Photo of painting contractor Curtis Tankersley, owner of Just Add Paint!, Shiremanstown, PA

Contractor Q&A: Curtis Tankersley

PPC sat down with Curtis Tankersley, owner of Just Add Paint! of Shiremanstown, Pennsylvania to find out what he has learned on the job.

What was the biggest turning point in your company’s success?

The day I decided to focus on the success of my team rather than myself. The first thing I did was introduce a profit sharing system. Once this happened, everything changed for the better almost immediately. From worker attitude, to performance, to profitability, it was like somebody flipped on a light switch. In hindsight, I have realized that I was spending my days micromanaging and getting frustrated by the small things I could not control. I replaced this behavior by paying more attention to what my team was communicating to me and the others, and then focusing on the unique strengths each of the guys had and could bring to the table. A happy and involved crew is a profitable crew.

What’s the biggest challenge of running your own painting company?

Meeting a continuously growing demand while trying not to over-extend. I have read that there is an art to expansion, but to me it feels more like an ongoing game of tug-of-war. In the past, I realized that having more employees has led
 to more hours wasted trying to solve conflicts and problems and not much to show for it. Maintaining a high-performance organization means taking a little more time to make sure the right group of people with complementary skill sets are in the same place at the same time.

What’s the best business advice you ever got?

After narrowly surviving a large-scale residential project that was driven into the ground by an unqualified project manager, it was suggested to me that the best way to avoid such nightmares in the future would be to educate myself on business practices. Within a week I had researched and joined the Painting Contractors Association. At first I was skeptical about what they could possibly teach me – but after a few months I caught myself wondering how I lived without them. The PCA offers courses on everything from paint chemistry to writing business plans, and they make it easier to connect the dots and navigate the choppy waters associated with contracting. There are plenty of these types of organizations out there, and it is my belief that they all have quite a bit to offer to anyone who is trying to be better at what they do.

What’s your favorite part about running your own painting business?

We are most definitely a results driven company. There is a certain thrill that comes from overseeing a project that runs smoothly from start to finish. Happy crew members resulted in great work, and consequently, happy customers spread the word and help create more happy customers.

A condensed version of this article was originally published in the Winter 2015 issue of PPC magazine. Curtis Tankersely was interviewed by Mike Starling, PPC Editor. Read more about what pro painters have discovered on the job in the PPC What I’ve Learned archive.