Not many people would choose to start a business in the midst of a recession, but as they say, necessity is often the mother of invention.
“I had been working with the same company for over 10 years when the partnership I had envisioned and we had discussed never materialized. I found myself without a job for the first time in my life,” says Todd Pearson, describing the circumstances that led to the birth of All Bay Paint in 2010. He had spent the previous 18 years working for commercial painting contractors and was fortunate enough to have developed strong relationships and a deep knowledge of the industry. “Those years were some of the best education I could have asked for, and I was lucky to have built a lot of connections along the way.”
Those connections paid off. Todd received seven offers in the eight days following his departure from his last company, ranging from estimation to sales. The best offer was an opportunity to form a new business with someone he trusted. “He gave me financial backing, a desk, and a phone, and the rest was up to me,” Todd says. Through this offer All Bay was established in September 2010.
The “up to me” part was a rather daunting challenge. Though the economy had improved somewhat from the near-collapse of 2008, unemployment was still sky-high and the markets were far from recovered. In Silicon Valley, building had slowed if not completely stopped, leasing was down, and vacancy was up. “It really wasn’t the ideal time,” Todd laughs.
Ideal or not, Todd forged ahead. From the start, he wanted to build a business that represented his belief in the importance of putting people first, saying, “If you focus on the relationship, business follows.”
Todd’s membership and involvement in CREW Silicon Valley provided him with an extensive network of cultivated relationships that got All Bay off to a running start, including assistance with its formation and incorporation. “I really built my business on the strength of the connections I had through CREW. Even though I changed companies, the relationships I had been building for years were still there.” As a result of these connections, All Bay had jobs lined up before there were even painters on staff. Todd also utilized CREW connections to assist with the formation and incorporation of All Bay.
Todd’s relationships allowed him to build a strong employment base. Finding painters proved to be one of the easier tasks, as a number of employees from previous employers believed in Todd enough to join him on his new venture. He once again credits his staffing ease with his ever-present philosophy of building relationships and focusing on people: “I wanted to build a company that valued our employees, and the people that came to work for me did so because they wanted to work for a company that cared about them as people.”
Todd was (and still is, he adds) very careful about staffing at a level that ensures that employees work full time, year-round, with company-funded benefits. “I used to joke that my goal was for All Bay to be a company that people never wanted to leave, but that turns out to be the case.” Nearly all of the original staff are still on board, and the number of employees has more than tripled.
All Bay continues to succeed and grow, and it has expanded its services. Initially a painting company, it now also provides facilities maintenance and wood refurbishment, which Todd says were a clear fit for painting. “We can paint a suite to get it ready to lease, but if there are stained ceiling tiles and mismatched lights, the job really isn’t done. We were already in these buildings, we knew the managers and the tenants, and we knew what kinds of standards are expected. Adding in the ability to really bring a full suite up to leasing standard was a natural progression for us.”
Looking forward, Todd has his eye on continued growth. This, of course, applies to business and revenue, but also to the employees working with All Bay. “A lot of the core employees we have now started their first careers with us,” Todd says, jokingly adding that he is old enough to be the father of nearly all of his administrative and managerial staff. “Our team has grown personally and professionally in their time with us, and I want to continue that. It’s important to me that we keep growing as people, because the more we grow and take on, the more we can accomplish as a team.”
As always, for Todd, it’s people first.
About the Author
Jessica Krack is the operations manager for All Bay Paint and Facilities Services, where she is responsible for day to day operations including human resources and people strategy. She holds an MPS in Human Resources from Pennsylvania State University as well as SHRM-SCP certification. Jessica is an active member of CREW SV as both an event photographer and co-chair of the UCREW Committee.