When I was 17 years old, I was tasked with one of the most grueling summer chores known to all of adolescence: I had to paint my uncle's garage. A fitting responsibility for boy such as I. Taking a page out of Tom Sawyer's book, I coerced as many friends as I could to help me with such an awful task. I didn’t know that the summer chore I loathed would become my life’s work that I love. Today, every time my uncle sees me he says, "who would have thunk it?”
I started painting professionally the following autumn as part of a 3-man crew for a construction company. What drew me in was the project-oriented nature of painting; I could stand back and see what I had accomplished over the course of the day. The motion of gliding my paint brush along the edge of the wall reminded me of the stroke of a pencil on paper that had taken me away to the creative landscapes of imagination. I loved the work.
I decided to go to art school and pursue a BFA from Indiana University. I continued painting to put myself through college. While in art school, I learned the purpose and function of color. I learned how it works and how it makes us feel and wonder. I began to see the work that I did in people's homes as a kind of art in and of itself.
Just a few semesters in, my boss left for business school, leaving me to run the company if I dared. There, in the height of the recession, I began to take on work as it would come. I was a sophomore in college and was running a company with a backpack full of equipment and a bicycle for transportation.
Slowly but surely my reputation grew and in 2008 I decided to pursue the business full time and incorporated under the name Color Theory, llc. In those first years, revenues doubled each year, and have continued at a steady rate ever since. My role has changed since those years of being a one-man operation. After 2015, I stepped out of the role of directly leading a crew to directing multiple production teams while focusing on customer service. In 2017, I built a team of consultants and now operate exclusively in an executive leadership role, leading and training sales and production leaders.
Today, I still enjoy painting every now and then, but I have found even greater fulfillment in mentoring others. I want to help bring young people into the painting trade. Painting is a really great job for hands-on creative people. I love hiring artists and musicians, who are typically underemployed, but are usually great craftspeople and customer service representatives. I am trying to make an impact in the artist’s community by being a good employer and helping artists to channel their artistic talent into marketable skills.
My goal is to figure out a bonafide scalable painting business model with a strong tech platform to offer opportunities to talented young people in Bloomington and beyond. I see people coming to Bloomington from all over the country to a painting retreat where we work on their development and get them excited to go out to win. I see bringing young people into painting training camps and sending them out into new territories, looking for new adventures in their career and their life.
I also want to be part of helping the Bloomington community thrive in a meaningful way. If I can achieve my vision for Color Theory, I can help contribute to Bloomington’s notoriety as a start-up and tech hub, which can help attract funding for other startups. As the Bloomington economy grows, we will be able to better retail some of the talent that comes in to IU. Having more high-capacity individuals will in turn spur greater economic activity in Bloomington and lead to better jobs, higher median wages, and so on.
I am an active member of the Painting Contractors Association (PDCA) and enjoy speaking at conferences and working with others in the industry. I actively seek out opportunities to help other people in the painting industry who are struggling. I want to help bring young people into the painting trade and I want to help older people retire in a way that doesn’t crush their legacy.
I am passionate about pushing my own limits. We’re still in the process of building the dream of Color Theory and not all of the pieces are in place yet. We’re in the messy middle where sometimes things just don’t work out and we have to start over or rethink our approach to certain things. That’s ok. It doesn’t worry me. I feel like things are going to work out and I feel like the people I have committed with me are really high quality people so if we just keep our eye on the vision, then we’ll get there. I just see a big huge giant future and I can’t seem to take my eye off of it for anything. I know it’s hard and impossible but that’s what makes it really fun.