doesn’t skimp on upkeep either. “I’m not one to mess around with things. I’m the type of guy where if a belt is loose, I just replace it,” he said. HVLP, gas, airless uses For thicker elastomeric paints, Crowder uses a highpowered gas airless SprayTech unit. The sprayer more than covered its hefty $5,000 price tag in its first year. He has used it on heavy coatings for block walls and larger commercial jobs requiring heavy paints. “Some of the paint I deal with is thick. If we want to bid those kinds of jobs, we have to have that kind of equipment,” he added. “I even have a 300-foot hose on it and can snake around a building if I have to.” Several pros also mentioned keeping a high-volume, low-pressure (HVLP) unit around. HVLPs are known for significantly reducing overspray. They improve transfer efficiency by pushing a higher volume of paint at a lower velocity through the tip. This also requires the painter to spray closer to the surface, reducing waste. They tend to be the best choice for fine finishes like cabinets and wood trim. Begue himself keeps an HVLP unit around for certain lacquers and varnishes. However, some pros have learned to get a finer spray from their high-production airless sprayers. Crowder has even leaned on his hulking SprayTech unit to break down a thick stain or paint for a fine finish. “Some will dial down the pressure (on an airless unit) and use a special tip configuration,” Handzel added. Even still, most pros want a workhorse that can cover a lot of surface. For that, most pros still look to an airless sprayer. A 2014 survey of professional painters asked: “What piece of equipment can’t you live without?” A whopping 89% of pros said their airless sprayers. “Airless sprayers apply paint very fast, and you can get high production out of them,” Handzel added. “The downside is the transfer efficiency of the paint actually getting on the surface isn’t as good. … There’s a lot of paint going into the air. You have to do more prep with airless, but you more than make up for it, from the contractor’s perspective, because of how fast you can apply the paint.”
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PRO TIPS FOR STREAMLINING THE TURN PROCESS Quick-turn situations can be found in any business. In the paint world, sometimes there’s an early move-in for a BY BRIAN SODOMA multifamily unit. Or maybe there’s a schedule disruption on a job due to weather or other problems. Regardless, if you’re a paint pro who knows how to pull off quality work—fast—you could enjoy a stream of referrals. There’s no shortage of property managers who would love to pass your name along to others who need quality work done under a tight deadline, says Andrew Propst.
BY BRIAN SODOMA
Propst is president of both the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM) and Park Place Property Management in Boise, ID. His company oversees about 1,400 multifamily and 800 single-family units. He has a 20-person maintenance crew that can handle just about any type of job for the properties Park Place manages—except repaints. “If it’s more than two walls, we contract it out … they have the equipment to do it fast and the price is right,” he added. Speed is the ultimate factor though. “Vacancy is the most money lost. If you don’t have a reliable painting vendor, it’s all going to take longer. It’s dollars out of that investor’s and property manager’s pocket every day that a unit is empty.” Propst and some paint pros recently shared tips for how to find success and stay cool under quick-turn pressure. Not surprisingly, most of the tips dealt with effective communication and creating realistic goals for the job as early as possible. In many cases, some tough early conversations are the building block to a successful and speedy job. Quarterbacking Organization is the key to turning a unit over quickly. To help him stay organized in a turnover situation, Propst employs a move-out coordinator who sets time lines for inspections and maintenance work following a tenant move out. “Our goal is, no matter what shape the place is in, to turn it around in under a week,” he added. Propst advises painters to get on the same page with the coordinator or property manager on the job, as there are plenty of seemingly minor details to keep in
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mind; for example, whether carpet is being replaced or not in a unit. “When a painter makes assumptions, that’s where we start to see problems. A lot of times you can avoid those problems if you make the extra phone call,” Propst explained. Drew Keilt, a commercial sales associate with CertaPro of the Main Line in PA, likes to meet with the property manager or job coordinator as soon as possible. If they need a job done immediately but are slow to follow up, Keilt gets nervous. Like Propst, Keilt knows that assumptions can kill an estimate and a job. Regardless of the job’s size, walking it with the property manager is critical. “You have to look at every surface you’re painting. You can’t take their word for it over the phone,” he added. Exteriors For quick exterior turns, Keilt says it’s important to take into consideration the height of the project too. Lifts are a great way to cut time on tall exterior buildings, but they require a crew that knows how to operate them. “Sometimes you might have an outstanding paint crew but it may not have used a lift before; you can get into trouble,” he noted. Keilt also discusses weather with the property manager for all his exterior jobs, and especially on quick turns. Mother Nature can easily wash away the best-laid plans. Even painting on humid days isn’t worth a failure down the road, he added. Trouble spots, opportunity Unaccounted-for problem areas like rotted wood, drywall damage, and any paint failure requiring extra prep and sanding can slow a job down. “They may tell you, ‘I know a couple areas have some bad spots but they don’t really know … they may be telling you to put two coats on rotted wood,” Keilt added. Most property managers unaware of trouble spots appreciate being made aware of the situation and are happy to adjust a schedule, if needed. And if your company has a crew member who can do some light carpentry and masonry work, this is the time to pitch the time-savings and expertise your company brings. “We always have someone who can do some minor carpentry or masonry,” Keilt said. “Even though this pushes the paint job back, it helps so you don’t need to get a general contractor involved, where you may be waiting for them to call and give a go-ahead after the repair. A lot of our customers don’t want to deal with that.” Let pros do what they do best Bill Walloch, general manager at Brad Stoner Painting, Inc. in San Diego, CA, says, “it’s a lot of little
Finding Quick-Turn Work While quick turns can seem stressful to some, there are those who know how to thrive in those situations. NARPM’s Andrew Propst says property management companies are always on the lookout for a good painting crew. He recommends qualified painters
“ We always have someone who can do some minor carpentry or masonry. Even though it pushes the paint job back, it helps so you don’t need to get a general contractor involved ...” —DREW KEILT, CERTAPRO OF THE MAIN LINE, PA
looking for work attend local chapter meetings for property management groups like the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM), NARPM,
factors that add up,” to successfully pull off a quickturn job. He recommends, if possible, training crews specifically for certain quick-turn situations. Walloch also pays attention to which crews are better in certain market segments. Some of his crews, for example, are better at office quick turns while others do well with multifamily unit turns. “It’s hard to do more than one thing really well,” he said. “I put my guys into situations where we know they can do the work well and we can make a profit.” Walloch’s hiring practices have also paid off for quick turns. The majority of his painters—the company employs about 25 paint pros—have been with the company a decade or more. Many crews have established routines and developed a job chemistry that allows them to be both flexible and efficient. “Part of
the reason I can take a call from someone who asks if I can start a job tomorrow is because I retain a lot of good staff. Typically, I have guys I can move around at the last minute,” he added. Relationships Not all quick-turn jobs are worth taking. It may be a case where a new prospect is asking for the impossible and not realizing it, Walloch clarified. His company sees a lot of retail tenant and office suite turns, and some multifamily turns as well. Having established relationships with realistic property managers has helped him succeed under pressure. “It’s about not feeling like you have to work for everybody,” he explained. “I don’t do a lot of quick turns for people I don’t know. But I do a lot of quick turns for repeat customers.”
National Apartment Association (NAA) or Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM). “You could be a new paint company with good skills, show up at a meeting, and suddenly have more business than you know how to handle,” Propst said. “We’re always looking for good, legitimate companies to work with.” Winter 2015 2015 | inPAINT Jun/Jul
THE HOWS AND WHYS OF
BONDING PRIMER UNDERSTANDING THE HIGH-COST, HIGH-REWARD OPPORTUNITY OF BONDING PRIMERS The common link between all the various types of primer is that it is their job to prepare a surface and make it suitable for a topcoat. Not all primers, however, are created equal.
BY JAKE POINIER
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When you’ve got a challenging surface—whether it’s a slick substrate or a compromised one—a bonding or adhesive primer is the go-to product of choice. Highly engineered, it’s a coating that promotes adhesion to the surface or existing coating as well as the new coat that you want to apply. You’re going to pay more, nearly double in many cases, but that’s because they’re designed to do two things very well: stick, and be stuck to. “Most primers have adhesion characteristics,” says Frank Glowacki, director of marketing for Primers & Specialty Coatings at Rust-Oleum Corporation. “The so-called universal primers have good adhesion over a variety of surfaces, but in certain circumstances, they won’t have optimal results over the most dense surfaces.
That’s when you need a specialty bonding primer, for the most extreme adhesion needs.” Glowacki uses the analogy of putting peanut butter in a sandwich: The bottom slice of bread is the existing coating, the top slice is the new coating coming on, and the bonding primer serves as the peanut butter to make both of them stick together. Depending on the product, bonding primers can also offer the advantage of accommodating lots of different coatings, including hot coatings with a high solvent content. Whereas an exothermic reaction may cause a major problem with a regular primer, the premium products can accept just about anything. Tough products for tough jobs Based on appearance, surfaces such as glass are slick, but there are numerous materials—such as fiberglass, glazed brick or stone, tile, Formica, and galvanized steel—that present particular challenges to adhesion as well. Glazed stone, which has been heated during processing rather than coated, has less porosity than glass. Fiberglass is among the hardest materials, but Plexiglas may be even trickier because you also need flexibility.
The bottom slice of bread is the existing coating, the top slice is the new coating coming on, and the bonding primer serves as the peanut butter to make both of them stick together.
“Then you’ve got challenging surfaces in which ordinary primers have difficulty with adhesion, like Kynar,” says Glowacki of the polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) resin that’s commonly used in exterior commercial-grade coatings. “It’s great for exterior trim of commercial buildings because of its resistance to weather. These products have a lifetime guarantee, but suppose you want to change the color. This is the perfect example of needing a bonding primer for the new paint to adhere to—and the chemistry of a typical all-purpose or multipurpose primer simply can’t do the job.” Bonding primers aren’t magic One of the major advantages of using a bonding primer is they save time and money, and if you can get the job done quicker, that’s a benefit. Especially for pros taking on a big job, who may not have the time to take down the gloss or sand the substrate. When it comes to best practices, though, bonding primer doesn’t take the place of good preparation. If you have an exterior wood surface, for example, that’s rotted or in need of repair, you should repair it before you coat it. “Surface prep is the unsung hero of any project,” says George Englis, training manager for the Consumer Division of Valspar Paint. “Better prep leads to more durable results and you shouldn’t cut corners. Bonding primer is part of that—it’s made to stick to glossy or sealed surfaces and block stains. Pros will often turn to a bonding primer to cover questionable areas.” The label for any specific product will dictate basic preparation. In general, it means having a clean, sound surface, which may or may not need to be sanded or partly de-glossed.
NAME CHECK When considering bonding primers, you need to be aware of two common misconceptions:
Many products with ‘primer’ in the name aren’t purpose-built or suitable for use as bonding primers. Really, they’re sealers— designed to seal a porous surface and make it even for paint—so don’t try to force them beyond their specs.
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Conversely, just because a bonding primer is highly engineered, it doesn’t mean it’s the right coating for every job. Using it over drywall, as an extreme example, would just be a waste of money. If you need a specific hide, odor blocking, or stain blocking, choose a primer with those characteristics.
In most cases, that also means you don’t want to prime over chipping paint—although there are highbuild bonding-primer products on the market designed to handle that situation. If paint is popping off, such products lock down the peeling paint and smooth the surface so you don’t see the previous peel barriers. As you might guess, a primer that bonds peeling paint is not suited for use on substrates such as glass, glazed brick or Kynar. Put on your coat Using the peanut-butter-sandwich analogy, applying the top slice of bread shortly after applying the peanut butter will allow for the best adhesion and durability. “Although the topcoat may be applied anytime after the bonding primer coat is applied, we recommend you topcoat within a week after priming for best adhesion results,” says Brendan Steidle, brand manager for Primers and Specialty Coatings at Rust-Oleum. “This will ensure the primer remains flexible to ‘grab’ the topcoat and deliver a level of adhesion you expect from a specialty bonding primer.” Valspar’s Englis adds, “Our bonding primer is formulated with a resin that’s designed primarily to be adhesive and durable, but it is not a topcoat. They’re not designed to stand up to UV and moisture—that’s the topcoat’s job. Especially in an exterior environment, the sooner you can topcoat and protect the primer from the elements, the better the performance you’ll get.” If you want to confirm the primer is holding, Englis recommends conducting a test in an inconspicuous area: Do a small brushout, and then perform a tape test to make sure it’s adhering. Glowacki cautions against doing a pick test, however. “Typically, to check adhesion, a painter will apply the primer and then a day or two later, pick at the surface with a fingernail—they assume that if it comes off, it’s not working,” he says. Going back to the peanut-buttersandwich analogy, Glowacki adds, “But the reality is that in order for the primer to bond to the topcoat, it’s got to remain flexible, like peanut butter. If it dries like peanut brittle, the top slice of bread, a.k.a. topcoat, won’t have the best adhesion or durability.” Ultimately, you want an optimally formulated primer that allows for good cure but still lets the top piece of bread adhere. That doesn’t necessarily depend on the cure itself; it’s how the primer is formulated to allow a little bit of ‘bite.’ “Bonding primer is a great product, but it’s not needed in every situation,” says Englis. “And because it’s more expensive, a pro needs to balance the cost with how much time it’s going to save, as well as the times when it’s the only tool capable of handling a specific task. Bonding primers should be a part of every painter’s arsenal.”
NINE STEPS TO A MORE SUCCESSFUL PAINTING PROJECT WHAT EVERY PROPERTY MANAGER—AND PAINTER— SHOULD DO BEFORE PAINT IS CHOSEN Pam Estabrooke recently took on the 22-story Atlantaarea luxury Buckhead condo complex project. Some might argue that by doing so, the ProTect Painters franchise owner stepped into a disaster. A designer was fired, then a new one was hired. HOA board members changed their minds about colors. Stops. Starts. Restarts and repaints of already repainted walls. These have all been part of the experience.
BY BRIAN SODOMA
“Working in these situations where there’s a designer, a property manager, an HOA—it’s a layered community. And the more layers there are, you can anticipate it being a struggle,” she added. Estabrooke saw some of the problems coming and created contracts to protect herself. Some changes did surprise her but, on the whole, she can still call the project a success. And she’s happy to share some insights that could help other paint pros and property managers enjoy a more successful project.
The property manager’s role and your contract A property manager is not a paint expert, but more a liaison to an HOA board that makes final decisions on 24
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colors and contractors. Depending on how well that property manager communicates with his or her board plays a role in the overall project. “We did the first two or three floors and they halted us. They changed colors, they changed lighting. They liked the corridors, but not the inside of the elevator,” Estabrooke recalled. The painter must see his role as an educator, said Chris Wheeler, a CertaPro franchise owner in Rockville, MD. “We oftentimes get an opportunity to educate the property manager and spend the majority of the time answering questions of clarification,” Wheeler explained. “The downside to that is the property manager walks into the condo board meeting full of information … but they’re not always in a position to speak intelligently to the condo board.” Estabrooke says painters can protect themselves from being blindsided by HOA/property manager miscommunications by setting a progressive payment schedule and even asking for a down payment before the project starts. “It gets the customer to have some skin in the game,” she added.
Have a prep talk Paul Rhodes, National Maintenance and Safety Instructor with the National Apartment Association,
“Develop a relationship with your vendors and use them.” —PAM ESTABROOKE, PROTECT PAINTERS
says a property manager must understand the true prep involved in a job. Some surfaces need more sanding than others, some require a lift in order to reach them, and others may require light carpentry or masonry work. But a property manager may not even know to ask these questions, Rhodes said. The painter must communicate clearly what he or she is seeing. “A lot of times, a property manager doesn’t understand that it takes more time to prep the surface than to put the color on,” he added.
Spot logistics issues The Buckhead complex is a pet-friendly community. This means Estabrooke’s crews can’t just knock on doors to paint the inside of a doorjamb. Management needs to communicate schedules to residents so pets can be contained or moved before painters enter. “Fine details like that must come from the property manager. They need to let everyone know what’s going on.” Wheeler prefers to work with a property manager who has extensive experience in a particular market segment. If not, the learning curve could be tough for both the property manager and the painter. “If you think of a senior living facility, which we do a lot of, these things can be very disruptive,” he added.
Tap your rep Sometimes, a property manager might seek input about color choice from the contractor. Estabrooke, however, prefers to defer to the true color experts. “Develop a relationship with your vendors and use them. Drag them out to the project. Get them involved early,” she offered. She also recommends the HOA see a large color sample, like a poster-sized board, or even paint in an inconspicuous place on the actual wall. And once a color is chosen, make sure the contract indicates the owner owns the paint, regardless of a color change. A contractor doesn’t want to have 100 gallons of a pretty rouge left in their warehouse after management changes its mind. “The property manager must communicate that to the board, and get the sign-off on the color. Make sure the board members say ‘yes.’” Review current paint failures It almost sounds too obvious, but far too often, crews just clean and repaint without having a deeper conversation. Sometimes the way a roof drains or sun exposure may be causing more wear and tear on an area of a building than expected. Maybe a higherquality paint is the solution. But that may not always be the case. Think about how the layout of the building impacts the job as well as the paint’s long-term
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performance, says Debbie Zimmer, a paint and color specialist with the Paint Quality Institute. “You really need to take a holistic view of the property and the various types of surfaces involved,” Zimmer noted. “The property manager and painter should do this together. The contractor can offer some suggestions for how to resolve the issues.”
Have an ROI talk Often, a property manager is dealing with an HOA board that is watching the bottom line very closely. But with, for example, an exterior repaint on an apartment or condo complex, high-quality paint is a must, said Rhodes. It lasts longer, and that means a longer interval between paint jobs so the property manager doesn’t have to deal with those disruptions again. Rhodes takes into consideration the position of ownership, too. “There may be some who are flipping the property and opting for the ultra-inexpensive paint,” he said. “But for most who aren’t planning on selling, maintenance starts at the end of that first year. My experience is that I’d rather see the owner put some money into the paint now.” Brand, quality, pricing For property managers, Wheeler also says to be leery of painters trying too hard to sell a certain brand. “If you know you’re buying a $20-a-gallon bucket of paint, quality-wise it’ll be the same regardless of brand. There’s no need to pay more. But some guys will try to sell a brand for $10 more and there’s no real value,” he said. Wheeler likes to give the board and property manager ‘good, better, best’ options as far as paint quality and pricing. His estimates are driven by quality level—and not dictated by brand.
Coats, color changes A refresh is different from a complete color scheme change, adds Zimmer. And it could impact the number of coats on the job. Too often, this conversation goes overlooked. Painters need to communicate why a second coat is needed and what the community gains by getting it.
Don’t play weather games An often-fatal flaw for contractors is to work through bad weather, Estabrooke said. Even on days with high humidity, she holds off on painting. “We pay super close attention to prep. We wash, we caulk and use appropriate dry time,” she said. “Nobody wants to raise suspicions and have someone say, ‘Remember that day you painted and it was really wet out? Is that why the paint’s bubbling?’ You don’t ever want to deal with that knuckleheadedness.”
SOLUTIONS TO SOLVING COMMON WOOD-FINISHING PROBLEMS BY JIM WILLIAMS
“75% of all coating failures are caused by improper surface preparation.” —BILL GRADISHER TECH SERVE/WOOD CARE R&D, PPG ARCHITECTURAL COATINGS
he common drink coaster might not have the cache of a tech-muscled home security system, but just watch it stop a cold-beer stain from rendering a $2,500 redwood patio table an embarrassment. As simple as it sounds, it is indicative of how fickle wood finishes can be. Just ask any commercial or residential painter. “Wood is a natural material, and wood will do what wood wants to do,” says Ken Byrd, owner of Redlands, CA-based America Painting Company. “And what we’re seeing today isn’t always the best wood, even if you’re using high-end materials. It can cause you more problems in treating and finishing it.”
Gray, weathered wood Byrd understands the challenges of one of Mother Nature’s favorite sons, wood, and the havoc the elements can play with a wood finish. “I had a customer who purchased installed cabinetry that had been exposed to water at some point, causing the wood to turn gray,” Byrd says. “The customer had bought the cabinets installed and 28
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didn’t realize what he was buying. Stain will not cover gray wood; you have to sand it down to fresh wood, or use a chemical wash; you can even use bleach and water to neutralize the gray.” Lap marks One of the most persistent problems pros encounter on a job is lap marks. “Lap marks are one of the more common staining problems,” says Bill Gradisher, a technical expert in the R&D department at PPG Architectural Coatings. “These occur when wet and dry layers overlap during staining. The most common cause is finishing the wood when it is too hot or windy.” Gradisher says the ideal time to apply stain is when the temperature is between 50º and 90º F, but never apply it in direct sunlight. He says another cause of lap marks can be inadequate stirring of the stain prior to the application. “To prevent lap marks, mix all stains thoroughly beforehand, and periodically during the application,” he says. “Staining too large an area at one time can also cause lap marks. Always stain the entire length of a deck board or horizontal siding board to a logical break, such as a door or window, and do not stop in the middle of a board. If a spray applicator is used, back-brush or back-roll to improve penetration and uniformity of appearance.”
AMBERING: The tendency of a clear protective finish to take on a warm, yellow appearance as it ages BLEEDING/BLEEDBACK: A staining phenomenon occurring when the stain seeps back to the surface of the wood END GRAIN: The wood surface exposed when a board is cut across the grain, opening the elongated pores so that they absorb more liquid than the other parts of the board GRAINING: A technique that uses stain to duplicate the grain pattern of a type of wood on a non-wood surface GRAIN RAISING: A condition that occurs on the surface of wood when its fibers absorb water, causing them to stand, and giving the wood a rough surface LACQUER: A clear or pigmented protective coating, formulated with cellulosic or synthetic resins to dry by evaporation, forming a solid film LEVELING: The ‘flowing out’ of a freshly applied finish, during which brush marks disappear POLYURETHANE FINISH: An exceptionally hard and wear-resistance varnish noted for its overall balance of high-performance properties, including durability, abrasion resistance, and householdchemical resistance PORES: Cell-like cavities that characterize the grain of the wood SHELLAC: A varnish made by dissolving lac (a natural resin) in denatured alcohol SOLVENT: Any liquid that can be used to dissolve other substances. The most common solvents in wood finishing are water, mineral spirits, denatured alcohol, acetone, turpentine, and toluene SPAR URETHANE: A durable varnish formulated for exterior use; it remains slightly softer and more flexible than interior varnish, allowing it to expand and contract with changing weather conditions STAIN: Any of several products containing dyes and/ or pigments to add color to wood VARNISH: A preparation for coating wood surfaces consisting of resins dissolved in oil, denatured alcohol, or water 30
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Blotchy, uneven finish No painter wants to see a blotchy or uneven finish, but this can be another problem of staining, says Gradisher. “The most common cause of this is inadequate cleaning of the wood prior to the application of stain,” he says. “The wood should be cleaned with a chemical cleaner.” Gradisher says if the customer wants to use pressure washing, it should not be the primary means of cleaning, but rather a means for rinsing the cleaner from the wood. He recommends using a cleaner and brightener product, in conjunction with pressure washing. “This will eliminate the need for higher pressure and reduce the likelihood of damage to the wood during the cleaning process,” he says. Hold the oil, please Another common problem that Byrd frequently sees on the job is treating wood without a true clear finish. “When this is the case, applying an oil is really not going to help you,” Byrd says. “Everyone wants to apply Murphy’s Oil Soap or one of these orange oils. But what you’re really doing, especially treating wood finished in a water-based or oil-based polyurethane, is breaking down the finish. “Also, if you’re painting something that might have aluminum oxide on it; it doesn’t need to be treated with an orange-based oil. All you’re doing is making the wood sticky. You’re not helping it, you’re really degrading it.” Byrd says orange-based products do have their place in treating wood, such as with older wood finishes that do not have a true clear finish. “However, in today’s world, your polyurethanes, lacquers, and some types of marine varnish are just not going to accept oil on top of them to condition it.” For those types of wood, Byrd suggests just using a microfiber cloth that is dampened slightly with water. Water spots Unless it’s still in tree form and rooted in the ground, wood doesn’t like water. Fact is, when wood gets wet, the grain rises and
expands where the water has touched. This causes the wood to absorb the stain more readily, and discolor. What to do about it? Byrd says one easy solution is to spot-sand the area, and then re-sand the entire surface, and reseal with a clear finish. Stains, paints and grains Just because they have a paintbrush in common, stains and paints are not created equal, Gradisher says. “A stain is not paint and should not be applied in the same manner,” he says. “Most paints are generally applied in multiple coats, allowing the coats to dry between applications. Stains, on the other hand, are usually applied either in one coat or with a wet-on-wet application, meaning the first coat is not allowed to dry before the second coat is applied.” Are some types of wood and wood grains more problematic than others? Absolutely says Gradisher. “Yes, the exotic wood types—such as ipe, mahogany, ironwood and teak—have a dense cell structure that reduces the ability of a coating to penetrate into the wood surface,” Gradisher says. “Generally speaking, this type of wood needs to be recoated more frequently than the softer woods such as pine, cedar or redwoods.” Common mistakes Even a professional painter can make a mistake, especially when it comes to the wildly inconsistent nature of wood surfaces. One such error is not preparing the wood sufficiently before applying a stain, says Gradisher. “Another mistake is to over-apply a penetrating stain, as more is not necessarily better,” he says. “In addition, not mixing together all stains that are to be used on a project can lead to an uneven coverage and appearance to the stain. And the finish must be maintained. Cleaning it with an acid-based cleaner at least once a year will keep the wood looking good and will allow the stain to last longer, cutting down on the need to recoat.”
Terms (left) reprinted with permission from Sherwin-Williams.
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HOW TO CREATE A
PHOTO FINISH BY SALLY J. CLASEN
USE IMAGES TO KEEP AND ATTRACT NEW CUSTOMERS TO YOUR PAINTING BUSINESS 32
inPAINT | Jun/Jul 2015
You’ve just finished another successful painting project and congratulate yourself on a job well done. Before you pack up your brushes and drop cloths and head to the next job, remember to snap a photo of your work so you have evidence that you’re an expert. Photos are an extension of your business brand but many professional painters often forget to take photos once they complete a job—and that’s a lost marketing opportunity, according to Liza Hausman, VP of Industry Marketing for Houzz.com, a popular online platform for home remodeling and design that brings homeowners and professionals together in a visual community. “Images are a powerful communication tool and are critical to keep and attract new customers. They are a credibility builder; a touch point for painters because most homeowners need visuals to explain color, or as a vision for a home renovation,” says Hausman. “In a Houzz study, 56% of people indicated that finding a professional who has completed a project similar to what they are looking for is very important, ranking it a 5 on a 5-point scale.” Appearances are everything One of the best places to showcase your work is the Internet, which is a photo-centric playground with web sites geared toward the design, remodeling and paint industries. On Houzz.com, for example, you can create a free profile page with unlimited photos of completed projects as well as your company description, contact information and customer reviews. In addition, you can develop a company web site using simple publishing tools and link it to your Houzz profile, giving you a single place to store photos. Plus, the platform is optimized for mobile devices. “Half of our user base visits Houzz.com from a mobile device, so we want that to be a seamless experience from a potential customer aspect,” says Hausman. Visual content, such as a profile page, helps a painter illustrate their skills and personality, two important factors in drawing attention to your projects, says Hausman. Painters also can create Houzz Ideabooks, a collection of their best work that stimulates a design dialogue, since visitors can save and share them. “Think of Ideabooks as online manila folders,” says Hausman. “It gets customers front and center and attracts new customers to discover your work.” Furthermore, all photos uploaded to Houzz.com appear in the site’s photo stream and in the Find a Pro business directory feature, a search option that allows visitors to find experts by category and metro area. That type of browsing power drives customers to your ser-
vices that wouldn’t otherwise have noticed you existed, according to Hausman. And for those who want to refresh their space through paint and decorative finishes, a picture not only paints a thousand words, it becomes a virtual calling card. “You tend to presell customers when you use photos. You have the ability to do due diligence before they pick up the phone, so when they do call they are ready to move forward. Photos close the deal and are a visually compelling piece of business,” explains Hausman, who notes 25 million homeowners visit Houzz.com per month looking to find professionals, design inspiration, and advice. To shed the best light on your work, she recommends professional painters hire a professional photographer
# IF A PICTURE’S WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS, BEFOREAND-AFTER IMAGES ARE WORTH AT LEAST TWO THOUSAND. BEFORE-AND-AFTER IMAGES NOT ONLY SHOW YOUR WORK, THEY GIVE THE CONSUMER CONFIDENCE THAT YOU HAVE THE EXPERIENCE AND EXPERTISE TO TRANSFORM A PROPERTY.
to snap photos of their completed finishes, including before-and-after views. While photography can be expensive, she notes that Houzz includes access to a network of photographers who can create a painting portfolio at a discount. “Most painting pros don’t invest in photography or understand the value of doing so; it’s not their day job. But it’s easy and affordable to get professional photography. We offer three price points, starting as little as $200 for a package of eight photos.” Post with purpose Linnea Blair, who consults with many small-business painters and contractors as the owner of Advisors on Target, agrees that the web is an effective strategic format to attract new customers with images, particularly to catch the eyes of those who have painting on their minds. Jun/Jul 2015 | inPAINT
“Painting is a visual business. People who are thinking about remodeling, refreshing, and doing maintenance in their spaces want to see evidence. Photos draw them in and move them forward in their painting decisions,” she says. Rather than uploading tons of random shots of your work, it’s important to post photos that distinctly showcase your best projects and niche, according to Blair. “It’s a chance to create the impression you want to create and demonstrate that you are a professional,” she says. She recommends using casual photos (think smartphone snaps) for ongoing project discussion with customers, and quality professional photos for publicity
Getting the perfect shot If you don’t have a budget to hire a professional photographer, you can still get quality shots of your paint projects. Here is some advice on how to show your work in the best light, from technical setup to behind-thescenes tips: - Take close-up shots that capture detail as well as wide-angle shots. Both can be achieved with a normal lens; just stand back from the subject and focus on the center of the room to shoot a wide perspective.
- Use natural light, if possible. The best times to shoot an interior and exterior are east side in the morning and west side in the afternoon. Shoot north and south sides whenever the light is brightest. - Be mindful of composition. Shoot a room lower than eye level and move furniture and furnishings around, if necessary, to mimic the staging of photos in home and design magazines. Also, keep it simple so the viewer can imagine themself in the space. And use a
m USE IMAGES TO HIGHLIGHT BOTH BIG FINISHES AND THE DEVIL IN THE DETAILS. #
purposes. “It’s a stumbling block for painting contractors but they need to delegate photo responsibilities to someone or invest in a professional photographer.” Blair suggests painters include keywords and detailed descriptions of before-and-after shots to help viewers understand the visual transformation that has occurred. “Describe the steps involved to get the before-and-after result. Use good labels and captions, and identify the process you used to improve a space,” she says. In addition to developing a photo-rich web site or online business profile, Blair strongly encourages painters to create a blog that features quality project photos. “A blog is a way to keep your content fresh,
tripod to steady the camera; avoid tilting the camera so you don’t get image distortion. - Go big for high-impact visibility. High-resolution photos with a minimum width of 1,000 pixels look best and they are more likely to get many more views. - Take tons of photos. Even the professional photographers snap away to get one or two great shots. - Use the equipment you have. Most smartphones have decent cameras so you don’t have to worry about F-stops and aperture
to take a great picture. Plus, you can download many free phone photo apps that help you edit and correct your images for online publishing. - Upload high-quality photos. If you create a Houzz profile, Liza Hausman advises using keywords related to the image, such as ‘Black Door’ or ‘White Kitchen Cabinets’ to help make them more searchable and help users find your photos. - Talk to customers up front about taking photos, and build photography into your contract and schedule, rather than leaving it to the last minute, adds Hausman. - Remember to take a series of shots while working in the field as the project happens, which gives you an opportunity to expose what was uncovered during the process, such as rotting drywall or lead paint, and explain how the problem was fixed, suggests Linnea Blair.
inPAINT | Jun/Jul 2015
versus other formats where images may become more static,” she says. It’s also a chance to engage and interact with customers on a completely different level than just uploading a photo without any explanation. “Use your blog photo posts to cover topics and show how you solved a customer problem.” Plus, you can expand your marketing mileage by reusing the content in newsletters and other forms of communication, she adds. Be a picture of social importance Blair is a big fan of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Yelp and Google Plus to create buzz around images. “Facebook, particularly, is a great place to have a presence because it attracts a large demographic of middle-aged females who tend to make a high percentage of color and remodeling decisions,” she says. “Posting on these sites gives you more opportunity to be seen and get noticed. Plus, customers can share photos of finished projects you have worked on as well.”
“… 56% of people indicated that finding a professional who has completed a project similar to what they are looking for is very important, ranking it a 5 on a 5-point scale.” —LIZA HOUSMAN, VP OF INDUSTRY MARKETING, HOUZZ.COM
While the web and social media are excellent resources for painters to promote their work and increase customer interests, Blair believes traditional avenues of marketing such as brochures, post cards and other direct mail materials are still a viable and low-cost method to gain business traffic, even in a tech-driven world. “Though the emphasis is on using online tools to post photos, for good reason, there’s tremendous value in using them in print media, especially to market to customers in a specific area,” says Blair. She also notes that the painting and contracting trade industries have opportunities for pros to position themselves as experts and gain exposure via project photos as part of speaking engagements, presentations and contests. For example, the Painting and Decorating Contractors of America
(PDCA) hosts the annual KILZ Picture It Painted Professionally photo competition for superior craftsmanship that can shine the spotlight on your skill set. Regardless of how you use images to keep and attract new customers, the point, she says, is to continue to tell your painting story through quantifiable photo proof. “A full-fledged marketing plan should consider all ways on how to use a multimedia approach to target audiences.”
J “… make sure you have a real passion for being an entrepreneur so that you can overcome the challenges ahead.”
inPAINT | Jun/Jul 2015
osh Abramson is a man who knows how to follow up on a vision. In 1987, at just 19, after dropping out of high school, Abramson had a dream of working for himself. He enrolled in a trade school to learn the art of wallpapering and found he was very good at it. So he decided to try offering his services on his own. He strategically placed a few hand-stenciled wooden signs on street corners in the San Fernando Valley, piggybacking on his grandfather’s successful drapery business name, Allbright. He wasn’t sure he liked the name then, “but today I’m incredibly grateful to have that as our company’s name, because our slogan has become, ‘Have an ALLBRIGHT day.’” In the very beginning of the business, he would promptly respond to incoming phone calls by finding the nearest pay phone, hoping to be the first contractor to return a customer’s call. Slowly, his business expanded to include painting services, and he gradually stopped wallpapering almost entirely. But it was definitely a step-by-step process, he said. “The first five years were challenging in learning how to drum up enough business to support myself,” he said. “It took almost 10 years before I could hire fulltime employees.”
Networking his way to success Abramson attributes much of his success to joining Painting and Decorating Contractors of America (PDCA) in the year 2000 through which, he says, he has been able to network with some of the best painting contractors in the country and learn best practices from them. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without this organization,” he said. “It’s given me the greatest opportunity to grow my business because I’ve learned how guys who’ve been doing this longer than I have work through their struggles and manage challenges
in their business.” Through PDCA, he has made a best friend, another painting contractor who has, “inspired me to want to be the best contractor I can be.” One thing he learned by networking with other contractors is that, “as the company owner, I don’t always have to be the person who creates the estimate and be there to collect the customer’s final check.” He said he trains his crews to do that and trusts them to handle all aspects of a customer transaction. Furthering business development In 2014, his company generated revenues of more than $2 million, and Abramson anticipates that in 2015, revenues will top $3 million. He credits business development activities for the expected growth of his company. In the last 18 months or so, he said he has actively engaged with homeowners’ associations, property managers and developers and, as a result, has started doing a lot of painting work for single-family and multifamily HOAs. “I knew this was something we needed to do to help the business grow,” he said, “and our efforts are working.” Today, about 50% of his business focuses on commercial projects; the other half is devoted to residential jobs. Bringing another vision to life After participating as a vendor in Extreme Makeover: Home Edition on ABC in 2004, Abramson happened to watch the movie Pay it Forward and was struck with another vision. “I thought, ‘why should I wait to be invited again to donate my services to someone who needs them?’ The concept in the movie really resonated with me and pulled the idea together.” In 2005, ‘Paint it Forward’ was born. Paint it Forward provides up to $10,000 of free painting services to those in need of them every year. Recipients of the program are identified and chosen
through as democratic means as possible: Abramson and his staff invite residents of the Los Angeles area to submit stories that demonstrate a need for painting services. Then, his entire team of about 30 employees, along with customers and company fans on Facebook, vote on who or which nonprofits should be recipients in the program. Last year’s three recipients included the Children’s Hunger Fund, a relief and development organization; the Espinoza family, coping with their mother’s terminal illness; and a nonprofit school called Village Tree Preschool, established for children whose families struggle with cancer. The initiative is, “really about trying to show others that if you do something nice for someone, that kindness can grow and continue on,” said Abramson who, as the company’s president, also calls himself the ‘chief solutionist.’ “We ask for (and get) 100% participation from our employees in volunteering our time. It’s the one time we all get together and work on one job together, and it’s some of the best times we have. As a team, we’re happiest when we’re doing something to help someone else who needs that help.”
Stats COMPANY NAME ALLBRIGHT 1-800-PAINTING FOUNDED 1987
A joyful corporate culture Paint it Forward is an extension of Abramson’s and ALLBRIGHT’s ‘painting happiness’ philosophy. After being challenged one day to come up with one word to describe everything that makes his company unique, he concluded that, “happiness captures what is most important to us,” Abramson explained. “We’ve been building our culture around that. We work hard to ensure that our customers are happy with their choice in selecting us for their painting projects, and we enjoy the work we do with a ‘we’—not ‘me’—attitude.” That culture of happiness and satisfaction has brought Abramson and his company plenty of accolades and attention. (See column to right for a list of awards.)
measurements (or maybe actually take measurements), and then go back to a desk to figure out a proposal. I wanted a better, easier way.” In 2005, relying on the combined utilities of Microsoft Word and Excel and a computer programmer to write the code, Abramson developed a software program called One Step Estimating (OneStepEstimating.com), which today is used by hundreds of painting contractors across the country. He has also designed software for a program that gives customers the opportunity to create their own personalized paint color palette. And he owns two impressive branding phone numbers (1-800-PAINTING and 1-800-WEPAINT), which he has parceled out to painting contractors around the U.S. to grow their businesses. Software built into the numbers recognizes the area code someone is calling from and steers the call to a local painting contractor. “We’re growing a network of professional contractors who want to learn and use best practices,” he said. He estimates that about 65 painting contractors are currently using one number or the other.
Dedicated to improving efficiency When he’s not running his business, directing philanthropic events, delivering speeches to painting contractors about how to become more communityminded, or accepting awards, Abramson is busy being what he calls an ‘idea guy.’ He has come up with ways to simplify estimating and help customers select their ideal color choices. “The typical process of writing an estimate is so inefficient,” he said. “You meet with the customer, guess at room
Bottom line His advice for other painting contractors? “First of all, make sure you have a real passion for being an entrepreneur so that you can overcome the challenges ahead. Write out your primary aim. Write a story about where you see yourself in five years, what your day looks like, what things you have accomplished, and how your business looks different five years from now. Then go and start working toward your goal. Five years is coming quick, so don’t leave it to chance.”
NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES 30 HISTORY OF SERVICES OFFERED Wallpapering 1987–1995; Residential and commercial exterior and interior painting 1995–present ASSOCIATIONS Painting and Decorating Contractors of America (PDCA); Summit Services, a consulting group; Community Associations Institute (CAI); Domestic Estate Management Association (DEMA) AWARDS • PDCA’s Humanitarian of the Year Award, 2013 & 2015 • PDCA’s Picture it Painted Professionally (PIPP) Award, 2009, 2011 & 2015 • Angie’s List’s 2010–2014 Super Service Award TOTAL ANTICIPATED BILLINGS IN 2015 $3.1 million CONTACT ALLBRIGHT 1-800-PAINTING (661) 294-1159 AllbrightPainting.com Jun/Jul 2015 | inPAINT
[ TOOLS OF THE TRADE ]
Problem-solving Products to Help Your Job Run Smoothly from Start to Finish
oing product reviews as we do, it’s not uncommon to hear from manufacturers who would like us to take a look at their latest and greatest. What is uncommon is to hear from a
painter who’s just so excited about a product that they reach out to tell us about it. From England. Such was the case with Wayne de Wet, a decorator and product reviewer with the UK version of the PDCA, known simply as the Painting and Decorating Association (PDA). Wayne reached out to me regarding the U.S.-made Roller Keeper. He did a write-up on it for the PDA magazine and thought so much of the product that he sent me a note essentially saying, “you’re going to want to see this.” And he was right. As you’ll read, it offers a common-sense approach to solving a common painting challenge. The same is true of the other product covered in this column, SureSwatch. Both products offer practical solutions to save you time and money on the job.
inPAINT | Jun/Jul 2015
Roller Keeper extends the life of your roller covers and saves you valuable clean-up time
To purchase online, email email@example.com
Sometimes the best solution to a problem is also the simplest. Such is the case with Roller Keeper. Essentially a pop-top tube made of durable plastic, it lets you store wet roller covers for days or even weeks. Best of all, you won't get a drop of paint on your hands while using it. At the end of the day, you simply squeeze the Roller Keeper to pop the lid open. The smartly designed hinged lid twists and locks out of the way while you slide a wet roller into the tube. The flared opening keeps paint from dripping down the sides and onto your hands. Once the roller is inside, you squeeze the grips on the sides and pull the roller cover free of the frame. Pop the lid shut
and cleanup is done. On the lid, you’ll find a handy label area to identify the job, color and date. Roller Keeper can be stored upright on the floor, a shelf, or hung from a pegboard. A built-in reservoir at the bottom collects paint but keeps your cover from sitting in it. The next day, you pop it open, insert the roller frame, and you’re good to go. Roller Keeper works with the most common roller cover sizes, from 3/8" to 1-1/4," and is ideal for frequently used products like ceiling paint and primers. Roller Keepers are available at Ace Hardware and Benjamin Moore stores across the country.
SureSwatch makes paint-color selection easy
To learn more about SureSwatch, visit SureSwatch.com
While manufacturers’ paint chips are great for helping the customers make the initial color selections, they’re really not all that helpful for showing how a color will look on the actual wall. They’re small, they’re made with ink (not paint), and they’re printed on white paper. Yes, you can paint color samples directly on the wall but undoing that effort before the job starts requires a good bit of sanding and feathering to prevent telegraphing and/or callbacks later (tick-tick, ka-ching, ka-ching). It’s exactly those obstacles the creators of SureSwatch had in mind when they developed this temporary color-testing tool. Measuring just 3.5 thousandths of an inch thick and available in 9" x 12" and 27" x 38" dimensions,
SureSwatch is a clear, low-sheen film surface that you paint just as you would a wall. Backed by a temporary adhesive, the sheet adheres smoothly to walls with no curling, edges, or shadows to distract from the color. Plus, every sheet includes a Primer Decider that allows you to choose the right primer shade to achieve the finished paint color in the fewest number of coats possible. SureSwatch is ideal for helping customers finalize color selections, and can also be used effectively in the bidding process to gain customer confidence and (hopefully) the job.
If you have a product that you think other pros should know about, let us know: editor@inPAINTmag.com
Buy right. Use it up. Recycle the rest. PaintCare is the non-profit product stewardship organization established by the American Coatings Association to represent architectural paint manufacturers. Weâ€™re working to provide environmentally sound and cost-effective paint recycling programs in states with paint stewardship laws.
Rhode Island 2014
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[ UPCOMING EVENTS ]
What, Where & When JU NE
S E P TE M B E R
2 & 3: NFMT High-Performance Buildings, Fort Worth, TX nfmt.com
26–29: National Council of State Housing Agencies 2015 Conference, Nashville, TN ncsha.org
17 & 18: Northeast Buildings & Facilities Management Show & Conference 2015, Boston, MA proexpos.com/NEBFM
September 30–October 2: Remodeling Show | DeckExpo | JLC LIVE, Chicago, IL remodelingdeck.com
24 & 25: PCBC 2015, San Diego, CA pcbc.com
September 30–October 3: CONSTRUCT 2015, St. Louis, MO constructshow.com
24–27: NAA Education Conference & Exposition, Las Vegas, NV educonf.naahq.org
28–30: BOMA 2015 Every Building Conference, Los Angeles, CA bomaconvention.org 2 10
JU LY 6
16–18: SEBC 2015 EXPO, Orlando, FL sebcshow.com
22 & 23: Phoenix Build Expo, Phoenix, AZ buildexpousa.com
AU GU ST 8
10–13: NPMA’s Annual National Education Seminar, Forth Worth, TX npmaconferences.org
Important Update to Green Seal’s GS-11 Green Seal, the environmental certification organization, issued an update of the environmental leadership standard for Paints and Coatings (GS-11). Since its original issuance in 1993, GS-11 has been valued as a guide for manufacturers, product designers, purchasers, and end users who are seeking healthier, greener paints and coatings. GS-11 now applies to new product categories: transparent wall coatings, floor coatings, concrete/masonry coatings, and more. Green Seal has also updated the VOC requirements to reference California Air Resources Board regulations, expanded options for VOC measurement methods, and listed new ingredient prohibitions and exemptions. This standard combines the previous GS-11 and the now-withdrawn Standard for Stains and Finishes (GS-47). These updates are the direct result of communications with engaged stakeholders from industry, government, and public health organizations. To review the updated GS-11, visit GreenSeal.org/GS11.
Advertiser Index 1-800-PAINTING 800painting.com Page 43
Mi-T-M mitm.com Page 29
BEHR PROCESS CORPORATION behr.com Page 21, 23, 25 & 27
PAINTCARE paintcare.org Page 40
DODGE RAM/COMMERCIAL ramtrucks.com Page 5
PDCA pdca.org Page 13
GRACO, INC. graco.com Page 17
SHERWIN-WILLIAMS sherwin-williams.com Page 3 & Back Cover
LATEX AGENT BY CROWN (PSC PACKAGING SERVICES CO.) latexagent.com Page 35
WOOSTER woosterbrush.com Page 9
Jun/Jul 2015 | inPAINT
[ BOTTOM LINE ]
How to Choose the Right Training for Your Business LYNN FIFE is the founder, president and CEO of Evergreen Technology, and is the PDCA national membership director. He has worked in the residential and commercial painting industry since 1970 and has provided private consulting services to painting contractors for more than 22 years with a 98% success ratio. He is a regular presenter for PDCA, speaking at their trade shows and conventions since 1991. He was the winner of the 2011 National Associate of the Year award; the 2012 Recruiter of the Year for PDCA; and has authored a dozen books specific to the painting industry.
inPAINT | Jun/Jul 2015
You’re ready to take your business to the next level and are wondering where to find the training you need to get there. Here are some general guidelines for getting started. Begin with an evaluation of your business. Sit down with pen and paper and write down the goals you would like to accomplish in the coming year. Goals might include increasing sales by 20%, increasing net profit, or adopting a more accurate and efficient system of estimating. Next, you need to put on your thinking cap and write down the steps it will take to achieve each goal. For example, to increase sales, you might need to increase your advertising budget by $200 per month to pay for fliers to hand to customers. Or you may want to look at providing other services, such as power washing, window washing, or snowplowing. Once this list is complete for all goals, you can begin searching for the right type of training for your business and your budget. Many training options are free and can be found on the web and YouTube. Low-budget options include buying a book or finding a low-cost course locally or online. Others options are comparatively expensive but cover a specific topic in a timely and systematic manner and, often, are backed up by years of proven success. When deciding whether to go it alone in your learning or to work with a professional organization or trainer, you need to consider a few things. First, what kind of time do you really have to devote to self-training? DIY training can be timeconsuming and, if you don’t do a good job vetting
what you’re getting into, can lead to very little reward in the end. The second is cost. Yes, free is free and free is good. Except when it’s not. In my opinion, some of the best and most affordable training can be found through the PDCA Contractor College, which offers more than 140 video training classes lasting an average of one hour each. The topics are specific to painting contractors and all of these courses are free to Painting and Decorating Contractors of America (PDCA) members. For more customized training on your own time frame, you may want to look to a professional business consultant (full disclosure: I am such a consultant). While this is the more expensive approach to training, it provides the fastest means for setting up the systems and practices needed to accomplish your specific goals. Because the aim of hiring a consultant is for consultants to teach you what to do, you’ll find it’s beneficial to hire someone with experience specific to the paint industry. That way, you won’t waste time or dollars getting them up to speed on the ins and outs of your business. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to improve employee morale and productivity, or looking to expand your business; the right kind of training can be found. Just be clear on your goals and take time to research your options before diving in.
Lynn Fife can be reached at (817) 223-3520
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