©2019 by Mark Lipton

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  • Mark Lipton

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4..........

I am not your typical paint geek!


If I wore my passion for the creamy liquid on my sleeve, I’d paint the word “latex” on half my face and “alkyd” on the other half before I walked into the store! Maybe lead a few cheers:


“Let’s Go Floor-Paints! Clap, clap, clap clap clap!”


Thankfully unlike the guy in the picture below, paint-men wear their passion for coatings on the inside!


I spend a lot of time talking about being an independent paint retailer, but what about the paint? None of the stories I fill these lines with would have happened for me or my family without that magic emulsion: PAINT!


It's unlikely that my great-grandfather, Isaac Lipton would be all that familiar with the products we call paints today. But time always leaves a common thread for those who want to see it. At the most basic level, the paints we deal with today serve the same function as paints from my great-grandfather’s time or even 1000 years ago:


Protect the surface, beautify the surface or in some cases, both!


Pastes, often lead, mixed with driers and pigment would have been all that my great-grandparents knew when they placed their first order with Benjamin Moore (the person, not the company. Yeah….THAT long). Of course, you cannot brush a paste onto a wall, and there would not be rollers until 1940! So the pastes needed to be mixed with a solvent. I remember a few times as a kid hearing of painters using gasoline as the solvent: talk about your hot solvent! But generally, it was paint thinner!


For many of the people in my life, dealers and Benjamin Moore employees alike, we compare when we got into the business not by noting a date on a calendar but by the price of Regal! I’m not sure why, but “What was the price of Regal when you got in” has always been a New York paint-man’s measuring stick. My oldest friend in the business is a $7.95. As a kid I remember it for even less! But when I came into the business full-time, Regal was selling to painters for $10.95! Perhaps it's not just New Yorkers who measure time in this strange way. When I asked Benjamin Moore CEO Dan Calkins (who started at Benjamin Moore in Chicago) what his price was he knew right away: $16.99!


Rookies!


And now I’m getting out: At $42!


When I got to Tremont Paint full-time in 1988, I had come fresh from a four-year stint as a stockbroker. Coming from an office filled with modern technology I was a little shocked when I got to my father’s paint store. I wish I had a picture of my father’s adding machine from that time.


But he wasn’t completely in the stone-age….it had a plug!


I insisted we invest in a fax machine and some rolls of paper. Thermal was all they had at the time and so you had to read it fast: it faded!


After the fights about the fax machine, dad had nothing left in the tank! When I invested in Genesis; the DOS-based POS system that lasted until the very end; rather than adapt he retired!


For those following the saga of the sale of my stores, Tremont Paint, here’s an update! I am STILL a paint retailer! Though just barely. Last I wrote, I was expecting to have been released last Saturday. The buyers asked for another week to get some "I’s" dotted and as it turns out…..that was a great outcome for me!


Because there will aways be time for paint!


And I needed to concentrate on my weekend. I’ve been working too hard and have been feeling that stress. I’m sleeping, but not well. Selling paint stores means a lot of details in the air: generally not my strength! I tend to overly worry about those details, and then I don't give myself a rest.


But not this weekend!


Scroll down to that picture of Yankee Stadium I posted. I took that picture. From my seat!


THAT kind of weekend!


I spent both Friday and Saturday night at my home away from home, Yankee Stadium. On Saturday, they were nice enough to schedule the game for 5 PM so I could make it home in time to watch my Buckeyes go to 6-0!


You know that I was distracted by my swag-covered sportsfest, because I barely wrote a word. My fingers were happy for the time off.


But it’s back to work now and if all goes as planned, you are going to read this on Wednesday October 9th. That means that at the time you read this, I have three days left as a paint-dealer.


Three days!


I already see the changes in the details of my life. The repeating reminders on my calendar such as “payroll” or “pay AllPro” are coming off as I perform the final tasks as a dealer.


They’re being replaced by corporate reminders, mostly about meetings!


It’s going to take me a few weeks to get my head around this life-change. As I do, I am looking forward to sharing the details of my new life and job with you. I can tell you so far though, that I remained thrilled with the choice I made and am excited to dig in and start making a difference.


But before I throw myself fully into my new life, I need to pay Guy for her patience: I have not been easy to live with the last few weeks! Her reward for living through my mid-life crisis is an eight-day trip to Europe at the end of this month.


I hope it's enough!