Author Topic: So You Want To Be A Painter...  (Read 14872 times)

the PAINTSMITH

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So You Want To Be A Painter...
« on: April 19, 2010, 08:09:58 AM »
So You Want To Be A Painter...

The meaning and requirements involved with that statement have changed quite a bit over the years, no more so than what it is becoming right now. There has always been a lot of people who believe that a box of brushes and a rag or two made for the instant "interim" career, side-business, even life-long pursuit. But for the serious, dedicated tradesman/craftsman, the words involve a commitment to education and training that goes far beyond a white van with a cool logo...

For centuries the system was patent and effective; A young man would be mentored and trained by the journeyman. Often a father-to-son passing of secrets and skills, that for the bulk of history did not only include learning to tint coatings (white was predominant), but to make them in the first place. The most tried and true form of teaching in human history, apprenticeship, served humanity without the need for curriculum, schedule of classes, or chemistry courses. The apprenticeship system, though still in existance in isolated instances, has only recently gone the way of the Studebaker, and sadly, did that not long after...My own apprenticeship ended in 1990, and I've hardly heard the term since, much less met anyone in the painting trade younger than I who claimed to have trained in kind.

There was a wild and crazy span of time between my journeyman certificate being signed and the late '90s where the demand was so high for journeyman painters that anyone with a brush and a story could easily (and mistakenly) be hired on the spot and paid wages that true tradesman spent years working their way towards. "Anyone can paint!" became a rally cry for the laid-off IBM and Motorola exec who had a BA in BS, and the way that painters came up through the ranks has still not recovered. A conscientious contractor trying to weed through the used car salesmen to find real painters found they were up against not only smooth talking hacks, but the nanny-state; the government developed rules and hiring requirements that made it more and more difficult to fire those who didn't measure up. In Arizona it became fashionable to hire illegals, most of whom were at least honest enough to admit they knew nothing of painting but were either eager to learn or willing to take simple laborer positions. There were more than a few advantages to the employer to take the risk of hiring illegals; For the most part, they did what they were told how they were told to do it--They trained well and fast. Rarely did they argue or risk their tenuous employment, and they made their employers a LOT of money by being paid under the table, bypassing the exhorbitant fees and tax-matching and paperwork that documented citizens required. But this post is not about illegals, only mentioning their contribution to the evolution of the trade...

There will always be the "Anyone can paint!" mentality. Mostly because it is true. Put a loaded brush in the hand of a two-year-old and he will prove it to you right before your eyes...But not just anyone can fix what "anyone" paints. I've known self-trained painters who stuck with it long enough to actually know their stuff, but it took them twice as long to get to a journeyman level and a lot of their technique was questionable. The just-out-of-high-school summer house painting crews are, for the moment, still around, and the economy is convincing more and more potential customers to become their own painters, also a topic for another thread. Paint contractors aren't hiring right now, and I don't see that changing anytime soon...

My dad worked for the Bell Telephone system from the early fifties to shortly after the AT&T breakup. He was an electrical technician, and knew his stuff--For his time...One day they came up to him and said "Vern, you have two choices: Go back to school and relearn EVERYTHING YOU KNOW or take early retirement--We're going digital!" My dad took the retirement. The system the phone company was changing to was literally a new, completely different world. This is about to happen to the painting trade.

Without trying to get political, if you look objectively at the course of events the government has taken over the last thirty years or so regarding a vast number of industries, one can legitimately assert that our own government is effectively criminalizing EVERYTHING we do. Think about it; Rules, rules, fines, fines, rules and fines. Certification. They are dictating even the tools we must use. The fines they intend to impose can amount to more than a contractor's yearly income for one simple incursion. The sole proprieter is being pressured out. These rules will apply to the "college painters" and the handymen and the associated trades such as remodel specialists, window installers, etc. I am being faced with the same question my dad was all those years ago, and I'm afraid I have no desire to reinvest my entire life in order to prolong the inevitable. I am effectively retired as of this weekend. I cannot afford the tenets of a bureacrasy with no interest in my success or livelihood.

So you want to be a painter...

...The response no longer refers to skill or experience or education, but whether you can afford it...?


Offline BrushJockey

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Re: So You Want To Be A Painter...
« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2010, 10:01:25 AM »
Great Eric- thanks for taking the time to do that! 
"It would be ludicrous to think I'm new to this, I know this, this is what I do"  ( Prince and Geo Clinton..)

Offline CarlThePainter

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Re: So You Want To Be A Painter...
« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2010, 01:23:42 PM »
What would be your perfect scenerio then as to how our government should handle this?

 


the PAINTSMITH

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Re: So You Want To Be A Painter...
« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2010, 03:05:54 PM »
Carl, there is no "perfect scenario", not unless you subscribe to the current utopian ideal that your nose be blown for you and your butt be wiped from birth to death by a benevolent government. There is and there will never be a such thing as a benevolent government. Once that is understood, the ONLY scenario that has a chance of 1) Allowing people to determine their own direction and goal as per their own level of desire and ambition to achieve that goal, and 2) Allow those same people to work an honest day to make and charge an honest fee, and 3) Maintain a price schedule that gives the most amount of homeowners the ability to afford PROFESSIONAL painters instead of letting their houses go or having the choice taken away from them to be able to hire someone at all, and 4) Maintain a status quo that has worked just fine for the last century or more, the scenario is simple:

Keep the government out of what they know not.

The American government (or any country for that matter) cannot claim even one success in the business realm. NOT ONE endeavor has broken even, much less made a profit, and all that still exist either exist by the grace of government subsidy or are constantly under the threat of needing it. Please name for me even one gainful business ever run by any government anywhere. People in government have no concept of scratching and clawing and competing for their income, most have never known a paystub that wasn't provided by the taxpayer.

The more industries that the government lays it's heavy thumb upon, the more industry that leaves the country, downsizes, or shuts down altogether. But they insist on telling us how to do our jobs.

But back to the topic of this thread...

How does one go into business as a painter? How about a hypothetical...OK, he hires on and works up the experience ladder with a contractor or series of contractors for whatever amount of time it takes to to earn a journeyman status, then invests in a vehicle and tools and advertising and licences and periphery overhead like phones, bookkeeper, the like. Then he's out there, on his own, underbidding himself in order to get some jobs, some word of mouth, try to build his business. But he's new to being in charge, doesn't quite have his legs under him, and once, just once, he forgets a required tool, forgets a step in the government's Little Red Book for paint contractors, and somebody calls it in...

Does a $37,500 per incursion, per day fine sound even remotely rational? Do you believe that the government will take this poor sot's position and "green-ness" into account? The entire structure of how a painter does his job has now changed. Billy-Bob Bucksnort, the local handyman, has just been put out of business because he can't afford the fees, certificates, and the chance that he gets one of those rational $37,500 fines slapped up-side his head. This will repeat countless times across the country. No more can someone simply develop their skills and and take advantage of the God-given Right of opportunity to let the market decide whether you're good enough.

The wheels of this type of government progression do not stop either. The time will come where being a painter, self-employed, hired on, regardless, will require a degree. Certification classes will become courses in a broader requirement, but all those poor homeowners who can't afford a professional yet aren't even covered in the EPA rule and are the single most prone to create exactly the damage we're supposedly being certified against will be on their own in those lead-based death traps that have been killing untold millions since the first brushful hit the first windoe sash.

This will apply to a great many other trades as well. And you absorb the costs how? By raising your fees? Look around, there's not many buying now, see how many throng to your doorstep once you've raised your price even a little. Then there will be insurance. Think your business policy will cover fines? Not at the current premiums...

I know I sound indignant, but people need to give this move by the EPA some serious thought. No longer will it suffice to do good work, or even exceptional.

Now it will be necessary to be a painter, a chemist, an investigator, a car salesman and a lawyer, all in order to paint someone else's house built before 1978...

Offline CarlThePainter

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Re: So You Want To Be A Painter...
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2010, 05:19:56 PM »
Well, the issue for me is that nobody has been fined $37,500 yet.    I don't know if the government will actually fine small companies the full amount.   I'm hoping that is the maximum fine.   I'm hoping that huge figure is just there to scare us all into getting certified.   I'm hoping that the maximum fine is reserved for large companies, not the small guys.   I'm hoping that small companies will get fined $500, $1000, $1500, etc.....more reasonable amounts so that the contractor can get the message, but still survive.    I know I may be naive.    But, I am not so naive that I don't think that the government will use whatever they can as a tool to collect money.   I know that is their primary goal.   But, they still have to be reasonable.   You can't fine people half their salary and expect them not to come after you .... they will.

Offline chrisn

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Re: So You Want To Be A Painter...
« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2010, 06:00:47 PM »
There is all that Eric said and lets not forget that all the contractors that comply or then left open to Suzy homemaker suing said contractor for any lead based symptom that pops up in the kids, let alone any kind of birth defect from the as yet borne children.Is your insurance policy going to cover any of that?I think not. :'(

the PAINTSMITH

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Re: So You Want To Be A Painter...
« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2010, 05:53:54 AM »
Well, the issue for me is that nobody has been fined $37,500 yet. 

The rule doesn't take effect until April 22, in two days.

Quote
  I don't know if the government will actually fine small companies the full amount.   I'm hoping that is the maximum fine.   I'm hoping that huge figure is just there to scare us all into getting certified.   I'm hoping that the maximum fine is reserved for large companies, not the small guys.   I'm hoping that small companies will get fined $500, $1000, $1500, etc.....more reasonable amounts so that the contractor can get the message, but still survive.    I know I may be naive.    But, I am not so naive that I don't think that the government will use whatever they can as a tool to collect money.   I know that is their primary goal.   But, they still have to be reasonable.   You can't fine people half their salary and expect them not to come after you .... they will.

If you've been watching what the government's been doing to people the last few years, you know better than to believe they have the capacity for jurisprudence.

The goal is to kill jobs. The goal is to stifle self-determination and individual endeavor.

When even the lowly mom&pop paint outfit is threatened by this kind of restriction of trade, there is reason for great concern.

Offline CarlThePainter

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Re: So You Want To Be A Painter...
« Reply #7 on: April 20, 2010, 08:07:21 AM »
I know the rule hasn't started yet.    That was my point....I don't know what is really going to happen.    I also don't know if they even have the manpower to enforce it right now.   I think a lot of us have decided to just do nothing or completely avoid pre-'78 homes until we see how this thing actually shakes out.

Offline Jake

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Re: So You Want To Be A Painter...
« Reply #8 on: April 20, 2010, 11:24:13 AM »
As Adam Corolla ranted about many times on his now great, late, morning radio show......

"The pus$ification of America"

The only thing that separates Paint from Pain... Is a t.

Offline Jake

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Re: So You Want To Be A Painter...
« Reply #9 on: April 20, 2010, 01:04:58 PM »
Got this emailed just today from a friend of mine.... How fitting!!! Eric, you're gonna love this!!!  ;)  .............................

*edit* After reading this again, man it just really makes me realize just how lucky we were and just how much times have changed in such a short amount of time!  :-[


No matter what our kids and the new generation think about us, WE ARE AWESOME !!!

OUR Lives are LIVING PROOF !!!

To Those of   Us  Born 1925 - 1970 :
 ~~~~~~~~~

TO ALL THE KIDS WHO SURVIVED THE
1930s, '40s, '50s, '60s and '70s!!

First, we survived being born to mothers who may have smoked and/or drank
while they were pregnant.

They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can, and didn't get tested for diabetes.

Then, after that trauma, we were
put to sleep on our tummies
in baby cribs covered
with bright colored lead-based paints.

We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, locks on doors or cabinets,
and, when we rode our bikes,
we had baseball caps,
not helmets, on our heads.

As infants and children, we would ride in cars with no car seats, no booster seats, no seat belts, no air bags, bald tires and sometimes no brakes..

Riding in the back of a pick- up truck on a warm day was always a special treat.

We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle.

We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle, and no one actually died from this.

We ate cupcakes, white bread, real butter, and bacon. We drank Kool-Aid made with real white sugar. And we weren't overweight.
WHY?

Because we were always outside playing...that's why!

We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on.
No one was able to reach us all day.
--And, we were OKAY..

We would spend hours building
our go-carts out of scraps
and then ride them down the hill,
only to find out we forgot the brakes.. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem.

We did not have Play Stations, Nintendos and X-boxes. There were
no video games, no 150 channels on cable,
no video movies or DVDs,
no surround-sound or CDs,
no cell phones,
no personal computers,
no Internet and no chat rooms.

WE HAD FRIENDS
and we went outside and found  them!

We fell out of trees, got cut,
broke bones and teeth,
and there were no lawsuits
from those accidents.

We would get spankings with wooden spoons, switches, ping-pong paddles, or just a bare hand, and no one would call child services to report abuse.
 
We ate worms, and mud pies
made from dirt, and
the worms did not live in us forever.

We were given BB guns for our 10th birthdays, made up games with sticks and tennis balls, and 
-although we were told it would happen- we did not put out very many eyes.
 
We rode bikes or walked to a friend's house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just walked in and talked to them.

Little League had tryouts
and not everyone made the team.
Those who didn't had to learn
to deal with disappointment.

Imagine that!!

The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law!

These generations have produced some of the best risk-takers,
problem solvers, and inventors ever.

The past 50 to 85 years have seen an explosion of innovation and new ideas..

We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all.

If YOU are one of those born between 1925-1970, CONGRATULATIONS!

 
You might want to share this with others who have had the luck to grow up as kids before the lawyers and the government regulated so much of our lives  for our own good.

While you are at it, forward it to your kids, so they will know how brave and lucky their parents were.

 

Kind of makes you want to run through the house with scissors, doesn't it ?


~~~~~~~
The quote of the month
by
Jay Leno:

 "With hurricanes, tornados, fires out of control, mud slides, flooding, severe thunderstorms tearing up the country from one end to another, and with the threat of bird flu and terrorist attacks, are we sure this is a good time to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance?"

 

 
For those that prefer to think that God is not watching over us...go ahead and delete this.
For the rest of us......pass this on.
« Last Edit: April 20, 2010, 01:08:01 PM by Jake »
The only thing that separates Paint from Pain... Is a t.

the PAINTSMITH

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Re: So You Want To Be A Painter...
« Reply #10 on: April 20, 2010, 03:33:22 PM »
I got off on a tangent. My original post was intended to display how much more difficult THE EXACT SAME SKILL is being made to make a living at over time.

I have a beef with powers that won't even hire a professional (or non-professional) painter to offer invaluable input.

Painting is universally considered by those who don't do it for a living to be the easiest trade on earth to get into (besides songwriting  :o ). It has never been so and is less and less so now, and not because of materials or technique.

I am finishing up may last documented paint job this week; A Sikkens restoration (when will they stop?). After that, I just work WITH friends, not FOR them.

Offline RTQ

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Re: So You Want To Be A Painter...
« Reply #11 on: April 20, 2010, 04:11:13 PM »
April 22 is two days away and out of the two paint stores that I buy most of my product from, nobody has gotten the lead certification yet; although it has been a hot topic of conversation at the counter.  Pretty much everyone has a wait and see, how bad is it going to be approach.  The path of least resistance is certainly to get a "job" of some sort and have your taxes deducted from your payroll.  Remember what happened when "Joe the Plumber" asked how he would be supported as an individual who wanted to work for himself?  I am seeing more and more discouragement each day.  I live just outside of Seattle, Washington.  The Idaho Department of Commerce has been advertising in Washington recently to attract companies to the attractive business climate to the east.  If you go to the Washington Commerce web page the second link is for employment opportunities at the commerce department.  Work for government. Neat. 

Offline BrushJockey

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Re: So You Want To Be A Painter...
« Reply #12 on: April 20, 2010, 07:23:33 PM »
Got my company cert a couple days ago.  Working on a job now that has some chipped up doors and I don't need no stinking tester to know what is underneath.  So every procedure I'm thinking about how to do this now.  But I am moving forward.

 "It would be ludicrous to think I'm new to this, I know this, this is what I do"  ( Prince and Geo Clinton..)

hey - I'll use that as my sig line!
"It would be ludicrous to think I'm new to this, I know this, this is what I do"  ( Prince and Geo Clinton..)

Offline rmichael

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Re: So You Want To Be A Painter...
« Reply #13 on: April 20, 2010, 10:47:20 PM »
While driving to work today I was passed by an old station wagon packed with paint splattered 20 somethings, in tow was what appeared to be a flat bed farm trailer loaded with ladders and five gallon paint pails. As I watched the wagon speed away I felt the poignancy of the moment, that the good fight may have been lost. I hope not.

On the subject of the "Rule" I think that the EPA's last minute removal of the liability waiver has caught everyone off-guard. The EPA has made no serious attempt at notification (of the Rule) to contractors, cert classes are not readily available in most areas and a lot of painting contractors are simply unaware of any changes in EPA regulations. I guess that is what we get when bureaucrats run the show..  :(
« Last Edit: April 22, 2010, 10:03:26 PM by rmichael »
Pro Painter 30 years ~ Down East Coastal NC

"Hell Son, It's always been about the work."

Offline Lynjowoman

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Re: So You Want To Be A Painter...
« Reply #14 on: April 22, 2010, 10:03:13 PM »
It is very discouraging to try to make a living these days, with all the Joe Blows out there working for nothing, cash under the table & drawing unemployment checks every week. Had a very good client ranting & raving about the prices she was paying, while her  "friends "were getting their work done for almost nothing.  I wonder how many of them are certified.
I'm almost at the point of giving up & retiring. But I do love my job & am proud of the the work I do.

Lynjo
"Whatever women do they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good. Luckily, this is not difficult."
Charlotte Whitton

 

anything