Mountain Paint and Decorating owner Ted Hughes has done everything from mixing paints in a Benjamin Moore plant to serving as an account representative for the company.
“I got into the paint business right out of college,” Hughes says.
He went to work for Benjamin Moore after graduating from Clemson University in 1997 and has maintained a connection with the company for the past 20 years. His stores in Asheville and Brevard all carry a wide selection of Benjamin Moore paints from interior latex to exterior paints and stains.
In 2002 Hughes made his way to Asheville after working in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas by accepting a position with Benjamin Moore in this mountain community.
“It was coming full circle,” he says.
Hughes was born in Asheville and his parents live in the area.
In the summer of 2009, Hughes launched his own business in Asheville with the Benjamin Moore brand. His business subsequently has expanded to three stores. All are locally owned and operated, he points out.
“I’m independent,” Hughes says.
Rather than being channeled to a corporate office, the earnings from his businesses stay in the area and benefit the local economy, Hughes says.
“When Mountain Paint profits, it profits the region,” he remarks.
Because of his long association with Benjamin Moore and his respect for the quality and consistency of its products, he decided to offer this brand of paint at his stores, he says.
As part of his initial training with the company, Hughes worked in the Alabama plant of Benjamin Moore where he learned how the product was made. His work days were spent cutting bags of raw paint materials and putting them in large vats.
He also worked in customer service and distribution before embarking on his career in sales and management with Benjamin Moore.
“I saw every part of the business,” he remarks.
As an employer, Hughes strives to keep a loyal staff with extensive experience in the paint business.
“I like having the same people here,” he says. “I think that’s what separates us from others … It’s a trust factor.”
About half of the customers who come to Mountain Paint and Decorating are retail clients and the other half are contractors, Hughes says.
“We do our best to help people,” he says.
“We have a high threshold with our (paint) matches,” Hughes adds. “There are still some old tricks to the trade,” even with the present technology of color matching, he notes.
And after mixing paint for customers, Hughes and his staff open the cans and look at the color to ensure it is the correct one.
Many of the repeat customers buy the same color paint that they originally selected, which Hughes sees as a positive sign of satisfaction.
“We’ve been around long enough now that people are coming back for a second paint job. Now we’re seeing them again,” he says.
The paint contractors who buy products from Hughes’ stores are mostly what he calls “pot and brush”—small crews of one to six, he explains.
Mountain Paint and Decorating stores offer a full line of paints from latex and acrylic blends to oil-based, which are designed for interior and exterior uses and include products for staining decks and refinishing furniture. The stores also have an extensive selection of paint brushes, drop clothes, tape and other paint supplies needed for projects, as well as window shades.
“Business is good in this town,” Hughes says.
By Sandra Barnes