Photo of Jerry

Jerry McMahon: Owner, Jerry's Painting

How did Jerry get into painting and owning his own company?

Jerry attended college for four years, and paid for it himself by painting. In his senior year, he stood back and made some tough decisions about himself—what he did and did not like to do, what made him happy, and what he was really good at. First, Jerry had found out that he really loved working with his hands and painting in both residential and commercial sites. He knew that he liked to work for himself and to do jobs that had clear goals and timelines for completion. Jerry found that he likes to be busy and that the idea of being in an office setting or behind a desk was just not for him. He also knew that formal classwork and education programs were not his favorite thing to do. So, he knew that he did not want to proceed with a career that would require further degrees and formal testing and course work. Jerry saw that he was self-motivated and reliable about sticking with a job or goal until it was done. From working in the painting business throughout college, Jerry also knew first-hand that he was good at it.

He made the decision to work with his cousin, who owned his own company, to pursue painting. Jerry worked with his cousin for three years. Not only did he gain experience in the trade of painting, but Jerry gained knowledge about owning a small company and working with people. He also had the chance to become a foreman and see what it was like to motivate, train, and oversee employees.

Who influenced Jerry about going into his own painting business?

Certainly, his cousin had influence on his career direction. But Jerry also remembers a friend named John who told him that he should and could start up and run his own business. Jerry still remembers how important it was for John to believe in him and to support him venturing off to try it on his own. The message here is that we sometimes need some help and encouragement from others to realize our own goals and dreams.

What does Jerry like most about his work?

Jerry loves being his own boss. He's quick to add that it isn't always easy. For one thing, the buck stops with him about everything from marketing and finding clients, to hiring and supervising employees, to handling all the bookkeeping and accounting for his company. Jerry also likes the traveling part of his job. With every new customer, he gets to go to a new area and meet new people. Jerry also is glad that along his way he has been able to help out some friends by hiring them for his company.

What challenges and exciting changes are coming?

Jerry is to the point of expanding the size of his company. He is hoping to be able to get two full work crews going this coming year. The challenge will be finding talented and reliable workers and also marketing and securing continuous jobs. Jerry is optimistic about the market for his services. He sees great opportunity not only for his own painting company, but for others in the business.

What kinds of training and education are needed to keep up in Jerry's field?

Physically, painters have to keep themselves in good shape. Their work requires that they seriously take care of themselves nutritionally and exercise-wise. Painters need to be good problem-solvers. They truly use math skills as they determine the square footage of an area to be painted or figure out how much paint is required for a job. As a manager and business owner, Jerry also must keep up with basic accounting and bookkeeping practices and be always growing in ways to manage and motivate his workers.

What are some problems Jerry faces?

When you own your own company, your name is on the line each and every day. Your personal and professional name is attached to every job your workers do for you. So, hiring and supporting his workers is no small task. When there isn't a client and a job, the work crew isn't working and money isn't coming in for anyone. Jerry has to deal with marketing and finding jobs all the time. So, if he takes a vacation or eases off from his work, there isn't someone "above" him to pull up the slack. A small business owner enjoys his own schedule and being his own boss, but he also is the one responsible for all aspects of his company. So far, Jerry finds that the plusses of owning his own company far outweigh the negatives!

What are kinds of jobs might be related to Jerry's work?

Anyone who is thinking about owning their own company can benefit from talking and visiting with Jerry. If you are thinking about interior design, construction trades, or small business management kinds of positions, you would gain from spending some time with Jerry, too.

How does Jerry's work impact his personal life?

The biggest pay-off is that Jerry can set and control his own work schedule and hours. He really loves this flexibility.

What volunteer work might help you learn about painting?

Jerry is active with the Ann Arbor Kiwanis and the Christmas in April project. Volunteers of all ages come together to paint the houses of folks who are having some difficult times or who are without work. This experience, working with a Habitat for Humanity project, or any other volunteer work in painting would be a great learning opportunity for people thinking about painting. You will have the chance to work beside someone who knows more than you and, Jerry adds, come away with so much more from just taking the time to give of yourself to help someone else out.

Any jobs or volunteer experiences you can find where you can help out an experienced painter are worth your while. Much of this profession is learned on the job and from a coach or mentor who is really good at it and can show you the tricks of the trade while actually working. There are some classes and books you can read about painting, but most of the skilled and artful aspects of painting are learned by doing and watching someone who is really good at it.

A little advice....

Jerry shares that it is often hard to stop life long enough to step back and really think about what makes you happy, what you like to do, and what you are good at. It is easy sometimes to get into a path or to end up in an educational program or career line that really wasn't of your true choosing. Take time to look at yourself, to explore your options, and to make decisions about what you do for the right reasons. Your life is your life, and your job direction is your own. Choose to go into something that fits who you are and what you sincerely want to do. Jerry is really glad that he did!

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