Ron Adderley has been working as a professional painter since 1968. He is the owner of Prism Painting in Bellingham, Washington, running a three-generation crew that includes his son Ben and grandson Nick. PPC sat down with Ron to find out a little bit of what he’s learned in his 50 years in the painting business.
What was the biggest turning point in the success of your business?
When I made the decision to choose quality over quantity. It’s not about how many homes I can paint in a year or how fast I can work, it’s about making each home that I paint something that the owners will love. Having happy, satisfied customers at the end of a job is what makes me love what I do!
What is the biggest challenge of running your own painting company?
Satisfying the customers. Every customer is different. You need to take the time to find out what they need and then bring it to life. You need to do what you said you were going to do, when you said you would do it.
What is your favorite part of running your own company?
The customers that I work with. I am a people person and I have many friends that I would not have if I had not painted something for them. I am also blessed to have a three-generation crew that includes myself, my son Ben, and my grandson Nick. Ben joined the business in 1983 and his son has been working with us for the past four summers.
Tell us about one of your most challenging and/or rewarding projects.
I paint quite a few older homes. They have very unique architecture and require a lot of detail work. A key to painting these older homes is to not over trim them, there needs to be the right balance so as not no make them appear too busy. The architecture of the building should be highlighted not overdone. With the help of my Sherwin-Williams sales rep, Leslie Danielsen, who helps me select the right product for the job and how to use it, I am able to assure myself of a satisfied customer.
One older home in particular that was both challenging and rewarding had about 100 outriggers that we hand painted. The customer had a specific color in mind that they had seen on another home. Sherwin-Williams did custom color matches for them until the desired color was achieved. When the project was finished Leslie created a custodian report that detailed the work we did. It showed which colors went where and had a sample of the colors in case the customer needs touch-up. The customer was extremely satisfied with the outcome of their project!
What’s your advice for anyone who wants to pass on their painting business to the next generation:
Make sure that the new owner understands the paperwork process, the bidding process, taxes, all of it. Their word needs to carry weight. They should live by the motto: Do what you said you were going to do. Integrity and honestly go a long way with referrals.
Anything else you’d like to tell young people entering the business?
Take good care of your customers. They are the biggest asset you have and without them you would be out of business.
A condensed version of this story was originally published in the Fall 2018 issue of PPC magazine. Ron Adderley was interviewed by Mike Starling, PPC Editor. Photo by Paul Conrad. Read more of what pro painters have discovered on the job in the What I’ve Learned archive.