I BEGAN working as a painter while I was in school and living in Bozeman. Then, at the age of 25, I transitioned to the other side of the industry and managed an independent paint shop called The Paint Pot. It's located near Big Sky and Yellowstone Club, where many movie stars and affluent individuals live, creating a good market for our services. I spent 5 years at the shop before taking a break to return to painting.
After a year of painting, I received a call in January from the owner of The Paint Center, who reached out to me about the sale of his business. In March, I quit my job and began a year-long negotiation process that eventually resulted in a good deal. Upon acquiring the business, I rebranded it as Billings Paint Center.
My educational background is in applied math, and I previously managed a paint store for 5 years, which equipped me with a solid understanding of all the different sides of owning a paint shop. I find working behind the counter to be more fun than painting, but my time as a painter provided me with a unique perspective on what a paint shop should be like. One of the things it taught me was the importance of being an independent dealer.
In my area, I am the sole independent dealer, giving me a strong competitive edge. Unlike large chain stores, I can truly prioritize customer service. Additionally, I focus on serving mid to high-end customers that the big corporations can't effectively support. While I might be a local store with a small business, independent shops offer something distinct that large chains can't replicate. Though there are certain products I can't compete with, I'm designing my store to stand apart from Sherwin's offerings, through my focus on customer service and personal relationships with my customers. It's really exciting because no one else in the area is offering what I do.
I place a lot of emphasis at my store on service and offering higher quality products. I expanded the inventory from what the previous owner had, and I've hired two employees, with plans to bring on another. One of the challenges I face is effectively managing employees, an aspect I'm always trying to improve upon.
The previous owner had been there for 40 years, and though he was a mainstay in the community, he hadn’t kept the store's equipment and practices up-to-date. For instance, the point-of-sale system was from the 90s and couldn’t even run on a modern computer. I took over on a Monday and that Tuesday I was already looking at other point-of-sale solutions. The old point-of-sale would have sunk me.
A Benjamin Moore rep recommended I speak to Rundoo and when speaking to Max and Nick, I really liked their energy. After months of searching for a point-of-sale system tailored to the paint industry, Rundoo stood out because it was being developed from the ground up for this very purpose. Nick's openness to my ideas, and his willingness to collaborate on them, was a stark contrast to the old software I had previously used. Rundoo also offers features that are tailor-made to independents, such as pricing tiers that are customizable, this really helps us stay competitive.