Guest Interview: Tony Busnardo & Kent Gledhill of Old World Painting
Tony Busnardo & Kent Gledhill, founders and co-owners of Old World Painting, discuss their journey as friends and business partners. They share a mindset they perceive to be very harmful that many other painting company owners seem to possess, and how staying away from that mode of thinking has enhanced the happiness in their lives. Determined to be “anti-businessmen,” the pair elaborate on what finally caused them to implement more systems and processes into their business, and the freedom and power that came from doing so. Kent also talks about an amazing non-profit he runs in Costa Rica, and he provides listeners the opportunity to give their family a life-changing experience by getting involved.
Video of Interview
- The healthier mindset to adopt when growing your business
- How to enter a partnership as friends, and remain even better friends
- Why the “anti-businessmen” started looking at their company as a business, and the results that followed
- An interesting statistic on the importance of laughing, and how to leverage humor to weather the entrepreneurial storms
Welcome to the Painter Marketing Mastermind Podcast, a 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 on this episode of the Painter Marketing Mastermind podcast.
We host guests Tony, Buzz Nardo and Kent Gledhill, Tony and ken are co founders and co owners of Old World painting, a residential painting company based in Breckenridge colorado that does over $2. 5 million in annual revenue in this episode, Tony and can't discuss their journey as friends and business partners. They share a mindset they perceived to be very harmful, that many other painting company owners seem to possess and how staying away from that mode of thinking has enhanced the happiness in their lives determined to be anti businessmen. To parral aberration on what finally caused them to implement more systems and processes into their business and the freedom and power that came from doing so, ken also talks about an amazing nonprofit, he runs in Costa rica and he provides listeners the opportunity to give their family a life changing experience by getting involved 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. Tony Kent. Thank you both for coming on the Painter market Mastermind podcast. Thanks for having us. It's great to be here. Yeah, so Tony, you are, this is round two for you here on the podcast. Yours was was actually one of our most popular episodes yet heard from quite a few people about it at pc expo, I heard your name quite a bit even though you weren't there heard a lot about you, but can't you were kind of the star, You were the absent star of that podcast episode because you guys founded this company together and and friends from school and um I wanted to bring you guys back on and and really hear your story from both of you. All right. But uh whoever kinda wants to kick it off, let's start start at the beginning with this thing. Go ahead. Yeah, I'll uh I'll pick up on that. So as Tony said, you know, the last time we were college buddies roommates in college, um Tony went all the way through for a master's degree and I graduated with two different bachelor's degrees and so I came out of college kinda ready to take on the world and uh I got married shortly after that and my wife and I ended up traveling through South America Tony was traveling in a different part of south America and we're just kind of out exploring, getting ready for the next phase of life um you know, I think both of us thinking at the time we're probably gonna put those college degrees to some sort of use um but at the same time really kind of thinking how can we do something together? You know, we had formed this friendship through college and uh kind of in our minds was could we work something out where we can both be in the same place, um we can share our lives together. Uh we didn't want to just, you know, you see, you see all these people in college having a great communal experience, um learning a lot being with people bouncing ideas off of each other and then coming out of college and just going and getting a job and and it's like, man, we kept thinking there's got to be some, something more than that, you know, just split off from all these people you had formed a connection with and, and start on your own and it was like how do we kind of continue this, this vibe of doing stuff in a communal way and so melissa, my wife and I were the first to move to Breckenridge and the reason we came here was for community. We had some, some friends that were here. Um, we came back from south America Flat broke kind of spent all our money backpacking around and we crashed on a couch um for a few weeks, not a pull out couch, just, you know, a couch, couch, couch, couch, a newly young married couple. It was like, hey, we're, we're crashing on the couch here. And you know, after a few weeks they got sick of us doing that and we kind of found a place to live. But the whole idea behind it was we're gonna, we're gonna live with friends, we're gonna share our lives together with people. It's not about, you know, making a bunch of money. It's not about like pursuing a career. Those things are fine, but it's more about like who do we want to do life together with, who do we want to be with? And so that was kind of the top priority. And so we, we settled here or settled in and I was emailing back and forth with Tony who was still in Patagonia at the time and kind of pressing him like, hey, come come to Breckenridge and we'll figure out what to do. You know, we both know how to paint houses. Um we'll paint houses, we'll ski, we'll hang out together and uh, then we'll figure out what to do next. So that was kind of how it started um when Tony showed up then we started the business and yeah, any of your listeners know what it's like when you first start that business, you know, it's like job the job data today. Never known if you have a, you know, a place to go to work the next day. Um kenton melissa actually had $0 and, and, and I got back from Patagonia and I had, I had like 1000 and $1. I was loaded. I was 1000 air and, and uh, and we needed a can't have this old paint sprayer. And the first day we went to use it, it proved to, you know it gave up the ghost immediately. And so our very first day of work, we went down to the Paint shop and I spent $997 on a new paint sprayer. So between the three of us we had about $4. That was how it began. But I was too, I was thinking what kit was just saying to it was it was a shocker for us coming out of college. We had like a I think people have similar experiences. Ours was a really intense communal experience. And it was a real shocker for us to people to see people afterwards. Just go, well I went to school with an accounting degree. So I applied for some accounting jobs and I, I can't believe it, but I landed one and off to Cincinnati here or you know, wherever they went? No connections, No nobody knowing nothing and that's just where they went. And we really we wanted to, you know, we were like, we wanted to be the masters of our own destiny and we wanted to put what was important to us first and the job could come next. So man, how cool is that? Talk about living intentionally? You know, I think that's the perception is you go to college, you hear, oh, it's the best time of your life for you know, nothing's ever like it and and people just kind of accept. I mean, a lot of people do go to college. A lot of people don't go to college, but you get that refrain, It's the best time of your life and and uh it doesn't have to be, it doesn't have to end, doesn't have to stop. You know, you don't have to just have that fun and then, oh well you're 22 you're out of college. Your life's gonna suck now and forever more. You know, I mean that's how people just not nuts. It's nuts. It is nuts. We've I've actually said many times to people that that, you know, they're like, well, what's it like in Breckenridge? I was like, well we just extended college and we're, you know, 20 some years later and we just commune. It'll reality. I mean just like, what was it? A couple of nights ago, we found out about this silly like open mic night, whereas a comedy open mic night and it was like, oh, we've never done stand up comedy, we should go do that, that'll be fun. And it's just like we could, you know, we got some friends together, it's easy to do. We all live close and and off we went. So we just kind of extended the college experience in some ways. I love it. Did you guys actually do the comedy? Oh yeah, we were amazing. Yeah. Cool. Yet again on the podcast. Got any jokes, any anything you can share stand up comics? It was, it was, it was pretty rough, but it was great. Yeah. Yeah. I've always wondered what that would be like. I have a friend who does that seems like a pretty, Yeah, that's one of my jokes is about how tough it would be and I'd never do it. Yeah. Yeah. Nice. I love it. So you guys, I mean that was your why it sounds like you're why of this business wasn't really about the business you're y was doing life with people you want to do life with and you'll, you'll figure it out and you started the business because that was the skill set you both possessed, correct? Yeah, that's right. I painted and had kind of a similar experience in high school. My uh, you know, I met Tony in college, but before that, my good buddy from high school and I painted houses together in the summer and that last, last summer after high school, we started a little business together and he kept that going and ended up moving to Utah and running a painting company in Utah for a while. Um, but that was, you know, I'd, I'd already kind of done one season, I think we did two seasons of, you know, painting with a painting with a buddy and it's like, what better job is there, where you're just kind of working next to each other, talking, shooting the breeze, bouncing ideas off of each other, listening to music, climbing up and down ladders. It's like you want to be doing that with somebody, enjoy being around all day. So have you guys found that, I think Tony this, this was something I believe we covered a little bit, but that you guys sort of have either a complementary skill set or maybe it's two overlapping. How has that worked? I think, yeah, Tony talked about that last time, it took us a while to figure that out. It took us a while to figure out, hey, maybe we shouldn't both do all the same tasks. No. Again, anybody that listens knows, uh, if you're owning a painting company, there's eight different things, maybe 80 different things you got to be good at, You know, you have to be good at estimating, you have to be good at painting, you have to be good at dealing with the client, invoicing scheduling. It's like we would try and for years, just both of us would do every part of it and it took a few years in before I was like, hey, what if we kind of split this up and uh, you know, trying to figure out and I don't know that one of us was particularly more gifted at certain parts of it than the other one. One big one was, I don't do well with scheduling. Um and the reason is I hate to let people down and I have a terrible tendency to kinda over promise to tell people, yeah, we'll make that happen, we'll be there be there tomorrow. Yeah. And uh and I got us into trouble during that trouble, we'll start the project tomorrow. No problem. Created a bunch of stress and when there's two of us, you know, and we're not communicating all the time and Tony's telling somebody we're gonna be here and I'm telling somebody else we're gonna be there. Um we came to a point where I, I know I told Tony I don't want to do this part of the job anymore. It's the worst thing for me. It's what, that's where my stress is. And so it's kind of like looking at what stresses me out about this job and um is that something that Tony wants to take on thankfully, it was, you know, we also have feedback from people we worked with. it said, you know, it can be confusing sometimes. They're like, you guys do great will never hire anybody else, but it could be confusing because we were both doing everything so people wouldn't necessarily know who to talk to about what That was like. I mean, honestly that was the last time we talked, I talked about how we finally started thinking about the business 10 years in or something. That was one of that was probably the first thing that kicked in was we should divvy some of this up in ways that make sense and simpler for everybody, including ourselves. Yeah. Now was that, go ahead, ken? I think we spent a solid 8-10 years kind of avoiding the idea of being businessmen. Yeah, making fun of that whole thing. Like there's, you know, people in business, like we're just having a good time painting houses, you know? And so we really avoided that, like we don't want to be the man, we don't want to be, you know, these business people were just cool guys painting houses and so that's probably part of the reason it took us so long to kind of dial that in is we actively avoided avoided all of you thought that as long as you don't systematize and run it like a business then you can pretend you're not running a business. Yeah, I think that's probably true. Like the end to actually think about business felt like the antithesis to us of like everything that we were shooting for, I don't think that way anymore, but at the time we're in our twenties and know everything, you know? Yeah, you always do. Yeah. And so it was just like, oh no man, we're not, we're not the man, we're like just a couple of painters, you know? Yeah. How did I mean, was that a rough, was that a rough transition for you guys having to, you know, become the man or having to figure out, okay, you actually are running a business? No, it wasn't for me. I don't I don't know if it was if it wasn't for me because uh, because we personally didn't change for it felt like we would like before we started doing that, it felt like we would change and I didn't want to be that was your fear, I didn't want to become that guy, whatever. That guy was typical, not, not not nice boss, maybe you feel like, you know, a sell out sort of thing, Like I don't want to sell out and just make this about the money so we're not about the money, we're about like, you know, this communal and this relational part of it. Um, and then, you know, you start to realize like, wait a minute, like we still don't really care about the money that much, but you start to realize this is going to be a lot easier on ourselves and as you start a family and raising kids and and everything else, it's like, it's gonna make it a lot easier on ourselves if we actually take this seriously and it does, you know, it's like, it's not easy to run a business when you're trying not to be a business person. Well, you know what, we were the masters of improvisation, we could improve anything at any time. We were really good at it and uh but the thing is that, you know, that's all well and good for jazz or blues, but it sucks for running a business, you know, that's I think I talked in the last time we like nowadays, the number one thing for us is whenever we're trying to hone the businesses, like how can we be more proactive? So before everything was improvisation, you know, Oh, you need this, you want that, you know? And I mean we were just like, and we could make it happen, but it was like a lot more effort, you know? And we didn't realize like, yeah, we're actually, we're actually shooting ourselves in the foot. It took a long time to see that yeah, kids are, kids are pretty needy in terms of time. They want food, they want clothing, it's like, good God, you know what, what's going on? Yeah, yeah, I'm glad you glad you guys have systematized things a little bit. Um, and and continually improve that. What, what's been challenging for you guys, you know, working as friends, growing this business together, deciding it is a business, have you guys had run ins what, what has happened? Yeah, I know you brought that up last time and I don't know, Tony answered it about as well as I could there in 20 years of doing it, there hasn't been much um and we do get that question, you know, There's a lot of people that think that start a business together um and not too many of them do it for 20 years, and and uh I think probably the biggest thing is neither one of us cares about the money that much um and I think that's probably what does in, you know, 90% of these that start off as a partnership and then it falls apart, it's like 90% of the time, that's got to be because of the, you know, the money factor um there's some dispute about it and you know, we've always been 50 50 and it's always, you know, we've revamped some things over the years as to what does that look like, You know, it's like obviously we don't always work the same number of hours in a month, obviously, you know, we're doing different tasks and so how do you, how do you kind of make it fair? Um and that's the, that's the conversation that's come up a few times over the years, it's just like, how do we make sure this is fair? But I think part of it is we equally value each other in terms of, but you know, really believe Tony's time and abilities are equal to mine. And I think he feels the same about me. So it's like Whether he's doing a task that yeah, we'd have to pay somebody $200 an hour to do that sort of task and I'm doing one where it's like filling nail holes and we could probably find somebody for $15 bucks to fill those nail holes. We're still just paying ourselves the same hourly rate. And for us it came down to like, well we pay ourselves hourly because that way we we know we're doing it about as fair as we can and we value each other's time equally. I would say two, there's a couple of things that came to mind up one. The idea of the idea of equity and fairness is like, we strive for that with each other, but at the same time, that is not that that's really probably not real high on the priority list in our partnership. Um There's times like, you know, when we first did the, when we first had the business, um, I was still traveling four plus months of the year and Kit was not uh that wasn't going on anymore, but we were paying ourselves the same. There came a point where Kent was like, we might need to rethink how we're doing some of this payment stuff because you're working a lot less than me and I was like, yeah, fair enough, you know? And then, but then sure enough, it was like years later there was a season where they were in Costa Rica for five months, one year, the whole family took all four kids down his wife and they were down there for five months and it was like, so it was like I had to pick up stuff, but I felt fine picking that up because we were in it together and we weren't shooting just for equity. Um the other thing too that comes to mind is like maybe number one, I mean number one is like our friendship and cultivating that and probably number two, which is tied together with number one is just humor. Like I can't, you know, what was it we heard years ago, the average person laughs like seven times a day or something. We laugh like seven times a minute. I'm not, it's like ridiculous. And so when something goes wrong, it's rare that we go to anger. It's almost always we go to self deprecating humor, you know, and they're both really comfortable you were doing that and it just all becomes a part of the mythology that we have as a company of, you know, we're telling stories and it's like remember the time where you know, and it's like I underbid a job and we made $2 an hour or something and just, you know, where other people, I think you go in there with the money mindset, it's easy to have that become a frustration, but we both know each other's intentions and we both value each other over the business and over everything else and we both love the humor that it provides. So we got a lot of good material, you know, for funny stuff. That's right. Yes, that's right. Yeah. I think that, that, I mean that's a really valuable point. I think this idea that people take themselves and their businesses maybe a little too seriously at times and if you can just learn to, to shake it off and, and laugh even when something is kind of can seem kind of negative, like that can make your whole business journey a lot more enjoyable. Yeah. Yeah. I mean we definitely had mistakes we've had until I talked about that lacquer mistake years ago that cost that was the biggest one. But we've had plenty others where it was distinctly one of our faults, you know, really like really poorly thought out bid, especially in the beginning when we didn't know we were doing a whole lot with that or like, you know, getting the wrong color on a house and having the wire brush the whole thing or I mean there's been, there's been plenty of stuff that's come up that was distinctly one of our faults, but it's just like we see it as fodder for humor and moving forward as opposed to like this guy's a problem or holding me back or what? We've each done it. So yeah. How has it it been with you guys, growing your families while working together? You are your families involved in the business. How does that work? My wife does the books. Kids wife used to do the books. We fired her. No, it wasn't cutthroat enough for this bill, right? She's a counselor. Now she, when she went off to go to school, she dropped all of that and my wife ended up doing it. Just the timing worked out for that. But uh, otherwise actually we've had, we have had a few of our kids have actually painted a little bit with us, you know, on and off and it's like, oh, this is something they could do or whatever, but more so we did. I mean Kent lives like if I, if I had the right size rock, I could probably hit his house with it from my porch. You know, we, we live really close and the kids have all grown up together, Kent has four girls and I have twin girls and a son in and he's two of his kids are the same age as, as the three of mine. So we do vacations together often. You know, we were like in Kauai couple of years back or maybe the last year remember, But we do stuff like that. A lot of that kind of stuff and we do life together for sure. Yeah, that's great ken. I would really love to hear more about what you do in Costa rica. I know, I know you're doing some good stuff down there. Yeah, thanks for asking about that. And it is honestly, it's thanks to Tony that I'm able to pursue some of that stuff. Like you mentioned, it's been about eight years ago, my family and I decided we wanted to give give something else a try. And we went to Costa rica home school the kids and kind of tried out what it was like living in another country. Um, and we did that in the off season, you know, in the winter. But it was still, you know, then Tony's doing his job and my job And running the company on his own for five months and that was a gift that he gave to us. Um, to be able to just try something totally, totally different with our, with our family. Um again, the money for that didn't really come from the painting company. It came from, we had a house in Breckenridge that we were able to rent out for the ski season and that afforded us the opportunity to go try that out. We with our four kids worked as volunteers at a little community resource center down there that works with an indigenous tribe in this tribe has, you know, been in In the jungles of Costa Rica for 5000 years. And now there's like a Western development kind of happening on the edges of their reserve. And There's a lot of 13,000 indigenous people kind of trying to figure out what that means and how to transition if they want to transition into life in the Western world, education speak in spanish, which is not, you know, their their native languages bribery. And so we volunteered at this little community center, um, met a lot of those people. Our kids got involved and we came back and it was a crazy experience with our family doing that. And then we ended up going back the next year and again the year after that and about six years later. So now it's about two years ago, the people that ran that little non profit had kind of aged out of it were having some medical problems and they couldn't do it anymore. And uh we watched as that place kind of started to falter and fail without them there. And it became clear that it was going to close doors. And it had been a place that had meant so much to our family that had been such a cool thing to do together as a family that we decided we just can't watch it close down and disappear. So we basically took over the operation of that turned it into a 501 C3 nonprofit, which it had never been an official non profit. And and now we operate it, you know, as executive directors, we hired an indigenous family that runs the day to day there because we don't obviously live in Costa rica. So, and now it's again kind of thanks to, thanks to Tony and our business that we've built that, um, I still have the opportunity to be going there, go 3 to 4 times a year, um, kind of check up on things, meet with our board, make the big picture decisions and just try and be supportive of this really cool place that we like. So it's called El puente. It's in, you can find it at el puente the bridge dot org. Um, and I encourage listeners to check it out just because man, if you, if you're looking for a cool place to travel, do um, intercultural experience with your family or with your company or something. Um, you know, we take, you know, there's volunteer opportunities. There's opportunities just to visit. One of the cool things is this is kind of a birthplace of A cow, which is like where we get chocolate from. So you go there and see the people that have been making chocolate for 5000 years and how it's part of their culture and tradition and heritage. And there's some cool stuff there. Um, I'd encourage listeners to check it out and potentially visit Costa rica on the coast. Caribbean coast is not a bad place to visit. And if you want to make a kind of giving back in some way part of your trip then uh it's a neat opportunity. What's something that Kent didn't say that I really love about it is so much of what what it does is give opportunities for empowerment and choice to the to the people that it serves. So it's like it's not coming and imposing any western stuff there um on the bribery people, it just gives a focal point of empowerment and that can look all sorts of ways from like it provides. You know what a means to school for like 150 200 kids I think. And and of course they could do whatever they choose with that. But it provides a means for them to get to school and have the supplies and all that that they need. Um and it provides like training for guys who know how to build a lot of these guys are so ingenuity tiv and know how to build and do all sorts of stuff that is pertinent to that area. Um but it gives them a credibility to take these different classes or go these different things that then they have, they have choices to do what they want and also is like a real place of cultural pride. Like they are always having these celebrations of their culture there at El puente. And and you know the common, the common kind of thing when a when cultures clash, is it? The smaller culture usually is just kind of belittled and loses itself and this, this is like really uh it's really done something to do the opposite for folks to give them a sense of empowerment, a sense of they can choose to do all sorts of things and still be who and what they are. So it's pretty cool man, This is really cool. So it's, people can visit el puente. The bridge E L P U E N T E the bridge dot org, is that correct? That's okay, Perfect. So yeah, um ken I might, I might end up taking up on that. So I lived in Costa rica for almost two years and I've been wanting to take my family there and this sounds pretty perfect. So you and I might be, I think we're gonna connect about this. Yeah. And then just in terms of how it all relates to to painting um because that's the podcast, I would just say uh this is the sort of, I mean this is part of the reason that Tony and I got into this business um it just affords the opportunity to be doing other stuff, you know, it's like um painting is kind of seasonal, so we we have that off season and you know Tony spent a lot of travel and we spend a lot of it traveling pursuing other things. Part of the beauty of doing this business together is it gives me the opportunity to do something totally outside of painting something that's, you know, no financial reward in it for me, but it's something that I just get a lot of enjoyment out of doing and you know, you didn't talk about it at all last time, but Tony's got, I mean, so many pursuits also in his own life outside of painting, it's like we're painting so that we can be doing these other things. You know, Tony's writing novels and short stories and going to writers conferences and, and so, you know, we both have these things that are going on, it's like, hey, the painting is a means to something, you know, beyond financial, it's a means to, again, like relationship between us and it means to pursuing the sort of stuff we really find value in in our lives. I think it's funny too like, um so many people who are in the contracting world, when you talk to them, it's just sounds like, you know, they're working 50, 60, 70 hours a week, they're just going, going, going, going and like, we got into it with a very different mindset, you know, it was like, oh, well if we don't have, if we don't have a boss, then we can do what we wanna do and pursue what we want to pursue. And so that's been there from the start, You know, it's just like how can you know, what are other things that are important to us that this doesn't have to just be the thing. So I still, even when I listen to a lot of the podcasts on your podcast, that's a, that's something that feels a little different for us, like a lot of folks are really interested in growth and which is all fine, you know, that's that's like another pursuit of passion for some people. Um but for us it was like, well, you know, we were we wanted to have lots of free time um and we wanted to have lots of freedom to to just take off whenever we could and maybe do some other endeavors and and all that kind of stuff, so sure, yeah, I mean there, you know some people are, are really pursuing it with an extremely aggressive growth mindset and trying to create almost an empire and then other people, which is kind of, the approach it seems like you guys are taking is really more of a lifestyle. Business, you know provide value your community and ultimately allow use the business to be able to live a life that you otherwise wouldn't be able to. Yeah, I agree. And I think the the only conflict that I see is when it's it's people that are kind of pursuing that business growth, financial growth in the, in the mindset that like, well once I, once I hit this point, then I'll be able to like kind of step back and really pursue what I want to do. You know, once I'm making this much a year, once my business crosses that threshold, that's when I can really like kind of take it easy. And that, that's the one that I I think is a false, a false assumption. You know, we, we started it kind of from the beginning going, hey, this compliments stuff that we, that we want to do and we're not going to sacrifice the, you know, being with our families, traveling, being together, um and put that off towards like some kind of retirement date, like, or some kind of like once we hit five million a year date, it's like, no, if you're not doing that now, if you're not doing the things that you want to do that bring you life that give you an enjoyment now, then you're missing it, you know, that's uh don't put that off until like, oh, maybe in five years I'll be there. It's like, you know, if you're not doing it now, you're never going to be doing it, you know, or you're gonna get there and it's like, now you don't have any energy left to enjoy it. So we kind of kind of tried to integrate that the whole way. You think it's kind of like, um almost like an oasis or something, it it's not never really gonna materialize the way people think it will definitely what the philosophers call an object day. Right? You're just always you're always chasing the what object? It's like a subject, you know, Tony Tony reads and listens to too much philosophy. But what is object A That's the thing that you never have. That is just there. That's the perfect house, that's the perfect life. That's what object is. It's the win win this when that then when I have this or whatever, when things are like that, that's when I'll, you know, it's like you want to be who you are At the deepest and fullest, right? Where you are when you are, you know, and not have something off. I mean, that's aside from goals, this is this is the sort of thing we hashed through and we're, you know, I usually do this. I'm like, yeah, what do you think about object a and I got my hands swinging around with a paintbrush. Yeah, this is the sort of thing we spent 20 years, you know, huh, on the, on the side of the house painting and the hashing through like what is the meaning of life and what are we doing here together? You know? Yeah, man, That's awesome. So Tony. You're writing books Well, yeah novels and short stories and all this going on? I mean, their their words, their whether they qualify as novels yet, can we can we see them or any published? I haven't published. I'm right at the front end of of the first two maybe look, getting published here. So nice man. Well, congratulations. That's amazing. I mean, honestly that's just an endeavor for myself. Like it's more of like a cathartic, you know, thing. It's just like something nice to do and reflect. So yeah. But yeah, there's words their words now. There's some good, there's some good stuff. I'm sitting here as we sat down to do this podcast. We're at Tony's desk and I'm looking at his massive wall of books and the guy, the guy is just, you know, the amount of books and novels, histories and everything that that Tony goes through is just pretty incredible. And then yeah, has turned that around and you know, put it into put into his own riding. And I mean, there's poetry, there's there's all kinds of stuff and and that's, you know, another aspect of our friendship is they'll they'll send me those, you know, send me those things and look for, you know, feedback and editing and, and that sort of stuff. So yeah, so if you're looking for an editor, yeah, counts the guy. Amazing. So what is the, this is probably a pretty dumb question. But I'm gonna ask it anyways in case anyone's wondering it is there a plan for for old world painting moving forward or or is the plan to to keep doing what you're doing and and no real set concrete plan. Well, we don't have like, we don't, we've never sat down and said in three years and five years, that kind of plan. Uh as we, as we're doing things now, the main plan has been, what can we do to make everything more proactive and what can we do to expand like the, the endeavors that we have within painting and without, we have looked at, you know, we've done a lot of organizational things with the company with the idea that, well there could be a time in the future when we sell it, but we don't have any timeline for that and honestly with the way it is right now, how, how much we want to do that, I don't know, it's a pretty smooth running machine. So as long as we stay proactive there's really very few problems or anything. So it just feels like kind of this one part of life that's not like all consuming or anything, but we definitely, what 76 years ago something we sat down like, okay, what would make this thing sellable if we wanted to have, like my father in law always asked, well what's your exit strategy? You know, he's a real business which terrified him when he first met me, but he's all about it now, but he was like, he always still asked me like what's your exit strategy, so we try and have that, but we don't have a timeline or a plan that's just, if, if that comes up and sounds good, I think that's always in the back of our minds, it's like are we are restructuring this thing and are we managing it to the degree that if we were to want to turn it over some day, it would be an easy process. So that's everything from like really meticulous record keeping on, you know, products and colors and clients and contacts to like, uh yeah, kind of thinking through like what's our employment structure and and how is that transferable? So that's in the back of our minds. It's, it's not something we regularly talk about, but I think I also wanted to touch on, you know, Tony, Tony mentioned it earlier, but you know, he said something, you know, you know, Never wanted to be working like 50, 60 hours a week sort of guys. But the reality is, you know, We were at various times and again, anybody that's starting a business and done, it knows it's like, man, you don't always just get to set your hours and say, I want to work 35 hours a week. Yeah, You know, over 20 years, we've gone through periods where it's like, Yeah, we are busting out 50 or 60 hour weeks and, and even Tony was even fairly recently before we changed some structure in the summer. Yeah, in the summer times and it's like that wasn't necessarily what we wanted to be doing and it was like, we were just trying to kind of hang on and still sort things out and that's been a, that's been a long process. Um, and a lot of lot of learning curve and a lot of failure on like trying to figure that out and getting it wrong a lot of times and, and so yeah, it definitely has taken, you know, we always have prioritized stuff probably outside of painting, but we've also always kind of recognize that like, hey, this is putting the food on our table and when push comes to shove like maybe we got to work till 11 PM tonight and we gotta call the wives and say we're stuck on this job. We got to fix this, We got to get it right and we can't leave until we do so more often than not even when, when those times have come because they've ebbed and flowed. It's been a while now, but neither kit nor I, this is just how it is. I don't know, neither of us needs much sleep. So like that's always helpful as, as an entrepreneur. But it was like, you know, it was, it was easy in those stretches. It rarely felt like much of a chore to, to like get up at five a.m. Or whatever, right up some bids, go do a six hour work day, seven hour, work day, come home, hang out, go for a hike, maybe go to skiing during the day, whatever hang out with the family, then go to get the kids to bed and then Hang out with my wife or whatever and then at 10:30 11, then do another two hours of quotes or whatever needed to be done. That never felt like, but it didn't feel tired, you know, because I was doing so many of the things that I loved in between, it was like there would be hours of skiing in between, you know, or Or whatever, you know, where we live. It's like I can walk out my back door and I can go, I can go on countless hikes, I can be 15 minutes at the ski area. So like we just, it was never 9 to 5. So even those times where it came up, I was like, oh something's going on because I'm having to work like 11 hours, you know? But it was like, it was split up, it just didn't feel that way. And I, even if I weren't doing that, I was I still only sleep in four or 5 hours a night anyway. So it's like if I weren't doing that, I'd be up writing or whatever. So yeah, it was like a it would come and go like that, well I'm glad that you guys brought that up, you know, because I think one of the things, one of the things that I want to make sure doesn't happen with our podcast episodes because different people are, are at different stages of their business. You know, when they're listening and things are not always positive, you know, for people growing a business and, and um, you know the way you guys kind of portray it sometimes seems like, oh man, this is easy, you know, you can just do it. So I think, but, but you've acknowledged that sometimes you have to do things you didn't want to do and you had to work longer than you had to and, and uh, that's the nature of the beast. But at the same time, you guys maintained your perspective, you maintained while you're, why you're doing it and you never said, well I'm just gonna sacrifice the next three years or five years. I'm not going to see my kids and I'm gonna hate my life. But then object is going to be there waiting for me. You guys never made that choice, right? That's true. Yeah. And I can't overestimate the value of having a partner in this. Uh, you know, things do go wrong. I mean, we've had major disasters and like Tony said sometimes it's completely his fault or my fault. You know, we had one a few years ago. Yeah, almost always, you know, we had a few years ago where like I picked a product to put on a house and it was the wrong product. It didn't adhere right. It completely failed. We had to chemically strip an entire exterior, you know, probably 5000 square foot house and it was like a nightmare. You know, I mean, a loss of loss of probably close to 10 $10,000 you know, it's like that, that sort of stuff happens and it's like, but the value of having somebody to share it with to just call and go, oh man, did I screw this up? We are in trouble now. It's like, and it feels awful but have somebody that's like in it with you, that's like, yep. And, and then, you know, you can face it together is incredibly valuable and you know, even if you don't have a business partner, it's like to have, you know, there's plenty other contractors out there, There's a lot of times a group of contractors, you know, Tony and Sarah pardo went up here where it's like, hey, whether it's like a plumber and electrician and a, and a realtor getting together and just sharing that, you know, here's what's going on in my business and here's what I'm facing and having a group of people in your community that you can bounce that stuff off of is really valuable. You know, for us, it's great because it's like we're doing it together, you know, every day. But you know, if it's, if it's people, you can meet with once a week in the business community. Um, you start to hear those stories and it starts to be like, wow, I'm not the only one, it's like up against this it feels like overwhelming there's other people out there struggling for it and trying to figure out how to make it work. I feel like I feel too like we I mean I can't say how often we hear people or we have people say something like I can't I can't believe you guys are business, like I can't believe you're business partners or you have done it this long. I don't I don't know how you could do it with a business partner, but I'm always thinking like I don't know how anybody could do it without. Yeah. Um and that's coming from, you know like I'm I'm a person who does, I will do a lot of stuff very independently in life. You know I like I've gone on you know backpacking trips where I'm like three weeks without seeing another person and that kind of stuff and you know what I mean, like I can I'll do that kind of thing or whatever, but the idea of doing a business on your own, it just feels like it just feels exhausting to me, you know who I get to laugh with when I mess it up, you know what I mean? Yeah that that that power of community man that's that's such an important point. I'm glad you guys acknowledged doesn't mean you have to have a business partner, but if you're out there on your own and and you know join a group find a group of of other entrepreneurs business owners, contractor group join the P. C. A. Get in the get in the facebook groups because you're not you're not kind of in the in the heat of the battle or you know whatever stage of your business right you're not the only one there and there are other people you can talk with and empathize with and and it's important you know we're a social species. Yeah. Um That's that's super valuable guys. So you I want to go back to this point of of kind of making the company sellable because I know that's a big thing for painting companies. It's a big kind of pain point in the industry right now. This idea that painting companies are not sellable seems like you guys have given a lot of thought to that. Um And I know Kent you talked about meticulous record keeping uh customer list products etcetera. Having your your sounded like your standard operating procedures. Your S. O. P. S. Really dialed in. What else are you guys really doing to try to give yourself, even if you haven't specifically planned an exit strategy at least give yourself the option of having a viable exit strategy. I've got something. Yeah you go ahead. I got a couple to uh the first couple of things that come to mind are we have a proactive I think I talked about this a little bit the last time, but we have a proactive, we have a like a proactive maintenance plan with our customers. And I feel like in terms of a selling point, this one's huge because most people I talk to, they're like, oh yeah, you know, if I sell the business, I got, I got this phone here and it's got 400 clients in it, you know, and they're thinking like the client list is the thing, but really a client list, you know, it's all well and good, but what you want to be able to sell is the relationship to the client, not just their phone number, you know, or email or whatever. And so I, we've created this like thing where we're in contact with the client. We don't do, I think I said we don't do like monthly stuff because I don't feel like that's actually communication. That's just like sticking, sticking in somebody's faces and trying to be in front of them, which is fine. But we do stuff that's actually, we try and be like communicative, like I will contact people about the specific needs that their home may need. And I've got it all systematic and so, You know, our client list is 700, some people now in a selling point uh, is that, hey, I've got a system in place that actually brings you, you know, As things stand now, it probably brings $1.1. 5 million like you know, you've got a flyer going out monthly. No, you've got specifically specific houses. It's all systematic. It takes almost none of your time. But what is that, what is that? Proactive plan? Well, it's just like knowing what maintenance needs are up here, which is a little more freak well, a lot more frequent than most places because, You know, we've got homes at 11,000 ft in elevation here and, and you know, the lowest home in our county is probably 80 700 ft. So we get serious U. V. Stuff and then, you know, the weather here, the freezing snow freeze and thaw cycle is, it just wreaks havoc on stuff. So there's a lot of maintenance to do. And then since things are stained mostly and not painted, you've got like the semi transparent and transparent stains. If you let those go up here, it's a, it's a real work to get them back to where they look right and you can only do that a couple of times because you're really rough on the wood when you're doing it, you know, so we try and be in front of all that. So when I finish a house, when we let's say we finish a house, I've got, I've got spreadsheets lined out for years in the future and it's like, okay, this house has these details, there's smooth wooden railings that our sun exposed. You know, in a deck that's sun exposed. So I put that two years from now. I put that at that moment. I put it in the spreadsheet for two years from now and then I contact that client two years later with a form letter that I've written. You know, that just says, hey, we did your railings two years ago and uh, you know, experience tells us I should come look at them. I don't know if they'll need done. I'll just give you an honest opinion about it and it comes with no pressure and you know, that sounds way better than that. But what I said, you know, but No, it's like I'll send that out to, depending, you know, there's probably 100 to 200 people clients every year. They get some letter of that sort That is personalized to their specific home and the details there they know I'm thinking about it. I'm watching out for their home. Of those 100 to 200 people 80% get back to me and say take a look, you know, And of that 80% I do it proactively. So it's like of that 80%,, You know, it's more like 30% that actually have recommended work 30-40% of that 80 and then Maybe one person out of that 30 or 40% says, I don't want to do it this year. The restaurant really appreciate you caring for our home. You know, you almost have this guaranteed, basically guaranteed repeat work. Yeah. It's, that's what I'm getting at. It's like you can give somebody a client list, but it's just not the same as giving them this program. So it guarantees like a million million 0. 5 gross a year. So it guarantee, the only way it's not gonna happen is if you don't do it, you know, so that's, that's one thing that we've set up to try and like make the business more sellable is just like, here's a yeah, I mean you said, you know, a lot of people feel like a painting business isn't really sellable. And I think totally it is. And mainly because wow, if you painted somebody's house, it's gonna need painted again. Um, you know, it's, it's gonna need paint it again and it's one of the beautiful things. Yeah, of course. You know that, so as that Tony's right, It's about building that relationship and following up with those clients that you've already worked for and uh, you know, not, not waiting for them to, you know, five years later, forget who painted the house last time and google painters, but you know, for you to be the one sending them an email and saying like, hey, we did your house five years ago, maybe I should come by, take a walk around and let you know what it needs, you know, as we all know, most homeowners are way late in the game when they realize, oh my house might need painted this year. It's like, well it probably did if you notice it now, most homeowners that probably needed it three or four years ago. So we're the ones that are the professionals were the ones that know what, what needs attention, what doesn't. And man, the clients love it too. And they get an email from Tony that says, hey, good news. Your house doesn't need any work this year. We'll evaluate it again next year and see how the decks are looking. Yeah, I'll say like next year or three years from now let them know of educated guess. It's funny, I'll get emails back from clients when I say that they just say Tony, you're the man, you know, because I'm like not selling anything Tony you, you have officially became the man. Yeah, I didn't want to be right. There. It is. So no, we actually, uh, I mean we've never, we haven't sold a painting company, but we have, we did years ago by a painting company. Um, and it was based in, you know, picking county, which is aspen area, you know, real high end tomes over there. Um We actually bought a painting company that had done a lot of commercial work and that worked out for about three years and it's just, it was too much of a commute to be over there. But that was something that the guy I bought that company from had done pretty well. He had kept records of um the places he had done and he had recurring contracts to paint, you know, the same building every seven years. And it was like, that's an easy purchase for me because I know like, Hey, he's, he can show it to me on paper. He did this building 14 years ago, he did it seven years ago and now it's coming up again this year and he had a list of, you know, dozens of complexes like that. And so for me, I was able to buy in, um, take those records and for itself in media. Yeah, it paid for itself right away and we ran that for several years before it was like, we just can't, you know, it's a 2. 5 hour drive that we didn't want to keep trying to do. So, but yeah, it gave me some insight onto, okay, if I wanted to sell my company. Uh this is part of what we would need to do is dial in. Like, here's the people we work for and here's when we painted their house, what we used on it and what's going to need attention two years from now. The other, another thing that I, we keep trying to do is whatever that cancer is doing or I'm doing, we just keep trying to get rid of it. Uh like to pass it on to somebody else. So like I mentioned, I hired, we hired a good buddy to do quotes last year and to do quality control. Um and it's like, you know, it's funny as a business owner, I don't know if I ever consciously thought that, but I think I thought, you know, for the longest time nobody could do quotes but me, you know, in Kent like we know what we're doing, nobody gets. But then I created this system was like, well what am I doing actually? And I created a system for quoting. Um and then we hired our buddy And I was like, I really don't know if this is a system. And I handed it off to him and he, I mean within two weeks he was bidding within 1% of me every single time. I was like, oh this is a system, you know, and and once we saw that, but you know, we hired him last may. And by the end of the season I was like, I'm not gonna do, I'm not doing any bids, I'm just, you know, Dustin can take care of all of them. And then, you know, that's it's like the only time I do something like that now is like Dustin's out again, we're trying to forward this kind of stuff with anybody that's with us, but Dustin's out on a on a hut trip in europe right now skiing. And so I'm doing some bids, you know, because he's gone. But we're just trying to farm out what we could do. I have contractual stuff. I do employees that I keep hounding my wife to do that I want, you know past those to her because mainly because if I'm not doing it then that means the business isn't me. You know, anything that we could do in the end to make the one thing that we can't farm out is our personalities which which we are charming. Let me tell you. And always yeah, it goes a long way though with clients that you know, we can't farm that out. But anything else that we can, we really need to figure out ways to do that, right? So then it's just like a hand off to somebody to yeah because otherwise you you know, you to be able to sell it, you have to you have to be able to not be in it. Yeah, someone else has to be able to pick it up and run it. Yeah. And I think that was a tough thing to get past is that whole mentality that I'm the only one that could do this. I'm the only one that could quote a job. I'm the only one that could possibly spray spray lacquer or figure out, you know which stain to use on this house. Um You know, there's a million things that you just feel like there's no way I could train somebody to do this. It's kind of trying to get getting past that mentality. No, and it's hard, you're right, it's hard, especially for, you know, when you've built the business and you've done it a certain way, even if it is a somewhat commonly known skill, let's say, um you know, some sort of painting um method of painting, you still feel like, well this is how we do it here. Yeah, yeah. Well, and there's like, it's funny that kind of mentality just follows you because at first we were just slinging brushes, you know, and and it was like, you know, well this guy do, well I couldn't possibly have somebody lacquer that was like such a sensitive, I think he wanted it perfect etcetera. I couldn't let somebody, you know, and then it was like, you pass that off and then, you know, there's some other thing, there's like, I couldn't possibly the same cycle and now neither of us are really painting painting, we're like running things, you know? But then you sit there, I couldn't possibly let somebody big no one, no one else could ever run things though. Yeah. You know what I mean? And it just like keeps going and you're like, now we're to the point where like we are completely unnecessary, how can we, how can we get rid of ourselves? What a beautiful thing, man, What a beautiful realization that you guys are building something that can run without you. Yeah, ideally ideally. Yes. Yeah. In the process. Yeah, yeah. But I will, I will return to like, it definitely, You know, it definitely took 20 years to get there. And uh, yeah, there was a lot of, lot of period in between where it was like we're just hanging on, you know? Yeah. Well guys, this is, this has been incredible, ken. I thank you for coming on, Tony, thank you for coming on again. You guys have anything before we wrap up anything else that you want to say advice you want to give stories you want to tell anything else? Gotta be some good story. Oh man, there's a million stories. I opened the door. Yeah. So no, I think, I mean when we've said it all along, but you know, the beauty, the beauty of having a painting company and maybe it's any business, but we just know painting is, you know, for the fact that it affords you the opportunity to live your life the way you want to live it and whether that's, you know, traveling the world, they're running a nonprofit or writing a novel or whatever. It's like, that's what it's, that's what it's done for us. And that's the beautiful thing about, about the business we're in. So yeah, and if those are the thing, if you have those kinds of endeavors that you want to pursue do them from day one sacrifice. Like literally sacrifice. You can let the business get hurt by it. It's fine because you're just, if you do it the other way around, it's probably always going to be off in the distance, you know that thing that you're wanting. So it's like, you know, make sure you're choosing your big priorities first and and and let the business kind of follow that and keep laughing about it. Yeah. Oh yeah. So that's our that's our painting life, philosophy. There you go. There it is. There it is guys. Thank you. Um for this. This was this was This was amazing. This was insightful and I'm gonna remember to to laugh way more than seven times per day. You gotta laugh more than seven times per day. I'm not sure I'm gonna match you guys at seven a minute, but we'll see if I can get somewhere in between there. Yeah, that would be my object day. No. Well, in a year I'll laugh seven times a minute. All right, all right, you guys take care 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 they're 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 Pros.com 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.