Fandeck of Features

Your most competitive tool might just be you!

If we assume most painters are good, and that includes you, what can you do to move from “yep that’s good” to “wow that’s awesome!”
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By Jerry Rabushka, Editor

Five steps for safe success

Sooner or later every painter comes across moldy surfaces.
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By Steve Maxwell

Proper marketing and organization of your painting company can pay off with new customers and more business

You’re a painter, and a good one. Jobs are done correctly and customers are happy. So where is the business? And why are profit margins so low? If you’re asking these questions, it’s a good bet your marketing and organization skills need upgrades.
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By Katie Frohnapple

Palette of Departments

Latest news

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Chugging Through Chattanooga

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By Jerry Rabushka, Editor

Latest junk

All the junk and more!
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By The Paint Contractor

By Jerry Rabushka,

Chugging Through Chattanooga


I was driving through Chattanooga on my way to Chattanooga Paint and Decorating, when suddenly I had to screech to a halt, make a U-turn and pull over. Wow! It’s an out of business hardware store with a rusty Gray Seal sign! Pictures must be snapped! (You can see it on this issue’s cover.)

I’d never heard of Gray Seal growing up. I’m not sure if it was in St. Louis then, or if it even is now. Several trips to Louisville later, I had often seen its headquarters next to the Louisville Slugger plant. Someone painted a faux window that had been “shattered” by a baseball on the side next to the Slugger building. Louisville was, for a long time, a huge paint city: Gray Seal (1912), Kurfees (1897), Devoe (1754) and Porter (1921) were all headquartered there.

After opening in Louisville, Porter Paints’ next stop was St. Louis. That was long before I was around, but Porter does have a long-time local connection. I remember one Porter Paints store pretty specifically, actually I remember riding by and feeling connected to the orange and white stripes. I’m not sure if I was ever in that store or not. And I remember a Glidden Paint on Brentwood Boulevard. I wasn’t in that store until 2004, and I can’t remember then if it was Glidden or Dulux. I remember Dutch Boy, and perhaps some local brands…who in St. Louis didn’t have a leftover can of Brod-Dugan in the basement?

We painted my bedroom a color called “Orange Ice,” when I was five or six years old. Next time we painted it I was in high school and I did it myself. Can’t remember the color or the brand.
Perhaps the most ill-conceived move by the British since the Stamp Act was when Glidden’s then owner Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) changed the store names to Dulux. Something was so wrong about driving up that same Brentwood Boulevard and seeing the name Dulux where Glidden had been for so many decades before. I wondered why they would take a brand name of over 100 years, so well-known and respected, and change it to something no one had ever heard of. So, apparently, did everyone else. In a very rare move, ICI publicly acknowledged that it had messed up its American experiment.

Oh, and Pittsburgh! I was fascinated that my little AM radio could get stations out of town and I used to listen to Penguins hockey on 1020 KDKA. Seriously, I did. Pittsburgh Paints was a regular advertiser (hint!). I just found that radio again, too; we’ll see if it still takes me to Pittsburgh. It probably won’t tune back in to the ’70s.
Once around 2000 I was in Walnut, Iowa, a dying town of 900 saved by conversion—into an antiquing destination. I saw an old Devoe Paint sign salvaged from some lumberyard in Nebraska. I wanted it, but at $42 I left it in Walnut. Here in St. Louis, our old Panda Paint factory is occupied by a coffee house, an art gallery and a performance space, with more to come. A faded Panda still guards the outside corner.

Diamond Building Supply is closed in Chattanooga, but when I saw the rusty Gray Seal man, I had to snap him while he was still smiling. tpc

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Hans Mugler
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