Longtime CertaPro Painters of East Tennessee owners, Jeff and Joann Brown, have passed the torch on to Devin Taylor, President, and Ben Johnson, Vice President. Devin and Ben’s combined experience of more than 20 years in the “paint business” and being a part of the CertaPro family made them the logical choice to take over the operations of the most trusted and referred painters in the Knoxville area. We got the chance to catch up with the new co-owners, Ben and Devin, to discuss their backgrounds, business models, and where they see their company, CertaPro Painters, headed in the future.
EK: You were both employees of CertaPro long before you became the owners. When did each of you begin your career, and what have you learned?
Devin: I started in the painting industry in 2004 when I was still attending the University of Tennessee. After graduation, I began my career with CertaPro Painters. In these 11 years, I have learned more skills than I could ever imagine such as project management, estimating, finance, leadership, emotional intelligence, and many others that come with running a business. After college, I wasn’t sure if I would continue my career with a painting company. However, CertaPro Painters is so much more than a painting company – we are a customer service organization. By focusing on people in all aspects of our organization, from our customers, to our painters, to our management team, we’ve learned that building a team that takes pride in their work will translate into an organization that strives for excellence in customer service. We continue to focus on putting solid processes in place for our projects and having a high sense of urgency around our customers’ needs.
Ben: After attending UT, I started working in my family’s business that owned and operated 19 restaurants. My parents have always taught my sister and me the value of hard work, so it was no surprise that I had to start from the bottom, cleaning lobbies and bathrooms, and work my way up. It was an invaluable experience I have carried with me my whole career. My family sold that business in 2016, and I was able to join the CertaPro Painters team as a Residential Service Manager. I was immediately attracted to the culture of this company. CertaPro emphasized excellent customer service, and I fell in love with the CertaPro culture of developing people. I didn’t know much about painting, but my experience in management, leadership, and customer service allowed me to grow my career here.
EK: Why did you make the decision to take over ownership of CertaPro when the Browns stepped down?
Ben: When the opportunity came to purchase the business from Jeff and Joann Brown, Devin and I knew we could not pass up the chance to own the business together. With a combined 20 years of CertaPro experience, we were already familiar with the ins and outs, so it was a pretty seamless transition. Jeff and Joann had built such a successful team of people that we considered family, and we felt our leadership was the best way to keep that going.
Devin: I feel like this was meant to be. The past decade has prepared me for this. I was an employee of the organization, and I owe a lot of my own business development to the leadership and coaching I received from the Browns during that time. Ben came on board six years ago, and we have worked so well together. This is our first year in business as owners, and we are excited to continue leading East Tennessee’s best painting company!
EK: The CertaPro experience has definitely left its mark on you both, as well as thousands of satisfied customers. Why is your company so successful at what they do?
Devin: We know there are many options out there when it comes to maintaining your home or business. One of the most important things that set us apart is our heavy emphasis on our processes, our people, and our level of service because we feel these three things are essential to earn trust. At the end of the day, without trust, we cannot be a successful business. Customers put a lot of trust in our team when we come out to repair and paint your home or business. We do everything in our power to earn and maintain that trust because we want to be your painting contractor of choice for many years to come.
Ben: Our dedication to service, communication, and our customers’ overall experience is what makes us stand out. Having any contractor come into your personal space is not a pleasant process, but we try to make it easier. Our team is committed to showing up on time, not cutting corners, and leaving your property better than when we found it. We are so confident in our processes and level of service that we don’t even ask for money up front like most contractors do. This also ensures that we build trust into our customer relationships.
EK: From both your experiences working at CertoPro, it has been a superior place to work. What are your plans to keep fostering that environment in order to grow your business?
Ben: We have always believed that a great business is nothing without great people. Everyone is valued and part of the family here. If our people enjoy what they do and feel comfortable and respected, Devin and I know they will do the same for our customers. Put simply: it all goes back to the Golden Rule.
Devin: We put a lot of focus on the people who work in our organization. We want them to feel appreciated for the hard work they put in and to know that it actually counts for something at the end of the day. Homes and businesses are essential to everyday life in our community, and it’s important that we are able to help beautify, repair, or maintain them. When someone feels that sense of purpose, they will take pride in their work. When someone takes pride in their work, it will result in a level of customer service that is hard to match.
EK: What are some services that CertaPro Painters offer that our readers might not be aware of?
Ben: I am always surprised when people ask if we paint outside or if we only paint the interiors of homes. I like to tell people “we will paint anything as long as it’s not a car!” While residential work is the largest part of our business, we have a very large commercial division that works with many companies in town everyone would recognize. We also have a carpentry division that can repair pretty much anything we come across. We want to be the one-stop shop for a customer.
Devin: We actually offer a wide range of services that complement painting. For interiors, we can remove wallpaper, repair drywall, and install moldings. On exteriors, we can offer pressure washing, carpentry repairs, and we love re-building decks! Because we are a locally owned and operated business serving East Tennessee, our team consists of East Tennessee residents who are ready to serve their community. We hope you will give us a call to see how we can be of service to you.
• Interior and Exterior Painting and Staining
• Kitchen Cabinet Painting
• Drywall Repair
• Carpentry Repair
• Deck Construction
• Re-screen Porches
• Re-texturing Drywall and Ceilings
• Stripping and Refinishing Wood
CertaPro Painters of East Tennessee