Painters’ Brush With Success

Tom Barbour found 137 painters in the yellow pages.
Barbour, who was looking into the possibility of becoming one, was not detered.
Barbour, who had a background in IT programming and management for 20 years, was pursuing an entrepreneurial dream of owning his own business. He was attracted to painting, although he had no prior experience other than his own house.
“I looked at different careers, and this was head and shoulders above everyone else,” Barbour said. “And, I had no background in painting. Just painting my own house.”
He went on to own a CertaPro Painters business. He services the Tulsa metro area. He is not a typical bottom line profit focused entrepreneur. Tulsa was a fit for CertaPro Painters because while home values in the majority of the country are suffering, values in Tulsa continue to appreciate.
“We started talking to people about what we could do. We offered computerized proposals, offering accurate measurements of the amount of paint a project would take and how much time,” he said. “That is what sets you apart.”
The key to the business is establishing good practices and making the process as painless as possible.
“It is less about paint and more about the process,” Barbour said. “That is makes us different, the overall experience as opposed to just painting.
Once done, the customers receive a callback from a third-party survey company.
“That party calls and asks about the experience,” Barbour said. The call ensures the customer received good service and was pleased with the job.
Barbour’s first house job was February 2005.
Today he employs 11.
According to industry estimates, the North American paint contracting market approaches $100 billion in yearly sales. Market potential is built not only upon the aging housing stock in North America that needs painting every three to seven years, but increasingly on the explosive interest among homeowners in the use of paint in home décor.
The do-it-yourself consumer segment has shifted to the new and emerging, do-it-for-me.
The paint contracting market offers strong growth potential for CertaPro Painters because it is one of the few segments of the home improvement services industry that remains highly fragmented and without large-scale competitors.
The franchiser, CertaPro Painters, is one of the largest painting companies in North America with more than 385 locations worldwide. The company plans to open 80 locations this year alone, working toward a goal of 450 locations by the end of this year.
Barbour and his wife, Monica, have three children, one of whom has Down syndrome. Barbour, always involved in community service, became involved with the Little Light House through his son.
“I was set on making sure the business could be a source of support for the community we lived in, and it turned out that our family needed the community’s support early on,” said Barbour.
Barbour’s CertaPro Painters works with the Little Light House; a special needs school for children.
Each year CertaPro of Tulsa sponsors “Laps for Little Ones” by paying to have a banner at the event and they sponsor “Links for Little Ones” by paying for ad signs on all of the golf carts and by sponsoring a team to play golf.
CertaPro Painters evolved from Canadian-based College Pro Painters, the largest student painting company in North America.
The estimated initial investment ranges between $90,000 and $140,000 and includes marketing and other start-up related expenses. Royalties are 5 percent of gross sales with an additional 3 percent advertising royalty. The business can be operated from home but is expected to relocate to an outside office when annual sales reach $500,000 to $600,000.

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