Common sense must always prevail—especially when it comes to customer service. That said, sometimes companies create strict rules and policies or have a “system” that makes it impossible for an employee to deliver the customer service the company actually wants them to deliver.
Recently, I was sitting next to someone on an airplane who was on his way for a vacation on a cruise ship. We got into a discussion about how some people are so set in their ways that they can’t be creative about solving a customer’s problems. These people are so tied to their process and the way they have always done things that they jeopardize the relationship with their customer, even when common sense should prevail.
My fellow passenger has been on many cruises—and as good the customer service is on most cruises, he said there are always a few of the ship’s employees that are more focused on the system or process than on their customer. He then shared a few stories from his past trip about how some crew members lacked common sense. For some reason, it reminded me of the Titanic and how the eight-member band continued to play, even after the ship started sinking.
I thought that the story of the band playing while the ship was going down might be fictitious, so I did a little research to see if were true. Well, as the story actually goes, the reason for the band continuing to play was that Wallace Hartley, the band’s leader, had asked the band to keep playing because he thought it would help calm the chaos that was ensuing around them.
Maybe that was true, but I’d like to take some creative license and bend this story a bit to create a customer service lesson. My made-up version of the story has nothing to do with keeping the passengers calm. My version is that Mr. Hartley said, “Keep playing. We still have two hours to go in our set.” The passengers had all left to save themselves, but the band played on…as they went down with the ship.
The point is that Mr. Hartley’s band should have stopped playing immediately and tried to save themselves. Common sense should have prevailed. The band should have headed for the life rafts. But, sometimes people just do what they think they are supposed to be doing, without regard for common sense.
So, what does this have to do with customer service? The best companies hire people who are smart, problem-solving, customer-focused people who look for ways to work around having to say NO and come up with ways to say YES.
They don’t get stuck on company policy. They work within the rules, but also understand flexibility. They will do what’s right for both the company and the customer. In short, they use common sense, especially when the ship is going down—or a customer is angry.
Twenty five years, or a quarter century, however you like to put it, gives you time to look back on changes (or lack of them) across your life and your world. The paint industry comes down squarely on the side of change, to how we make paint, how we apply it, how we learn about it, and how we sell it. Long-time companies have been acquired by other long-time companies, and in many cases what used to be a corporation is now a “brand” or simply a sign in an antique store. At the same time, new companies are starting up all the time with creative solutions to problems we’ve had for over a century.
There’s been a change in how we report on it, since those past 25 years have had The Paint Dealer to keep folks in the US and Canada up to speed.
We could make this article all about us, but we’re not—just part of it! It’s been our job to share perspectives of the many players in the industry, and this anniversary gives us one more chance to look back, look out, and look ahead.
We’re not the only ones who’ve been around 25 years, that’s in fact a drop in the five-gallon bucket compared to some other venerable organizations, some who have been branding product since the 18th century. In honor of our milestone issue, we asked several folks in the industry to comment on the then and the now. It might not seem like much, as things happen one month at a time—but looking back, we can see the wallop that’s in some cases bludgeoned this industry straight from the 19th Century into the 21st.
Take a look at some thoughts on the past 25 years—and we’ll be honest as we always are—we asked for nice comments to share about The Paint Dealer’s contribution to the industry. It’s our party, after all!
We had a conversation with Dan Passinault, PPG director of product innovation and simplification. Keeping things simple and innovative can be a daunting task, and we’re sure Dan’s up to it!
Q. Dan, you’ve been around awhile, we know this because we’ve been quoting you in stories for a long time. What are some of the more important changes we need to look at from over the past 25 years?
A. Being in the paint industry for more than 25 years, I find it fascinating that an industry that has been around for hundreds of years can continue to evolve as much as this one has. Products continue to evolve for greater performance and ease of use. In addition, end use customers, including both professionals and DIYers, continue to evolve in their product performance expectations and how they are willing to interact with products, which become drivers of choice and loyalty.
Q. Is all this change good for dealers?
A. Independent dealers are an increased resource in the marketplace for pro customers across the commercial, residential, and industrial segments. These segments present expanded sales opportunities for dealers, because these customers respond well to local service and supply.
Q. And the more things stay the same…?
A. While we will continue to see changes, an area that was true 25 years ago and holds true today is that customers want quality products and quality service, which are both areas where the independent dealer has excelled. Additionally, I know one thing will remain constant for PPG and for our network of independent retailers—this industry has been and will always be a people business. Strong and reliable partnerships between PPG, our brands, and our dealers is a critical component to success. Our relationships extend from our dealers to our dealers’ relationships with their customers. These relationships are what help business grow and earn customer loyalty.
Q. Just as important as where we’ve been, where are we going?
A. In the next 25 years, I think the paint industry will be drastically different, just as the industry is different than it was 25 years prior to today. While I don’t have a Magic 8-Ball, I predict that manufacturers and independent dealers will work to consolidate their product offering to the best, most effective and innovative products. This will help customers easily choose what’s right for the particular job, and feel less overwhelmed with too many options.
Q. So paint is getting better still?
A. Yep! Technology will continue to evolve in the areas of performance, sustainability, and application in ways we can’t predict. This will create shifts in our industry and the added properties that paint will provide to functionality, color and protection.
From a service perspective, the use of online tools for accessing information and ordering products is in its very early stages and is certain to evolve, as consumers browse and shop paint digitally now more than ever. Customers want more convenience and we need to continue to be looking for the ways we can make it easier for them to shop color and products.
Q. How has PPG responded?
A. PPG continues to evolve in order to drive innovation in the industry and serve our customers in the best way possible. This includes constantly evaluating our products so we can be more innovative, as well as advancing our technical support and providing value to professionals and DIYers, as well as to our network of independent dealers, to help them get the job done right.
It’s not a Chip, It’s a Lifestyle
When we first met Mark Woodman over 20 years ago, he was on board with Duron Paints, an east coast casualty of consolation. Woodman spent time with the Sherwin-Williams company after it acquired Duron, and has since been a color consultant, including serving a term as past president of the Color Marketing Guild. If it’s been a trend, Mark has either watched, it, reported on it, or even picked out the colors! Now, he notes, color is marketed as much as a lifestyle accessory as a collection of drips from a dispenser.
Q. Since paint stores sell, more or less, color and décor, paint being the means of transfer, what are some of the changes we’ve seen as far as how we market and perceive this color and décor?
A. I still find one of the paradigm shifts was the rethinking of paint color as “lifestyle.” I credit Martha Stewart and Ralph Lauren for leading the charge on that. The marketing was amazing and altered how consumers perceived the paint they put on their walls (or had applied by professionals).
I remember some Ralph Lauren color cards that had more “story” photographs than color samples! It was not a sand color, it was a journey across the Serengeti. White became the crest of a wave off Bondi Beach, and light blue conjured a simple life, with fresh eggs from the family farm.
Q. How did that influence the rest of us?
A. Many others followed, some successful and others forgotten, but it marked a moment in time that was key to the development of color stories. In the world of color, as designers, we have always known and talked of the transformative power it can have in a space or on a building. Thanks to Martha and Ralph, we gained a larger stage on which to share that passion. Color became destination and aspiration through their branding, images and marketing.
Q. What about life beyond Martha? Where are we headed, with or without her, and is it a good thing?
A. Technology will play a bigger role, so many changes will come in as to how coatings will interact with our technologies and be part of the tech. My paint will become my router, antenna, and perhaps replace my cable connection. Trim paint could be the wifi conduit for a whole structure (now weak spots!). It will become luminescent, casting a soft glow over a space before “normal” lighting is turned on, acting as a night light, of sorts.
For that matter, my walls will read my mood and adjust their color to add calm, excitement, etc. Or, I will have the tech to “dial a color” and I can change the look at whim. In terms of health, the question will be “how healthy can we make the coatings without sacrificing aesthetics?”
Q. Is this already happening?
A. Some technologies are already in place to fight bacteria, but the palettes are limited. We will eventually have a bacteria fighting coating in navy blue. To go further in home, our coatings will have actual thermal properties, and be able to breathe. They will protect a structure without encapsulating it, help control moisture, temperature and act as air purifiers, both inside and out.
As Time Rolls and Brushes On
Corona has us beat by more they two, it’s got 55 years in the trade. You can see that the company was celebrating its 30th anniversary in the vintage ad reproduction that follows this article. Ben Waksman, company president, noted that Corona has seen and responded to its share of changes in paints, applicators, and how and where they are sold.
Q. What changes stand out to you?
A. One of the biggest changes we have seen in this industry in our 55 years of business is the ever-changing coatings. Coatings change with trends to meet the needs of the market and to meet the painters’ wants. Paint formulas have also been altered to meet environmental rules and standards. Popularly, coatings have been created with varying viscosities for different applications. Some are thin and others are thick, some are fast drying, and others meet very specific needs.
Another change since the beginning of Corona are the types of retail locations that carry paints and applicators. At the start, the majority of paint outlets were independent. Today, independents compete with a lot of mass merchants and big box stores and chains.
When it comes to applicators, an obvious change is increasing usage of synthetic filament brushes and rollers. Because of the drop in the use of oil-based paints and rise of waterbase paints, synthetic filaments dominate the market. Corona still manufactures a complete line of natural China bristle brushes, but less and less as the years pass.
Q. How have you responded to all these changes to keep up to date?
A. With the changes in coatings, Corona responds by always manufacturing a handmade tool for every job and every coating. Corona has developed brushes and rollers that bring out the best features of the coatings. We tend to specialize in just the right flex in the brush and just the right density for best paint pick up as well as release. It’s not just getting the brush or roller to load up with paint but to apply it smoothly, render greater coverage, and provide a smooth finish, whether the coating is flat, satin, eggshell, semi-gloss or high gloss.
Q. Are you sticking with the independent?
A. Even with rising business through big box stores, Corona’s policy is to support independent paint dealers. We are a family owned company and we enjoy doing business with the family owned and independent paint dealers. There is a customer service and product knowledge offered to their customers that you will just not find at a big box store.
Q. 2017 wouldn’t be complete without a discussion of online business, of course!
A. There have been big changes on how we do business due to the internet. It offers a new level of communication, as well as new ways to buy products. Some of our dealers are selling online and growing their store business that way.
Corona responds to the internet trends by taking knowledge available through blogs and other types of communication. We are constantly receiving emails from painters asking questions about our tools. The communication is fun as well as instructive and we can always send them to a dealer where they can buy Corona. We also read with interest the many blogs in which painters will discuss their work and their favorite tools.
All these forums add to the wealth of available information. They provide more ways of learning information or relaying information. Still, you can’t replace good old one on one, face to face communication and the knowledge you can gain by walking into an independent paint dealer.
Paint, Tape, and Beyond
3M has an overview of many markets beyond paint, and it sees improved products and technologies in our faster world as positives—along with the education that goes into it. 3M has been instrumental in moving many of these products forward.
Donald Meyer, U.S. Business Director, 3M Construction & Home Improvement Markets, answered our questions.
Q. What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in this last quarter century?
A. Over the past 25 years, we have seen technology driving sundries to places that no one would have imagined. For example, in the past, pro painters only used tan tape for masking, but today’s painter can have six or seven different types of masking and painter’s tapes to choose from. Innovative companies will continue to increase the breadth of their product lines—products have become more specialized to help pro painters do their job better, faster and easier more safely.
Q. Looking forward…where do you think this industry is headed over the next 25 years?
A. We think the retail footprint is likely to get smaller in the future, with eCommerce leading the way. Also, manufacturers will continue to innovate in the way they communicate and educate painters and contractors. Real-time access to information will become the norm. From a sundries point of view, products will continue to become easier to use thanks to additional technological improvements.
Q. How has 3M responded to changes in the industry over the past 15-25 years?
A. At 3M, innovation is at our core. We have prioritized constant investment in R&D and education and in our brands. Additionally, we leverage consumer insights to help us understand our customers and the paint industry, and we turn this knowledge into product innovation.
Through consumer insights, 3M has created products and portfolios designed to save contractors time in their prep activities. Examples include new products such as ScotchBlue™ Platinum™ Painter’s Tape, 3M™ Pro Grade Precision Sanding Sponges and 3M™ Hand-Masker™ M3000 dispenser to help pro painters save time and work faster.
Meyer concluded, “3M will continue with this winning model.”
So will The Paint Dealer, as we will build and change ourselves along with all the paint industry. We thank our readers, advertisers, reps, publicists, experts, analysts, and anyone else who has helped us or benefitted from us along the way.
What’s an anniversary without some congratulations?
Congratulations to the team at The Paint Dealeron its 25th anniversary! Hans and his team are obviously doing something right to be around that long. Santint has been advertising with them for the last few years and we are very happy with the results. Since they are the premier publication for our biggest customer base—the independent paint dealer—it is a logical choice for us to spend a majority of our advertising dollars with them. Thanks to Jerry, Melissa, Kathy and all who work hard to get the information out each month. Keep up the great work!
Dave Christiansen, Director of Sales and Operations Santint USA, Inc.
Congratulations to The Paint Dealeron its 25th anniversary! Where does the time go? What changes have we seen? Like The Paint Dealer itself, the independent paint and decorating dealer network is still going strong and getting stronger. We have watched the big box stores come and go, we have seen sales of clothing, electronics and home fashion move to the internet, but one thing is for sure—the paint and decorating dealer is here to stay.
Both the professional paint contractor and the DIY consumer still appreciate the special care and service they receive when they shop at your store. The Paint Dealer, for 25 years, has been a resource for the independent retailer, whether it be advice on running your business or giving you the insight on the best and newest sundry items. Again congratulations on 25 years and your continued support of the Independent Paint Dealer!
Jeffrey T. Spillane Senior Manager Training Implementation Benjamin Moore
The Paint Dealerhas been a great source of knowledge, delivery, and valuable information in a humorous and interesting way. We have enjoyed reading and supporting The Paint Dealer for the first 25 years, and look forward to the next 25.
Ben Waksman, President, Corona Brushes, Inc.
As a small paint manufacturer making a niche product, even though we have been around for more than 40 years, it is sometimes hard to feel noticed in the vast sea of conventional paints out on the market, often with large, splashy ads and common household names. The Paint Dealer has been a friendly, informative avenue that allows us to introduce our old world paints to potential new retailers, and acknowledges our contribution to the paint world.
The paint industry has changed dramatically since our humble beginnings in 1974, and especially so over the past 25 years. We appreciate the support that we’ve been given from The Paint Dealer, and wish you all the greatest success in the next 25 years!
Anne Thibeau, President, Old Fashioned Milk Paint
On behalf of everyone at ArroWorthy & Blue Dolphin we would like to congratulate The Paint Dealer on its 25th. Keep up the great work!
Roland Kolilias, Vice President, ArroWorthy; President, Blue Dolphin Sundries
PPG shares common values with The Paint Dealer in that we both place tremendous value on our relationships with independent dealers—some which span 25 years or more. We both work hard every day to be a great partner to dealers and provide the best support possible. PPG is proud to continue to work with The Paint Dealer, which provides independent dealers up-to-date resources and information they need to be successful in an ever-changing industry landscape.
Dan Passinault, Director of Product Innovation, PPG
Thanks for your trust in and broad-minded support of the industry. You, Jerry, show a deep trust in what we are discussing in the industry and your support of our thoughts and ideas has always been there. It’s in that support that I think you really shine. You not only seek and admire new ideas for an article or feature, but support the individuals and companies that strive to expand the world of architectural coatings and color knowledge. Everyone gets a fair stab at having a voice. You know it’s the many voices (oh, so many voices) that create balance and enrich content, and you offer a platform of sharing.
Mark Woodman, CMG. Owner, Mark Woodman Design & Color
CONGRATULATIONS to The Paint Dealerand The Paint Contractor! We (I think I speak for everyone) love what you’ve been doing the past 25 years!! Thank you Jerry, Hans & company! Keep up the great work!!
Emmett Fiore, Senior Color Strategist, Fine Paints of Europe
The Paint Dealer is a paint color enthusiast—believing in the power of color selling paint by promoting the color story in so many different ways. Great job, and here’s to another 400 issues!
Dee Schlotter, PPG Senior Color Marketing Manager, Architectural Coatings North America
Yellow! It has interesting connotations. Call someone yellow, and it’s not a compliment. Yellow journalism is known as exaggerated and false—if we wrote an article called “Lead Paint Returns to Rhode Island,” you’d read it but we’d be in big trouble. But in paint, there’s room for every color.
Dave Christiansen of our sponsor Santint steered us to Jill Morton’s blog from a couple years ago, where she points up yellow as a color of insanity. Russian asylums were painted yellow, she reported, while people on hallucinogens tended to create paintings with more yellow as the effects advanced. Some say yellow is preferred by those at mental extremes, and safety yellow, she notes, is effective because we instinctively see the color as marking danger.
This probably means that if your customers are “crazy for yellow,” you really need to be there to help! For this article we asked our experts to pick a yellow room and tell us about the thought that went into it—plus what its occupants can get out of it.
Part of the Process
Mary Lawlor at Kelly-Moore takes us at our word when we say we’re the magazine that tells it like it is, so she told it like it was. “I will preface my response with this: while the first impression of yellow is that of cheerfulness, psychologically the color is known to cause irritability when you are exposed to it for long periods of time,” she said. “The reason for this is that our eyes see color in RGB (red, green and blue) so we don’t have the natural ability to see yellow. It becomes annoying as our brain has to work really hard to process it.”
That means there might need to be some extra talk when yellow chips are on the table.
Clover Honey (KM5235) was the choice for guest room above. “The choice creates an inviting cheerfulness in a room that will not have a great deal of time spent in it,” said Mary. “It was also the perfect color to compliment the furnishings and bedding.”
From there, we asked her how turning the yellow up or down might affect the feel of the room. “While this yellow is somewhat neutralized, Clover Honey leans more towards a “beige” type color. It still has an LRV (Light Reflectance Value) of 78,” she explained. “A cleaner, more saturated yellow would be more energizing and not provide a restful atmosphere, while a lighter yellow might not have provided enough contrast.”
In this case, yellow was the first choice for color in the room, not a reaction to what else was already in there. After that, she completed the room to make the most of the chosen color. “A soft yellow was the first choice. The white trim was used to show a slight contrast with the soft color. The light fixtures, furnishings and bedding harmonize with the softness of the wall color, further creating a restful atmosphere.”
The Wilds of Tradition
British paint company Farrow and Ball is increasing its U.S. presence, and we’re excited to bring you more about them. This high-end paint can be a great offering to high-end customers and set you apart as a special destination for consumers and designers. Plus, maybe it’s someone’s birthday, in which case you can show them this photo of a door painted in Farrow & Ball’s Yellow Cake. Erica Silberman, a Color Consultant at Farrow & Ball and Showroom Manager of its New York Flatiron location (on Manhattan), gave us a slice of her wisdom on how this and other yellows can brighten up the day.
“Yellow Cake (#279) is our brightest yellow. It’s a fantastically fun color that harkens back to the energy of the ’60s,” she said. “For sure, it’s striking!” 0Note how the surrounding environment is largely traditional, yet Yellow Cake adds a wildly contemporary feel.
That’s the point, said Silberman—putting a big touch of the unexpected to create an awesome entryway. “The colors around the yellow came first, including the chairs. The goal was to create an unexpected ‘Aha’ moment. Instead of the door color quietly blending into the natural setting, it reaches out and says hello!”
If customers like this idea, but if it’s not quite the yellow they want, you can adjust up or down. “A darker, browner yellow such as Sudbury Yellow (#51), would give the space a tranquil earthy feel, seamlessly integrating the colors of the chair with the warm brick,” said Silberman. “A lighter yellow such as Dayroom Yellow (#233), would bring a lovely soft freshness.”
Why Yellow Means Caution
Kristin Summer, a long time industry expert and currently an independent consultant in the Boston area at Colors With Kristin, has been in our pages often. We baited her just a bit by mentioning that other color experts suggest being careful with yellow. She agrees, and in fact shows us why—look at the photo of the yellow door at the bottom of the page, which she snapped a picture of specifically because it set a bad example.
“This is a great example of the misuse of yellow,” she said. “I am not 100% sure what yellow it is, but the yellow which is used here is more of a life preserver color, not as a color for a front door should be: which is more warm and inviting.” On the other hand, it’s a can’t miss. “Clearly if they are giving someone directions to their house they can say it’s the house with the bright yellow door and they can be sure to find that house!”
Summer noted that yellow is not often her “go-to” for interior walls. “I would say it was more so in the late ’90s, but it’s never really been my main choice. If not used properly it can really throw off the harmony of a room.”
Seriously, is it that bad? It has the potential of being problematic, she added, but that’s why hiring a competent designer can help. “My recommendation of the use of yellow is for doors, home exteriors, and in soft shades for interior walls. It is more difficult to create the harmony in a room with yellow if you don’t know what you are doing. Poor yellow! It’s not really that irritating a color, it just gets misused sometimes.”
Prize on the Eye
Yellow stands out, she said, because our eyes are sensitive to the color. “The wavelengths of light we receive from yellow are at its peak, more than any other color in the spectrum,” Summer explained. “If you are looking at a pale shade of yellow it would appear brighter to you than pale blue, as our eyes are not as sensitive to it.”
This makes yellow a great color for murals, however, in that it stands out to catch the passing traffic, as you can see from some mural projects she was involved in recently.
“The mural I did with the kids for a community project is a great example of the impact of what yellow can do,” she said. “California Paint [a brand of ICP Construction] was kind enough to donate all of the paint for our project.” They whipped up a tasty combo of Lemon Punch (DE5398) and Banana Cream (DE5395) for the backdrop.
“The objective was to have the yellow make the rest of the mural jump out,” said Kristin. “It is along a walking trail and the main street in town. If we painted the back of the mural to blend in you would not notice it as much, but the yellow combo draws you to look at the painting, sort of like the safety yellow jackets!” However, they didn’t want too much of a good thing and calmed it down with the combo of warm and bright yellows.”
We’re stuck with yellow anyway, like it or not, she concluded. “Yellow is a staple in nature Every day starts with the yellow sunrise and sunset. How can you not love that?”
“The bathroom mural has a soft yellow base with a darker/brighter yellow and brown (to calm down the brighter yellow) blended in,” said color consultant Kristin Summer. “The client and I chose yellow for the walls to create warmth in this dark small powder room that did not have much natural light. She also wanted to incorporate a beautiful natural wood dark brown bench. The yellow gave it a feeling of natural light even though it was very dark.”
Photos for this section courtesy of Kristin Summer, photo of the mural courtesy of Cass Summer.
A few years ago people were looking for super neutrals…stark white and grey still being the everlasting staple color. Fear had set in and look what happened? We need to get people back into color, living life and exploring again. Which will be first—times getting better or people getting bold with color? Can we create the “better” by started to add color to our environment and lives? I believe so. Great colors and color combos make me happy. – Kristin Summer
The DEWALT® Charlotte, NC manufacturing plant celebrated as the professional tool brand’s 10-millionth tool rolled off the production line. Company executives were on hand to build the 10-millionth tool—a 20V MAX* XR Lithium Ion Brushless 3-Speed Hammer Drill (DCD996P2).
Across its seven U.S. manufacturing plants, the brand produced more than 90 million individual products “Made in the USA with global” materials in 2016, an almost 50 percent increase from the 62 million individual products in 2015, just one year earlier. This is a meaningful accomplishment towards the brand’s effort to expand its domestic manufacturing using global materials, an effort that began in 2013.
Frank Mannarino, President of Dewalt Professional Products Group said, “Year after year, Dewalt has significantly increased its production of tools made in the US with global materials. We are a global brand proud to have been founded in the United States and proud to continue to manufacture in the United States.”
Dewalt understands that buying American products and building the American economy are important to its customers. Connie Grant, an employee at the Charlotte plant said, “It makes me proud to work for a company that still values the American workforce.”
There are just a few weeks until the April 18th tax-filing deadline! The National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE), an advocate and resource for the self-employed and micro-businesses, released a list of helpful tips for filing accurate and beneficial tax returns for small business owners and the American public.
“The first important tax filing tip: you can never start too soon,” said Keith Hall, NASE President and CEO. “To avoid mistakes and errors on your tax returns, now is the time to gather all your documents. Think about hidden or often forgotten deductions; think about what is missing, and think about how all your business costs fit into your overall financial picture. The number one reason for audits and unwanted IRS scrutiny is simple mistakes on tax returns. NASE’s top tips are as follows:
Gather your documents early—don’t wait until the last minute; now is the time to start making sure you have all your important tax filing documents.
You’re not alone—stay connected; there are resources out there to help you from IRS.gov to NASE.org and tax professionals.
Educate yourself about changes to the tax code—believe it or not, there are changes and adjustments to the tax code year-to-year; make sure you find out what they are so you are prepared and can take advantage of them.
Don’t forget about hidden or overlooked deductions—don’t leave anything on the table; make sure you are not missing any deductions that apply to you that can make the difference, such as mileage reimbursement, retirement contribution and the home office deduction.
When The Paint Dealereditor Jerry Rabushka asked me if I had a copy of my old byline picture from almost 25 years ago, my first thought was that I was getting an anniversary card or perhaps some sort of gift for my years of service. Little did I know that his plan was more along the lines of a public humiliation! Next time, I’ll ask what he needs it for before I hit the send button! But, if we want to visually experience how hard the passing of 25 years as an independent paint retailer can be, I suppose that seeing these two pictures of me on the same page makes the point about as well as it can be made. I think Jerry’s illustration of the effects of this industry at the magazine’s 50-year anniversary mark will be a picture of me next to a used piece of sandpaper with my face painted on it!
The younger Mark you see here didn’t write his first column for The Paint Dealer thinking “OK, one month down, 299 more to go!” It started with one idea that I wanted to share (or one rant that I needed to get out). Whatever the topic at the time (a gallon of ceiling paint at $25 for anyone other than my mother who can remember the topic), my journey of 25 years with The Paint Dealerstarted with a single column. Now 25 years later I’m bald! So you can draw your own conclusions about the long-term effects of writing a column for The Paint Dealermagazine!
But despite that this magazine may have made me go bald, as I have just proven beyond a reasonable doubt, I am grateful for the voice that they give me. We should in fact all be grateful to the Mugler family because in my time knowing them, they have been a tremendous advocate for the independent paint retailer.
The current publisher, Hans Mugler, like many of the dealers reading this, is second generation in the family business. His father Chris, who founded the magazine, did an outstanding job of giving dealers a voice where none existed. It is not easy to have a vision, create a plan and execute it so well that combined with your hard work, the fruit of that seed lasts 25 years. Chris cared about dealers and that desire to support us has lasted from 1992 until today. Sadly, no one lives forever and with Chris’ retirement and passing, Hans and editor Jerry Rabushka carry the torch. They continue to advocate for dealers and give us a voice. We should all be glad that Chris’ vision for helping dealers succeed did not pass with him and is carried on by his family.
Twenty-five years! Things have sure changed since 1992 when the first issue of The Paint Dealerwas published. Back then we sold a gallon of Aqua Velvet to the painters for around $15. In 1992, if you walked into my stores and asked for “a gallon of Regal” you got one thing: a gallon of white Regal Wall Satin; which despite the word satin, everyone seemed to know was a flat! Ask for “a gallon of primer” and you got an oil based because before there were limits on the VOC s, they were just better.
We never painted with a latex on top of an oil and the painters who picked up their orders in the morning were often still red-eyed and “high” from working with the high solvent paints from the day before. Masking tape was one color and there was no such thing as a brush that worked well in latex or oil! If you walked into one of my stores 25 years ago and said that you have problems with paint odors, my father probably would have told you not to paint!
The past 25 years of turmoil and change has all been reported on by Mugler Publications and I like to give some credit for helping dealers navigate all those changes to The Paint Dealer magazine. Lasting 25 years and through one (so far) generational family transition is an accomplishment to be celebrated. Congratulations Hans, Jerry and the rest of the crew at The Paint Dealer.
It’s happened to everyone. A customer is walking the aisles at your paint store to find the things they need to get started on that project they’ve already been putting off for weeks. They’re ready to pay and be on their way. Not so fast! If the cashier is inexperienced, he may have trouble with the multiple coupons the customer just handed him.
Now that customer wants to split his purchase between three credit cards. Scrutinizing the candy and magazines placed near the cashier station won’t keep them entertained for long. The tops of your shoes really aren’t that interesting, either. At some point, they just want out.
Long lines at the checkout counter are no fun for customers or cashiers. At Paladin, we want to make checkout as fast as possible, so we made our software really easy to use. Our clients tell us that cashiers become productive after only a few minutes of training. They even enjoy using it!
Taking care of customers and cashiers is important, but paint store owners need a little love, too! Adding color to what might otherwise be a pretty drab world surely has its rewards, but wouldn’t it be nice to get home at a decent hour, energized and ready to engage with your family, pursue a hobby, or binge watch your favorite TV show?
That’s the idea behind Paladin’s Market Driven Inventory Management™. Using your store’s sales history, Paladin will let you know what customers will be buying in the weeks to come, so you can order what you need to meet upcoming demand. You won’t need to spend hours shopping for the best price. You can shorten your work week even more by automating ordering and receiving. Paladin will even help you find slow-moving products so you can mark ’em down and help them find a new home. You can then reinvest in products that will make money so you can buy something really important, like one of those heated footbaths with massaging bubbles.
If you already have a world-class footbath, you may want to take that extra money and reinvest in your store. Do more of what you’re already doing to make the customer’s visit as short and productive as possible. Remember when you invested in enough paint shakers to mix 40 one-gallon cans at a time? We get how important that is.
Show your appreciation to those repeat customers with Paladin’s royalty-free customer loyalty program, Rich Rewards. Custom build a program of discounts and incentives that work for your store. The customer data you capture can be used for your own direct mail or email marketing program. Paladin also integrates with third party loyalty programs that provide marketing services tailored to the needs of your business.
You can spend buckets of money on advertising and promotion, clean your floors until you can see your own reflection, or give your customers piggyback rides from their cars to the front door, but it won’t mean a thing if nobody is there to help them find what they need.Paladin Point of Sale dramatically improves the customer shopping experience by presenting a fast, secure, and easy-to-use checkout solution. By automating so many back office tasks, staff members will have more time to interact with customers.
If you’re interested in a point of sale system that not only speeds customers through checkout and automates the most time-consuming back office tasks, give us a call. We’ll be more than happy to show you how to make your store run smoothly into a more profitable future.
You’ve probably had this happen at the grocery, and that makes you sure you don’t want to give your customers the same experience: they just want to pay for something and go home and it becomes an episode of Seinfeld. Press red, press green, swipe, insert, show three forms of ID, she’s writing a check we’ll be here forever! A two-dollar bill, where does that go? I don’t know how that works yet. That should work with our system, but it doesn’t.
We asked Ward Partridge, co-president at CBC, what he thinks about this top down frustration. He’s frustrated too. “It is critical all paint retailers have a proper EMV-capable credit card processing system,” he said. “Payment is normally the last interaction a customer has in the store, so it’s important they leave with a good impression.”
That doesn’t always happen. “Unfortunately, credit card processing over the last two years has been a real mess as EMV was implemented across different systems with different rules from different card issuers and providers,” said Ward. “Many providers and retailers had to rush to implement EMV as the new rules from the Payment Card Industry (PCI) forced liability onto retailers who continued to swipe cards that were EMV enabled. This resulted in flawed systems being rushed to market and placed into retail stores without being properly tested or debugged. As well, many retail staff were not trained on how to use new EMV equipment or what to expect. These problems frustrated both the store staff and their customers.”
Rob Joesfs, marketing operations manager at Cam Commerce (designers of the RetailSTAR system), agrees that payment can be a tossup. “Processing credit card transactions are no longer uniform across all companies, especially since the EMV (Smart Card) era,” he observed. “It’s important for paint dealers to adapt and give the impression they are modern and more secure.”
His company will help you get up to date and stay there. If you’re as up to date as Kansas City is in the musical Oklahoma, you’re not really up to date, you’re transacting in 1907. “CAM Commerce (RetailSTAR) integrates with EMV devices and accepts Android/Apple Pay, and various tender methods including house charge with signature, coupons, gift cards, custom tenders and others,” said Rob. “You can pre-set commands in your POS, prompting staff to enter needed information based on the tender type your customers select.” Still confused? Let them help. CAM Commerce provides one-on-one training, live tech support and a library of ‘how-to’ training videos for POS, EMV and…wait for it…more!
Maybe you don’t want to talk to your POS provider because frankly, it’s boring. It’s not paint. “I am not sure how much ‘fun’ a POS system can really get, after all, accounting can only be so much fun,” Partridge admits. “There are, however some real time, interactive features that can improve your interest in the system and, if used properly, the store profitability.”
Fun for your staff can be SPIFF tracking. This means you set up bonus programs to provide a strong incentive for them to sell certain sundries and higher end products. “If the clerk can easily see the extra monies they make, it makes the system more interesting for them to use and makes the store more profitable,” said Partridge.
Another tool that makes a system more fun is online, interactive ad-hoc reporting, he said. “Decor Fusion enables you to drill down into a report and see what makes up the detail. Also, Decor Fusion features an OLAP (Online Analytical Processing) tool that allow you to dynamically design reports on the screen and instantly move different data on and off the report. This makes reporting a creative process and empowers you to quickly mine your sales data to understand what’s happening with customer and product sales.”
Josefs notes that he’s gotten a lot of compliments from CAM users, who have time to talk to him because the system is easy to use. “That makes your job easier and allows you to focus more on the customer and less on the technology itself,” he said. “The POS is designed so you can be more efficient and improve the customer experience.”
Three’s a Crowd
From Cam Commerce, the fun begins by keeping your good times in-house. RetailSTAR eliminates the need to integrate with 3rd party systems, Josefs noted. “Instead, the POS communicates with the accounts receivables and house charges, inventory management, CRM (customer relationship management), E-Commerce, tools for EDI, job tracking, rentals, pricing, sales and promotions, fulfillment, and it has a QuickBooks interface for AP/GL (accounts payable/general ledger),” he said. There’s more fun to be had by learning and understanding acronyms associated with POS…er…point of sale.
Upshot of all that is it all helps your customers have a good experience. “From the POS screen,” Rob explains, “you can easily email invoices, accept payments on accounts, create special orders, lookup prices and inventory, accept loyalty rewards, and lookup a customer’s historical data (i.e., what color did Barth paint his living room in 2007?).” Because Barth won’t remember even though he’s seen it every day for a decade.
Things Aren’t “Looking Up”
A lot of customers are too busy looking down at their phone even look up at the cashier. Sir? SIR are you ready? Many stores have apps where customers can order ahead of time and pick up product, but paint is different as compared to commodities like chicken soup and lotto tickets.
Some contractors might be able to order ahead of time, truck on by and load off the dock, but if either a customer or contractor doesn’t know enough about the bases, colors and sheens needed for a job, it won’t do you any good to have them order without talking to you first. “An app that doesn’t take these factors into account will result in ordering errors and customer issues,” Partridge said. “Also, credit management through an app may create problems with house accounts if orders are declined inappropriately or without proper consideration.”
That’s why that good ol’ personal service still marks the independent as a worthy destination. You probably want to offer that, even encourage it, versus trying to shunt everything to an impersonal online click. We have airlines for that.
“Nothing is better than personal interaction by knowledgeable staff to ensure customers gets the right colors, products and tools for their jobs,” said Partridge. As well, properly trained staff can steer your customers towards quality products and away from online bargains that don’t work. If you want to sell after hours, Partridge suggests, it might better serve your customers by having a staff member taking orders over the phone from a home/mobile office instead of having people order by computer with no help and get all the wrong stuff.
Cam has several features you can use to help move sales electronically. “Paint stores should have a mobile friendly E-Commerce website to showcase their merchandise, promotions and in-store events, and allow customers to place orders (online or phone),” Josefs suggests. “RetailSTAR offers E-Commerce integrated with the POS so your sales/customer/inventory data is consistent across all channels.” In a nutshell, get a POS system that enhances, rather than complicates, your store processes from product selection to final purchase. “A properly designed POS system should free up the staff, enabling them to spend more time with customers,” Partridge concluded.
New Features from CAM
Below are some new features they developed by Cam Commerce at the request of its dealers:
• Vendor communications: Automate purchasing/receiving with your vendors via EDI, and communicate the availability to ship
• A/R and statements: Customize and send statements (via email or mail), easily apply house charge payments, report on delinquent accounts, charge/manage late fees
• Product imports/price updates: Browse vendor catalogs and import the products you want to sell; import products from Excel; adjust prices as needed
• Flexible product pricing capabilities: Tailor your business with unlimited pricing levels, cost plus pricing, discount percentages, contract pricing, case pricing, unique pricing by contractor, tax exempt items, promotions for bulk/cumulative purchases, and more
Check out the comany’s promotion! Save 20% off initial software licenses and e-commerce at www.camcommerce.com/PaintDealerMag. You can also call (714) 338-0200, or write the company at email@example.com and mention The Paint Dealer’s Cam Commerce ad for the discount.
It’s hard to believe that 25 years can go by so fast. It seems like just yesterday Dad (Chris Mugler) and I were discussing what his plans were after being forced out at Decorating Retailer (now PDR, Paint & Decorating Retailer) magazine and the National Decorating Products Association (now PDRA. Paint & Decorating Retailers Association). The world and our industry is a very different place than it was in 1992.
Twenty-five years ago, the movie Wayne’s World, born out of a Saturday Night Live skit, was all the rage. The Mall of America opened in Minnesota as the largest mall in the world, the Cartoon Network debuted on TV, and in a whites-only referendum South Africa voted to end apartheid in 1992 (leading to the presidency of Nelson Mandela). In 1992, Billy Ray Cyrus gave us his “Achy Breaky Heart,” and later that year, the birth of his daughter we know as Miley. Microsoft Windows 3.1 was released on floppy disc, the Church of England voted to allow women to become priests, and Hollywood star Demi Moore famously appeared on the 1992 August cover of Vogue magazine in her birthday suit…in a tuxedo applied with body paint!
In our industry, people were talking about VOCs (volatile organic compounds), but they weren’t doing a whole heck of a lot about them, however, “green” products were just starting to pop onto the scene. Oil based paints were still a really big deal, POS systems were being developed, and stores would primarily fax their orders into their manufacturing reps.
Twenty-five years ago, company websites were almost non-existent, industry consolidation had not really occurred yet as Porter, Devoe, Fuller-O’Brien, Martin Senour, Pratt & Lambert, and Bruning Paints (to name a few) had yet to be acquired or merge with other companies. Mini rollers were fairly new on the scene, having made their way over from Europe; Purdy was not yet a part of SW, painter’s tape was not nearly as versatile as it is now, and Arrow Roller and Worthy Brush had not yet come together as ArroWorthy.
But there was also something very different in our industry in January of 1992… there was no magazine produced strictly for the Independent Paint & Sundry Store Owners in North America, and Chris changed that in February ’92 by debuting The Paint Dealer (TPD) magazine. From very humble beginnings, TPD quickly became the leading industry magazine for folks that owned their own paint and sundries stores. Dad’s mentors at the time included Robert “Bob” Farnum, John Rogers, and to some extent, “Grampa Munster,” Chris’ good friend Nick Cichielo from his NDPA days. These industry icons helped my father define the track that he wanted to be on, and the direction his new magazine would take.
Dad’s goal at the time was to give a voice to all the independents, to be the champion of their causes, and to support the indies in any way possible. None of that has changed from 1992. For the last 25 years, TPD has been, and still is, the #1 most read, most liked magazine in the industry! A HUGE “Thank You” goes out to all our readers and our advertisers for the last 25 years. Thank you so much for allowing us to talk to you every month, and for supporting us from Day 1…we would not still be here without YOU! What the next 25 years has in store for us is anyone’s guess, but you can be certain we will be here, still representing you, still speaking up for you and with you, to help make you the very best store owners you can be!
Mark Twain was a realist if nothing else, and came up with this gem about great literature: “A classic is something that everybody wants to have read…and nobody wants to read.” It’s great to say you read War and Peace, but are you going to?
Painting is often the same way, people want to have something painted, but often they don’t want to paint. It’s up to you, actually up to all of us in the industry, to remind them that it’s not that bad a job, plus once the room looks great they’ll have a nice place to sit back and crack open those classics…or at least watch a good bout of mud wrestling.
One of the most important steps in painting is priming—a no brainer to you, and thanks to this industry and 25 years of The Paint Dealer, everyone’s more aware of its importance. So our question was “what’s the next message?” After all, celery is good for you, vegetables are important, and Dunkin’ Donuts is still doing a fine business. So how do you get DIYers to use it?
NOT Like a Pro
Dan Gibbons, Brand Manager at Rust-Oleum, suggests appealing to their sense of fast and easy. “The most important thing with primers is that they make painting easier and they make the final job look better and last longer,” he said. “A professional’s business depends on their reputation so they are always going to do the job the right way. However, pushing only the ‘professional results’ message on DIYers can be a mistake as it may intimidate consumers and make them think the products themselves require the skills of a professional.”
Along with fast and easy, you may need to answer their “what will it do for me?” question—even if they don’t ask. Remind them that it’ll make the final project look better so their spouse and parents don’t sigh and complain about the paint job every time they come into the room. “Primers prep by creating a flat surface to make painting easier and improve the final look of the finish,” said Gibbons. “There are different primers that specialize in tackling specific problems. DIYers focus more on the specific problem they are facing so it’s important to offer a solid selection of primers that can address those issues.”
Mike Galley, General Manager at at Dyco Paints (a division of Sun Coatings), expands on that, adding don’t forget the savings! “Proper priming of a substrate is still integral to producing a good paint job,” he said. That’s true, but you still need to get them to integrate it into their purchase.
“The primer acts as the foundation and building block of a successful system. It enhances adhesion and seals the porosity of the substrate, allowing the finish coat to glide on easily and produce an even sheen across the entire surface,” said Galley. From there, you can explain how using primer saves money, since they’ll then need less of the more expensive finish paint.
Sell Like Tom Sawyer
It’s likely your customer is going to wonder, out loud in front of everyone else in line behind them, what about one coat coverage? What about paint and primer in one? If Mark Twain had access to all that, well…that whole Tom Sawyer whitewashing the fence chapter might not be nearly as famous. “We did the fence in one coat, let’s go in,” isn’t great literature, but it’s great sales strategy under certain circumstances.
Brian Osterried, PPG product marketing manager, advises to stock paint-and-primer-in-one products, but not to let them kick your dedicated primers to the curb. “Primers still deliver features and benefits that some paint and primer in one products cannot. They block the toughest stains and adhere to the most difficult surfaces, for example, wallpaper. In addition, they block odors from smoke damage and other sources.”
You know there are going to be times when a dedicated primer is needed, and better yet, Brian will back you up. “Depending on the surface, a primer is likely recommended to seal any patched areas to prepare the surface for a high-quality finish coat,” he advised. If there’s been smoke damage, for example, homeowners will need to clean the walls and prime before they paint. You remember Uncle Vanya’s teeth from Russian Easter? Maybe you don’t, but Aunt Yelena certainly does. After a half century of cigarettes, their walls and his teeth look pretty much the same.
“Nicotine creates a yellow residue on the surface that must be removed before painting,” said Osterried. In this case, it’s not so fast and easy, but it’s not as bad as all that, either. “I recommend removing the residue with a solution of trisodium phosphate and warm water,” he said. Even after this, it can be hard to keep the nicotine from bleeding through, particularly with wood substrates such as cabinets, doors or trim. Who wants Uncle Vanya’s old habit leering at them through a new paint job? “We recommend a stain blocking primer (such as PPG Paints™ Seal Grip®) prior to painting, to ensure that the stains don’t eventually come through.”
Don’t Whitewash the Truth
If you sell a one coat coverage product and the paint job needs two, you’ll hear about it on Yelp, Facebook, or even a YouTube rant. That’s not good for you or your supplier. Not every job is ripe for one coat. “One coat coverage should mean one coat coverage, meaning users shouldn’t need a separate primer coat underneath the paint,” Osterried insists. “However, using a primer, especially a tinted primer, can cut down on the number of coats you’ll need to complete a painting project if you’re not using a one coat coverage product.”
Not only that, but people need to read the labels, said Mike Galley at Dyco, to see if their one coat coverage product is the right choice or if they need…primer! “In most cases, the manufacturers of the paint products that are promoting ‘one coat coverage’ and ‘paint and primer in one’ have disclaimers regarding coverage,” he pointed out. “They stipulate that you will achieve the best results from their products when used on a previously painted surface with a similar color to what is currently there. Most manufacturers recommend using a primer when painting new uncoated surfaces and when painting with dark colors or with a color that highly contrasts with the existing color.”
Primers are very useful when painting with dark colors, he added, and they’re also necessary on new uncoated surfaces, such as new drywall, since finish paint will rapidly soak into the drywall if it not properly primed. This can bring up all sorts of problems that a good primer can keep at bay. “Failure to prime will make it necessary to apply additional coats of paint to get the proper coverage and hide, as well as to achieve an even looking sheen on the surface,” Galley warned. “If your customer is painting over an existing paint with a similar color, that’s when the ‘paint and primer in one’ or the ‘one coat coverage’ paint can be a good option.”
Save Time, Spend Money
When it’s good, it’s great, but, says Dan Gibbons at Rust-Oleum, the time-saving solution might not be the longest lasting. Sure, if you try to talk them out of one coat coverage, it may look like you’re selling them a more expensive solution. But that’s only because you are. To do this successfully, everyone needs to be on the money as far as explaining how it works.
Gibbons agrees with everyone else: there’s a time and place for everything, but not all the time and not all over the place. “Paint and primer in one can save time in perfect painting situations, but it will never last as long or provide the same finish compared to a project using primer,” he said. “Most painting situations are harder than top-coating a brand new white wall. In most cases, a paint and primer in one will take two coats to finish a project so in reality you aren’t saving that much time when compared to using a primer and then a topcoat. If you are painting over bold colors, stains, or uneven surfaces, a paint and primer in one product won’t cut it on its own.”
Then, there’s Dotty. Who’s she? Let’s say she lived next door to Uncle Vanya, but she just moved into an upscale senior living center in Jupiter, Florida so she won’t miss any Cardinals exhibition games. She’s had quite the life, so unless you want her memory to linger on, you’ll need to recommend the right system for painting over her iniquities. If the new homeowners inherited some of her more aggressive leftovers such as mold, mildew, nicotine, and pet odor, they’ll require the use of a specialty primer.
“Imagine that Dotty was a 65-year-old woman who smoked for the past 30 years and had two golden retrievers,” Gibbons postulated. “If you use two coats of ‘paint and primer in one’ you may be able to change the color of your living room from pink to white, but the lingering smells of tobacco and the retrievers will make you feel like Dotty is still living there. Using a product such as Zinsser Odor Killing Primer will help eliminate odors completely and cover up stains so you can make the living space your own.”
Color of the Year, but Underneath
One thing Mark Twain didn’t have was tinted primer, which might have made things a lot easier for Tom, Huck, and Becky, and especially Tom’s mom, who could have had all sorts of colors along with her lead and linseed oil.
Tinted primers may just save your customers a finish coat and scientifically make that finish coat more true to the chip. The final appearance of the topcoat is affected by the color underneath, and a gray or tinted primer, you can explain, makes it more true to itself vs. using a white primer. “Gray primers and other tinted primers are growing in popularity,” said Gibbons, who attributed this to the growing popularity of bold, rich colors on interior walls. “People who are looking to move away from traditional white and cross over to a trendier navy or deep blue should start with a gray primer to achieve a rich finish that will pop. The gray provides excellent stain blocking characteristics and improves hide and coverage with dark top coats.”
Galley at Dyco adds that just like any other priming product, there’s a right time and a not-so-right time to use it. It’s great to have it in your arsenal, though! “Tinted primers can be extremely useful when dealing with difficult colors or when the color change is drastic,” he said. “When painting with lighter colors there is no need to tint the primer.” If you’ve got one of those “traditionally hard to hide colors,” then a tinted primer will come in handy. “A gray base coat allows for success with difficult colors like reds and dark blues to be achieved in fewer coats,” said Galley.
Osterried at PPG agrees; tinting a primer does provide worthwhile benefits in certain circumstances. “The added color in the primer can help cut down on the number of coats required and can help the color of your finish look more uniform. As people’s color choices are beginning to drift more to vibrant accent colors, we recommend tinted primer more often to achieve true, deep color on the top coat.”
Essentially it comes down to options. The more you have, the better chance you have of finding that perfect balance of good sales, good results, and happy customers.
The Quick and the Wrong
TV is different than it used to be. It’s not just three networks and that independent station full of ghosts and shadows that plays two-star movies from 1945. But you’re an independent, and you have to make sure people can tune in clearly. It can help to make use of the knowledge people acquire outside your store, yet make sure you’re there to (gently) correct them when they’re wrong.
“On the positive side, education is always a wonderful thing,” said Galley. “The more informed a customer is, the better for your business. If the consumer understands the importance of using primer, it removes the misconception that you are simply trying to increase sales by selling an unnecessary product. The only downside to this situation would be if the customer either got misinformation or misunderstood it. They may have a false sense of being better informed than the store representative. I am sure this would be more the exception than the norm.”
“YouTube can be a great way to learn more about painting and is especially great for people with little experience to get a base of knowledge,” continued Dan Gibbons at Rust-Oleum. But it’s possible your client watched a 30-second sound bite that distills twenty-five years of retail paint experience into three dubious talking points. “The problem with most online videos is they are quick, short and simplified to help keep our attention,” he said. “These quick videos can give the outline to help understand a project, but they may not go as in depth as needed and may not cover all the unique problems someone would run into.”
Weather, for example—a paint guru from New Brunswick might not consider the humidity and heat of the Gulf Coast. If your store is the answer place, people can call you to clarify what a home improvement web site might have made perfectly unclear. “Make sure you have qualified and educated staff to help answer specific questions DIYers have for their project,” said Gibbons.
But wait…is there more?
Yep! Paint is changing. It’s getting better and quality keeps trending upwards, which also changes the game for when and what kind of primers are needed. “As paints improve, they become better at providing the benefits that primers have traditionally provided,” said Brian Osterried at PPG. “Paints now offer better stain blocking, adhesion and hiding when making drastic color changes, especially situations where a primer was previously necessary. However, there are situations where I still recommend using a primer under your paint, such as painting over a smooth or glossy surface or blocking difficult water stains. When gathering information from
YouTube videos or other online resources, the content may not take into account the users’ specific project or recent product technology improvements. However, this offers a great opportunity for independent dealers to provide the most up-to-date expertise to customers via one-on-one in-store consultations based on the customers’ specific concerns.”
Just ask Dotty or Uncle Vanya to smile and you’ll know what to do from there.
Time marches on, or in this case it rolls along, and as always, things change despite our best efforts. Product popularity comes and goes—but what’s up with the roller? Certainly, sales are on the upstroke!
A “small” change, said Roland Kolilias, VP at ArroWorthy, is that mini rollers are growing in popularity. Not that they’re bigger, but even a couple of decades after they were first “rolled out,” many of your customers might be picking them up for the first time. “ArroWorthy has experienced tremendous growth in its Mighty-Mini Roller program over the last five years,” said Roland. Must mean you’re selling more!
Paul Schmitke at agrees that mini rollers are growing in stature as well as gaining in quality. “Mini rollers continue to evolve similar to what we are seeing in the traditional paint roller market,” he observed. “New fabrics and materials are being utilized to create paint tools better suited for today’s coatings.”
Micro in the Mini
Speaking of small, by now most everyone in the trade has heard of and tried out microfiber, which is also moving into minis from biggies. “ArroWorthy was one of the first companies to embrace the microfiber fabric,” said Kolilias. After they introduced it in conventional roller covers, they took it into the minis. “Our leadership and expertise with the microfiber products has led us to develop the Lamdel Weave roller cover series that further satisfies the market needs for a lint-free knit style roller cover,” he said.
The trick here, says Schmitke, is to make sure your microfiber products are good quality. Just like when someone says their paint is low VOC, that doesn’t mean it’s any good. It’s just low VOC. Microfiber is a very broad category, Paul notes, and one isn’t just as good as another. “Consumers are learning the difference between high quality European fabrics as compared to lower grade microfibers that do not perform as well as the premium fabrics,” he said.
Like brushes in last month’s article, Premier and other roller makers are adjusting fabric formulas in tandem with changing coatings. “The success of our Ultra-Micro cover is an indication that blending high quality European microfiber with other materials will continue the evolution of fabrics around the advanced fast dry paints of today,” said Schmtke.
At Corona, company President Ben Waksman pointed out how its popular products provide just the benefits your customers need, depending on their application. “Our two most popular roller series are both woven for clean, fast application,” he said. “The plush white woven acrylic UltraWeave™ is great for fine application and finish. For production painting and speed of coverage, there is nothing like our UltraFast™. This is a unique blend of woven twisted nylon fibers with a feather tip that resembles natural bristles. It is the closest we have seen a synthetic perform to the painter preferred natural lambskin shearling rollers of yesterday.”
Nine This Time
Just like there’s that niche paint that fits in between your main coatings, and then the niche-niche to fit in between that, there are more sizes of rollers than there used to be. Does that mean your roller display is bigger? Hmmmm…maybe, maybe not. But the answer to “I want a roller” has changed from “it’s on that wall over there” to “what size, we have ’em from itty bitty to pretty big.”
If your audience is mainly pro, says Waksman, you’ll lure them in with a wide variety of frames and covers. “In some markets the 18″ roller covers are more popular for walls than the 9″, which historically has been the most popular,” he noted. “We see growth in the sales of the 18″ and 14″ but our strongest size is still the 9″.”
Premier is watching and waiting. “I think the jury is still out on this one,” said Schmitke. “18″ covers continue to be popular, and there are segments of the country responding well to a variety of widths of roller covers.” But since you can’t get a roller without accessories, every new size means a new bag of sundries. “We have seen significant push back from the painting community, as with each new width of roller the painter is forced to purchase the accommodating roller frame, tray, liners, etc. to complete the job,” Paul pointed out. “We continue to see the 4″ and 6″ widths predominate the mini roller market, while we see the 3, 4, 7, 9 and 18″ widths dominate the traditional roller cover market.”
What’s a roller with a bad frame? For every new size roller, someone’s got to find the cage that works just right. Put a car in neutral and it will at least roll, but put a roller in neutral and it’ll skid—all the way down the wall. To avoid this kind of wreck, manufacturers have made strides with frames as well, said Kolilias at ArroWorthy. “Our Barracuda roller fames have caught on with the professional painter,” he said. “They are easy to use and very durable.” If it’s a bigger roller, the barracuda has a model to fit. “The professional contractor is always looking for convenience and the best way he can finish his job task with satisfactory results. Developing and offering the right sizes and naps for the job is a great way to satisfying the needs of the market. Arroworthy’s new Barracuda 14″ and 18″ roller frames are a great example.”
Frames are made specifically to fit the roller that goes on it, he continued, vs. stretching or squishing the technology from another size. “Each size needs different tooling and molds. For our Barracuda series we had to build new molds for 7, 9 and 14″. We also needed to make sure each size had the right balance, feel, and strength as originally intended.”
Also from ArroWorthy is the 12-18″ Adjustable U Frame, which adjusts, as per its name, to rollers from 12-18″—a great help for painters with a wide variety of sizes.
This is, however, a well-settled category—it’s not something you have to convince most customers they need, except perhaps a guy who’s 85 and hasn’t painted since 1948. Other than that, the roller category shouldn’t be a surprise
However, and it’s a big however, it’s important to surprise them with just the roller they need, and that everyone can figure out what that roller is. Schmitke has seen his share of out of date roller displays. Ask yourself, as you’re bringing in that new line of coatings, if your applicators are up to date as well. “Pay careful attention to any changes in the coatings you are offering,” he recommends. “It is quite common to find an applicator mix that hasn’t been changed in several years in the same store where new stain lines, paint lines and specialty coatings have been launched. Always remember that paint applicators are a complimentary sale to the coatings offered in your retail location. We find many categories of coatings are underrepresented when it comes to the corresponding applicators to properly apply them.”
That being said, you still might have to wow them with your knowledge and advice. What seems like a no brainer to you might be a head buster even to an experienced painter looking at new choices. “Labels for paint brushes and rollers typically indicate the intended use of the paint tool,” Schmitke said. “However, this can be confusing since paint applicators are a very SKU intensive department to shop. It’s pretty easy to determine the correct sizes and materials in brushes as customers can touch, feel and interact with them prior to making a purchase. Roller covers are a bit different in that consumers need to determine proper width, material, and nap length prior to making a purchase. They should pay careful attention to the texture and/or surface smoothness of the area to be painted, and read the packaging carefully to determine which applicator is best suited to their project.”
We quoted Ben Waksman as saying this last month, but rather than it being something that goes without saying, it’s something that bears repeating!
“Independents do their customers a favor selling them a better-quality brush and roller. Not only will it make the paint go on easier, but once it dries it is evident that the coverage went on more evenly and smoothly.”
The Purdy 9″ Revolution frame is very lightweight and a great choice for use with an extension pole. It has an easy one-handed roller cover release and is acme threaded for fast attachability.