Mark My Words—September, 2018

By Mark Lipton,

sponsored by



Contributing Writer

A Call to Paint-Makers: Pay Attention to Us!

I’ve gotten used to living my life at the bottom of the food chain. When we go out, my fiancé tells me where we are going and how I am to dress. My daughter tells me where to send my money and how much to send (a process that leaves her much more satisfied than it leaves me). I knew when we lost our beloved dog last month that things would change around the house; I just didn’t know that I would be in charge of eating all the leftovers!

Still though, I don’t like to complain (out loud) because I’m an optimist and know that from the bottom, there’s only one way for me to go now!

Here’s the silver lining to being forced to live my life on the bottom rung: as an independent paint retailer I’ve had 30 years to prepare me for this exigency! And I always have you other dealers to keep me company because while it may be lonely at the top, it’s standing room only here at the bottom!

But why are so many quality independent retailers all crowding into this little spot at the bottom of the paint world? This is not the sort of column where I bore you with a ton of meticulously researched facts but I do know this: the independent paint retailing segment is a multi-billion dollar chunk of business that provides very high margins for the suppliers and manufacturers we buy from. So why the cold shoulder from so many?

There are examples of companies that do a good job focusing on the independent channel. Benjamin Moore of course comes to mind: they’re the biggest player in the space, but there are others. What I’m talking (complaining) about though are the big boys. Where are Sherwin Williams and PPG? These two guys combined manufacture and sell around $30,000,000,000 per year in paint. If PPG and SW were US states, combined they would have the 15th largest budget in the country! They are clearly the industry leaders in all respects but one: they seem to care little about the independent channel.

PPG is in my view the better of the two in terms of how they treat independents. They do sell to independents, but their program is a hodgepodge of ever-changing priorities. In some markets they are supportive of independents (at least the ones that have found a way to coexist with their company owned stores). But for the most part they are absent. I give them credit in that that they still maintain lines for the channel, so they give the appearance of at least catering to the independents.

No, it’s really Sherwin-Williams that I struggle to understand. Despite their excellent choice in monthly columns to sponsor (my sponsor Pratt & Lambert is owned by SW), I don’t see anything in their “go to market” that tells me they’re all that interested in the independent retailers. Since their merger with Valspar, it actually seems to be getting worse based on what I hear and am experiencing!

Their main paint brand in this segment is Pratt & Lambert, which is very low volume. That’s as good as it gets for them. Believe it or not they still have Dutch Boy and Martin Senour but I don’t see either of those two brands even lasting much longer.

Part of me wants them to stay asleep but I admit: it’s never good to wake a sleeping giant. Since they have all the resources, there’s part of me that would be excited to see what they could do for us! The amount of data they have to share, infrastructure, manufacturing and marketing capabilities, personnel, training capacity, and much more would, if they ever took an interest, make them instantly the most formidable player in the space. They’re selling us brushes, stains, rollers, caulking and more: why not paint?

A presentation given about a year ago to the investment community by the president of their Consumer Brands Division didn’t even MENTION independent retailers and made just a passing mention of the brands they sell us! That tells me all I need to know.

Before you write me saying that we don’t need any more competition, I disagree! My individual stores don’t need any more competition and neither do yours. But more companies selling to the independent retailers creates more competition, and that creates better outcomes for all of us. I may be on the bottom rung on the ladder, but you’re not going to climb up without stepping on me first!

Mark Lipton is the 4th generation owner of Tremont Paint in New York City as well as a consultant to the coatings industry.

  Filed under: Departments, Mark My Words
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Just Say Yes—September, 2018

By shephyken,

Contributing Writer

Service vs. Experience: Know the Difference

What does a good customer experience look like at your company? What does good customer service look like? Ask everyone on your team and listen to the answers. Will they define both terms the same way or differently? It will be interesting to see if your team recognizes the difference between experience and service.

Many people don’t understand the difference between customer experience and customer service, but does it really matter? That said, experience, when it comes to business, is what the customer perceives from the time they enter your store until the time they leave. While it includes customer service—which is a big part of the overall experience—it is also how your offerings are packaged, your advertising and marketing messages, and more. As mentioned, it’s the entire experience. It’s every interaction, human or otherwise, that you have with the brand.

Then there is the definition of customer service. Sure, it may be the “department” that customers go to when they have a problem (as a store owner, that’s probably you), but it also includes every contact the customer has with anyone they encounter in your company. It’s focused on people interacting with people. There’s more to it than that, but for this conversation, let’s stick with these simplistic definitions.

So, knowing the difference between service and experience really doesn’t matter. What’s important is for everyone to know how they contribute to the customer’s experience. Some employees interact directly with the customer. They help drive customer service, which as mentioned, is a big part of the customer experience. And while some employees don’t have any interaction, what they do behind the scenes impacts the customer’s experience. It is important for every employee to know the role they play in this and how the way someone organizes your shelves and sundries is just as important as the initial greeting and project help.

All of this is leading to the concept of your brand and its reputation. I recently had a chance to sit down with Brian Chaput, the director of Offering Management at IBM, and he made a statement that summarizes all of this. “Your brand is the sum of all your customer interactions.” In just ten words he nailed it! That’s experience and service, all rolled up into one. The outcome is the perception of your brand’s reputation—and everyone has a supporting role in that perception. Everyone has some impact, in some way, on the customer’s experience.

So, does everyone in your organization know how they fit into this experience? Are they on the front line, delivering service directly to the customer? Are they behind the scenes, doing something that impacts that experience? There is customer service and then there is customer experience. Sometimes they are the same, and sometimes they aren’t. To the customer, it doesn’t matter.

Shep Hyken is a customer service expert and best-selling business author. For more information visit ©MMXVII Shep Hyken.

  Filed under: Departments, Just Say Yes
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Paint Scene—September, 2018

By The Paint Dealer,

Richard’s Appoints Tom Griffey

Richard’s Paint Mfg. Co., Inc., has announced the appointment of Tom Griffey to the position of Director of Sales. Eric Richard, President, of Richard’s Paint, indicated Griffey’s promotion will serve to propel the strategic sales plans and growth of the Company. Griffey has been with Richard’s paint since 2001, when he joined the company as Operations Manager, Orlando Retail Division. He went on to become Sales Manager-Infiniti Division and in 2003 was promoted to Regional Sales Manager overseeing Florida and the Caribbean. With an impressive career in the coatings industry, Griffey has demonstrated proficiency for staying in tune with this ever changing industry.


Connect with Festool in Las Vegas

Dealers, contractors, and customers interested in Festool products are encouraged to visit Festool Connect, held this year in Las Vegas. The company calls it “our annual celebration of Festool, craftsmanship, and friends.”
It’s a free event, however registration is encouraged so they can arrange for attendees to have the best experience possible. Festool connect will be held Saturday, October 27 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Enclave, 5810 S. Eastern Avenue, Las Vegas, Nevada 89119, where you’ll be able to take advantage of the following:
• Demonstrations and clinics from the Festool training team.
• Demonstrations from Festool partners including SawStop, Shaper Tools, and Tanos.
• Exclusive access to Festool swag—shirts, hats, stickers, etc.—from the upcoming Festool Fanshop.
• Get your tool questions answered.
• Free food and beverages.
• And more to come!


Win the Indie!

Independent We Stand invites both the public and business owners to help promote the importance and strong economic benefits of “buying local” through the eighth annual Indie Award. The contest provides a chance for the winning independent business to reinvest in themselves through a branding, advertising, and public relations makeover valued at $25,000.

Getting involved is as easy as nominating locally owned small businesses that go above and beyond to support their communities through charitable donations and community outreach. The web-driven small business of the year contest also gives supporters the opportunity to acknowledge businesses that exceed customer service expectations and also grow their local economies.

“With small business optimism at a record high, consumers have a chance to boost that positive outlook even more through this contest,” says Bill Brunelle, co-founder of Independent We Stand. “We want to help bolster the efforts to grow small business, just like our members do every day in their communities, by giving customers a platform to recognize their favorite indie businesses. The bottom line: we all win when small businesses succeed and people
buy local.”

Anyone can nominate a small business online starting Sept. 24. Voting begins as soon as a business is nominated. Consumers can vote a maximum of three times per 24 hour period from the same IP address. Any locally owned and operated business in the U.S. is eligible to enter the contest. Nominate and vote at The nomination phase and initial voting run through Nov. 11.

  Filed under: Departments, Paint Scene
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Prime Coat—September, 2018

By Jerry Rabushka,

Jerry Rabushka

We’ve Got Change to Spare

Did you hear about the guy who kept making jokes about mistints? He got fired for “off-color” humor.

Shakespeare wrote about paint in Romeo and Juliet: “Epoxy on both your houses!” he said.

I’d like to do a whole column of those, but I can’t think of enough. But there is a story of a painter using a two-part epoxy calling up his dealer saying, “I just put down part A, now what do I do with part B?”

Things change. We bemoan how Kids These Days don’t know what a rotary phone is, well Kids These Days don’t know what smelly oil paint is either. When we were kids we used to wash our hands with turpentine. Oh, the good old days! I remember doing that and taking the paint off my hands—magic! It wasn’t like we did it every day, but I do remember it.

And what was so great about a rotary phone that we need to keep it in our world for ever and ever and ever? Remember calling up your friends?

Is Jimmy there?…No. (Silence) Well, who is it?

It’s Jerry.

Jerry who?

Jerry Rabushka.

How am I supposed to spell that? (sigh) Let me get a pencil. Does he know who you are?

No, but wait until I work for The Paint Dealer for 26 years, and he will…

(sigh again) Let me get your number.

Jimmy never gets the message, and you have to call again.

Back in the old days, painters didn’t have to work in the cold. Now they can. It’s cold but you can extend your season down to 35 degrees. Paint took longer to dry, didn’t level as well, did a lot of things, and you couldn’t take calls on the job because you had a rotary phone at home and your kids were on it all day anyway.

Remember too when you’d call a paint store and you’d get some crabby guy or gal answering the phone? Good luck with that these days. Online reviews have forced people into civility, at least on occasion.

I’m not sure what’s so hard about being nice to people. And if there’s one thing that’s changed for the worse in this industry, it’s that more people are complaining to me that more people aren’t as nice. They don’t respond, they don’t follow through, or they fly off the handle over the smallest mistake. Then you fix the mistake, but they refuse to be satisfied. We never like typos, but I always think of that famous version of the Bible that commands “Thou Shalt Commit Adultery” and I realize my mistakes could be worse.

Did you hear about the paint dealer that told his staff to lighten up, so they only sold pastels?

Back in ’93 I moved into an apartment complex, where a nice older lady named Clare was manager, or as her business card misprinted “Resident Manger.” Everyone liked her; I still drink coffee out of a mug she gave me that a former resident left behind. When she retired to a condo in Florida, people were rude as could be to the woman who replaced her. They couldn’t handle change and blamed someone who had nothing to do with it. It got so bad the complex told people they could break their lease and move out if they were that upset.

Change will always be part of the industry. Most likely very few will mourn the demise of two-part epoxy with a 30 minute pot life. Not even Shakespeare. 

  Filed under: Departments, Lead, Primecoat
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Against the Odds

By Jerry Rabushka,

A new paint store as a second business

If there’s one piece of advice we’ve heard over the years, it’s “Don’t open a paint store.” And it’s no secret that independent paint dealers have hit more than their share of potholes in today’s environment of competition and consolidation. Garrett and Melody Farrar ignored that sage advice, and with practically no experience in the paint industry they started up NOCO Paint & Design in Windsor, Colorado a little over a year ago. NOCO stands for Northern Colorado; Windsor is near Fort Collins, a little more than an hour’s drive north of Denver.

The vast majority of product is from Benjamin Moore, and obviously you’re not going to get them to invest into you if you just ring up Montvale and say, “I want to open a paint store,” so this odds-defying duo must have had something to offer.

For one, they know how to run a business. Garrett is RV Manager at family-owned NOCO RV Sales in nearby Loveland. They wanted to open another business to play a more active role in their community and also to bring an independent paint store to an area that didn’t have one. “We knew people who know about paint,” said Garrett, “so we had it set up.”

Melody continued the thought as the Farrars and their children gathered in the back of the store for our interview. “There was only one independent paint store in Northern Colorado, so we thought ‘why not bring Benjamin Moore up here as well?’” she said. “It was sold in the hardware store, but not in a dedicated paint store. We though it was a good idea—but we literally knew nothing about paint!”

Business experience already taught them: for outstanding results, hire a great team. “The people I work with have been doing paint,” said Garrett, telling us that two of his staff were lured away from other paint departments where they felt they’d gone as far as they could go. Farrar promised them more freedom to try out their ideas—and better pay.

“Chris Lynn [sales rep] comes from Sherwin-Williams where he worked his way up to assistant manager,” said Garrett. “He was tapped out, and he didn’t have a whole lot of future there. Here, the sky’s the limit.” Store Manager Jordan Daniels came from Jax Ranch & Home; he was intrigued by the opportunity to work in a smaller family-style environment. A.J. Hupp rounds out the staff, doing everthing from marketing to deliveries.

The men on staff enjoy the luxury of having a boss who listens to them, and Garrett says that at NOCO, suggestions often come from the ground up. “They give me a lot of ideas,” he said. “They see the potential and the future and they ask ‘what about this or that?’” Combining their paint expertise with Farrar’s business acumen, they can mix and tint a strategy to move forward and keep this new business successful.

Plus it gives Farrar the time and freedom to sell RVs. He doesn’t have to worry that the store will fall apart if he’s not there for an hour; he stays in communication remotely and sometimes he stops in just once a week.



Hey Everyone, We’re Here!

It’s a lot about support, including support of the locals, once they realize—and remember—that the store is there. “Our biggest challenge is letting people know we’re here. Everyone has Home Depot in their head,” says Garrett. “We even struggle with friends. They go to Home Depot to buy paint when they know we have a paint store! Then they say ‘oh, we could have gone to you, you’re closer.’ But they just have Home Depot in their head.” On the other hand, he notes, Windsor is really into the shop local movement, and a growing number of people are supporting the store for that reason.

Add to that the famed Three Most Important Factors in Real Estate: location, location, and location. Windsor has practically quadrupled in size over the last 35 years and it’s slated to quadruple again. Farrar muses that what used to be a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it drive-thru will probably hold 100,000 by the time it’s full up. This means there is a lot of paint to sell, and a lot of people moving in from back east who are familiar with Benjamin Moore. Fort Collins, the bigger city in the area, has grown about as much as it has room for, Garrett estimates. “Fort Collins has been ranked one of the top places to live every year since the ’90s,” he says. The popularity of the area has brought a lot of people to boom up the outskirt towns.

Melody adds that they give a lot of credit to Benjamin Moore for helping get the word out, and the staff for doing the footwork to get new customers. Everyone has something to gain.

Color helps bring people in as well. Garrett will tell you that Benjamin Moore has the best color selection on the market. “They do a good job of putting colors together for people who don’t know what goes with what. Their brochures and color schemes make our life easier.”

“We tend to do things a little off kilter,” Melody smiles. “We really like to be community oriented.” Good service is imperative these days, what with so many customers leaving online reviews. “We get a lot of ratings based on our service, and we do anything we can to add value to our customers’ experience.”



Now, About Paint

When it comes to talking about paint, paint, and paint, Chris, Jordan, and A.J can shoot that breeze. “The most important thing is knowledge,” says Chris, who’s got about 8 years of paint biz behind him. “We show them how to do it correctly. We make sure they have what they need, know how to apply it, and are comfortable with products and techniques.” It’s not really a different customer from Home Depot, he says, so much as how they approach that customer. “We see them as people and not just as dollars,” he assures us.

Not only that, but working for an independent gives him a chance to form better relationships with customers. “We have more one on one time with them. We don’t have goals and numbers and it’s more personal.” Since they were there when the store started, they helped design the layout and determine the inventory. “We figured out what the market needed and brought that in,” he said.

And what if something goes wrong, what do you do? “We do better!” Jordan insists. “We dig in and do some research to find out what the problem was and how to solve it.”


Dream Building

If there’s one thing Garrett and Melody are still working out, it’s how to be partners in marriage and business at the same time. “It’s a learning process for sure,” said Melody.

“You have to learn that work is at work and home is at home. There are times we’ve had a big disagreement at home and then when we’re at work and we just sit there and get our jobs done—but we know we’ll get through it!”

And while they enjoy each other’s company, each has their own athletic interests in off hours. Garrett likes to jet-ski and Melody does triathlons, even though this year she had to invest more time in the business than the track. Daughters Kalilah and Anaya enjoy dancing, and son Ezra hasn’t decided what he likes to do. (Maybe he’ll sell paint!) They often take advantage of the nearby scenery. “We get out a lot as a family,” Melody said. “It’s just a beautiful area here.”

Both their families are there to support; everyone stays in contact to make sure all possible gaps with NOCO Paint and NOCO RV are filled in. “The RV business includes his mother, my grandfather, and my sister, so it’s very family,” said Melody. “They are there when we need them to be there. Garrett’s a dream builder,” she testified. “He builds dreams, and he has a team behind him. They have a vision and are working towards it.”

  Filed under: Dealer Profile, Feature
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Fit For Fall Fixin’s

By Jerry Rabushka,

Heat Up Your Sales as the Weather Cools Down

Sales can be seasonal, for example, in some communities a pumpkin spice craze takes hold around October and won’t let up until trees and lights come down about January 7. Then pumpkin spice goes for 75% off right when nobody cares. Egg nog has an even smaller window: the time between when you take it off the shelf and read the calorie count. What can you do when autumn rolls around to make your store a seasonal stop? Pumpkin colored spice-scented paint? Sure, why not! We asked some suppliers for their ideas to keep traffic trying and buying as the temperature drops.


Keep Your Friends Close

Mike Mundwiller, Benjamin Moore’s Field Integration Manager, says this is a good time to step up your current relationships and start some new ones. “Targeting, calling on, and building relationships with facility maintenance targets should happen throughout the year but there should be an added sense of dedication during the fall,” he said­—and time is of the essence! “Many businesses are closing in on their end of year budgets. Some facilities may be looking for ways to invest in maintenance, especially if they are running under budget for the year.” Make sure you know what these folks have planned as the mercury drops, as many facilities use this time maintain equipment such as cooling towers or other exterior structures. “During the summer it’s not feasible to shut down equipment such as cooling towers, but I’ve seen many items painted as the season progresses and the weather starts to cool down.”

Make sure your inventory is ready for the season as well, so that your dogs of summer don’t become your turkeys of Thanksgiving or your ugly sweaters of Christmas. “Highlight exterior house paint that is formulated for lower temperatures,” Mike advises. “Having products available—in sufficient quantities—is at the top of the list of purchase drivers for your contractors.”


Easy on the Inside

Don’t want to pay your staff just to sit on their hands until Spring? Jim Scott of Great Scott National Sales in Burr Ridge, IL, is, a rep for Howard Products, and he provided some suggestions on how to keep your staff and your customers busy during the fall. For one, let everyone know you are changing along with the seasons. “Advertise season changes in your store or paint departments,” he advises.

Plenty of people get ready for holidays and spend money to do it, so why not have them spend it with you? “Fall is the time that many customers change the décor in their home,” said Scott, “so help them get ready for the holiday seasons with new paint products and accessories.” Of course, he adds, you can send them to your Howard Products display. It doesn’t take up a lot of room and lets people quickkly spur old tired furniture into holiday-party readiness. “Pull out worn and antique wood furniture and bring new life to it by restoring it with Howard Products Restor-A-Finish,” Scott recommends. “It’s a project that takes just a few minutes with a simple wipe-on, wipe-off process. White heat rings and watermarks, sun fade, oxidation, smoke damage, and other blemishes can be quickly blended away.”

From there, he added three quick tips:
• Endcap exposure—Loop videos to educate employees and customers on products you are promoting for fall.
• Hands-on demonstrations at store level.
• Always have plenty of product in stock.


Small Changes for Big Profits

The team at FrogTape wants you to look inside—and urge your customers to do the same. Autumn is the perfect time for them to take care of those minor repairs and upgrades that may have built up over the summer months (or the past 15 years, you never know). If they’re glued to football season, there’s always Friday night. Either way, make sure your displays remind and encourage customers to get these things done! Here are some recommendations from the FrogTape folks to keep your doors swinging.

• Head indoors. With the exterior painting season winding down across much of the country, it is time to migrate interior painting supplies to high-visibility areas. Moving products like interior paints, pro-grade painters’ tapes (especially delicate surface tapes designed for indoors), fine sandpapers, protective plastic, drop cloths, etc. to end caps and higher on shelves can help move seasonal products. Conversely, promos and discounts on exterior painting supplies can move surplus stock.

• Fix up for fall. Early fall months are prime time for small neglected home projects—that slowly peeling paint on exterior window trim, those dings and scratches in the wall. Encourage shoppers to tackle projects with clever package deals designed around specific small home projects; put together a “Wall Patch and Paint Package,” for example. You can also promote paint products with outstanding lower temperature performance to help customers tackle that last exterior job of the year.

• Update color palettes. The paint industry Colors of the Year are often announced in late summer—capitalize on the buzz around these trends by stocking up and prominently displaying promos for them from September through November.

• Pre-holiday prep promos. When fall hits, we know the holiday season hustle is right around the corner. Running timely promotions to encourage completing interior painting projects before relatives come into town can provide that extra bump of motivation—and sales—to get the last-minute jobs done.


Do It Now

Joe Smith, director dealer sales, PPG’s architectural coatings business, notes that there are things homeowners and painters can do both inside and out. Remind them they can use fall to get ready for winter. “As autumn quickly approaches, it is important to think through the specific seasonal needs of your customers,” he said. For one, ask them how things are on the outside. “Home exteriors withstand a lot throughout the year—rain, shine, dry heat, frost—and with harsher weather conditions ahead, now is the ideal time to assess homes for areas of vulnerability and prepare the exterior surfaces for the upcoming changes in climate,” he said.

This is the perfect time to promote low temperature paints. Make sure your staff knows what products have this feature, so if someone says “it’s too late to paint” they can counter with “actually, it’s just the right time!”

“PPG recommends using PPG Paints™ Timeless® exterior paint and primer, which can be applied and performs in temperatures as low as 35°F,” he said. The product offeres a tough exterior finish for exceptional resistance to chipping, flaking and cracking, while resisting mold, mildew, and algae on the dry paint film to further protect the surface.

“It provides ideal protection against harsh winter conditions that occur in most regions of the country,” he added. As with any coating, he reminds us, please refer to the product label, the Technical Data Sheet, and Safety Data Sheet for safety and detailed application instructions.

Meanwhile, it’s called “fall” for a reason. “As leaves start to fall onto decks and patios, homeowners are at risk of having permanent stains on their exterior surfaces as the leaves break down over the winter months,” said Smith. But whaddaya know, it’s another chance to sell a solution to the problem! “This is a great time to promote all-purpose deck cleaners and maintenance wash products that can remove tough stains from leaves, dirt and grime. Of course, timing is of the essence when it comes to protecting a deck’s exterior, so it’s important to encourage customers to do so well in advance of winter weather.”

Meanwhile, there are those folks that put everything off until that last minute, but that minute is now. “In the early fall months of September and October, homeowners are often looking to refinish and protect their exterior wood and concrete surfaces, such as decks and driveways, before the colder temperatures set in,” Smith reminds us. “Take advantage of this by offering preparation and application tips and tricks, recommend products based on each customer’s need, and promote products with waterproof and low temperature capabilities,” he advised. Of course, PPG has something to help. “For protecting driveways during the harsh winter months, PPG recommends PPG Paints Perma-Crete® Pitt-Flex® elastomeric coating, which offers a 100 percent acrylic formula that touts exceptional dirt resistance, as well as a flexible bond to prevent hairline cracks and protect against water infiltration to achieve uniform, pinhole-free jobs.” The product was recently reformulated can be applied to concrete that is more than seven days old and with a pH level of less than 13. It can also be applied and performs in temperatures as low as 35°F.


A Fall Pick-Me-Up

Cari Fennell, Home Décor Coordinater for [re]design by Prima Marketing, notes that this time is year is great for selling home decor products, which gives you an opportunity to let your customers express their unique taste with your unique product selection. “Most home owners or DIYers are looking to spruce up their homes to get ready for the holiday season, or to freshen up their spaces after summer vacation has ended, as they they start spending more time indoors,” she said.

Since you’re the idea place, a display to inspire those ideas will get your customers’ attention. “Show some finished samples, especially anything related to fall or Holiday décor. Most everyone decorates for this time of year, so make the most of it,” said Fennell.

It might be a good time to schedule some workshops, with plenty of product for sale just when you have your participants pumped for action. “Hands on learning is one way to give customers confidence in using products they might not try otherwise. They will be willing to invest in the products once they know how to use them and walk away with amazing results,” said Cari. A slightly different take is an open house with demos using the latest and greatest products you’ve got for sale. Again, have enough to sell, as many customers will want to purchase the products right then and there. Or, do both—advertise your workshops at the open house. “That will spur more interest in what you will be offering in the coming weeks,” Fennell concluded.


And Don’t Forget, Low VOC

Michele Corwin, CEO of Renaissance Innovations (makers of Retique It), suggests bringing it indoors as well. “Highlight products that can be used for indoor DIY projects, such as restoring furniture and cabinets using low VOC water based products,” she suggested.

Sounds like there’s plenty of work to be done! Get the outside ready for colder weather, do some interior touchup, and from there, decorate walls and furniture for the holidays. Don’t like holidays? Then do it just because you want to. Now you’re fit for fall.

For more information:,,,,,

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Special Powers

By joshbohm,

Contributing Writer

Is it magic, or just great technology?

Every once in a while we like to let you know about some of the developments in the industry that aren’t your mainstream paints, abrasives, stains, and the like. On occasions like this, we reach out to our friends who we know are making interesting products, we round ’em all up, and…yeehaw! (That’s why it’s a “roundup.”) In this article you’ll find awesome developments in the specialty coatings sector. From odor eliminating paint to technically advanced decorative coatings, you’re sure to find something that makes you think, “Why aren’t I selling this?!” Our manufactures are really excited about these products—give ’em a call and try for yourself!


Dyco: A Powerful Grip

Israel Gutman, technical director at Sun Coatings, talks about Dyco Tuff Grip Bonding Primer.


For one, how Tuff is this Grip?
Dyco Tuff Grip Bonding Primer was designed to adhere to precoated concrete. In the past, the use of silicone acrylic paints on concrete driveways was very popular and common, but the ability of conventional latex paints to satisfactorily adhere to these solvent based paints became challenging. This gave rise to the need for a bonding primer for use between the coating layers.

When do you use it?
Dyco Tuff Grip can be used on all previously coated or uncoated masonry surfaces to achieve excellent adhesion between the coated layers.

What specialty will people notice?
They’ll notice that Tuff Grip Bonding Primer is vastly different than most primers! It was designed to adhere to very challenging substrates while promoting and maintaining excellent surface tension for a newly applied coating. Your customer will notice that the new coating applies smoothly and coats the surface evenly with little to no brush or roller marks. Through its greatly enhanced adhesive characteristics, the product will last longer and repel moisture more effectively.

Do you have any stories on how its special powers saved the day?
While there have been numerous success stories regarding Tuff Grip, the most amazing instance is with a customer who experienced problems with an epoxy coated garage floor. This application was extremely difficult since the epoxy floor was over 10 years old. After careful cleaning and preparation, the customer was able to apply Tuff Grip to his floor prior to recoating with a two-component epoxy.

That’s some amazing stuff, thanks!
All in a days’ work.


ECOBOND OdorDefender: The Power to Eliminate

Ecobond® Paint, LLC is the premier provider of environmental products focused on protecting human health from the dangers of lead, smoke & odor, says Eric Heronema, product manager. It’s new OdorDefender was launched several weeks ago, so be the first on your block to put it in stock!


Hey Eric, what makes it special?
Ecobond OdorDefender™ is a revolutionary breakthrough and innovative new technology: the best smoke odor eliminator product in the market today!
It is a professional-grade eco-friendly, odor-blocking paint designed for sealing and blocking dangerous odors and fumes from the effects of cigarette smoke, pot smoke, fire, meth, and even pet odors. It substantially improves indoor air quality. Because odors are sealed and blocked, it gives the very best protection for your customers’ children and family!

How can it help save time and money?
It helps save time because it is a specialty paint that can be rolled, sprayed, etc. Commercial contractors can save money by using this lower priced option compared to extensive construction work when dealing with smoke damage from cigarette, pot, or fire. Apartment managers save money when preparing units for the next renter when there are smoke issues to cover up.

Why is this development so important?
Over time, pollutants and odors from tobacco and marijuana, as well as pet odors, collect and concentrate on surfaces. This creates an unpleasant and potentially unsafe indoor air quality condition and could cause significant health risks. There is recent research from the National Institute of Health, that found that these toxic brews, called ThirdHand Smoke, can re-emit into the air and recombine to form harmful compounds that remain at high levels even if no one has smoked for a long time. You can ignore it, cover it up with standard paint (a minimal benefit), or apply a coating like ours, uniquely formulated to seal, block, absorb, and capture odors, fumes, and chemical pollutants. Please note that this paint is designed for walls, not for fabric or furniture.

What differences will people notice?
This is an advanced formulation with specialty resins, food-grade mineral additives, and alginate from seaweed; nature’s most effective absorber of toxic pollutants. This powerful combination gives you the peace of mind that your odor issues will be sealed and blocked, while protecting the health of your children, family and occupants!

Can you give us a few selling points?
How kind of you to ask, please see below!

Lowest Price: Typically a revolutionary new breakthrough causes the price to be high, but because OdorDefender™ uses a proprietary specialty formulation, we have been able to provide it to you at a lower price! This formulation includes resins, food-grade mineral additives, and alginate from seaweed; nature’s most effective absorber of toxic pollutants. Wouldn’t you want to cover, block, and seal all offensive odors with an easy all-in-one solution? OdorDefender is more than “just paint!”

Best Performance: Ecobond OdorDefender is not “just a primer” either. We are a professional-grade, eco-friendly, advanced odor-blocking paint specially designed for sealing and blocking dangerous odors and lingering fumes resulting from the secondary effects of cigarette, marijuana, fire, meth and other drugs, as well as pet and other annoying odors and numerous other indoor air pollutants. Other products cannot seal and block, thus exposing you to the potentially harmful effects of thirdhand smoke as noted above

Specialty Formulation: This proprietary formulation includes resins, food-grade mineral additives, and as mentioned, alginate from seaweed; nature’s most effective absorber of toxic pollutants.

Value-Added Features: Ecobond OdorDefender has been tested and proven to be an ASTM E84 Fire Resistant Class A Coating with ASTM D5590 Mold & Mildew resistance and is rated with low VOC’s (Less than 20g/L).


Nationwide Coatings’ Permasil: The Power of Cool

Nationwide Protective Coatings has developed PERMASIL, an Elastomeric Acrylic Silicone coating for extra waterproofing protection and a 12 year warranty.

How much can a quality cool roof coating save in energy?
A study at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory has considered many variables. In studies done in selected major cities, our insulating and reflective coatings can create an equivalent additional R-Value [the capacity of insulating material to resist heat flow] between 7.59 – 17.05. For more information regarding the Equivalent Additional R-Value that you can achieve using our Energy Saving Reflective Roof Coatings, visit the lab at and click on the calculator tool to input the necessary information of the heating/cooling unit and the specified roof coating.

It’s not new science that black absorbs heat and white repels it, so how come this didn’t happen sooner?
During the Obama administration, Steven Chu was appointed as the US Secretary of Energy. He had mentioned how to combat climate change—that coating our roofs as well as pavements would reflect a lot of the sunlight back into space, making it cooler on the ground. Our company tried to contact the appropriate the people to help with this new movement, but we never had any success getting in contact with them.

Do the coatings work better in conjunction with some specific type of wall coatings?
Yes, the better insulated your home is, the more effective insulation you will receive from our insulating ceramic interior/exterior paints and our wall and roof coatings

Who is using the product?
We target contractors as our main focus. Commercial accounts, painters, and homeowners also contact us.

I want more information and I want it now! What can I do?
You can access information as well see videos of our products in use on our brand new website. We also offer Cool Colors Ultraviolet Reflective and Fade Resistant Pigments. You can use that fan deck (below) to see the different color options; custom color matching is also available. Check out products such as Enviro-3000, Enviro-4000, Ceramic Shield, Ceramic force, Ultra Clear, and many more. We’ll help you find the right one to help your customers!



EVO: The Power of One

EVOpaint promises the special power of one coat coverage. Tony Margani, executive VP, sales & marketing, explains—it’s not magic, it’s technology!


Hi Tony, how about you give us a quick pitch?
We have two different products to tell you about. EVOpaint™ Repaint & EVOpaint Drywall contain the most advanced technology in decorative paint! EVOpaint (never a primer or 2nd coat over painted and new drywall) is a product line with real life practical benefits. Adaptable and lean, it delivers what consumers and retailers have been asking for.

Time, money…can it save one, or both?
Retailers get an in-demand technology through a simplified paint system with low upfront costs, high margins, and high turnover rate. Consumers realize maximum savings in labor, time, and material. Because you can never paint less than one-coat, the independent channel and its customers have reached the apex
of value.

Where do you use it…or not?
EVOpaint Repaint can be used in any interior project where the walls are painted, but it should not be used on new drywall.

EVOpaint Drywall is the opposites, it can be applied in any interior project where there is new drywall, but not on unpainted walls.

What differences will customers notice?
You can apply it just like any other paint. EVOpaint Self-Build Technology™ is adapted to how retailers and customers understand and use paint, so no learning curve or special equipment is required.
• In the short term, retailers and customers realize maximum cost savings.
• In the long term, you’ll see increased frequency of repainting with more paint purchased more often from local independents.
• The DIY segment keeps the savings or spends it by hiring painters who now can bid and compete on projects using a real product advantage, scale up their business with the employees they have, and move on to the next job at the fastest possible rate.
• You’ll get customers who defected to the big boxes coming back to you, and you’ll see your paint and sundry sales increase.

So, to sum up…
Our product’s Self-Build Technology™ rescues the independent channel and its customers every day in a $13 billion paint segment. Its superpower is simplicity, through which the true value of paint and painting is unlocked.

It is the most advanced technology in decorative paint and can never be benchmarked. 

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Mark My Words—August, 2018

By Mark Lipton,

sponsored by



Contributing Writer

No More Dog Days

“There is only so much money I can fit in my pocket at any one time.”

My dog died last week. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. More accurately: my dog got very ill last week and he was not going to recover; so my family and I showed him mercy and laid him to rest. After 13 years of unwavering loyalty and a never-ending (though one-sided) conversation, my best friend Perry is gone. I hiked thousands of miles with him; he never tired of it. And I saw him kiss so many babies I used to joke he was running for office!

Trying to rent a house a number of years back, the agent told me “no pets.” I asked if we could meet the landlord so Perry could make his own case and she set it up. Four years later, we are still renting that same house and the landlord cried when we told him Perry was gone.

Of course, life goes on and deadlines don’t care about your personal life so here I am, crying at my desk thinking: “What does Perry’s death have to do with my life as an independent paint retailer?” As soon as I figure that out, you’ll be the first to know! I’ll try to get there but I warn you: I may not be able to pull this off.

For my regular readers who have often told me they look forward to how I start my columns by poking fun of my daughter or fiancée, I wanted you to know I’m just not feeling it today; sorry. I’m sure I’ll be back with stories to tell. The madness that is my life with these two women won’t be stopped by our misfortune with Perry. This weekend, while we were too sad to cook, we made a run to the local deli. Staring up at the menu-board, my fiancée asked the teen working there: “what’s on the ham and cheese?” If confusion were a picture, it would be this kid’s face! With these two young ladies around, I don’t see me running out of ideas to start columns with anytime soon.

I was never the sort of guy who wanted to own the whole world. I could not even count the number of times retailers “interviewing” me for a consulting job asked “If you know so much, why don’t YOU have 10 stores?” I never wanted to work that hard and Perry was part of the reason. It felt better to be with my family, Perry included, then it did to be in a paint store. Selling more paint was always secondary to spending time with those I loved. I’m glad I made that choice. It is the “independent” part of being an independent retailer that I enjoy the most.

For sure, I see some impacts of the decision to spend so much time away from the stores: I don’t have 10 stores and at times I struggle to compete against those who do. It’s OK; I have never had a second of regret. There is only so much money I can fit in my pocket at any one time anyway: but I can carry a shipload of memories of having a blast with my family (and that always included Perry). Independence is a funny thing: you have to use it or you lose it! I’m glad I chose the former.

Tomorrow when I wake up I’m driving my daughter to college. It’s 10 hours and this time it’s just her and me so I’ll be alone on the drive back. I’m going to stretch it out over two days. I love to stop and see birthplaces of former presidents and there are a few between Ohio and New York. I downloaded a book to help me pass the miles and maybe I’ll even bring a cigar in case the weather lets me keep the windows opened. I won’t be in a hurry because Perry won’t be home anxiously awaiting my return and because my fiancée knows I could use a little time to clear my head.

Time driving is also time away from the stores. It’s a real gift to be able to get some time to clear my head of the paint business when I feel I need it. If I worked for a large company, I can’t be so sure that I could manage that as easily as I generally do. As an independent, I’ve got no one to ask and no permission to get. Just make sure the counter has three or more guys and out I go! It’s not vast riches…but freedom is priceless!

Mark Lipton is the 4th generation owner of Tremont Paint in New York City as well as a consultant to the coatings industry.

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What’s Shakin’—August, 2018

By Contributing Writer,

You’ll Flip for Retique It

by Michele Corwin, CEO, Renaissance Innovations, LLC



There are very few times a product has changed my life. However, this product has changed mine and it can change yours by taking your furniture flipping business to a much higher level. I believe in it so much that my husband and I have partnered with its creator to offer it to the public. I wish I’d had this magical substance when I first started flipping furniture because I could have made a ton of money with it. So, here’s my little insider’s tip—try Retique It! Here’s why…

Retique It is a patented revolutionary new coating made with real wood. There is nothing like it on the market right now. It’s basically liquid wood that you can paint on almost any hard surface. Available in different shades of wood color, you can paint it on plastic, glass, cement…you name it, you can paint it! Best of all you can use it on previously painted furniture and cabinets. That’s right…no sanding or stripping off the old paint! You just paint it, stain it, and then seal it after the stain dries. That’s basically it—just three main steps.

The awesome part is that you’ll be able to turn almost anything you want into a gorgeous wood finish. It looks and feels like wood because it is wood. Retique It is a new breakthrough science that incorporates real wood into a water-based paint that will actually absorb stain the same way that unfinished wood does. It’s so much better than veneer and is as durable as the sealer that you choose to use. You can take a white dresser or table top and turn it into a deep dark walnut finish, a drift wood look, or even a beautiful stained grey.

The possibilities are endless.

Contact information: 774.901.4642 .

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Mark My Words—July 2018

By Mark Lipton,

sponsored by

Contributing Writer


The Cherry Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree

“Fight the ease of looking at a full line and dig into the pieces of a line, too.”

There are telltale signs all around my house that my daughter is home for the summer: the container of mixed nuts is nothing more than a half container of almonds, the sausage and peppers leftovers are just peppers, and my wallet has nothing in it but fives and tens. Let’s just say that these days, when you feel like munching on some party mix in our house, it’s best to open a fresh bag!

I have learned to live with my daughter’s cherry picking. It’s only really annoying when I want a cashew, a piece of sausage, or need to spend more than $19! In this house, like in most, I’m sure, my daughter always got first dibs and generally speaking…the rules on sharing didn’t apply to her. So I guess I understand why she feels it’s OK to eat all the chicken out of the leftover chicken and broccoli.

But there is a lesson from her here—and now my daughter is not the only Lipton who has made cherry picking an art form!

Manufacturers and their reps are always trying to sell full programs to dealers. I get it. They invest a lot of money in developing complete lines or systems and they want a return on that investment. By necessity though, these programs can be fairly large because they want to appeal to a wide range of dealers and end users. But that doesn’t mean large programs appeal to me!

I used to be inclined to take on full lines. When I was younger it felt better for some reason to say, “We stock the full line of X.” Looking back, I can’t say I know why I felt that way. I would look at a line and if the overall line was turning, I stocked it all without a deeper dive into the details. As I’ve gotten older (and more experienced) though, I have become more like my daughter: take what I want and leave the rest.

Measuring turns is crucial for a retailer. But fight the ease of looking at a full line and dig into the pieces of a line, too. You may find that you have a lot of items collecting dust. That dust can be turned into dollars and invested in either more products or more inventory in what is really turning. Or even better yet, you can put it in your pocket.

For years, we used to keep the same selection of brushes and rollers in both stores; despite the fact that each store has a different customer demographic. When we were doing inventory recently I noticed that one store sold next to no seven-inch rollers. I had always looked at my rollers and saw them as a line: and it was turning well. But a deeper dive showed me that that was because my 9 x 3/8 lintless roller, and a few others, was turning 100X a year! When I looked at the items individually, there were some real dogs. It struck me as odd not to stock the seven-inch rollers anymore: they are part of a whole line, I felt. But I opened up a few feet of space by dropping them, and that made room for more specialized tapes which are doing much better than the seven-inch rollers were.

When you have more than one store, it’s easier to buy “programs” rather than be a cherry picker—but it costs you. Now, I’ve empowered my stores to know what they sell and feel free to drop what they don’t. We no longer sell all the colors on the floor paint charts, we skip sizes in brushes where the sales track record said “we don’t need this” and in turn I’m making space for new items. For years we stocked low-end sprayers to compete with Home Depot, but you know what? People go to Home Depot for them, and not to me. So we dropped them and with that space I added a line of dustless sanders. We’ve sold more sanders in two months than we sold sprayers in several years.

It takes a lot of nerve to eat the cream out of the Oreos and put the cookies back (eeewww), so I doubt any of us will ever be as good a cherry picker as my daughter. But still she teaches a good lesson: take what you want and leave the rest for someone else.

Mark Lipton is the 4th generation owner of Tremont Paint in New York City as well as a consultant to the coatings industry. 

  Filed under: Departments, Mark My Words
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