Local painting company has tasted success, owner says Sarnia is one of best places to live, work and playBusiness, Feature, Sarnia, Spotlight — By Joe Burd on March 26, 2012 at 3:51 pm
This year, if you're planning on renovations in your home or garage, whether it's painting, dry walling, or simply updating a room, New Beginnings Painting could be the company to call.
Ted Bleackley, 46, started his burgeoning residential painting company with a few hundred dollars in savings, some essential tools of the trade, critical support from his family, and a bold natural propensity to succeed. His company, New Beginnings Painting, was established in 2008, right around the same time that the economy started to tank, to be in very literal terms a new beginning for him and his family.
"Thankfully the home improvement industry wasn't hit quite as hard as others," said Bleackley.
"Professional contractors, like myself, who are committed to doing above average work at affordable prices have been able to make a modest living despite the circumstances."
Bleackley knew at an early age that he liked using his hands and tools to craft and build, and once in high school he says he found a passion for carpentry and, more broadly, construction.
"I use to really love shop classes in high school and really found a passion for carpentry and construction," then added, "More than anything else, I liked seeing the result of my work and how it made people feel." Bleackley says he's always been a hard worker and points out that he believes his "acute attention to detail" has been one of his greatest assets along the way.
While attending high school, he steadily worked part-time as a labourer for the local Sears Warehouse that used to be on Green St. During summers, Bleackley said he would take extra work from a student employment agency and one year a student painter job was up for grabs. He took the job without a second thought and by the time the summer was over he knew painting was something he wanted to pursue more seriously.
When Bleackley was finished high school, he hit a snag and lost his job at the warehouse due to downsizing measures taken at the time to stave off its eventual closure. At that point, finances became his biggest concern and he decided to earn a wage over continuing on to college or university.
By the mid-1990s, not able to find new full-time work in a locally stagnant job market, he was making a living taking any type of construction work that came his way and supported himself that way. "It wasn't easy to swallow not being able to find new steady employment after having worked for so long, but I did what I could, took any jobs that came my way, and always kept a positive attitude," he said of those early years.
He said he enjoyed residential painting because it gave him a real sense of personal satisfaction being “able to work one-on-one with clients who really appreciated a job well done.”
Suddenly, like lots of people do, he found himself in a new relationship with a baby on the way. Bleackley said that his priorities "immediately shifted" and he knew he needed a "better plan for the future." Although he enjoyed all facets of construction, he decided to focus on painting and put his application in at the IBPAT Local 1590 painters union.
His efforts soon paid off in 1997 with an offer from the union for him to join and begin an immediate apprenticeship. "I got a call from the union hall and they said that if I wanted to work, there was an opening for an apprentice to work on the Blue Water Bridge," said Bleackley.
He also went through a marital separation during these first few years in the union and said that it was his work that helped him keep going at times. His positive attitude didn’t hurt either. In the following years, his apprenticeship in the painters union took him all over the province and exposed him to many different commercial settings. "Everything in construction is a good experience."
In 2003, Bleackley acquired his Journeyman ticket as a painter and had also recently started a new relationship. His, what he referred to as, "good luck" continued and he was soon offered a steady position through the union working at Bruce Power.
Bleackley said that he loved working "up north" and remarked it was great experience, but he noted that he would work there five days a week and only see his family on weekends. He said living away from his family was very challenging, although the money was good. In 2008, while temporarily laid off from Bruce Power he came to the realization that he needed to be closer to family and knew he needed a new opportunity.
Bleackley said it dawned on him that change was often a new beginning and it was at that moment that New Beginnings Painting became a reality.
"I couldn't stand still and felt it was time to open up new avenues of opportunity and starting my own business seemed like coming full circle to me," he said.
Undertaken in a time of uncertainty and in the midst of an economic downtown, Bleackley started his new business, focusing exclusively on residential work. He enjoyed working on a more personable level with the client than what had been afforded by his union jobs.
He also stressed that he continued to take union jobs while building his company and remains an active, proud member of the painters union today.
Bleackley was also motivated, seeing so many of his union brethren out of work due to the times, to create jobs and make an impact in that way if he could. Today, New Beginnings Painting continues to grow, is taking on new clients all the time, and whenever possible is employing others in the trade on a “job-to-job basis.”
Bleackley also said that, in recent years, the business has expanded into other areas of residential construction including dry walling, structural upgrades, and some types of custom carpentry.
He actively uses social media as a means of marketing. "It's been a great method of generating work, especially through Facebook, but I’ve also advertised from time to time in Sarnia This Week.”
Above all else, word of mouth has been by and large his best method of generating new jobs, building trust and good faith, and breeding repeat business.
A “do it right the first time approach” has also had a lot to do with any success he’s had in business.
Bleackley said that he has no regrets about starting his business in Sarnia, adding that he loves this city and wants his company to grow with it.
“Sarnia’s been a great place to raise a family, work and play, and it’s still growing. I want to grow with it and make a difference in the community at large.”