Power Breakfasts Forge Strong Contractor/Sales Rep Bond

Sherwin-Williams Sales Rep Becomes Coach, Teammate and Friend

Many contractors view Sherwin-Williams’ sales reps as valuable assets to their business. But not many contractors can say that it was a sales rep who inspired them to start their business.

“I can honestly say I wouldn’t have started NOVO if it wasn’t for Jake Marple’s encouragement and guidance,” says Cole Palea, owner of NOVO Painting & Property Services in Seattle, Washington.

Palea first met Marple, his local sales representative at Sherwin-Williams, while working for another painting company. He became fast friends with Marple when he realized they both came from the islands—Palea from Hawaii and Marple from Guam. They started having breakfasts together, featuring fried Spam, until one morning when Palea told Marple he was planning to leave his job.

“My old company wasn’t a good fit for me anymore,” Palea says. “I was going to go home to Hilo, Hawaii, then take a job in California for a competing contractor down there. At breakfast, Jake didn’t tell me I should go start my own business, but he did offer me support: ‘You’ve got the tools. You have more experience than you think you do.’ That ended up being the nudge I needed to start NOVO (Latin for renewal/change).”

Since that pivotal breakfast ten years ago, Palea’s business has been very successful. They’ve painted the interiors of numerous corporate office buildings and Seattle landmarks, including the Seattle Art Museum, the Seattle Aquarium, and Pike Place Market. And through it all, Palea has kept Marple closer than ever.

He views Marple as an extension of his team and frequently brings him to client/prospect meetings. Marple’s presence—as well as his 33 years of experience as a sales rep—has helped Palea secure several high-profile projects.

“If I go into the Seattle Aquarium and say ‘Hire me,’ they’ll be like, ‘OK, great. What does that mean?’” Palea says. “It means I have a team behind me. I can say, ‘I have a painting ecosystem comprised of me, my team, and my dedicated Sherwin-Williams sales rep.’ Jake will show up to the meeting and know what he’s talking about. He understands our style and knows how to represent our brand. He helps me prepare, so that when I talk to the Aquarium, I can say, ‘I’ve already reached out to the EPA, Labors and Industry, and Seattle Public Utilities. I’ve consulted with all your team on this project.’”

That preparedness has helped NOVO seal important deals, but it’s not the only way Palea and Marple’s relationship has paid off.

Marple has also highlighted products for Palea that help his crews increase productivity and efficiency, such as the Purdy 14-inch Roller System.

“That 14-inch Purdy roller has been a good efficiency booster for us on smaller offices,” Palea says. “We bought a whole set of 14-inch rollers for everybody who’s working on our crew.”

Another productivity enhancer has been the PRO+ App. Palea says NOVO crew members use their PRO account to conveniently access key information—such as purchase history and store inventory—and order products online.

“It’s especially good for reordering paint, since it can pull up previously spec’d color numbers or even custom colors you ordered in the past,” Palea says. “Overall, we find it to be a really helpful tool.”

Marple has consistently proven to Palea the value of having the right rep in your corner. Palea even spoke about this very subject at a recent Sherwin-Williams’ Northwest regional sales meeting, talking to managers about the power of a great rep-contractor relationship. He considers Marple more than just his sales rep.

“Jake’s my mentor, teammate, and friend,” Palea says. “And we still have breakfast together at least once a month!”