Mark My Words—February, 2017

By Mark Lipton,

  Filed under: Departments, Mark My Words


Contributing Writer

25 Independent Years

When The Paint Dealer editor 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 Dealer started 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 Dealer magazine!

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 Dealer was 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.

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