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Davids, Versus THE Goliaths

Updated: May 15, 2022

Perhaps the greatest upset victory in recorded history was that of Israel’s soon-to-be King David vanquishing the giant Goliath.

The story of the young shepherd’s skill with a slingshot so enduring that despite nearly 3000-years since their epic battle in the Valley of Elah, the names David and Goliath still conjure images of an underdog.

Slaying a giant.

THE Derby!

A week before the Kentucky Derby, three-year-old colt Rich Strike, was on the outside looking in.

Ranked 31st in the final 2022 Road to the Kentucky Derby standings, Rich Strike had little chance of even running in the race who's field is limited to 20 horses.

As the 11 horses ahead of Rich Strike were scratched from THE race, they made room in the starting gate for the chestnut colt who just months earlier had been claimed for $30,000.

But a place in the starting gate was not enough to convince oddsmakers and gamblers that the horse had a chance. When he took his place behind the 20th starting gate, smart money put the odds of Rich Strike winning the Kentucky Derby at 80:1.

David and Goliaths.

Replacing slingshot for a leather crop jockey Sonny Leon brought Rich Strike from the gate with little promise. Proof of the fields dominance, the horse took his place in the back of the pack. After the introductions Rich Strike went unmentioned by track announcer.

Until he passed favorites Epicenter and Zandon in the race‘s final strides; becoming the greatest underdog to win the Kentucky Derby in more than 100-years!

THE Bucket List

In Kentucky the first Saturday of May is about more than just a horse race. On Derby Day, the state celebrates its status as the epicenter of the horse racing world.

Of the 13 horses who have won the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, 12 were foaled in the Bluegrass state!

And while the horses are running for the roses, the stands at Churchill Downs are filled with Kentucky’s best dressed; THE Derby renowned for its fashion sense!

So intertwined are the horses and couture that before the race, a “Best Dressed" man and woman are selected from those in attendance.

It was a day for underdogs!

For decades independent paint dealers have been the underdog in their single combat against overwhelming odds; the small locally owned retailers fighting for market share against the corporate giants from Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Atlanta.

With annual sales in excess of $20 billion, paint maker Sherwin-Williams is THE Goliath of the U.S. paint market. With revenue of more than $54 million per day, the Cleveland-based paint maker has their size advantage to maintain control of the profitable “rezi-repaint“ segment long coveted by independent paint dealers.

In their battle for DIY sales, independent retailers get no reprieve from Goliathan competition. The independent channel at-times struggling to maintain market share since the first Home Depot opened on June 22, 1979.

The meteoric growth of the big boxes leaving some to wonder if independent paint dealers would suffer the same fate as locally owned pharmacies and book stores.

But despite those challenges THE independent paint dealer channel has survived these long decades. Losing market share, but never hope!

Speaking from the floor of the Berkshire-Hathaway yearly shareholder meeting last week, Benjamin Moore CEO Dan Calkins shared that the Montvale-based paint maker had just completed in best first quarter in the company’s 139-year history!

Of course, the gains have not come easily. #MyFormerBoss sharing that the company continues to struggle finding enough raw materials and employees to meet demand. THE chief executive telling CNBC news that the Benjamin Moore has 81 positioned opened in their five manufacturing facilities around the country.

Perhaps as much as 15% of the company’s total manufacturing staff!

Yet despite those challenges, Calkins shared that the company has “plenty of paint” adding that their inventory is “almost back to where we’d historically be this time of year.”

How Many Truckloads in an Almost?

Calkins went on to share that “In a lot of people’s minds we’ve out performed our peer group” when referring to the company’s performance during the ongoing supply crisis.

Anecdotally, that seems to be the case as most dealers I speak with continue to speak of significant sales gains. Sales gains which require paint to attain.

And while up-to-date data relating to market share can be hard to come by, one executive I spoke with recently shared that the gain in market share by the independent dealer channel since the onset of the pandemic has been “measurable.”

America loves the underdog!

You can watch the full interview with Benjamin Moore ceo Dan Calkins here.


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