Get smart with continuing education

by Jim Williams

Valspar-Cabot TrainingDavis Kyle isn’t asking to change the world—just how we paint it. Kyle, the executive VP of the Master Painters Institute (MPI), believes the paint industry needs to raise its game, and a renewed focus on quality and education are key drivers.

Kyle looks to the institute’s vision statement about a dedication to quality standards and quality assurance in the painting and coatings industry as a perfect jumping off point for helping pros to understand the importance of education.

“Everything we do is focused on performance, on the products and the systems, and ensuring that the customer is getting the best value for their dollar,” Kyle says. “And as a result, the most environmentally friendly thing we can do is to make sure that when we paint a wall, it’s going to last and you’re not going through the whole enlargement of the carbon footprint [by making] sure that it doesn’t have to be repainted every six months.”

To get better as an industry, it’s all about educating the folks doing the painting, Kyle says.


MPI offers four courses that can be taken online for a nominal fee: Essentials of Paint & Painting Technology, Architectural Painting, Maintenance Repainting, and Inspection. It’s the ‘Essentials’ course that Kyle feels every painter in the industry should take.

The 8-chapter course costs $350 and covers coating technology and paint types, color concepts, paint application, best safety practices, the basics of specifications and standards, and environmental regulations and compliance.

Top coating manufacturers and paint-industry suppliers like 3M, Benjamin Moore, PPG Paints, Sherwin-Williams and Valspar also offer training programs, seminars and education resources for paint pros.

PPG Paints, for example, offers a PPG Paints Pro Partner training for the commercial contractor, primarily focusing on products and application techniques. These training opportunities can also be very specific. Its livable spaces segment (multifamily, student housing, senior living, and government housing), for example, is geared towards maintenance supervisors and maintenance personnel, and looks at common issues frequently faced in these environments.

“Their success is our success, and PPG equips professionals with the right trainings, events and classes to further their opportunities and knowledge,” said Terry Guenthenspberger, PPG’s senior segment marketing manager.

3M offers education in a train-the-trainer format called ‘3M University,’ investing time and resources to train the retail channel and distributors. Training subjects can vary, but 3M has focused on topics like low-VOC advancements as well as “3M products and tools that help the painters get the job done faster, safer and easier,” added Steve Martyr, 3M’s pro paint channel manager. Retail channel associates and distributors can then go back to their respective retail locations and show what they know to pros who visit their stores.

“We also invest time at numerous pro shows and direct-selling events,” says Martyr. “Yet another way we provide training to pros is by partnering with several professional associations like PDCA and FTI (Finishing Trades Institute). All of these training events are a combination of theory and hands-on demonstrations.”

3M’s events are offered on a request basis by local area 3M sales managers. The company offers between 150 and 200 education events a year across the nation.

Pros who step up their education game could find themselves in high demand, Kyle adds.

“Education will not only save money in the long run and make people more efficient, but it’s going to help build the credibility of people who have the education,” he said.


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