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AMERICAN PAINTING CONTRACTOR • June 2015 13 From the Field M ost readers know that in 2012 I part- nered with Todd Pudvar, my longtime friend and paint colleague, in a paint industry training program called Prep to Finish (preptofinish.com). Prep to Finish has two educational goals. One is to go out into public voca- tional/technical schools and teach youth about career opportunities in the paint trade, to help bridge the gap between noncollege-bound students seeking employment and contractors who have trouble finding them. Second, P2F trains professional painters on current products and processes to work more efficiently and profitably. During the first couple of years of its existence, the P2F Contractor Training Program was run exclusively out of our Topcoat shop facilities in Vermont. We hosted several effective training sessions, with contractors from large markets in Massachusetts and New York sending employees to us for hands-on instruction. One company that sent staff to Ver- mont in early 2014 was Ramsden Painting from Massachusetts. Todd and I had met Ron Ramsden at the PDCA National Expo a couple of years prior. And that is where this story about networking with PDCA gets interesting. PAINTER TRAINING While we knew that Ron was an active PDCA member, we did not know that he sat on the executive board of the North- east Council, which oversees several large market chapters in Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island. Ron shared with his fellow council members his company's experience in sending crew members to Prep to Finish for training. The interest level among Ron's PDCA colleagues was such that he called us last fall to inquire about the pos- sibility of P2F partnering with the North- east Council to mobilize our Contractor Training Program and make it available to chapters in other markets along the East Coast. Long story short, Prep to Finish's paint sponsor — Sherwin-Williams — was willing to host these events in its store warehouses, providing both a functional and convenient location for this type of professional development. THE EVENTS The first event was held in March in the Boston market at the Medford Commer- cial Sherwin-Williams store. Thirty-one pro painters attended over the course of two days for hands-on training in both HVLP and air-assisted disciplines, specif- ically focused on waterborne finishes in both clear and paint-grade flavors. From there, we worked with the North- east Council to set up another two-day series in Port Chester, New York, which is convenient to the Connecticut market and also very close to NYC. This event took place at the end of April and was attended by 21 pro painters. WHAT'S UP WITH PDCA? Having trained over 50 painters in a couple of the larger East Coast markets, Todd and I came away from our work- shops with a favorable impression of the council, the chapters and the members whom we met. The professional painters who attended our workshops were either employees who had been sent by their companies, or owner-operators of smaller companies. It was refreshing to see that both business models are well-supported by each other and by PDCA. That is the reason that the need for Prep to Finish training was identified by PDCA in the first place. The individual chapters had reached the point where they have a very solid support mechanism in place on the business side, in terms of marketing, sales and estimating. We were particularly impressed, upon meeting many of the paint company own- ers, with the extremely high level of pro- fessionalism that they represent. These are some serious businesspeople, who hap- pen to have chosen paint contracting as their vehicle. In many cases, the owners are not very good painters — or not painters at all. They are operating busi- nesses completely in the focused capacity of an owner. While I have written for many years By Scott Bur t Networking With Today's PDCA " " The most successful painting companies that I know are finding a healthy amount of work because they have deeply rooted and solid business plans in place.