In this post, we talk to our Co-Founders Jay and Elliott to discover how they are raising the bar in the local Vancouver painting industry. Both Jay and Elliott have decades of experience running and rallying successful painting companies in the lower mainland area. They both understand the hustle, challenges, and rigor required day in and day out to lead operations of a commercial painting company. In this freewheeling Q&A, we discuss the stigmas, misconceptions, and challenges of the painting industry.
What is a common misconception about the painting industry?
A widespread perception about the painting industry is the view that an individual painter, a painting contractor, and a painting company are all the same. For customers and even people in the trades industry, a painter is just a painter. Someone who comes in a project, wearing white overalls with rollers, paint sprayers, and some paint. More than likely, everyone has painted a room and understands the idea of painting, but little do people know, painting is a 22-step process, not a 3-step process.
The distinction between a painter, a painting contractor, and a painting company like ours is blurry. We aren’t talking about a distinction without a difference. The difference is real and becomes apparent when people get a chance to deal with these three distinct entities and experience the contrast for themselves. The distinction is in the project experience, the end results, customer satisfaction, prices, and job quality.
What’s your take on the culture of the industry?
The majority of the people in the industry are super hardworking and professional. But still, the trades industry can be a rough place where swearing, uncleanliness, and casual attitudes are more commonplace than other industries. The casual culture is friendly and harmless most of the time, but it can sometimes get out of hand and impact the quality and timeline of a project.
How is PLE changing this culture?
We are aware of these industry norms and are purposely driven to change these attitudes and perceptions. At PLE, there’s a level of professionalism that we stand by, and there are things that we do not tolerate:
- Absolutely no swearing on job sites
- A tidy and clean job site throughout the life of the project
- Respect for those collaborating with us and the clients we are serving
- Respect for the environment and local waste management practices
What is the secret sauce for your hiring process?
We hire people who want to work in a growth environment and have the drive to bring color to sometimes dull walls, figuratively and literally. We offer a unique and collaborative company culture, and it starts with understanding our team members and leveling up their employee experience with us. Every day is a new chance to push each other to be better, learn new skills, apply new systems, and streamline processes. We are big on collaboration and training and work hard to ensure that our employees are successful in their work lives and happy in their personal lives.
There is zero or minimal training for new recruits in the industry. How is PLE changing this industry norm?
We offer a systemized and organized onboarding process to ensure all new hires have a successful and smooth start when they join our crew. We connect them with the right resources and playbooks and familiarize them with our processes so that no question is left unanswered. We’re not usually ones to boast, but we have excellent systems in place, compared to other companies in our trade. There’s no limit to the diversity of jobs, and we offer training if our team is looking to develop a new skill set.
We make sure to set our team up for success.
Painting is a growing industry, with the hiring of painters expected to grow by 6% by 2028. Does this statistic seem too optimistic in a post COVID world?
It is a remarkable statistic to feel hopeful about the industry’s future and to rally our team members and the industry folks. Although very useful to gauge where the industry is going, we don’t take these surveys too seriously. Our focus is still on our clients, teams, and the trades community in the lower mainland area.
What is one constant challenge of running a painting company?
One consistent threat and challenge for a seasonal business like ours is to keep our crew busy in the lean winter months. We do hire people on contract, but most of our trusted crew members are full-time employees. That means making sure salaries and benefits aren’t impacted by the low business volume during the lean winter months. This problem gets exaggerated because in summers we need more people to manage the volume of work. It is a tight rope to balance the employee roster with the changing seasons and fluctuating demand. We are committed to our team, and they rally with us during peak months to make sure we have finances to support everyone on the team. We are working on innovative ideas to keep ourselves busy during the winter months and find a solution to this classic catch 22 situation of running a season-dependent business like a painting company.
Is collaboration easy in the trades industry in Vancouver?
Collaboration can be painful or exhilarating depending on how aligned two entities are on achieving their common goal, i.e., customer satisfaction. We try to work with good people and provide value through our work. To us, collaboration is a no-brainer, and we more than likely will collaborate with multiple companies in the trades when completing a project. Our team enjoys being involved in these multifaceted jobs, and it is exciting to be a contributing and active player in the local Vancouver trades industry. Shoutout to the lads and ladies at
It feels like everyone is winning, all the time.
Can a painting company have a positive impact on the local community?
Every company can have a positive impact on the local community. It’s all about the mission of each brand and what they are trying to achieve. We’re very ingrained in the fabric of the local community. We make an effort to build and sustain relationships in the community because the strength of connections and the value of community-building have always been important to us. We get to show up at local schools, stadiums, helipads, local businesses and add color to these communal spaces.
It’s a great feeling to know that our work is seen, enjoyed, and appreciated in the local Vancouver community. We think painting companies like ours are very relevant and do have a positive impact on the community. PLE and other companies like us help create jobs, collaborate on creating the aesthetics of our public and private spaces, and help preserve our ecosystem by adapting environmentally friendly green practices.
As Jay and Elliott pointed, even though painting is a highly technical skill, painters are still considered just painters. Since almost everyone has had some experience of “painting,” it seems like anyone can do a painting project. Alas, that is not the reality. Starting a painting company seems like an easy task, but it isn’t. There are many stigmas and challenges in the painting industry that aren’t as visible from the outside. After this chat with the guys, we feel more informed about the challenges of running a painting company in the lower mainland area. The last word from the guys:
Even though there are many misconceptions about the industry, we still wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. We love working in the industry and making a real impact with our work in the lives of our customers and our team members. In the thriving real estate market of Vancouver, despite the challenges, a painting company can create value for themselves, their employees, and the community.