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The Happy Painter


Original Article



 

He’s been 43 years on the brush – and he’s still having fun. Rick Fowler, the go-to pro painter at disaster restoration firm Spar Construction, Edmonton, doesn’t take himself too seriously.

By John Bleasby

My conversation with Rick Fowler is punctuated with a lot of laughter; he might be the easiest-going tradesman you’ll ever have on a site. But he’s also a totally meticulous and disciplined tradesman. Rick has been painting since 1973, the past 20 years exclusively for Spar Construction of Edmonton, a specialist in fire, flood and vandalism restorations.
That’s a long career in painting. What got you started?
It was easy. It was the best offer I could get out of high school. I had a young family and virtually no skills, so I had to buckle down and find something quick.
You’ve been with Spar for over 20 years. You must love the work?
I tried so many things over the years. Just before joining Spar I ran my own commercial business for two years, and found it stressful to say the least. I had four guys, worked longer hours than any of them, and actually made less than they did on some jobs. I didn’t need that.
What makes disaster restoration painting different from regular painting?
Matching colours is my biggest challenge. I’ll spend several hours trying to establish the right colour and sheen.
How do you keep your clients stress free during a disaster restoration?
You’ve got to handle them with kid gloves. But I have an advantage: I’m always the last guy on the job. I’m the one who makes it all look pretty again.
There has to be more to it than that!
Well, there is one thing: I would say 50 per cent of the insurance customers ask me to do ‘one more little thing’, while I’m there with my brush out. I have a rule: if it will only take half an hour, I’ll do it and won’t charge them. Half an hour is nothing. And they’ll be so happy they’ll never complain about anything afterwards.
Do you hum or play music when you paint?
I have a classic iPod with 6,000 tunes on it. I love the Blues, rock music, folk music, country from the 40’s and 50’s. If the customer is
home, I’ll rarely put it on a speaker; I’ll use my earphones. If I’m working alongside others, I’ll ask them first.
In terms of product, do you get what you pay for?
Over the years of looking at products from all over the world, I have to say that the top line products are pretty damn good. And over the years, you get to know who has the best products for the best price, and particularly the products that do almost anything.
Is there such a product out there?
Some are good in one situation but will have a fall-down point somewhere else. Maybe one product will perform differently with a different colour. It will work every day but then, say, with a certain colour, it’s no good. After working with colours all over the chart, you learn which products work best in a given situation.
How many years of painting do you have left in you?
Probably forever. I’m very physically active. I ski, mountain bike, do combat archery twice a week. I don’t mind painting. All that hard work helps. It keeps me in good health.



What to Expect
Filip Kaczmarek

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My main goal is to be a contractor and work for myself someday. I wanted to be in an industry that will have plenty opportunities five or 10 years from now when I’ll be ready and where I can learn the whole business so roofing seemed to a good way…
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Essentials Skills


  • Oral Communication
  • Decision Making
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  • Problem Solving
  • Document Use
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Financial Expectation

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Career ETA: 1 years

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