American Painting Contractor January/February 2010 : Page 13

Decorative Touch telegraph installed in 1861 was the great innovation in immediate communication, moving the West Coast closer, from weeks of pony express to the instantaneous tap of the finger. Likewise, railroads collapsed months of arduous and health-threatening travel into days. Both of these went beyond refinement in causing fundamental changes in travel and communications. Of the great many “progresses,” most fill the dustbin of history. Those cutting- edge technologies can leave you sliced and bleeding. What happened to the stock I bought in paging companies circa 1985? Everyone was going to have a pager. What about my pal who dumped a couple of years, savings into his CB radio store? He lost his “han- dle”when the “Great Big Con- voy” left, leaving a nasty hole in his pocket (CB radio lingo, also in the dustbin; Convoy was a big radio hit 1976ish). Ice cream makers – you can get one now at your neigh- bor’s garage sale. There are some real “forgetables” here. Our dilemma is figuring out how soon and how deeply to invest money and dear time during change. Recent articles in paint magazines outline the newest ways to “connect.” Do you know them: LinkedIn, Facebook, Myspace, YouTube, Twitter and blogs? Maybe they are just hobbies for the microchip heads, but one of these might really help your business. But can you do them all and still find time to paint? The New York Times business articles religiously and question if any of the writers are successfully painting any- thing. A recent conversation with a twen- tysomething guaranteeing Internet adver- tising was a one-way proposition. Him telling me how to run my business – like he had ever run one himself. The tone here is not sour but caution- ary. Not all the changes today will be here tomorrow, and when something is gained, there is also something lost. I was slow to get a cell phone; I really don’t like the idea of being available all the time. As my own principal painter I also rue the distraction. news reports that individuals are becoming so confused by selection possibilities that they are turned off by the process. So if you can’t reach all the people all the time, how do you reach paint job buyers some of the time? I have no glib advice other than to suggest skepticism about those who pretend to know. There is a big shakeout process over Internet recognition, with who’s going to be left standing not yet clear. As far as communications (i.e., computer stuff) technology for the painter, I read all the This interesting historical restoration project of painting the Elephant Hotel sign in Somers, N.Y., came through computer matching. The modest project brought a welcome dollar in a very slow period of fall 2009. I know you can mute it, but that stops after the first few weeks. Sure it was immediately more convenient and sure I had to do it because everybody has one now. I am not a better painter because I have one, and it has gone a long way toward dissipating the intimacy of my company. The competitive advantage of a small family company is the access workers have to the owner. When on jobs (usually four of five days a week), I always sat during break time with myworkers and engendered conversations concerning work and issues beyond. Stay-at-home customers often found the chatter amusing and joined in, whatever the day’s topic.Now breaks bring a rush to the exteriors not for painting but for good cell connections. It is an effort to share words of any sort, and frequent cell calls in non-break time interrupt production just as cigarette breaks once did. End result: I got along fine with loads of work and better conversation before I ever saw a cell phone. Fingertipwise the word processor made me a bit of a writer. I still hunt and peck my letters, but errors, slowness and grammatical corrections on the old Olivetti made typ- ing a losing task for me. I tried handwriting a few early arti- cles, but conflicts with my typ- ist made that approach too aggravating. Wording: I can easily repurpose text from arti- cles for a favorite task, press releases. Likewise JPEGs trans- fer to e-mail with ease to aug- ment my articles, releases and customer requests. I still have problems with organizing and retrieving digital files, but the pain is worth the gain. I never would have taken on my recent book without Word technolo- gy, and that publication pro- vided some welcome income during a slow period. Word took my little 1970s thought of being a great novelist from a fantasy to a valuable tool for my painting gig. Contacts made through articles have generated lots of fun and some real business, including a trav- el job 3,000 miles away. APC Victor DeMasi is the 30-year owner and operator of Monarch Painting in Redding, Conn. He teaches frequent work- shops on decorative painting and faux finish- ing and can be reached at (203) 448-0106 or To view Victor’s work and workshop schedule, visit his Web site at His book, Designer Faux Finishing, became available Oct. 1. Contact him by e-mail if you would like to purchase a signed copy. American Painting Contractor • January/February 2010 13

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