Guest Interview: Brad Ellison of Ellison Painting “The Birth of a Giant” Episode 1

Published On: January 30, 2023

Categories: Podcast

Guest Interview: Brad Ellison of Ellison Painting “The Birth of a Giant” Episode 1
Brad Ellison
In this series titled “The Birth of a Giant”, Brad Ellison of Ellison Painting will be discussing what it looks like to start a professionalized and profitable painting company from day one.  It is a 4-part series.
In this episode, episode 1, we will be discussing Brad’s decision to walk away from his previous partnership, and the assets he found available to him.
In episode 2, Brad will dive into what it loks like to launch a highly professionalized painting company from scratch.
In episode 3, Brad will discuss how to effectively build systems and processes that create a roadmap for future success.
And in the final episode, Episode 4, Brad will elaborate on what it looks like to scale a painting company both in terms of mindset and concrete steps.

Video of Interview

Podcast Audio

Topics Discussed:

Episode 1: Breaking Up is Hard to Do

  • his decision to walk away from previous partnership
  • the assets he found available to him

Audio Transcript


Welcome to the Painter Marketing Mastermind Podcast, The show created to help painting company owners build a thriving painting business that does well over one million and annual revenue. I’m your host. Brandon Pierpont, founder of painter marketing pros and creator of the popular pc, a educational series, learn do grow marketing for painters. In each episode I’ll be sharing proven tips, strategies and processes from leading experts in the industry on how they found success in their painting business. We will be interviewing owners of the most successful painting companies in north America and learning from their experiences in this series titled the birth of a giant brad Ellison of Ellison painting will be discussing what it looks like to start a professionalized and profitable painting company.

From day one it is a four part series. In this episode episode one we will be discussing brad’s decision to walk away from his previous partnership and the assets he found available to him. In episode two, brad will dive into what it looks like to launch a highly professionalized painting company from scratch. In episode three, brad will discuss how to effectively build systems and processes that create a roadmap for future success and in the final episode episode for brad will elaborate on what it looks like to scale a painting company, both in terms of mindset and concrete steps.
If you want to ask brad questions related to anything in this podcast series, you can do so on our exclusive painter marketing Mastermind podcast forum on facebook just search for painter marketing Mastermind podcast forum on facebook and request to join the group or type in the U. R. L. Facebook dot com forward slash groups forward slash Painter marketing Mastermind again at U. R. L. S. Facebook dot com forward slash groups forward slash painter marketing mastermind there. You can ask brad questions directly by tagging him with your question so you can see how anything discussed here applies to your particular painting company brad is a return guest from season two of the painter market amounts for my podcast brad.
Thank you for agreeing to return to the show and conduct this series for us bro. I am so happy to be here and I might have to remind you that wasn’t I your very first guest ever. You don’t talk to me about season two. I was number one baby. Yeah. We’re basically counting, counting all the webinars that we conducted with the pc as season one. Season two was the first with the guests and you were number one of season two, you were the O. G. Which was awesome because your original also kind of not awesome because the quality wasn’t quite as good as we kind of got it dialed in those first few episodes so it’s good that you’re back and we’re doing a whole series with you.
You bought a new computer for this. Only only only the best for you. Brando. You know, I’ve been interviewed by a number of people for their podcast and you’re still one of my faves to talk to. I appreciate it brother. Yeah, I’m excited that you’re definitely in a unique situation. Um super unique. Do you want to just go ahead and kind of provide an overview here? Yeah. So I mean you want me to talk about like just my background within the trade or just kind of what I’m going to start with kind of this whole series.
So this four part series, what, what are we, what, what is this? Um, you know, what is it the birth of a giant? What is this going to be about? Um, I, I hope it’s going to be informative for those who like me were working at one at one point for someone else and with someone else and follow kind of the step by step process of me realizing that maybe I need to go out on my own and had that opportunity all the way through launching and scaling a successful painting or painting business. Nice.
So it’s, it’s someone who was working with someone partnered with someone involved in the, in the painting company in some way and basically starting from scratch. How do you, how do you accelerate and and really succeed from and obviously it’s applicable to a lot of people who have their own companies but still want to look at someone like you and we’ll get into some of these metrics later, but you’ve had an impressive run in your first, not even year to date and how can someone kind of try to match or get closer to that speed.
All right, well, in this episode, one is, we’ve called it Breaking up is hard to do. Let’s let’s get some of your background, how you got into the trade and kinda, I guess your your partnership, what you are doing before this. So anyone that has listened to me on your show is some of this is gonna be repetitive, right? But um I definitely think it’s, it’s worth repeating now. So my background is um in sales and marketing. I started my sales career when I was 24. I was selling life insurance for an agency locally here in metro Detroit michigan, that was my first kind of foray into sales.
I had started a window washing company, my my second year in college and had a little bit of entrepreneurial spirit in me, but this was my first career type position where I was making you know what we would consider real money and I had a lot of success at it actually, my very first month out at that agency, I was the number one agent in the state. So there’s about 60 agents and I went out and out sold everyone in my first month And that continued on for the 4.5 years that I was there.
I, you know, I was agent of the month more often than I wasn’t. Um but ultimately it was a lot of work, 70 hour work week and um was very unfulfilling. It was, it wasn’t good for my personal life outside of work. So I ultimately decided to walk away. Um coincidentally when I walked away was right in the midst of the 2008 economic downturn. So the money that I had been making had dried up pretty significantly. It made that decision to walk away a lot easier. And so for a few years I, you know, was bouncing around.
I actually ran a marketing agency for for a few years, did sales for them and ultimately was one of their strategic leaders, uh bounced around to a software company. Um And then ultimately when my wife and I got married, we decided to stop working for other people and launch our own business. And the logical logical step, logical business for us was to get back into insurance cause that’s what I knew best. So we launched a health insurance agency about 66 years ago. Yeah, right after we got married so little over six years ago.
And um if you know anything about the insurance business is very seasonal. So you only sell insurance really during open enrollment, which is only three months a year, was three months a year at the time. So we’re left with the, with the question, okay, well what do we do for the other nine months a year, we made a lot of money in that first season selling selling health insurance, but it wasn’t enough to really live the lifestyle that we wanted or provide the opportunities for growth that we, you know, really needed within our business.
So we prayed about it and we thought, you know, well maybe we could find some sort of seasonal sales job for me, where I still, we’re still running the insurance agency, but I can’t sell something else for someone else during the, during the off season. And so we prayed about it the next morning we went to church and ran into someone that had done our pre marital counseling. He and his wife had, had mentored my wife and I and we said, hey, you know, we’re new to this campus for our church.
We don’t know anyone here, but we’re looking for some sort of sales job. And he, his face kind of dropped and he said, some dude I don’t even know, came up to me this morning and said, you look like the type of guy that knows sales guys. I’m looking for someone to help me sell for my painting business. So he walked me over, introduced me to this fella who It became my business partner for five years. Uh he hired me basically on the spot to be a sales guy for him.
We became 5050 partners a couple of years in and that’s how I ended up in the industry, have no painting experience, had a lot of sales and management experience, I knew I could sell pretty much anything and it seemed to be a pretty easy transition to sell painting services, but that’s it. I know a lot of guys start working for their dad or working for their uncle or working for their friend. I have zero painting experience and even now six years in have not painted professionally man, that’s crazy.
So that’s quite the very background, it’s definitely not the typical painting company owners background. Um what you’re describing here, but I also think it it created a unique skill set for you, which we’ll get into. But I guess talk talk a little bit about you, you started this partnership, How did that go? How long were you there? What was your role? Let’s kind of figure out what your life was like there. Yeah. So when we, when I had my first interview with my former partner, I made it very clear that I wasn’t interested in just being a painting salesperson, right?
Uh if if we were going to work together, the goal for me would be that I would eventually own his company and you know, he was in the sixties and he was looking for an exit plan. So he said, yeah, yeah, you know, within a couple of years I’ll I’ll be ready to step aside and then I’ll sell you the company. Okay, so uh we started, and I started out just as sales as I was learning the business and within about a year I was essentially kind of running the show, I was running all the strategy, I was managing the employees.
Um and after the second year we actually entered into uh a management agreement where we were started to operate as 1753 partners. So that meant like my compensation was the exact same conversation as his, but I really was responsible to run the whole show, his his responsibility was to continue to actually write the checks and pay the bills uh and do sales and outside of that everything else was my responsibility. So yeah, we did that for another 2.5 years. Um We were coming close to the uh kind of the end of that management contract and where I could where I had the opportunity to execute the purchase agreement by the company.
Things that happened, I don’t know Brandon if you remember back in 2020 when the world shut down because of that thing called Covid. We remember that. Okay. So that that hurt our business. Like it did. A lot of people got real nervous about having people come into their home and work around in their home. So business dropped a little bit. We also had another kind of profit vertical within our business that he was in charge of, that kind of disappeared after we signed our the delayed purchase agreement.
And so the value of the business was no longer what it was at the time that we agreed to buy it, right? So we tried to renegotiate and um, you know, are still our goal to buy the company. That was still our plan. But things kind of fell apart. And ultimately he said, uh, you know, it’s either the original deal or it’s no deal. And so we had to make the hard decision to say, okay, well, you know, then it’s no deal and I’m gonna be leaving.
And that was that um, it wasn’t expected. It was everything happened kind of very quickly. Um, but I think that my wife and I, one of our strengths is being able to adapt and react in situations in a positive manner. And so we we reacted and now here we are. That was that was in March. And as we record this right now, it’s november. So really it’s eight months ago that I was running someone else’s company. Yeah, man, That’s insane. Yeah. I remember um, at Nick’s Plavix asking panel, I went to retreat.
This was something that you were struggling with and brought up and and solicited a lot of feedback on. So I want to make sure that everyone listening understands it. It was not an easy decision for you. You know, it was one of the most difficult. I mean, we we loved and respected. Um my partner and his wife so much and we were so appreciative of the opportunities that they had given us. Not that we didn’t create a lot of the opportunities ourselves. But I mean he did build the business and he handed the reins over to me and we really wanted them to feel honored in in the whatever decision we came to whether we’re buying it or whether we were leaving, we wanted to honor them.
And so it’s very very difficult. And you you would know better than anyone because you were there you know during those, during those talks where I’m trying to figure out, you know, do I, should I move forward If not if I want to renegotiate, how do I present that to him so that he understands that I’m coming from a position of good faith and good will. But ultimately understanding that I had to make the best decision for me and my family. And when you said that there was a another profit vertical that really went downhill, you’re basically referring to another stream of income outside of just painting. Yes.
A very profitable vertical. We had a sighting vertical that was profitable and That that disappeared shortly after we signed our contract. And so that profit $150,000 a year profits kind of disappeared. Yeah. Not that obviously affects valuation, right? I wanna obviously some of this data is confidential right? Needs not everything can be revealed here. But keeping that in mind I would like to sort of discuss your thoughts on valuation disagreements and really how do you even go about valuing a painting company. So I think the most common method within our industry um that I’ve that I’ve uncovered and have been has had I’ve had this confirmed by some painter friends of ours.
The uh the easiest way is to simply take the net profit of a business. Uh and you have a multiplier and the multiplier might change based on how old the business is, whether you have sub contractors or employees, whether you have, you know, an office and real estate and everything else. But just for easy math, you could say a three X. Multiplier is what we were using, which means that you know, if you have a a $600,000 year revenue business and after paying yourself and paying your your painters and your office staff and everything else, if you have a 15% net profit, that’s $90,000 you multiply that by three.
And hypothetically your company might be worth $0003,000. If you tried to buy it. Now, the reality is it’s only worth what someone’s willing to pay. And for smaller companies like that, if someone were to buy a $600,000 a year company, it may not be that valuable unless the founder stays on as the owner operator, right? Otherwise someone’s just buying a business and then stepping in and now they it’s just a job, right? It might be a high paying job, a decent paying job. But the, there’s gonna be some people that will not buy a business unless it’s totally sustainable without their direct involvement.
And some people are looking for a business like I was actually where I could step in and run it and be the key person. Right? And so do you think, let’s stick with the $600,000 example? Do you think that most painting company owners overvalue undervalue or have a pretty good idea of what the value of the company is? I mean, I would say most people overvalue their business, right? And that was the issue that we ran into with with my partners that he had never had evaluation done.
Um he hadn’t really looked into what a company would be valued at. And so when I made my first offer, it was very, very different than what he was hoping for. Uh and not even really what he’s hoping for. He needed, there’s a certain amount of money that he needed in order to retire and that number was a lot higher than we would be willing to pay. So I would say, I would say some people, I would say most, most painting comedy owners probably overvalue. Uh and then there’s other people, other owners that don’t even have never even thought about whether they have an asset or not, right?
And there is something that they’re building, that, that has equity that has value and then it just disappears and they missed out on the opportunity to, you know, cash out a bit, maybe if they’re ready to be done. Yeah. And I think that’s really important. I think that, you know, people get so attached to their businesses, They forget that hey, you can actually, if you set the right systems up and do this the right way, you can actually sell this one day. Do you have any advice and I don’t wanna go too deep into this.
But do you have any advice for people listening who maybe do want to make their company sellable? What can they do? What makes a painting company more sellable? I kind of mentioned it already. Right. It’s having everything fully systemized or systematized? I think it’s systematized. I hear both and I don’t want to be the guy that doesn’t know, I think maybe you can actually say, I know systematized is correct. I’m almost positive. I think. I think you can do whatever word is accurate, that’s the one I’m using. Okay.
They need to do that. Uh, as far systems around um, organizational systems. Right? So do they have, do they have administrative staff that keeps keeps things moving for lead intake and marketing outflow and everything in between. Do they have sales systems are their sales systems teachable and repeatable? Uh, do they have painters? I mean if it’s just a dude and his brother that’s painting, they could generate $600,000 a year in revenue. That would be incredible if they did. But if it’s just the two of them, does that company have any value?
No, I mean because you’re going to sell it, they’re gonna stop working and other companies is virtually worthless unless they have a bunch of repeating contractors something. Um So systems employees, obviously, if real estate equipment, any any tangible assets would increase the value of the business. I work in the subcontractor space as you know, so a lot of that would be a little bit harder for me to create real value. Every everything on the on the back end. So all of the sales organization, marketing, all that would need to be highly systematized in order to create real value within our industry.
Because you’re saying that so you guys employ subcontractors for your fulfillment. And you’re saying that you think the value would be higher potential. If those were all W2 employees that came with the company. I would I would guess that’s the case. A guy like, you know, Jason paris would have a better answer for that. Since he, you know, that his business focuses a lot on valuation of other companies. Um That makes sense to me doesn’t make sense to you. But there’s there’s other difficulties. He got employees.
It’s a lot, it’s a lot harder to scale. Um There’s there’s a lot of benefits to having employees. A lot of benefits to using subcontractors. All right, Well, let’s, uh, let’s kind of dive into, you know, your decision to walk away. Right? So up to this point, we figured out your background obviously varied various sales marketing very different from most people’s who are in this space and then you, you found a fit. Things went a little south with Covid and, and you know, the siding vertical and then the amount of capital that your partner required.
Um, just didn’t really mesh with what you felt the company was then worth at that point, you, you then we’re facing a difficult decision of, hey, do I do I kind of stick this or do I just start off on my own, which is obviously a little scarier. Um, even for a confident guy like yourself, that’s always a scary leap to make. So how are you looking at that? Well, there I was looking at it from, from two different things and we’re trying to decide what our approach should be or what our next move is gonna be.
We asked ourselves like what, you know, why why couldn’t or shouldn’t we do it and why could or should we do it? So if we started, you know what, why couldn’t we do it? I would say a lot of it came down to limiting beliefs. Um, I had no painting experience. Was I was I running a successful company in spite of that, where people working for my, my old company because of my partner’s background, his experience right, where we was just basically borrowing his clout in able to run in order to run his business.
Um I thought that could be an issue for me. Um quite frankly I was making a lot of money working for him. It was, it was more money than I’ve never made before and if you, if you told 13 year old me that I’d be making this amount of money and living this type of life and you’re considering walking away from it. 223 year old me would have kicked in the shins and said don’t be an idiot, right, so that was, I had become comfortable, it was, it was not a very hard job, things were running smoothly, we had office staff to handle all the stuff that I didn’t want.
I was, I was working like 20-25 hours a week, making really good income. Um so it was kind of a hurdle there, like am I willing to walk away from this in order to and risk it all for something else. Um and then along those same lines it was the, how long might it take me to actually make some money? We have been saving up some money, right, was I gonna burn through all of my savings. Uh and maybe even have to cash in some retirement accounts in order to survive while launch company.
These are all things that were like pretty terrifying to me and I’m, I am um I am not risk averse. Wait am I risk, I don’t mind risk, I will take risks, I will risk everything. And even at that point it’s like it’s different. You got, I got two kids, I got a wife, I got a mortgage, we have long term plans and hopes for our family and those are all the things that were like maybe you had to suck it up and maybe I just overpay for this business just to stay a little more comfortable.
So that’s where I was on that end. So how did you, you know you said you’re not risk averse so you’re willing to take risks but obviously you have to factor in kids um you know wife, your future plan. I mean you don’t wanna, you don’t wanna watch it all burn down because you’re a little too aggressive with something. How did you get, how did you get comfortable with with making the decision to walk away from all that I would say I would say two ways. The first is that I, I’ve lost everything before.
You know when I left the insurance business I lost my condo, I lost my house, I lost everything uh few years after that I lost my uh my family, you know, I don’t want to get too personal, but like I was married before and um when me and my ex wife separated, I lost everything. The company I was working for was owned by a guy from my church. And so I got fired. I got kicked out of the church. Most of my friends were from the church.
I lost all my friends, I lost everything before and came out better on the other side. So that gives me a pretty healthy perspective. Uh that like losing everything is really not like everything you can, you can recover. But it was different because back then when I lost everything, it was just me. And so I got a dog and I started to rebuild. And now and then I met Rachel and everything changed, right? Uh, but it was, that’s right. Got your therapy dog. And you know what’s funny is that I’m not like I’m not a big drinker, big party or I’m not, I’m very social, but I’m like, I don’t have like a lot of those vices for me, it was, I knew when I was living by myself that if I didn’t have some reason to come home at the end of the day, I was going to like waste all my money, getting dinner every night and like just going to spend money doing other stuff and I didn’t have a bunch of money to, to waste.
So it was actually like, hey, I should get a dog so that I have for real, that’s what it was, It was a cheap, cheap and fun accountability partner. Um, So that was the first thing is that I have lost everything. I wasn’t too scared of losing everything again. But the second thing that really empowered me was was Rachel was my wife. She she is such a great partner. Um, not only in our marriage but in our family and in our business. And so she, she believes in me and she believes in us and as a couple our our power, our resiliency.
And so she she was like, listen babe, if if this is the right move, then let’s just do it. Let’s jump and let’s have a plan, right? And she wanted, she wants to know the plan before I pulled the trigger on something like that. But we, I had a plan and we said, all right, we’re just gonna jump and we did it. So that was it. I lost it all before and I had a wife that was incredibly supportive. I love it man. Yeah. You said something there that’s really, really powerful, losing everything, is not really losing everything.
You can get it back. I think that most, most people that have lost everything realize afterwards that they really didn’t have everything right? There’s you can lose material things, you can lose your friends, you can lose a lot of things and you can still come out way better on the back end. I’m evidence of that for sure. So you, you said Rachel is on board who’s supportive, You believed in yourself, She believed in you, you have the thing the support system and internally if you needed but she wanted a plan.
So let’s kind of get into what that plan look like and what may be assets you felt that you had. Yeah, so that that gets into them, like what, what made me think that I could be successful. Right? And so there’s a few things I would point to there. Um the first is that I’ve, over the past couple of years developed this incredible network of painters uh meaning actual guys that in my area that paint and that could be potential laborers for us. Uh the 1st, 1st way I found those and established that that group, that network was through the painting contractors facebook group and that’s where you and I first actually kind of met, right?
Just huge facebook group. I think when tanner mullen invited me to the group, maybe there were 100 members or something. And now last time I checked there was 100 and 45,000 and yeah, and he may, I’m gonna administrator in there. So I have the opportunity to have, you know, admin next to my name and group expert. And so when someone asked the question and I respond or when I post something, there’s automatically some clout there, people people see that. And so if I were to go and if I were to go on that group and make a post looking for subcontractors in metro Detroit.
I will get some responses and I know that because I do it right. So I had this network of painters kind of at my disposal. Um and also I had a very supportive Sherwin Williams, local connections that they were already referring me subcontractors to my previous employer. I was confident that they would refer subcontractors to me if my new company if I launched because they know how well we treat the people that work with us, right? We treat them as our partners. Um I would say the second thing and maybe this is the most powerful of the three that I’m gonna mention is a network of contractor friends.
So these are people that I looked to um Jason paris and Nick Slavic and matt and Maggie Kipper. All the people that were at Nick’s Plavix went to retreat And people that I’ve met through through the P. C. A. And at the expo those people before I went to the retreat I thought that the company I was running was the biggest company in the country. We had figured everything out. No one was doing it better than us. And then you know then I met Jason Paris and his company I think that year was going to do $10 million Phillips down in Texas and his company was going to $2003 million dollars in revenue and they were doing what we did but at way way higher caliber.
And so meeting all those people really opened my eyes to think wow there’s there’s other ways to do this, there’s better ways to do this. And turns out all these people that I’ve mentioned are happen to be the most generous people that I’ve ever met because they’ve given me all of their not only their ideas but literally their marketing collateral. When I launched Ellison painting uh I didn’t have any before after pictures because we had never painted a house and I didn’t I wasn’t gonna take pictures from my previous company right Because that’s their stuff.
And so I asked matt and Maggie hey uh this might be weird but can I have some before and after pictures to post on my website. And they’re like yeah of course. And like within an hour Maggie had sent me a whole folder whole google drive of before and after pictures. And and they’ve all they all sent me their work orders and their their scope of work and they’re all there S. O. P. S. And I was able to build everything for Ellison painting through through my network of friends that were giving sacrificial e though giving sacrificial E. It’s kind of a weird term because that means that they were losing something by giving it to me and they weren’t right them helping me out doesn’t cost them anything.
I just said giving generously giving selflessly they had put work into developing things and they were just giving it to me for free. And uh, so that’s been, that’s been the number one. And if you, if you guys come to the expo in february, I’m gonna be, I’ve been invited to speak there as well. And one of the topics I’m gonna be speaking on is that this idea of having friends is better than having ideas, right? So you don’t need to be creative if you have friends that have already been creative and already solved all your problems and are gonna give you all the answers before you have to fail yourself. Right?
So that’s the second thing. So the network of painters, the network of my contractor friends who were giving um very generously. And then my third thing is just, you know, my skill set, I am entrepreneurial by nature. I am very good at responding to issues. Uh, but along the same lines, I’m very good at expecting what issues might be so that we can avoid him to begin with. So my sales skills, my marketing skills, um organizational strategy I think is a strength of mine. I think my skill set is, is very suited to starting a business now.
It may turn out in the long term that my skill set is not suited to scaling a business and Jason paris talks about this, right? He thinks he’s he’s a great business starter, but he’s not, he may not be the greatest ceo, which is why he doesn’t run paris painting and he doesn’t even run all of holdings. He has other people taking those strategic roles that he can fit in his niche and focus on the things that he does best. So yeah, I think this this skill set was was there for me to launch quickly and have a really high chance for success.
Yeah, so I just want to recap that that was a lot. So as you know, it’s great man, I just want to make sure we we summarize it as you were looking to leave what made you felt confident that you could do, it was number one, you had this this network of painting subcontractors that you could tap into and you had the clout and authority in a facebook group to get more number and then Sherwin Williams got a rep helping you there as well. So you had a couple different basically feeder pulls into that number two, you had a a network of contractor friends in the industry that were farther ahead than you who had already built a lot of these processes and S. O PS and we’re willing to help you essentially and almost coach you for free.
Um and then number three is really specific to you based on your background, your skill set, your personality, you feel that that you can get it done in the beginning, you have the right skill set, your entrepreneurial to hustle and make that work and let me add, let me add 1/4 1. But with a little bit of a caveat, I think you can do what I’ve, I’ve done and what I’m doing with either time or money or some combination of both. I am admittedly very, very, very fortunate that Rachel and I had been saving money because I think that I launched my company with far more to invest than almost any other painting company in the history of the us. Right?
I mean most, well I’ll just tell you we had about $200,000 cash ready to go. Most painters won’t ever save $200,000 and we had it saved that we had saved it up before we launched. So that allowed me to dive in and um you know, and we’ll probably talk about this in the next episode but I had the money saved up to spend on marketing and and pay employees and and live off of savings for a while so that I can continue to invest more money into the business as we grew and so you you can do what I’m doing with without the money.
But that definitely gave me a lot more confidence. I’m looking at the numbers, I’m like, okay, say we have, we have $200,000 say I blow 0003 grand in six months and for some reason Ellison painting is crashing and burning, okay, I walk away. We still have $100,000 in the bank and I can Rachel and I can try to find other jobs but we, we also have our health insurance business that is highly profitable as well. So it’s like there was, even if we failed miserably failed spectacularly we would have been fine.
So having the money gave us a little confidence, but as we’ve already mentioned a couple of times, even if I didn’t have the money, I just wasted six months of my time. You can start over doing something else and you can survive. Yeah, well you wasted six months and you also walked away from early. What most people would say is a really sweet situation. We won’t have to work much and making a lot of money but I super, super appreciate you laying that out there, right? Because so often people come in a podcast or give give speeches or whatever and it will be this.
They don’t always lay everything out in terms of their advantages or they have certain things and I know even for myself, I’ve been frustrated at times listening and I’m like well how did they do this or why, why weren’t they afraid of that or I can’t hire a whole sales team and you’re just saying that right there is just so helpful right for people listening to know that. Well I’ve said I’ve said it countless times is that no one has started a painting company with more advantages than I had. Yeah.
You laying them out though is huge is huge. But I want to ask you. So the, you know, let’s kind of go through through one of four here, right? I think number two, in terms of having a network of contractor friends, I think that’s probably the easiest to fix for anyone, right, plug into the P. C. A. Network. What do you think about number two? Let’s start with that one. Is it the easiest? Um I think it’s the it’s easiest for people like me, it’s easiest for people like you.
Uh I think that there’s that’s just really good looking or well you’re really good looking. I’m I’m a five ft seven troll. Uh Yeah, whatever. Um I guess what I mean by that is I I don’t I don’t, I never viewed anyone within the painting industry as a competitor. And there is, but there is a mindset within our industry that if someone were to give away their quote unquote secrets, which by the way, none of us really have any real trade secrets. We’re all doing the same thing just a little bit differently.
Uh you give away those secrets and it’s gonna cost you um or it’s gonna help someone at your expense and what what what I’ve seen and what I’m seeing on a daily basis is that it’s simply not true I have a I have a guy named um nick kelly. You might know him as nick joe online. He owns a company called Elite Pro and they’re like literally he lives 10 minutes away from me, right? We operate in the same cities but we talk all the time and when I needed uh before and after pictures of interior jobs for this season for our marketing.
And I didn’t have any. He sent me. So right literally were targeted in the exact same people. But doesn’t matter cause he’s growing, I’m growing. We’re helping each other. It’s brilliant. So I think that to answer your question, it should be easy. It should be the resources are there, whether it be through the P. C. A. Through these various facebook groups, the people that have the most and the most valuable knowledge within our industry also appear to be the ones that most freely give that information away for free.
So establishing that network, you may not, they may not establish these close friendships like Rachel and I have like I wanna I wanna move to Nashville. So matt and Maggie can be best friends with me and Rachel, right? So they may not have those really close interpersonal relationships like we’ve we’ve formed with other people in the industry but you can certainly establish the relationships with the people uh certain types of relationship with people that they will share that information. So you don’t have to build everything from scratch.
So yes you are correct. It was very long winded to say it’s it’s very difficult for some people because they have, you know, they live with clenched fists and they can’t imagine people giving freely and if someone is giving freely they got to be expecting something in return. Right? Yeah. Well I think it’s a it’s a big problem in general with with entrepreneurs and business owners but painting industry especially kind of old school in that regard. That scarcity mindset, you know, slasher competitors tires abundance oriented collaborative mindset. Yeah. Yeah.
So that that’s an important point. Um Number one, so that the subcontractors, they don’t they don’t already have all these connections, maybe they’re a little smaller than you that they’re not an admin in this facebook group, what can they do to improve their odds there? Well, number one is hopefully they have a solid relationship with the Sherwin Williams rep um and if they’ve proven themselves to be reliable, professional and high integrity, there’s no reason why they’re Sherwin rep or their um their local store managers wouldn’t want to refer potential subcontractors to them.
Um And the benefit to that is, you know, if I find if I find a potential crew on facebook, I don’t know anything about him, right. All I know is that they’re looking for work. They responded to my post or I responded to there’s there’s no connection already. They might be good. They might be terrible. Who knows? But my my Sherwin Williams rep shout out to Brandon. Uh, he screamed that out for me. He’s only gonna refer crews to me that he thinks will be able to meet my standards of professionalism and quality.
So that’s, that’s the, that’s the one thing um outside of that within that painting contractors facebook group, there are always people looking for work. There are always people saying, hey, does anyone have any work in this local area? This, that local area? And when someone posts, hey, I’m looking for subcontractors in this local area, that local area, people always respond. There’s always opportunities in there when that opportunity presents itself, you have to be ready to respond quickly. Right? So you got to be monitoring for those for those opportunities.
You gotta be very communicative with um with the potential subs that you’re, you’re reaching out to. But most importantly, you just can’t be full of ship. You’ve got to follow through on the things that you say you’re going to do. Which is why when, when I schedule a time to meet with one of these subcontractors, I put it on my calendar right away and if something’s in my calendar, it’s locked in. I’m never gonna forget. I’m gonna be there. I’m not gonna waste their time, you know, chit chatting when they probably left a job site to come visit me for 30 minutes to meet about potentially working together.
I’m not wasting their time. Um, I’m giving them the vital information that they need, I’m getting the information, I need to decide, uh, whether I want to move forward and give them the opportunity whether to decide whether they want to move forward. And then probably the most important step is once you decide, you know what this guy seems legit, I want to give him a shot on one of my jobs. That first experience has to be a home run for the subcontractor crew meaning it has to be profitable.
You cannot give them a job that they’re gonna be making 15 bucks an hour on. They, it needs to be home run. They have to make money. Uh, and you have, you have to pay them right away. If you, if you bone it, if, if that first opportunity to impress that subcontractor crew goes poorly in some regard, the scheduling is bad, the pay is low, the pay is slow, whatever it, whatever it is, If you drop the ball now, you’ve become every other contractor that they’ve ever worked with, right?
You have one opportunity to establish a first impression and if you blow it, they’re done now, that’s not to say that every job after that isn’t equally as important. You know, we continue, we continually love on these guys, we make sure that they are making more money than they would make working on their own. We make sure they’re paid on time every single time. Um, but that, that first impression lasts a long time. And so I want to establish my credibility with them and my reliability with them right away?
So look for the opportunities and I know that the guys like Skylar Stewart have had a lot of success finding subcontractors through craigslist and guess what? Skylar sent me all of his craig craigslist ad copy. So that when I’m ready to post on craigslist towards the end of the winter, I’m just gonna basically copy what he said in Pittsburgh and, and posted here in Detroit. Uh, there’s, there’s a lot of avenues to try to find those subcontractors. Um, but I guess the last thing to add here is that subcontractors are only going to work with you if you can afford to actually pay them well, and if you’re, if you’re the lowest, if you’re the lowest estimate on your, when you make your sales, there’s not gonna be any margin for that there for you to make any money and also get a subcontractor to do it.
You know, I I price my job’s quite high, I sell the experience, not the quality of our jobs. I I sell on the professionalism and the customer service and as a result, I can charge more for a job than most companies can, which then also means I can pay my subs more than they would make anywhere else? So, you know, why would they, why would they leave if, if they’re making more money with me, they’re getting paid right away, I’m keeping them busy and making their lives easy, Then they’re going to continue to work for me.
And I think that’s, that’s hard. That’s hard. Not for a lot of painting companies to crack. Uh you know, obviously Paris has done it better than anyone. He’s got something like 150 subcontracted painters that he, that he keeps busy. I’m at like 25-30 on a good week. Uh So it’s it’s not, it’s not easy, but it certainly can be done. And it could allow you if you’re good at sales and good at marketing and have some money to invest. It could allow you to scale very, very quickly as I’ve shown.
Yeah, yeah, I love that, man. And then, so I do have one follow up question when you initially interact with the subcontractor crews and you don’t know them at all and you go meet with them, what do you kind of looking forward to decide whether or not you want to start that first project together. The first thing I do is when we schedule a time to meet, I don’t remind them, I put it in my calendar and I show up and if they show up, that’s a good sign, that means that they are at least somewhat reliable, right?
Uh Outside of that, you know, a lot of guys like to show me before and after pictures of jobs they’ve done, which is totally meaningless to me, uh, it’s like when, if you were, if you were being interviewed for a job and they require you to provide some references. I never understood that. Cause you’re only going to give them references for people that no one like you and are gonna vouch for you, right? They’re not gonna have the opportunity to speak to people that you screwed over or you didn’t follow through on what you said you were going to do.
So before and after pictures are worthless. If, if I get a sense that they are good, good people, if I sense that they are reliable and are going to show up and do what they say they’re going to do, then I will give them a chance. Now we operate with a full time project manager. So the project manager is going to be there to kick the job off, do quality control, oversee the first couple of projects while while it’s while when they’re first starting, so we are, we are managing some of that, a lot of that when we kick it off.
But if honestly, if a guy just seems like he’s reliable and I’m willing to give him a shot and we can tell right away whether they’re going to be a good fit or not. You know, if the quality is really, really bad, then, you know, say, hey, listen, man, I don’t, I don’t know, there’s gonna be the right fit for us or if they’re if they if they don’t show up for the first day of work that’s that’s a no brainer for me. They’re done okay. So you you’re kind of feeling them out right now, making sure that they show that they remember the appointments there and then you’re essentially getting a feel for who they are as a person and whether or not you feel that you can depend on them and then you still have some sort of quality control in place there because you have a project manager that’s largely going to manage them and make sure things are running smoothly and you probably have you know things aren’t running smoothly, you’re gonna sub sub in another crew and get that taken care of.
Okay perfect. Now on to number three. So that was number one developing the the network of painters in this case subcontractors number to your network of contractor friends and really just getting out of your own way um networking within the industry joining the P. C. A. And and being willing to collaborate? Uh Number three this might be the toughest because this is really about you right? And so if other people aren’t like this, how do they get around that that entrepreneurial being good at sales and marketing, being organized, holding people accountable, how do you how do people learn that or how do people accomplish that well you can learn it or you can farm it out, you know, there’s, there’s some guys that own painting companies that are phenomenal painters and maybe they’re phenomenal project managers.
Uh there they might be an ideal um operations manager or something like that, but they don’t have sales skills. Okay, well then find someone who does and pay that person to be a salesperson. Um You, you most guys are not gonna have the experience in marketing that I have. Right? I mean you and I have had so many conversations about marketing. I understand marketing as well as many people that work at marketing agencies, but even I didn’t try to do the marketing by myself, I hire people to do the marketing because my, you know, my skill set and where I’m gonna generate revenue for the business is not around running marketing campaigns.
So there there are some people like, like myself that could launch a company on their own or scale a company on their own. Uh I would say most people need to find some sort of strategic partners that, that might be an actual official partnership within their business or it might be just hiring employees to do some tasks for you. Uh I’m not a great project manager, I’m not like the most organized and so when I launched, I knew it had to be me and a project manager.
Now, I was fortunate that my wife has that skill set and she was willing to, you know, come out of quote unquote retirement for, for six months to help me launch and so, but it was, it was the two of us, I could not have done what I’ve done without having that second person, um I could have done it with someone that wasn’t Rachel, but we wouldn’t have scaled as quickly because she was, she’s so good at it um and also she was the cheapest labor I would ever possibly get right, I didn’t have to pay so cheap code have your way for four.
Yeah, so yeah, I think they, I think we all have different skills that are going to be beneficial to launching a painting business like I did, you know, I don’t think you need to have the exact same skill set, I had, my skill set is, is geared towards entrepreneurism um and so I may have an unfair advantage in that regard, but if someone is self aware enough to know that they don’t have the skill set that I have or a skill set like Jason paris has, if they can be self aware and realize that and if they can be willing to sacrifice some money, two or maybe some equity in the company to partner with someone that has that skill set, there’s no reason why they couldn’t do what I’ve done, they just need to have a partner to do it, so figure out what they, what they feel that they are really confident and comfortable in and then the other components of the business that they need.
Um either officially partner with someone in terms of giving them a portion of the company, hire them as an employee or outsource it to external marketing agents here or you know, something like that, right? And to be clear, you know, I said, I could have launched the company with someone that wasn’t Rachel, Rachel could have launched the company with someone that wasn’t me. She would do is find someone that had, that is good sales and like sales and wants to manage the marketing strategy. Uh, and and likes recruiting subcontractors, right?
And then she can handle all of the back end, all the organizational stuff and then basically just someone to go out and do the estimates and find crews. Um Alright, so that was number three, the entrepreneurial skill set that you brought in and you didn’t even bring it all in. You already, you found a way to, to fill those gaps that you have there, but you’re also self aware to know and you know what the company needed and the gaps that needed to be filled. I find a lot of painting, painting company owners, they kind of think they can do it all or or want to do it all, but you need to know where, where you’re not doing it well because it might be shooting, you might be shooting yourself in the foot, 100% magnet.
Um, number four you have said and I don’t know whether this is going to expand on what we just said or it might just be essentially the same thing. But we said time time or money investing into the business. What did you mean by that? Well, we all have time. Right. If you, if this is your full time gig and you’re trying to launch a business, then you have time, uh, that time can be spent though on delivering door hangers or the money can be spent to hire someone to deliver door hangers.
Your time can be spent in developing and implementing marketing strategy or your time can be spent to hire someone to do that for you. Uh, but here, here’s a, here’s the real deal Brandon when we, we had, as I mentioned had about $203,000 cash to to lunch even. So my wife and I are like, oh, is this gonna be enough? You know, we’re gonna need more than this for our first year. So we talked to my father in law and said, hey, I think we’re gonna have enough money.
But if we don’t like, you know, could you help us out? And he’s like, yeah, of course if you guys are in a, in a pinch, you know, I can help yeah, right. Exactly. Uh, so that, that made us feel more confident. Well the reality is we launched and we put $80,000 in our business bank account And we dipped to about 60,000 before we rebounded. And it’s been climbing steadily ever since. So I could have launched Ellison painting not with $200,000 but I could have launched it with $20,000 and still got the exact same Return and seeing the exact same growth because I didn’t use $0003,000 to launch it. Right?
I had it. I use $20,000. Uh so the amount of money that’s needed to launch and scale like we’ve done is actually not that substantial and and that’s not to be dismissive. I know that $2175,2000 to a lot of people especially within our industry is a lot of money and if they had an extra $222,2200 maybe they’d be able to breathe and relax and think about scaling but $2000,220. Brandon also is not that hard to come by if you have, if you have a viable business model and a viable business idea.
If if any painter that’s working by himself or maybe he’s got him and a helper and they’re, they’re thinking about scaling if they were to reach out to me or Jason or nick or kippers or whoever and or you or you know any other marketing guru and said, hey can you help me come up with a plan to scale my business so that I can present it to someone that might want to invest in the business to help me grow. I don’t think it’s hard to find someone invest $203,220, especially when they see the types of numbers that companies like might have done in their first six months, right?
I mean there’s, there’s a lot of profit to be made and it’s not that hard to find $2000,215 if we’re being real. Again, I don’t want to be dismissive. I don’t want it to sound like I’m some, you know, rich snob because I’m not rich, but $20,000 is not that much money. Yeah. And that’s uh, that’s one of the interesting things that, and I think kind of antiquated things about the painting industry is, is the more forward thinking. Obviously painted marketing prose works with the more forward thinking and ambitious painting companies out there, there’s this sort of hindrance or mindset block that a lot of companies have in terms of investing into their company, whether that be through employees, partnerships, marketing, you name it.
And they have these, these goals of, hey, I wanna get to several million, five million, 10 million. But, but then it’s like the amount of money, the capital and and required to get there relatively speaking is small. But it’s there just this mental barrier where I think people aren’t really used to investing in the painting business is treating like a business, you are 100% correct. But what’s weird about that is there seeing guys, we see these guys everywhere, you know, we’re friends of ours, we know them, we can see multimillionaires within the painting industry.
So for that to be like a foreign concept or for someone to look at at what I’ve done or what some of our friends have done, other people across the country have done and say, you know, it’s no that’s not possible, you can’t do that, you can’t do that where I live, you can’t do that, you know, in my market or whatever. It’s weird that they could see all of this evidence. That is not only possible, but it’s it’s happening time and time and time again. Ah and it’s it’s easy to see the evidence is right there.
Um And so just to give you an idea, so we launched, my first, my first sale was april 22nd of this year and our goal was to do a million dollars in sales within our 1st 0003 months, right before our six month anniversary, we broke the $1 million revenue And right now I think Brad, hold on, so you sold over $1 million dollars in your first six months as a company. That’s correct. And so I think right now I’m pulling up pulling up chip jobs right now to see what my year to date is.
You know, we’re entering slow season, so my sales are gonna slow down through the end of the year. I am at $1 million, $175,000 in sales since April 22 and today. So it’s seven months, seven months tomorrow, That is what is possible. And you started you started with 200,000, you have that sort of security blanket will say but you use 20,000 Use $20,000 and just invested my time and convinced my wife to come work with me for six months. Yeah and but again, most importantly I had all my friends as resources man, I cannot stress the importance of that enough.
Yeah, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel right? It’s already been invented just just borrow, stand on the shoulders of giants borrow from people who’ve come before you because they also borrow that’s the thing and that’s what people don’t really understand this in paris Jason phillips, they’ve, they’ve come up with things but a lot of those things are because they learned from people, there are some people within our industry that are doing new and exciting things. Um you know Zach Kenny out of out of things in boston right?
He does really, really high end finishes like like like mirror finish finishes, that’s new and that’s exciting who’s going to be Zach Kenney, No one, right? So who cares, it doesn’t mean I love seeing what Zach does. Zach is a friend of mine and I’m constantly in awe of what he does. I don’t care what he’s doing though, what I’m, what I’m looking at is the people that are doing what I wanna do, the high production. Um The big businesses, the high revenue and those guys are not inventing anything special.
They’re implementing solid business systems that are applicable in any industry. And they’re supplying it to the painting industry and flying it so well. And what what I think a lot of people don’t understand within our industry is the opportunity to do that is very, very unique within the painting industry. The the barrier to entry, the barrier to start a painting company is so low that In some sense that’s a negative because you’re gonna be competing against guys that are gonna be selling their services for $15 an hour.
Uh but also the the standards from the customers perspectives. It is so low. I mean I I hear on a daily basis I called five different painting cos you’re the only one that responded and not only the only one that responded, but you actually showed up when you said you were gonna show up and you delivered the estimate when you said you were going to deliver it and your painter showed up when they said they were going to to me, these are not hard things to do this.
These are things that normal healthy businesses do. But because we’re in the painting industry and so many of my, you know, quote unquote competitors aren’t doing these basic things. Then the opportunity for a guy like me is crazy. It’s like crazy, crazy high. And that’s I would say that’s one of the very very big reasons why I was I’ve been able to scale so quickly. So if if other painters that have been in the industry far longer than me and maybe haven’t seen, you know, my level of financial success, uh just change their mode of thinking and started to operate like a real business rather than just being a guy that paints, they could very quickly scale, they could very quickly be making the type of money that they thought was never possible without having to work anymore.
That’s the that’s the truth of it. Yeah, I love that. So I I do wanna remind everyone that if you’re listening to this, I mean this one especially, right? So we created this facebook group um really to be able to dive deeper into any of these topics, but this one I think is gonna especially resonate with people because obviously this vision is is big, but it’s also something that you’re actually doing in real time, right? So you’re actually doing it. It’s not a pretend thing. It’s not a fairy tale, you’re literally doing it and you’re telling people how to do it.
But I know people listening are going to say, yeah, but X, Y. Z or you know, but I live here, but but I’ve tried this, right. And so I remember going to that paint marketing Mastermind, podcast form tag brad, brad will, will will answer. And we’re going to have brad come on live in that group two and do A Q and A. I actually haven’t said that to brad yet telling brad now. But yeah, he’s gonna come on and crush it because I know that this I really do think this is gonna be one of the, one of the most popular series that we run um this year.
So, do you have anything else that you want to elaborate on touch on before we wrap up this first episode? No, I mean, I think the last thing I might just say is, you know, I had these these reasons why I couldn’t leave. I had these reasons why I could leave. And I had these limiting beliefs and I had these beliefs in myself, ultimately it comes down to you, you you you just have to make a decision. And it was a very, very difficult decision for us.
But I had to make the decision. And I think that’s a limiting factor for a lot of people in any industry or any business owner in any industry, is there, they’re afraid of the other side of that decision. And so they never make the decision and they never hire those extra employees and they never spend more money in marketing, they never change their strategies because what they’re doing up to that point, you know, is working. You know, it’s quote unquote working, but ultimately you got to make the decision and not making a decision is a decision in and of itself.
And if you continue to not make a decision, you nothing is ever going to change for you. So it was hard, it was still is hard to think about. Um it’s was definitely the right decision for us. Uh it’s the right decision for my family and it’s the right decision for the people that are working for us because it’s allowing me to really bless these guys um in a very similar way to how their blessing me so well, thank you bro, this was incredible. First episode in your second episode, we will be talking about what it looks like to launch a highly professionalized painting company from scratch titled Rocket Man.
So I’m really excited for that one and thanks for your time man, appreciate you. Thanks brother. If you want to learn more about the topics we discussed in this podcast and how you can use them to grow your painting business, visit painter marketing pros dot com forward slash podcast for free training as well as the ability to schedule a personalized strategy session for your painting company. Again that you are l is painter marketing pros dot com forward slash podcast. Hey there painting company owners. If you enjoyed today’s episode, make sure you go ahead and hit that subscribe button, give us your feedback, let us know how we did.
And also, if you’re interested in taking your painting business to the next level, make sure you visit the Painter Marketing Pros website at Painter Marketing to learn more about our services. You can also reach out to me directly by emailing me at Brandon at painter marketing pros dot com and I can give you personalized advice on growing your painting business until next time. Keep growing.

Brandon Pierpont

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