When I was in the 7th grade, I joined my junior high wrestling team. This team was led by Coach Herbrechtsmeier, whom we affectionately called “Herb” for good reasons. Herb was a principled coach and had led his teams for several years to be the city champions. My first exposure to the idea of establishing fundamentals came at my first wrestling practice, when Herb stated, “I will teach you the fundamentals of wrestling and you will win!” We went on to win the city championship that year, and the next, and the next.

What do “fundamentals” have to do with the refinish paint business? Fundamentals are a central or primary rule or principle on which something is based—applying this idea to the overall operation of many steps or each individual step that makes up an operation.

The more committed a person is to the fundamentals of those steps, the more successful they will be. In the refinish paint world, these fundamentals are often called “best practices.” There are many, many steps that make up a refinish paint process, but each step has its best practices. Although there may be many ways to get to the end of the task, some methods are simply better than others. Even if you are successful at reaching your objective, it either may have been done inefficiently, more costly, or have quality issues that may not show up for days, weeks, months, or years. This entire reality is captured in the idea of “workmanship.”

"Although there may be many ways to get to the end of the task, some methods are simply better than others."

We have found that we are usually more successful at taking someone with little or no experience and training them up through the company rather than hiring someone who is a seasoned veteran. Sometimes egos and pride are the problems, but usually, it is that a seasoned veteran has strayed from their fundamental best practices and introduced “shortcuts and bad habits.” Once those things take root, they are incredibly hard to break.

Operating a dynamic company of skilled craftsmen is challenging, but the challenges are less when each person knows the fundamentals of their job. When something goes wrong, the solution is easier to uncover by auditing the process and 99% of the time, failure lies at the doorstep of a broken fundamental.

Kobe Bryant, one of the best to ever play the game of basketball, was committed to the fundamentals of the game. All his training centered around them; nothing fancy, just the fundamentals. Warren Buffet has built astounding business wealth from principles and foundations of investing which he has used and shared publicly. Every process known to man comes with a list of fundamentals being used, refined, or discovered. Refinish painting is no different.

Whether on the production floor, in the spray booth, in the art studio, in customer service, or in managing our books and HR, CPV is committed to applying the fundamentals that win. We want every team member to know how to succeed, what pitfalls to avoid, and why we do what we do. The importance of fundamentals will never change, but the stakes do. A lesson from 7th grade on fundamentals is now a determination to be the best refinish painting operation on the planet. Our customers depend on us to do it!

Authored By: Steve Wright

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