Ya’ll have to forgive me, but I just haven’t been into writing the newsletter lately. It’s not that I haven’t been every bit as involved in writing my thoughts and observations, or that I don’t care, it’s actually due to my attention being placed on another venue.
Facebook is where I’ve concentrated my efforts ever since the election started “ramping up”. Because I feel that there is nothing more important than the survival of our country, I decided that my attention was best placed where I could do the most good. I really don’t care for Facebook because people expect you to be too nice, which equates to “political correctness” in my book……….and I don’t like being overly nice or politically correct! I’m more the “fair, firm, and friendly” type, with a touch of “brutal honesty”.
I fully expect to delete my Facebook account, and return to the monthly newsletter pending a Trump victory in November. If he doesn’t win, it won’t matter, America will be in “Check Mate”.
Ok, so it’s no big secret that “Quest” (the mother company that owned Matrix) got acquired by Valspar about a year ago. Initially, when the deal went through, I thought it was a great opportunity in that, so many of the areas that Matrix was lacking, Valspar wasn’t………and vise versa.
In the “jobber / W.D.” meetings, the possible integration of technologies was not only discussed, but it was highly anticipated. Brian and Ernesto were questioned constantly regarding what we, as jobbers, might expect from the Valspar line.
Because of the way things are set up in the corporate world, there’s layers of management, and because of that, things (people) don’t move as smooth and quick as we’d like them to. Finally, I was told that there would be an accountable manager attending our next meeting, that he was Brian and Ernesto’s boss, and that his name was “Jaime”.
I made it to that next meeting early thinking it would give me time to not only meet Jaime, but to go over specific questions I had for him………but he showed up late……2 hours late!
When I finally had the time to talk to him, I was amazed at how out of touch he was with anything regarding Matrix. When questioned on it, his reply was “I don’t know much about Matrix or accushade and I don’t need to”! That response was so wrong on so many levels!
The sole purpose of the meetings is to educate us jobbers. The very first meeting uncovered what I had long suspected, and what Brian and Ernesto had to confirm.
The questions: Were Matrix sales down because Jobbers were lackadaisical? Was Matrix too expensive? Their territory too competitive? Matrix wasn’t versatile enough? Or was it …….were they properly trained and educated on all that Matrix was capable of?
As I stated earlier, it turned out that it was a complete lack of education. I am not a genius, but I do paint, and I do understand and use the “complete” Matrix system, and I do write this newsletter, which keeps me connected to my fellow Matrix counterparts all over the country. I have known for along time that I am able to do more with Matrix than others, and because I’m pretty close to Brian we brainstormed (on many occasions) what it would take to get everybody up to speed. He knew that jobbers all sitting in the same room discussing what to do and how to do it, could prove to be a violent endeavor. After all, most of us were foolishly convinced that our “secrets” were the only factor for our success. If we were to share them, we would all surly be doomed!
That’s kind of where I shine. I am a hands on guy, I know the system better than anyone in the country. Have a fairly successful store with 2 locations. And, I openly discuss and divulge any and all of my “secrets”, not just the ones regarding Matrix! Furthermore, I don’t let the meeting get too “techy”, too “corporate” (power point presentations), or too “sales oriented” from a mfg perspective. My objective is to make sure what is discussed can be turned into tangible profit for the attendees……immediately!
We no sooner concluded our first meeting, and it was learned that the Warehouse Distributors (W.D.’s) need the education every bit as much as the jobbers, so Brian and Ernesto added them to the meetings.
Getting back to “Jaime”………..he had been informed of these meetings, but apparently didn’t really understand the value that had come from them. He also had no idea that I had questions for him. My questions were very basic and very deliberate. I already knew that whoever was running Matrix, was doing so with the idea that they had a better product than others, and therefore deserved more of the market share than they were used to having. I also knew that “this guy at the top” thought he had hired the right people, and put them in the right positions to accomplish this. Now I knew that those people had failed him miserably! Who they are specifically……..I don’t know and I don’t care, but I know who it will not be! It absolutely will not be anyone immediate to “The Paint Spot” or any of the jobbers / warehouse distributors I have worked so hard to help!
So, unbeknownst to “Jaime”, there was a little “Q & A” session, or “vetting” process that he was going to have to pass prior to us moving forward.
Questions included: How long have you been in the business? Do you know how to paint? Do you know the accushade program? Are you familiar with what Valspar has and what Matrix has? What is you expectations from your subordinates (Brian and Ernesto)?
The only thing Jaime knew for sure is what he wanted from Ernesto and Brian, and I guaranty you……..he learned that from his boss! He also promised results on integrating Valspar fleet and industrial products into Matrix jobbers.
Results: He failed!
Fast forward to July 12, 2016…………..
I am attending a warehouse distributors “customer appreciation” event in Houston, Texas. I was invited there personally by our “A.R.D.” rep, and I knew that Brian Lynch would be there with his new boss “Skip”. I was to meet Skip, and discuss some of the things that Jaime had “dropped the ball” on several months ago, which by the way, Brian had progressed on, even though it was totally not within the scope of what he had access to!
In pretty short order, I’m being introduced to none other than “Skip”. We shook hands, and I shared my thoughts on a particular person whom I had recently interacted with at Valspar headquarters……I’ll get to that later, and then moved into a conversation about Valspar being a “direct” line as opposed to being distributed through warehouse distributors, and that as a guest and customer of A.R.D, I hope that can somehow be worked out. Skip informed me that “all the big and successful paint companies like Dupont, PPG, and Sherwin go direct for a reason, it’s better for you, we can give you a better price”. He went on to let me know that he was definitely no fan of warehouse distributors, and I cut that kind of short by saying “you know we’re in a warehouse distributors facility now, and you were invited don’t you”? From there, we went into a little Q & A session.
How long have you been in the business?
A: 26 years with Dupont / Axalta.
Q. Do you paint?
Q. Do you know the Matrix line?
A. Not really.
Q. Do you know the Valspar line?
A. Not really.
Q. Do you know the data base for Valspar or Matrix Accushade?
A. No, and I don’t need to.
Q. What is your position in relationship to Brian and Ernesto?
A. I’m their manager / boss.
Q. What are your expectations of them, oh, I’ll bet you want them to sell more product to people like me?
Q. Well, how are you supposed to do that when you just told me that you don’t paint, you don’t know any of the product line, and you don’t know the data base?
A. Listen, my boss doesn’t pay me to know those things!
I think you’re wrong about that, and besides, I think you’re confusing your boss with the guy who signs your paycheck. Dave Brunori might sign your paycheck, but actually I’m your boss, that’s why I’m asking all the questions……….just like everyone who comes into The Paint Spot.
Q. Do you know about the meetings we have, and how they’ve helped both W.D.’s and jobbers understand what they have access to, and how that’s helped us all increase our sales?
Q. Did you know that we have the meetings here at ARD?
No answers from this point on. Skip did what NO seasoned corporate guy should ever do…….He lost his cool, and showed his ass!!!! I am no stranger to getting someone out of their comfort zone, and instead of Skip going on the defensive, he should have had the “managerial experience” to reason the situation out! Brian attempted to calm the situation down, but Skip wasn’t having any part of it, which bares the question: Why is a guy like Skip in a higher position of authority than Brian? Here’s another question: I wonder what Skip is going to think when he finds out about this story, via the newsletter that I write, and then finds out that they’re all signed with “Whatever it takes”? Think about this……He is middle management for a huge corporate firm like Valspar. Making God only knows how much money, and I’m the dirt on his shoes with the “Whatever it Takes” attitude…..which includes driving to Houston and Dallas, on my dime and my time, for zero money, all in an effort to help educate my counter parts, and the people above me, on the products made by the company that pays him!
Ironically, the reference I made to the story I’d get back to later. You know, the one when Skip and I were first introduced, was about an employee who needed recognition. I figured since Skip was farther up the food chain, he could get a message of appreciation for “over and beyond” expectations from a position that I was 99% convinced was doomed for utter disaster! Routinely, I get requests for colors that are either obsolete or next to impossible to find, and I’m not into telling a customer “sorry, we don’t have that”. We have a 4 part protocol for how to handle such requests, and calling the color department is number 3. It used to be #2, but since Matrix has had so many personnel changes, I really couldn’t rely on calling that number. I won’t mention names, but I have actually had Valspar and ProSpray employees answer that line that had no fricking business answering a telephone ANYWHERE!!!!! One of them even laughed and thought it was funny that I actually wanted a formula and thought I could get it from him! I shit you not!
So, can you imagine how shocked I was NOT ONCE, but TWICE in one day, when weird request came in that required me to call the color department……..and I got help?
It seems that one “Maryanne Cale”, from the “ProSpray” line, has assumed the position of filling some pretty big shoes! I admit, I was spoiled by the likes of Chris Butler, and McKenzie Brunori. Furthermore, I had zero hope that after leaving, that department could or would survive, but Maryanne blew my mind! In going through a little Q & A session (that sure didn’t go the way it did with the “Skipster”) I learned that she was from the ProSpray line, learned the Matrix line, has access and uses the Valspar, and DeBeers lines, has my favorite obsolete chip cabinet, understands how PPG relates to Matrix, and get this……she actually said “Whatever it Takes for the customer is what I’m here for”!!!!!!!!!
Can you believe that??????? She’s literally like another “Jennifer Mastro”!!!!!! The perfect employee, and I prefaced my meeting with the complete and utter opposite with Kudos for her.
Food for thought: “If you can’t beat em, buy em”……….that is why big companies often acquire others, and I’m 100% convinced that’s why Matrix has changed hands so much lately. So why are we seeing so many Dupont, PPG, Sherwin Williams, Valspar, Prospray people assuming Matrix related responsibilities? Other than Maryanne Cale, who is obviously a self motivated super star (she personally told me that she doesn’t care one bit about what paint brand she’s working with, it’s the customer that deserves her best), the rest seem to be part of the reason they couldn’t compete against Matrix in the first place!
Sikkens vs. Matrix
So, I think everyone is aware of LKQ distributing Sikkens automotive paint, along with all sorts of auto body supplies, including parts. Between them and the internet, it’s really giving us traditional jobbers (and warehouse distributors) a run for our money. The only thing we can do to keep ourselves ahead of them is “be what they cannot be”, and that is exactly what The Paint Spot has ALWAYS been! To accomplish this, one thing that is absolutely essential, is that our suppliers and the manufacturers of our paint lines must “have our backs”, hence, the reason for me “vetting” the players.
The Paint Spot has always been praised by our customers as having an untouchable ability to match color. Sadly, our ability to do so has very little to do with support from our number one paint line “Matrix”, with the exception of me figuring out how to use something that they developed and then lost faith in. By the time I figured out how to get what we needed from this “tool”, and was comfortable putting it in customers hands to either talk intelligently over the phone or better yet, them use it to make a color, they had deemed it obsolete! I scrambled to get back some I had received and put in with systems to shops that really didn’t need them, and bought up all I could find elsewhere, then placed them. One such shop is located pretty far away, and the owner actually serves as an extension of The Paint Spot for small paint orders, and specifically color matching. He recently was having a tough time matching a color, and happened into a friends shop that was using Sikkens. The guy brings out a hand held camera / computer, and in less than 5 minutes my guy had a pint of paint that was a 98% match (the Sikkens computer displayed that information before mixing). He actually “panel painted” a hood on a 1934 Ford, and you could NOT tell !!!!!
As loyal as he is to Matrix, he told me “Rick, I have got to move into the future, do you have any idea how much time and money I have wasted using Matrix”?
Yeah, not good ! I immediately called Brian Lynch to plead my case, saying “Can’t you move the technology that I know you already have into our hands”? “Why does it take so long to get anything done”? “Do you not know Sikkens is making a painters job easier”? “I have seen this technology from Matrix several years ago (Zolotone), and I’ve recently used the Valspar version”!
They wonder why I write this newsletter, and why I say the things I say………it’s because the bigger you get, the farther away from reality you become. How many times have I made mention of the fact that at Matrix there seems to be little or no problem identifying a need, not all that much problem producing it, but invariably ya’ll screw up the marketing? Then, to add insult to injury, you discontinue it for lack of sales!!!! Don’t get me started down this path, but I would love the opportunity to set face to face with Mr. Brunori and bring up all the part numbers and items that Matrix totally and completely dropped the “marketing ball” on!
All I want you at Matrix, Valspar, Quest, Sherwin Williams, or whatever you’re calling yourselves this month to do is LISTEN TO US !
Dave Brunori: I know you have the skills to “get things done”, and you certainly should have the capital to do so….PLEASE MOVE ON THIS !
Ok, it’s no secret that the only gun I endorse and sell, is an Iwata! I can get any other gun on the market, but I refuse to sell anything but an Iwata……period! The reason is simple, they are the best! This being said, can anyone tell me why a company like Iwata would sell a diaphragm regulator to accompany their world class spray guns, that was of a quality standard like that of a Yugo?
Similar to the Matrix scenario, is the fact that Iwata has become the big boys. With it seems to be some of the confusion that multiple layers of management brings. However, when I called our vendor “Asset”, and wanted answers……..I got them, and I mean right now!
Thanks to one “Nick McDaniels”, I found out that the regulator failure has been an ongoing issue. It seems that “outsourcing” to China is what’s been the problem, and their “back up” was supposedly built in Mexico. (God bless Donald Trump, he’s the only one who will stop this madness).
I was extremely pissed off by the time I got to Nick, due to all the pissed off customers who I had sold faulty regulators to (one even threw a regulator at me) . Nick took the abuse, and then squarely admitted the problem and set about trying to resolve the fiasco. However, his options were pretty much exhausted, so I said that if he could send me Iwata branded gauges, I would search the country for an American made diaphragm regulator that was as good as the gun they would be attached to OR…..better! Well, guess what?
I found one…………………… “Wilkerson”!
Not only is this completely made right here in the United States of America, but the folks representing the “Wilkerson” line, at “Compressed Air Systems”, are the most knowledgeable and accommodating people I’ve ever done business with! I learned so much about how and why a diaphragm regulator works, that I think I could teach paint gun mfg’s a few things…lol! I now have two regulators that we will sell, and I know which is to be used for which purpose, something I never knew prior.
We will not sell an Iwata gun without a diaphragm regulator and an education on why you MUST use this style over a “restrictor” style to achieve perfection. Because we sell only Iwata guns at The Paint Spot, I have the corresponding “Air cap gauges” to accurately be able to tell the purchaser of the gun “8 – 10 lbs at the air cap IS 19 – 21 lbs at the gauge”…..as long as it’s an “AK1R2 regulator” (this information may change with the introduction of the Wilkerson regulators).
Thank you Chris, James, and Jack for your time spent educating me, and thanks for bringing Nick into the loop as well.
Thank you Nick McDaniels for being so proactive, especially when dealing with a potentially embarrassing such as this. Not just anyone would absorb the blame and then work with the customer to resolve it…….especially when the fix was going “outside” of the sanctioned supplier! That being said, I would love to see you (Iwata) change suppliers from foreign sources to American Made “Wilkerson”. I have spent my own money with them already for the sole purpose of outfitting Iwata guns belonging to everyone who purchased a defective “RTI” or “AK1R2”. They will be replaced by me at no cost.
Going forward, I will say that “good work ain’t cheap, and cheap work ain’t good”! So if you have to pay a little more for a better product, then DO SO, and give us the option of buying quality or buying shit. I’m willing to bet most Americans prefer “Quality”.
DONALD TRUMP FOR PRESIDENT
“Let’s Make America Great Again”
“Whatever it Takes”