Updated: Jan 18
If the story is good enough, the book will write itself!
That’s how I feel about my family’s time at Tremont Paint: the stories are so rich they write themselves. All I have ever had to do is sit down and think about them, and my fingers have always started tapping.
As I’ve been spending time thinking about life outside a paint store, I admit I’ve worried if those stories of my time as an independent retailer are my “Samson’s Hair?” The very source of my creativity!
It’s a silly thing to worry about really. But if I don’t worry about losing my muse, I’ll end up worrying that I made a mistake selling my family’s 112-year-old legacy.
And I just don’t want to worry that much!
On Monday, after 112 years of continuous operation by a member of the Lipton family, Tremont Paint was acquired by Janovic Paints. Janovic is also a New York institution, with a family history that connected with mine several times over the generations. It was a good fit; for me and all my employees (who gratefully were all retained).
After the cigars had all burned out, my fiancée Guy and I had one last cry on the couch. It’s an impressive accomplishment for one family: 112 years of success! I’m proud of what I have been a part of; well worth a few tears. I’m proud of all who came before me, and I’m proud of myself! With 25 years as the “captain” of the family ship, I took a generous turn at the helm.
But since Monday, I’ve started moving on. If you feel that’s a bit anti-climactic, I’d have to agree! I expected at least one more emotional piece from my fingers!
But most of the emotion is behind me now.
I spent the day today paying off my final bills. Hopefully, with a few more days of work I can have my desk cleared enough that I can use it again. I could do without all this paperwork.
But in between the paperwork, there have been lots of calls and emails. There are others, not named Lipton, who will mark the passing of time by the closing of Tremont Paint.
Every month for almost 93 years, a Lipton wrote a check to Pacoa. Pacoa is a local distributor (we used to call them jobbers) that we have used from their beginning. The current owner, Steve Geismar is the grandson of Teddy Geismar. My great-grandfather Isaac was one of Teddy’s first customers; buying brushes and rollers from the back of Teddy’s car.
Ninety three years is a long time to run and only come in second place! But the longest relationship in our 112 years was with Benjamin Moore. They went the distance: wire-to-wire.
Now, these names will have to fade to memory. Over 40 years with Arrow Roller, 30 with Rick’s Painting, JM Charles Painting didn’t survive to the end-but they were our largest customer for most of their 75 years with us, State Painting rode along for over 50 years: I could go on!
Still though, all this talk about the past over the last few months leaves me wanting to talk about the future now.
There is smooth, freshly paved highway in front of me. I’m excited to drive on it!
Before I get going though, I’m going to take a little break. In my 32-year history with Tremont Paint I rarely took off more than a week at any one time. Now, I find the opportunity too compelling. So, I’m going to finish this week strong, catch game 4 of the ALDS at The Stadium tonight and cruise into the longest stretch of unfettered vacation time I’ve known as an adult.
Even in the past, the few times I’ve taken off more than a week, it came with burdens. I was never able to turn off my concerns for how my stores were doing in my absence: were the shelves staying full, were the customers being cared for, was I being stolen from?
I’m excited for the quiet between my ears!
I’ve already started working on a few projects at Benjamin Moore, but nothing that can’t wait for two and a half weeks while I discover what it feels like to vacation with an uncluttered mind. Friday, I leave for Columbus to see my daughter, Buck Wheat: I need the new material! I know she wanted to be here with me these last few weeks: I owe her a lot of details! Then a week at home with nothing to do but take fall hikes, afternoon naps and dinners that taste like I had the time to prepare them!
Then, Guy and I hit the road to enjoy a proper celebration.
When I come back it’ll be time to dig in, and move on!
But I’ll never move on so much that I’ll forget. From my family, I learned the lesson to laugh hard while you work hard. When work feels like play-time with your family, is it even work?
And I won’t miss ALL that I leave behind! It wasn’t until I got home Monday-storeless for the first time-that the worries of owning a small business started to abate: making payroll, collecting money, placing orders hoping a big check would come in in-time to pay the bill, paying the rent....I could go on. But I don’t need to; you all know those worries as well as I do.
I was lucky.
I started on second base, but knew I didn’t hit a double to get there. My parents always taught me to be grateful for all the good in my life and as I closed the checkbook and locked the door on Tremont Paint, gratitude was all I had left.
Grateful for the start I got. Grateful for the family whose shoulders I stood on. Grateful for a career which (until the last few years) kept me interested, and paid my bills.
I got a lot of texts on Monday. Dozens in-fact from the countless who knew that it was all coming to an end that day. Some shared an old story, some shared congratulations, some shared best wishes for the future.
But the best one though was from my sister Marci. Simple and to the point, the Lipton way!
The amazing power of three small words!
So it’s time to turn the page and start a new chapter! I hope that the story of the Lipton’s and paint will continue to write itself!
But before I lick my finger (for us old folks who read books before there were tablets and phones to read for you) I want to share one last bit of gratitude.
Each month, tens of thousands of times you go to my blog, Facebook or LinkedIn pages and read what I have to say about the world of paint and independent retailing. I’m so grateful for your attention and interest. I’m glad that we connected, and am looking forward to sharing my ongoing adventures.
Turn The Page.