The Next Generation of Paint Entrepreneurs
Jason Paris discovered early on in his professional career that working in corporate America wasn’t his calling. He had bigger plans to one day be a small business owner. That dream became a reality when he left his job in 2013 and launched Paris Painting, LLC, a residential and commercial painting business. Less than five years later, the 31-year-old entrepreneur and busy father of three is now leading a diverse team of hardworking millennials who are managing millions of dollars in painting projects in the metro Minneapolis area.
Q WHAT WAS YOUR PRIOR EXPERIENCE IN THE PAINTING INDUSTRY?
I painted in the summers when I was in college and also part-time during the winters with my roommate’s dad, who owned a commercial painting business. At the time, I was studying economics at the University of Minnesota and was working to pay my tuition.
Q WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START YOUR OWN PAINTING BUSINESS?
After I graduated from college, I began working at a local Fortune 500 company. I had a cubicle and would wear a shirt and tie to the office. It wasn’t fulfilling, so I began to think about ways to achieve my goal of becoming a business owner.
I knew the painting industry had great potential with low barriers to entry and it gave me the best opportunity to compete well in the market. In 2012, I formed an LLC and started managing a small crew of painters. At the time, it was a hobby company I ran on the side. A little more than a year later, I quit my job to put all of my focus into the business and officially launched Paris Painting.
Q HOW DID YOU ACHIEVE SUCCESS SO QUICKLY?
I think the turning point was when I hired a project manager who had a great deal of painting experience. At the time, he was stagnant in his career and saw potential for growth in this business. I was in my mid- 20s and, admittedly, not fully aware of the challenges and risks I would face, but I was overly optimistic and eager to work hard.
I quickly learned that there isn’t a secret to winning in this business. Instead, you simply need good personal skills, a friendly attitude, and a lot of energy. Ultimately, I was driven to put everything I had into the business which, in turn, helped me get a lot back and I’m very glad I pushed through some of the more challenging times.
In this industry, many are just surviving. Not everyone can say they are thriving and building a company that is sustainable. For us, that means we’re not reliant on a single person (the owner) to perform and drive the company.
We’re not fully there yet, but by building an organization with redundant roles, we should have sustainability. There are plenty of small painting businesses that go under when the owner gets injured, sick, disinterested or burned out.
Q HOW DO YOU ATTRACT AND RETAIN EMPLOYEES?
We currently have approximately 40 people on the team. In 2017, we began acquiring really good people—all millennials—to expand the corporate side of the business. We have a great leadership team consisting of estimators and production managers, and those who focus on business development. Some are in their early 20s and it’s cool to see them play key roles in a business that is expected to generate $3 million in revenue in 2018.
We recently hired an employee right after he graduated from college, even though he had a promising career opportunity already lined up. He ultimately declined that job offer because he wanted to work with us at Paris Painting.
I think the reason our company is so desirable for young professionals is because we built a good culture, one that is very forward-thinking. Our office environment encourages collaboration, open discussion, and group decision-making. It is filled with Apple computers, bouncy ball chairs, kombucha drinks, and even dogs on occasion.
We also have great incentives. Employees are well compensated and afforded the opportunity to make a very good living as compared to their peers, even if they are early in their careers.
I think the trades are a great place to be for the upcoming generation, as the baby boomers are continuing to retire. This is an exciting time for millennials who are looking to enter the painting profession.
Q WHAT IS YOUR ROLE IN THE BUSINESS?
I would say I mostly fill in the gaps. I go where I’m needed, which changes as we grow. Currently, that means I’m almost always in the office and rarely in the field.
Q ARE YOU A TECH-SAVVY COMPANY?
Although a lot of our business is automated through technology, I do think it’s an area in which we can expand on. We are just crossing that threshold and expect to be even more digitally advanced in a few years. Currently, our clients can schedule estimates online. And employees can communicate in real time to the office when they are out in the field through our web-based digital app, which we created and wrote.
Q WHAT DO YOU FORESEE IN TERMS OF GROWTH?
We love painting and do it well, but we are currently exploring ways to grow the business and are evaluating options that align with our corporate infrastructure.
We obtained a general contractor’s license, which we now offer as an ancillary service in addition to our pressure washing and handyman divisions. We are determining if we can do these projects on a larger scale to start servicing clients and cross-pollinate. Although these products are different, they follow a similar business model approach.
We have had great success and I’m proud to say we built a multimillion-dollar painting business in a short amount of time. It can take decades for some paint companies to get to this point. It’s been a lot of fun and I’m excited to see where the future takes us.
Jason Paris is the owner of Paris Painting, a nationally recognized residential and commercial painting business that is a member of the National Association of The Remodeling Industry (NARI) and PDCA. Paris-Painting.com