I WAS 19 when I got into the paint business. It all started with a summer job at Paint Central, where I got hands-on experience learning the ins and outs of the trade: making paint, nailing color matches, and the other aspects of running a store. Paint Central was conveniently located in my hometown of Hailey, Idaho, and I carried on working there for a few summers. Sadly, the store went under. But, my dad and I saw a silver lining – a chance to set up our own paint shop right there in Hailey.
So, in 1997, we dove in and launched Sawtooth Paint. In the beginning, it was a bit of a struggle. I went from being a paint store clerk to running the whole show, which was quite the adjustment. It took a while, but I eventually found my footing, and having my dad's guidance was a real blessing. Then, around 2001, word started circulating (you know how small towns are) that the owner of another local shop, Color Haus, was ready to unplug their tint machine. This person had been running the place for 18 years and was ready to enter a well-deserved retirement.
Color Haus was pretty famous in our town – it was the very first paint shop in the area, dating all the way back to the 70s. Seeing the potential in this, my dad and I seized the opportunity. It wasn't all smooth sailing, though. The store was a bit rundown, and customers weren't exactly thrilled about the service they were receiving. But over the span of 20+ years, we can confidently say that we turned things around.
To this day a handful of employees have been with us for about 15 years, while the rest at a minimum have put in over 5 years. Ensuring the team was happy was a top priority for us at Sawtooth/Color Haus because we firmly believed that happy employees would naturally provide better service to our customers. Another reason for a big part of our success was our fresh perspective and the desire to modernize the business.
I was in my early 30s when I took over, and the previous owner had a rather old-school approach. He was still all about pen and paper, while I wanted to bring things into the 21st century. One of the game-changers was adopting a point-of-sale system for our stores – we went with Intuit's QuickBooks initially. However, as QuickBooks’ impending shutdown in October 2023 started getting closer, our Benjamin Moore rep introduced us to Max from Rundoo.
We started a conversation, initially by exchanging insights about what we needed and what Rundoo could offer. What struck me was Max's genuine interest in tailoring the solution to our needs, rather than the other way around. Despite initial nervousness about making such a significant change – after all, we were pretty wedded to QuickBooks, and not everyone on the team was a tech whiz – we decided to take the plunge. The transition was an opportunity to merge two separate businesses into one: inventory, accounts, and even bank accounts had to be aligned. It was quite daunting at first, but now having everything together makes managing everything more streamlined and easy. Inventory and even bank accounts had to be aligned. It was quite daunting at first. There was also a recent update helping me do my end-of-day statements, Tyler (customer support), went in and did it for me showing me how this feature is going to save me a lot of time in the future.
Looking back now, I can say with certainty that it was the right move. I feel like I have better insight into my business now that I can see both stores together and access our performance data from any computer or my phone. My intuition, the same one that led me into the paint industry at 19, prompted me to buy Color Haus, and eventually led me to embrace Rundoo for our stores, was right. It's been quite the journey, and I'm glad I've been open to embracing change and seizing these opportunities along the way.