What’s the one thing you never hear a child say when you ask them “what do you want to be when you grow up?”
“A paint contractor!”
Nicholas Painter was no exception. He did not have dreams of being a paint contractor. A rock star, or a fireman – yes. Although his peers thought that he should be a painter based on his name. “Painter, why aren’t you painting?” Or “Painter are you going to be a painter?” were common questions throughout Nicholas’s schooling career.
We do not know the origins of the Painter name, but we do know that Nicholas’s great grandfather was a milkman, and his grandfather was a mechanic. His father, Papa Painter, was a truck driver up until the year 2004, when he decided to start a painting company. Let’s say it was destined to happen eventually! Nicholas was just out of high school in ’04 and decided to join his dad in the painting industry. It made sense after hearing the suggestion for so many years.
The Painter boys learned the trade and focused on quality work. They were passionate about doing the job right and a great finished product. There was no need to rush the job. They got some jobs around town, working for friends of friends through word of mouth, painting for them and having nice conversations while they worked.
Shortly after the beginning stages of the company, Nick’s uncle was in a Home Depot one day waiting in line, when he heard another gentleman ask if anyone knew any painters. He ran over and said, “my brother-in-law and his son are painters.” From there, the Painter boys were moved from the residential repaint market to new construction. The housing boom was in full swing. New developments were being built everywhere. The Painter boys soon needed a bigger team, so that added Ken Jr, as well as Ken Sr’s sister Cassie. Painter & Sons Painting was born. It felt like a real business. There was more work than they could handle. They had to buy bigger equipment. They started to develop systems for efficiency in operations. It was a whole new business. The year was 2005. Ken and Nick had 3 hour commutes on many days, which was even longer in the winter months. There were ups and downs, a few car accidents and some family drama – as you can imagine with a small family business, with little profit to share after all is said and done.
You may not be familiar with how new construction worked in the mid 2000s, but “quality” was not a word in that dictionary. But the Painters made it a point to do quality work, always coming in after the other tradespeople had left a mess, many hand marks and new holes in the walls. This started to take the fun out of the work. It also added to labor costs and made the profit margin – what little there was – disappear. The Painters were losing money fast. They were also losing momentum. The excitement and joy of working as a family unit was dwindling with the stresses of not paying the bills. Too much month at the end of money. In late 2007 work began really slowing down, with the housing market.
Sadly, in 2008, the family business had to go their separate ways. At this time Nicholas traveled to Vermont to learn unique, vegan cooking skills and live in the beautiful town of Montpelier. He stayed for one and half years in Vermont. He then came back to Pittsburgh to work at an Ethiopian restaurant, expanding his skills of cooking unique foods. In 2012 the Ethiopian restaurant closed and Nicholas got a job offer to work in Baltimore, MD at an up and coming restaurant. As they go, restaurants can either be a big hit…or not. This particular restaurant was not a hit, so Nicholas moved on to another, which was a big hit! It was on 35th St, which was a big attraction. Every year during the holiday season the block gets lit up with Christmas lights and decorations, which you could probably see from space! The restaurant Nicholas worked at was right at the end of the block and stayed very busy this time of year. While the restaurant was going very well, Nicholas’s heart was not in it. The late nights, long hours and high stress of cooking for hundreds of people a day was not his calling.
Nicholas was feeling lost and unsure what to do with his life. From 2014 to late 2015, we find Nicholas drifting around, searching for something to do. He even went to Maine to harvest seaweed! He then came back to Baltimore and he began working in the interior design industry. Here he spent most of his time painting, and learning to build showers and tile as well. Nicholas had found what he loved to do once more – work on homes. In a new environment, residential repaints, where Quality and Care were the watchwords of the job. Nicholas had found what he loved most. But again things changed, Nicholas hadn’t thought of himself as an entrepreneur at this time. The work was not consistent, had been slowing down for some time. Nicholas was again offered a job in the restaurant industry, this time as sous chef in a successful restaurant in one of the nicest neighborhoods in Baltimore. The managerial role and consistent work was enough to suede Nick back in to the industry he had sworn off. During this time Nicholas began to read more self-improvement books, and fell in love. Nicholas had for the first time felt confident about a bright future and starting really LOVING LIFE!
During the holiday season, when this particular restaurant was slow, Nicholas had been asked to paint the bar at the restaurant. During the days Nicholas painted the bar while managing the kitchen at night. He once again realized his love for painting, and dislike for restaurant work. A dream was born!
January 2017, Nicholas pursued his newly born dreams of starting a business. The entrepreneur had been awakened! He met with his friend Jane, who inspired him to think about an eco-friendly painting company. Jane is the owner of a very successful eco-friendly cleaning company in Baltimore. Nicholas started his painting company, Brush & Color Eco Painting in March of 2017. His first two clients were Jane and the restaurant he was working at, who gave their blessing in his departure.
In May of 2017 things changed again – Nicholas was walking and reading “Think and Grow Rich” one morning when a flash came to him – move to Austin, TX. Nothing had ever came so certainly and so suddenly before to Nicholas. It was a true calling! So, he packed up the car, loaded up his paint tools and kitty, Fernest, and drove halfway across the country. Having never been to Austin TX or west of the Mississippi before in his life, it was a true adventure! Along the way Nicholas and Fernest made a pitstop in a random town in Virginia – which turned out to be Stephen Austin’s birthplace. What are the odds!
Austin is a beautiful, healthy and positive city! The business is doing very well, and the culture of Austin matches perfectly with the core values of Brush & Color Eco Painting. Nicholas and the Brush & Color team have endless gratitude for Austin TX and the community. Our goal is to give back more than we receive and grow together. Thanks to you!