10 Years of The Paint Contractor

By Jerry Rabushka,

  Filed under: Features

These anniversary articles aren’t the easiest to write—but if we don’t party it up who will? We know from talking to painters and retailers that no one wants to read a bunch of self-congratulatory cow drop. We shouldn’t tell you how great we are; if we’re that good, you should tell us. Hopefully you’ve learned a few things from our pages, and if there’s anything we’ve learned about painters, it’s that y’all are a unique lot. Sure there are plenty of folks who come to work, flop a brush, and walk away leaving a three-color mess and an unhappy customer. Those of you who are committed and dedicated and have a lifetime invested in this, you’re smarter, harder working and more dedicated than most folks on the outside of your truck give you credit for. That’s what we’ve learned in talking and working with you over the last decade.

It made sense to us (if not everyone else) ten years ago to start a magazine called The Paint Contractor. And darned if on hearing the title you can’t figure out what it’s about and who it’s for. We decided to target it to all sorts of painters, whether it’s one man and a truck, three gals and a faux finish, or a 400-painter firm sprucing up a casino at Biloxi. Not a bad deal; you can earn your paycheck and spend it all in the same place!

Our target idea—how can you make more money? If you put down the magazine and it feels like a waste of time, there’s not much incentive to pick it up next month. Our goal has always been can we help you learn how to use products smarter and better, and once you’ve mastered that, better still! With top quality paint, we try to help you sell customers on the idea of hiring you along with a better product. And with columnists such as Marc Gordon, Phil Bernstein, and Chris Haught, we’ve tried to keep you updated on the business side of your business. It’s all got an eye towards what’s new and how does it improve upon what’s gone before? What’s a resource to get more information?

People ask, do we do product reviews? Nope. Our job is to let the manufacturer tell their side of the story. It’s competitive out there and if someone’s selling something that doesn’t work, those dogs will be put to sleep soon enough. The big dogs, or the small dogs with the big bark, they’ll come out and take over the turf.

Another challenge from our perspective has been that after a decade of writing about basically the same thing: paint, applicators, and sundries…how do you keep it fresh? Fresh writing, fresh approaches. But paint isn’t what paint was, and neither are the tools to put it on—so thanks to forward-thinking manufacturers, we’ve got something new to say more often than not. One refrain we have heard recently is that sundries are changing due to paints changing. Suppliers are keeping up, and as a painter you need to keep up as well. You can’t put on new paints with brushes made for old paints.

Cave paintings have held up for 30,000 years, can we improve on that?

Even in this past decade, the world has changed as technology has turned fast into faster. More and more of us use the internet to help educate others in painting, or the opposite…we prove what we don’t know—on an international platform. You can get better color matches, order products from on top of a ladder, and higher quality paint isn’t out of reach even for the average consumer. If there’s one change we’ve seen big time, it’s the evolving acceptance of higher priced paint, better sundries, paying more the first time and having it last longer. There are a couple sayings you can throw at your customers: “Only the rich can afford cheap paint,” and “The most common paint problem is common paint.”

I lived in an apartment for five years with nasty white walls; they didn’t repaint before I got there and I didn’t bother asking. But for a place like that, you’re not going to put in $90 a gallon paint, not even $25 a gallon if you can help it. For a house, at least for the people who live for themselves rather than the people who decorate for the next owner, try ’em on a good paint. Ask your retailer for the best they’ve got, then try out another retailer and see the best they’ve got too. Convince your customer that you’re the best they’ve got, and be that best.

Hard work isn’t always fun. It’s hard. To quote my father, “that’s why they call it work.” Hard work can stink. It’s not easy reaching into that tight spot after you’ve been bending, stretching and brushing all day, then that “new guy” finds (or recreates) that one problem you thought was already fixed, all kind of reasons you have to stay longer and work harder because…well you just do. I’ve seen a late sunset plenty of times from this office making sure I’ve got it right. One philosophy we’ve tried to keep here at Mugler Publications is that no matter what’s going on in our lives or the economy, the end of it all is that you have the best magazine we can give you.

No one lives in a perfect world, but some people act as if they’ve never ever made a mistake in their lives and that gives them the ability to refuse forgiveness to anyone who occasionally slips on that big banana peel of life. We aren’t those people. We make mistakes, but we try come clean and to learn from them. We try not to make the same mistake three times. Twice maybe, but three ain’t a charm.

So where to go from here, so that our next ten is better than our first? Let us hear from you. Some folks are shy, some aren’t, but drop a line if there is a concept or product category you’d like us to look into. And drop our advertisers a line as well to let them know you’re interested in finding out more about their products. After all, they pay the bills, and they’re in business to help you pay yours more easily. Most suppliers are thrilled to talk about their products and share their insights.

We’d love to know if there’s anything we’ve done or printed that helped you in your business, or on the other hand, if there’s something we can do better or different for you from here over the next 10 years!

After paint and primer and brushes and rollers and buckets and extension poles and  caulk and sprayers and you name it, as we mentioned, most likely the biggest change going on in this and any industry is technology. It moves faster than many of us can keep up with and has probably caused more than its share of early retirements We know a few painters that still don’t have email, while others are all about using the latest apps. Whatever works for you, we’ll plow ahead and try to keep you posted on “What’s APPening” as we like to say. Finally, if you’d like to see yourself up in TPC lights, drop a line. We can’t find every great painter out there, so feel free to nominate yourself or a friend.

As I mentioned in “The Daily Grind,” you are my hero. If not, I’m in the wrong business. Perhaps in some way we can be yours. That’s why this article shows photos of past painters we’ve written about—you’re the reason we’re here.
Oh, and I almost forgot…Happy Anniversary to us! 

  • Chris Haught

    Happy Anniversary! Thanks for being a resource for the industry!