While working for the union, I came in touch with a lot of products, like solvents, that can affect your health. I have a touch of asthma; I had breathing problems, my heart would skip. Then my dad, who had also been around all those chemicals, died of leukemia. Who knows if that affected him. Not long after that, my fiancé and I had a baby, which further heightened my awareness of environmental health risks. Then I learned from a couple in our office, who have an autistic child, that they have chosen to use zero-VOC paints in an effort to ensure his health.
That helped me to realize that zero-VOC paints are a good option for my family, my customers and my painters. Now it’s just what we do.
I make it a point to inform my customers about VOCs. I ask if they have allergy issues or asthma, and tell them how VOCs might affect their breathing. And I share how even if they can’t smell VOCs, they are still in their home.
I actively promote painting healthy nurseries for babies. We post photos of nurseries on Facebook mom’s groups and on Instagram. It’s not about, ‘Here’s a pretty room, buy it.’ We get more results when we focus on people’s health. We ask, “If you’re about to have a baby, are you aware of the issue with VOC paints?”
We also do direct mail. When we have a job coming up, I mail flyers to nearby neighborhoods. On one side of the mailer is a home exterior and the other will be something about ‘green’ or a photo of a healthy nursery.
No one else in this area is using this approach. We push the marketing toward parents’ feelings and concerns for their children. That’s usually a pain point. They may not care for themselves, but if it’s for their child …
To figure out if our campaign is working, I use PipelineDeals, a CRM system. For every incoming phone call, our receptionist asks callers how they heard about us. It’s usually through Google, a referral, or they are a returning customer.
We also offer pressure-washing services using a safe, green detergent as often as we can. And we offer dustless sanding with a Festool sander and certified HEPA filters.
While we promote the use of green products and methods as a benefit to our customers’ health, we also recognize the benefit to our employees. They shouldn’t have to inhale chemicals that aren’t good for them, and they shouldn’t have spackle dust all over their clothes and cars to bring home to their own families.
For 18 years, Ryan Amato was in the New Jersey painters’ union, where he was lucky enough to work for a single company for most of those years. But the events of 9/11 and, then not too many years later, the Great Recession, drastically cut his workload. On his days off, he did side jobs. Then the scales tipped and he had enough side work to branch out on his own; he joined forces with his father and a cousin, both union painters. Six years ago, he incorporated as an LLC. His father passed away and Amato and his cousin now run Amato Painting, which does interior and exterior commercial and residential work, and has between 15 and 20 employees.