Painting Pro Times, the source for paint professionals!

The economy is expanding. Peeking through PPT’s glasses, it is looking rose colored. Over the last year, small business’s gravest concern has shifted from regulation and tax oppression to the worker shortage. Here, we sounded the Millennial no show alarm in 2012 and have continued on about it. Industry wide, we observed the technically skilled exodus. Part of skill black hole is from the dreaded, constant age demographics.  The rest of the decline happened seemingly overnight, because of the  massive worker walk-away due to the great and extended 2007 recession.

Nationally, paint application at the vocational school level has been largely shuttered. Instead of career preparation education, we are trapped with the everyone must go to college effort. In most places, high school and undergraduate programs have been dumbed down (as compared to other developed nations) to accommodate the new order notion of no-working with your hands.

How is that academic/social experiment working out? Well, American university May walkers have accumulated the most student debt in history. In fact, some face mortgage like payments. It is a common Millennial struggle to find employment that comes close to justifying the over-sized college bills. Many of the degree holders are basement dwellers that fold clothes and make coffee. In the foreseeable future, on a macro scale, the big frown on craft careers will make the missing skilled worker trend worse.

To attract young blood, professional painting must elevate its stature! What does that mean? Construction in general and paint coating and application specifically, need to become more attractive to the 20 – 40 year old crowd and fast. This means showcasing the art and science aspects of craftsmanship at every opportunity. These introduction occasions must be designed as fun, engaging and compelling enough to appeal to the best hands-on worker types.

It is time to consider team building and leadership training as an integral part of a satisfying occupational path. Plus, we must utilize digital platforms where young potentials hang out. And integrate a modern, somewhat flexible work schedule that other industries have adopted. Although not the main priority to attract good people, as an industry it may be time to pony up better compensation and benefits. Increasing skilled workers’ packages will require small business to charge higher hourly rates. Again, think of craft elevation: serve customers with a better trained workforce to provide an upgraded value…every day.

In addition, we must cast an ever expanding net; create a farm system. Professional painting must consider introducing children and teenagers (the Centennials) to craftsmanship. Like any sport, the big league becomes more appealing when everyone sees a champion. At the very least, it is important to proudly and positively present craftsmanship to many, many young people. Meanwhile, it is way overdue to redefine technical skills: we must re-order/establish a clear and mile-stoned filled path from Apprentice to Journeyman and eventually to Master.

Each year, we lose more experience than we bring on. If this trend continues, the bucket may be empty before the job is done. Whatever future technology holds for the application industry – we may see more prefinished products in new construction and longer repaint cycles – but there is no question when the gray/white hairs age out, we will need an army of re-paint experts. For now, it appears many paint and coating outfits will turn away projects due to lack of skilled technicians…not good!

We have a News Alert: The EPA is killing Paint Removers. The Agency has announced that a new regulation is imminent for N-Methylpyrrolidone (NMP) and Methylene Chloride (MC) in Paint Removers. The rule has not been published yet. Last year, a draft included cutting NMP to 35% of its strength and outlawing MC except for two groups: the US military/government and furniture strippers.

Remember the weird science the EPA used to enact RRP? The ole cook the books routine mixed in with a very weak need for the rule itself was in play. Well the paint remover regulation is about the same with a little help from the EPA’s lawyer friends.

In other News, Dunn-Edwards has introduced Enduracat, a pre-catalyzed, water based epoxy. “Enduracat is a high-performance epoxy ideal for use in environments where frequent cleaning, moisture or mildew conditions may exist,” notes Neha Koneru, product manager for Dunn-Edwards.

If you like Festool or use mixers often, check out the US product introduction of the MX 1200 and Ergofix system. Reportedly the MX 1200 will mix mud, plater, and stucco materials, as well as paint and coatings.

Like PPG and Sherwin-Williams, Graco has reported excellent quarterly financial results. Graco’s record sales and profits of 2017 appear to be maintaining momentum in 2018.

Recently, Sherwin-Williams signed a block buster deal with Lowe’s. Sherwin-Williams will become the only “nationwide supplier” of interior and exterior paints to Lowe’s U.S. retail outlets. Lowe’s will be the only “nationwide home center” offering Sherwin-Williams’ brands: Minwax, Cabot and Thompson’s WaterSeal stain brands, Purdy paintbrushes and Krylon spray paint.

According to the National Drug-Free Workplace Alliance, small businesses bear the greatest burden of substance abusers. We have informative article titled Drug Testing, which in simple terms explains some of the legal implications to consider when instituting employee drug-testing or implementing a drug-free work policy. Of course, it is a best business practice to seek legal advice form a competent person familiar with your state’s and federal employment law before adding to company procedures.

A recent job report indicates that nearly everyone is looking for help. From our friends at the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), we have a small piece, Small Business is Hiring that includes some graphs, which provide good visuals. It is interesting to note, according to the NFIB the majority of small business are looking for skilled workers. There may be people looking for jobs or better jobs, but it looks as though companies are looking for workers that are ready trained professionals/experts.

Because we are paints nerds, every once in a while we like to feature a futuristic breakthrough. In New Material Lighter/Stronger than Steel, there is great potential and even a chance that a new era of coatings may be developed. Plus, it is really cool that artificial intelligence is leading the way to new discoveries.

Thanks for reading Painting Pro Times!

Please send comments and corrections to

Mark Casale, Editor

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