27 Years Of Paint Part One.

Last month (July) marked 27 years since I was given my first full-time job after leaving school. Yep, on 30th July, 1990, I started working for Haymes Paint in Ballarat, Victoria. Since then I have seen many changes in the household paint industry and some things that still haven’t changed. Some brands leading the way in some areas while falling miserably behind in others. Tale overs and disappearing companies.

I should point out pretty early on here that this isn’t a sponsored blog. Hopefully one day I’ll get the chance to do some of those because money, lol. I should also point out that that this is opinion, my opinion, except for the bits that are facts.

When I say 27 years, what I mean is 27 years ago I started selling paint. I escaped a couple of times. (Insert Al Pacino in The Godfather III, “Just when I thought I was out…they pull me back in.”) So it is actually 25 years of selling paint over 27 years. I have also only been part time for the last few years and as I mentioned in a recent blog (The Next Chapter), I have given notice and as of Sunday 13th August, I am out! Although, I will be an on call casual to help them if someone is sick or on holidays and to help me with money.

The main things I want to cover in this blog is advise for you, some whinging by me, some warnings to those seeking employment and some history. So a bit of a timeline thing:-

July 1990 – November 1992:- Haymes Paint in Ballarat. At the age of 18, I was employed as a Retail Trainee which meant 4 days a week at work at 1 day a week at TAFE with the occasional full week at TAFE. This paid 75% of the minimum award rate as that’s the amount of time at the actual workplace. A Traineeship is/was similar to an apprenticeship except they were in non trade areas and lasted 1 year instead of 4. I was invited to stay on after the 12 months finished.

At the time I started, Haymes Paint had just about completed their new big main office and manufacturing plant out at Wendouree. Some manufacturing and the warehouse had already moved to the new premises but the head office was upstairs from the shop and some manufacturing was out the back of the shop. During my 2nd week the head office moved. It was several months before the rest of the manufacturing had moved just leaving the shop with a lot of space out back. Some of which was later rented out the the Brotherhood Of St Lawrence to sort there clothes and rags, etc.

The manager of the shop at the time was an old school style, grumpy old bastard with his pipe constantly hanging out of his mouth and never afraid to yell at any of the staff and tell them they were stupid. In his defence though, the day after I received a 20 minute tirade of abuse because I spelt a customers name wrong on a invoice (all manually written out back then), he came to me and apologised because that is how that customer spells their name. Somewhere in 1991 he moved on to another company and the shop secretary, receptionist and in 1991 assistant manager was promoted to manager. She was great. I stepped in to help out with the work she did before the promotion.

Not long after that, probably early 1992, she was swapped over with someone from head office. They used the word swap even though she was getting a promotion and he wasn’t. I helped out even more in the office side of things. Banking, budgets and helping with the monthly report. Including one month when the the manager was on holiday, I did the 4-5 page handwritten end of month report. No computers there back then.

That manager tried to implement several awesome ideas but kept being told no we don’t have the budget. He wanted to convert the abandoned offices upstairs into displays. Getting local businesses to donate furniture like couches and beds and bathtubs, etc and turn each office into a different room of a house, all painted up to show how amazing Haymes Paint can look. It would have cost us the paint that we made, so very close to nothing. As well as a bit of time out of the shop for an employee to paint them. WOW! Training and practice too.

That same guy pushed to open a Trade Only area with an assigned staff member so that the professionals didn’t have to wait too long to get back to the job. It was going to cost an extra computer to do the invoicing.

He tried to get the electronic typewriter replaced after it stopped working.

He also fought to get me promoted to assistant manager. Unfortunately the person from head office that he answered to answered every request with a firm NO.

The reply – “There was no reason for anyone to go upstairs, at all, ever. In fact, no one is to ever go up there! We can not justify wasting money on another computer for the trade desk.” So that stopped as it didn’t work if the person had to keep running in and out of the shop to invoice anyway. “No” to the typewriter. “If you need anything typed up then fax the information and request to the head office” and would be done if someone got around to it. Lastly, “No”, we don’t need an assistant manager in that shop.

Eventually that manager had had enough and found greener pastures elsewhere. It wasn’t long before we got a new manager. An ex Bristol Paint shop manager. My whole paint world changed with this bloke. He started almost every sentence with “At Bristol we did this…” and “Bristol used to do that…” and so on. I wanted to say “If Bristol was so great then piss off back there!” or “If Bristol was so great then why did you leave?”

One of the other employees there used to get annoyed with me because of the amount of time I spent in the office. This was one of the busiest paint shops in Australia at the time and doing the banking took a while. Individually writing out all the cheques and individually counting all the credit card dockets. Nothing was electronic back then. Some handwriting was hard to read too. So it took a while. Somehow this employee got into this manager’s ear really early on. I no longer was allowed to help with the banking or reports or budgeting or anything that I had worked my way up to. In fact I was dropped straight back down to the level I was in my first week. Not a good feeling. This other employee was also then promoted to assistant manager. Yep, suddenly we needed one and for this manager it was approved.

Somewhere around this time Tim Haymes, one of owner David Haymes’s sons came to work in the shop. To be honest I was concerned. The big bosses son. What if this guy is a spoilt brat? So glad to find out I had nothing to worry about. A top bloke and hard worker. He never baulked away from any job our responsibility. In fact, one of my favourite memories is the day that David came to the shop and told Tim that a painter was coming to paint their house and that Tim would need to stay home to help. Tim said he couldn’t because he had a job now. Eventually, Tim agreed to stay home and help move furniture, etc so the painter could paint providing his dad came into the shop and covered for Tim and did Tim’s jobs. The next day when I arrived at work, David Haymes was there vacuuming the shop floor because Tim told him that was one of his jobs. I don’t recall ever actually seeing Tim vacuum.

Haymes Paint then opened a new store. Tim had left the Ballarat shop. This was my chance to get away from my parents house, away from this manager and away from some other issues going on at the time so I put in for a transfer. I got the transfer and moved to Frankston. The guy from the head office who was overseeing things ranged to get some of his mates from the area work to set the shop up. Out of curiosity later we got some quotes and basically his mates were charging between 2 and 3 times what anyone else would have charged. In fact, one of the fully paid for jobs our manager got one of his mates to come and finish for a slab of beer.

The manager up in Ballarat during this time was allowed to build a display upstairs in the old offices. Although his idea wasn’t to promote paint, it was to promote other companies’ wallpaper, his idea wasn’t going to cost almost nothing, it cost thousands. He replaced the old typewriter with a new computer, got the trade area going with a new computer and a lot of money cutting out concrete steps and replacing with a ramp, new signage and a pool table in a new tearoom. Apparently the guy from head office had found some money. The manager then took credit for all HIS great ideas. Right up until they didn’t work anyway. The wallpaper display was a big failure.

Speaking of failures. Sadly the shop in Frankston also wasn’t put in a great spot with no easy parking. Rumours were starting about it being closed or sold. Again, full respect to David Haymes. When a decision was made it was David who travelled the 3.5 hours to tell us to our face what was going on. He then sat and chatted with us individually about our future plans. Then the shop was sold off one month short of three years after it opened. I sometimes wonder if I would still be with Haymes Paint all these years later if I wasn’t retrenched.

So although I haven’t always liked or agreed with everyone Haymes Paint has employed (there’s probably some who feel the same back), all the ones I have mentioned here are not with them anymore. I have nothing but respect for every member of the Haymes Family. Unfortunately this blog got a bit too long so I’ll have to mention all the great stuff about them in another blog. Their latest campaign about family is so spot on and this video would flow on beautifully after what I was originally going to write before I got all tired and ranty but here it is anyway. These guys are great, their company still a 100% Family owned, Australian Owned and Australian Made. They make a great product too. In all those years it was very rare to get a product complaint that actually had anything to do with the actual product. Now there are some series for another blog, hahaha.



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Love to all, chat soon

4 thoughts on “27 Years Of Paint Part One.

  1. Hey Andrew! This is a great read. Like you, I have been in the industry forever, and after retiring last year from Haymes, I am now back working with them again, and I love it.
    Your story is so much the norm I think, about working with any Paint Company over those years. I have friends who have worked for other paint companies and reflect similar frustrations and woes, just the type of employment and industry. Having worked for Bristol first before Haymes, it was refreshing working for a family owned operation, which Bristol once was before they were sold in the 80’s. Thanks for the read!

    1. Hi Kate, there were so many things I wanted to mention in this blog that were great times as well but it was getting too long. I also wanted to throw in some paint advice to help everyone on both sides of the counter. I’ll do that soon.

      1. Yep it is ingrained in us, the need to advise! I still wake myself up talking to customers about how to prepare their deck cor staining!! 😆

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