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Featured Article

The Contractor's Journey

Owning & Managing Your Own Business

Article by Steven Singleton

Photography by Michael Beightol

Originally published in SW Lake Lifestyle

I’ve had three phases to my career: U.S. Navy, financial services, and the owner of 360 Painting of Lake County.

A few years ago, I was ready for a change. When I left Corporate America after 15 years I wanted to build a sustainable business based on high standards, integrity, and sound management.

I looked at many different businesses when considering what to do next. One thing I kept noticing about my neighborhood was the number of painters at work. Becoming a painting contractor was appealing because I could work locally by helping families maintain and protect the investment in their homes.

The 360 Painting corporate team is a big plus. I get support for marketing, IT, training and a call center that sets my appointments. There’s also a business coach and hands-on support. Early on I bet I called them at least once a day.

Working with homeowners is about finding the right solution. First, I go to their home to learn about their lifestyle, wants and needs, budget and color choices. I also take lots of photos and precise measurements.

After every new customer visit, I email a proposal within four hours. A follow-up call is held the very next day to review the plan, tweak the budget and schedule the job. On the first day working on-site, my crew chief and I completely review the plan with the homeowner, walk the property, make any adjustments and finalize everything. Then the crew goes to work.

Day One is the most critical time for any job. Our preparation is so thorough that the actual painting is significantly more efficient. Painting – whether exterior or interior – is highly technical. That’s why all my painters must have a minimum of 10 years prior experience before we even interview them. Once hired, they're all subject to regular assessments and training. This way our jobs stay on schedule, and customers are not just happy with the results, but also the experience.

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My wife, Maia, and I live in Hawthorn Woods with our 11-year-old son, Evan, who plays on a travel basketball team. Between his schoolwork, practices and tournaments we keep very busy.

Last summer we had six crews, including one dedicated to homes at Wynstone Country Club. Word got around about our work, and one job led to another.

A typical day for me is filled with meeting prospective customers, developing proposals, and visiting every job site to assess the work done by the crews. I’m known as tough, but fair. We take pride in our work, and it shows. Now, with eight crews (typically 3-4 painters each), we are ready for the outdoor painting season.

In 2023 we will double our business in just four years. So yeah, owning my own business has worked out beautifully.