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Building a Good Foundation


By V.C. "Bud" Jenkins

I was at a client’s store last week when a painting crew of five young workers came in to buy some paint. Seizing the moment to promote the paint technology class I teach, the LASCT Certified Coatings Technology course (Los Angeles Society for Coatings Technology), I asked them if they were interested in taking my class.

Immediately, the foreman jumped in and said, “These guys don’t want to learn anything new, they’re good enough the way they are.”

I handed them a brochure anyway, hoping that one of them would call me later.

If one wants to build on a coatings career, formal education is the best step forward. There are thousands of interesting concepts to learn. The earlier a young painter or aspiring coatings professional gets started with accurate, up-to-date education, the richer the rewards due to the greater insight they acquire. Most paint companies I have worked for require their foremen to have taken the paint technology course or at least some kind of formal education to see if they are adaptable and can be trained for future positions.

V.C. Bud Jenkins

The LASCT class at a tour of Engineered Polymer Solutions resin making facility in Commerce, CA, a division of Valspar.

The painter does not have to know absolutely everything there is to know about the different resins, pigments, solvents and additives that are out there, but he or she should know that the components of the composite mixture she/he is working with all have unique qualities that contribute to the performance of the coating. The paint class teaches how to notice those differences and make adjustments or report it to the manufacturer.

Seizing the Moment

In fact, this course was actually my start in the paint business, aside from being on a painting crew. I found out that I really liked learning about the details as to what made paint “work.”

In the 50 plus years I have been in the coating industry I have had quite a variety of experiences beyond being a painter. Each move came because the knowledge I had gained prepared me for whatever opportunity came my way. For example, the chance to work for a paint company came about because I was able to spray metallic finishes without causing “ghosting,” a spooky line caused by the flooding of metallic particles in a wavy line in the panel. I had learned that technique the hard way on the side of an Oldsmobile convertible.

I would spray the panels for submission to Ford Motor Company for the color matchers who never seemed to spray them properly, probably because they were always in a hurry.

I became a formulator after earning my chemistry degree and then I built on new opportunities, working as a salesman, technical director and operations manager.

Each step of the way I’ve used skills I first learned in the basic paint course taught by the LASCT.

Without learning the basics, one is just staring at a bucket of paint, wondering what is in it that makes it work, nothing further. Taking a paint course demystifies the mystery of paint.

The Basics

The class starts out with the basics: Teaching that a resin will be liquid one moment, then after being cast out onto a surface, it will use some perceived magic mechanism to go from the liquid to solid state. Then, additives are added to control the surface tension, some pigments to give color and the right mixture of solvents to give it the just right viscosity for application. Once one has taken the paint class, the magic can be understood and applied.

© / ozgurdonmaz

Taking a paint course demystifies the mystery of paint.

One thing to realize is that the world of paint technology only expands from there.

There are glossy, semi-gloss and flat paints. Dry films are thick and thin. Some paints last many years in exterior applications and others not so long. There are ways to address and achieve these performances, but they all have to start with the foundation.

Summing Up

Everything we learn in our careers will add up to make us become successful.

I thought about this recently when I was adding up a column of numbers for a paint formula and was short exactly 2.50 pounds. I looked up the row of numbers and saw 2.50 pounds there and did a flashback to the bookkeeping class I had in high school, where the teacher advised me to look for the number I was short by, and sure enough, even though I never became a bookkeeper, I still kept the skill I was taught.

Remember as we travel through life we don’t know what opportunities will come to us, but if we are prepared for whatever comes our way we can take advantage of it.

I would like to see at least one of those young painters from the store come to my class, because after all, the passion to learn more comes from beyond just looking at the bucket wondering what it is all about.


V.C. "Bud" Jenkins

V.C. “Bud” Jenkins started working in the paint business as a contract painter in 1958 when he was 14, earning 50 cents per hour. He painted everything—cars, schools, hospitals, churches, tractors and motorcycles. This led to employment in the lab of a large paint company in 1963, and eventually to ownership of his own paint-consulting business, Coatings Scientist Consulting Services. Bud is a past president of the Los Angeles Society for Coatings Technology and has served as chairman of several society committees. He has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a MBA from the University of California, Riverside. A coatings educator, consultant and thought-leader, Bud is dedicated to demystifying coatings science. Contact Bud.



Tagged categories: Coatings; Coatings Technology; Coatings Technology; Coatings technology; Construction chemicals; Education; Technology; Worker training; young professionals; Business management; Business operations; Certifications and standards; Contractors; Labor; Painters; Painting Contractors

Comment from Catherine Brooks of Eco-Strip, (8/10/2016, 3:28 PM)

Sad that the FOREMAN decided that "these guys don’t want to learn anything new,..I guess he's worried one of them might know more than he does and it might threaten his own job. Bet his employee turnover is high with those kind of old school leadership skills.

Comment from Stephanie Shira, (8/18/2016, 3:57 PM)

This article makes a great point that can be applied to a variety of industries: a job becomes a profession when you actively seek education and growth experiences, and that not all steps towards career advancement require an advanced college degree. As a former student of Bud's LASCT paint course I can attest that a strong foundation in coating technology comes from hands-on experience, book learning, and- most importantly- and individual's desire for- and approach towards- life-long learning. I look forward to reading more from your blog, Bud!

Comment from Miguel Gutierrez, (8/19/2016, 4:20 PM)

Can you cook? I met Bud, back in the 80s while I was attending the University of Arizona working on my Master in Hydrology. I needed a job at the time and when I found a little note posted in the Student Union requesting a student with a background in science, I yanked the note and rushed to the address in the note hoping to be the first and only applicant. The job description was for a "paint chemist". Although my background was in Inorganic Chemistry, I though I could handle it and hope for the best. Ian my boss, half my age, told me not to despear because a consultant was coming to town for a short and intense "one-on-one" training. After being introduce to Mr. Jenkins, he asked point blank: "Can you cook?" - some, I replied, well then you can learn paint chemistry. We can all followed a recipe out of a cooking book but many times, some of the cooking is not edible. Bud taught Ian and I, that like in cooking, timing, sequencing and proportions are vital for a savory dish; same principles apply to paint manufacturing. Years later I truly grasped the importance of that training. Bud was teaching from experience and insight with formulations and technologies. Bud, I'm ready for new lessons even after 33 years in the paint industry.. Keep the notes coming.

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