The CPIA Looks Back at 2020 and What’s Ahead for Commercial Painters in 2021

Designed to fill a gap of resources for the commercial painting business owner, a new trade organization called the Commercial Painting Industry Association (CPIA) was formed in 2020.

The organization is described by founders Steve Hester and Aaron Moore as “a peer group-driven trade association focused on bringing together elite business owners and their key team members on a regular basis to share, connect, and grow as both individuals and leaders.” PPC editor Mike Starling spoke with Moore to see how the CPIA’s first year went, and what’s on tap for 2021.

As it turned out, the CPIA launched in a very challenging year, to say the least. How did COVID and other challenges affect CPIA in 2020 and what did you have to do to adjust your original plans and expectations?

The biggest challenge was canceling two in-person events we had planned. We think one of the biggest benefits of membership in the CPIA is the connection between fellow owners and industry leaders. Those connections are difficult to forge across the country online. To adjust, we held more virtual meetings and webinars in lieu of in-person gatherings.

What are you hearing from your members so far?

So far we have gotten a lot of great feedback from those involved in the peer group. They appreciate the relationships formed and the feedback and input from fellow owners. Additionally, one thing we’ve heard from our members is taking the time to prepare for meetings and reflect on their businesses is a great practice that may not otherwise take place.

What initiatives will you be taking in 2021 to help members?

We had many prospective members who were unable, didn’t qualify, or were unwilling to make the commitment required to be part of a peer group, so, we listened and for 2021 we are introducing a level of membership that does not require the revenue requirements or participation in a peer group. They will be able to enjoy the resources and members-only section as well as many partnerships we have secured that they can take advantage of.

What’s your sense of how the commercial painting segment fared this year compared to last, and what the forecast might be for 2021?

I don’t have a clear sense of how COVID affected companies across the country, but with PPP and decent backlog, most companies I have spoken to have faired pretty well. That said, looking forward, no one really knows. We all know some sectors are going to be tough… think restaurant, retail, hospitality, event venues, etc. But other sectors like warehouse and manufacturing seem strong. Office may get hot if companies start restructuring or downsizing because volatility is good for us. When people move in or out they usually paint.

No matter what happens, the thing we value most at the CPIA is the connections with our fellow contractors. Regular meetings with our peers outlining what’s working for them and what may not be, helps us keep our finger on the pulse and lead the way toward the future.

A final note from an industry partner

“We often hear from our customers about the need for and interest in trade organizations like the CPIA,” says Nate Wolff, commercial segment marketing director at Sherwin-Williams, a founding sponsor of the CPIA. “As a company we want to do everything that we can to help pro painters succeed and grow their businesses. Groups like this are invaluable resources, and we encourage our customers to take advantage of the opportunities they offer.”

Aaron Moore is president of Precision Painting & Decorating, based in Bellwood, Illinois, and one of the founders of the Commercial Painting Industry Association. Learn more about the CPIA at its website