My first career started a long time ago in Stockton, CA. While I was in high school, I would spend a lot of time painting with my father. Actually, it started way before high school. My dad would set me up to paint a closet. He would paint the rest of the house and then come back and help me finish up the closet. I had more paint on me than the closet. Ha! I was so little! Once I made it through high school and started my years at UC Davis, painting became much more serious through the summers. It was a real pleasure working for my dad. It was really fun to help transform houses into a client's dream home.
Kitchen Cabinets-A Henson Painting Specialty
Four years later, I graduated from Davis with a degree in Economics. Much to the chagrin on my father (he did get over it), I opened my own painting company. I really did not want to start my "real" career until I was able to travel a bit. I thought painting was the perfect short term career. A marriage, two kids and a mortgage later transformed my time frame to over three decades! My company painted homes, commercial buildings and tilt up buildings. It turned out to be a very good career and then THE GREAT RECESSION HIT! My phones died. It was the first time a recession affected my business negatively and I had to find something else.
I had always wanted to be in the financial planning business, but felt that was a stretch for a blue collar guy so I thought real estate could be my new direction. I had no idea what I was getting into; foreclosures, short sales and distress. I had thought real estate was going to be happy. Sometimes, it was, but there were a lot of tears during that period. It did turn out to be a good time to start. I had to learn a lot in a very short period of time. It also turned out to be a good time to purchase a few rentals. My painting career did not provide for a good retirement and I definitely needed to find a long term source of income.
Early in my career, I did not mention my painting background. I wondered if anyone would even hire an old painter as a real estate agent. It was the wrong attitude. It turns out that my clients like my contractor background. I have been in literally thousands of homes and hundreds of renovations. It has given me a certain creativity when I am showing or listing homes. I know how homes can be transformed, sometimes by color alone. It has given me a working knowledge of renovations and a great network of contractors. Painting also taught me how to coordinate with others in complex projects. All have been invaluable to my real estate career.
I learned to love my painting career over the decades, but it was a tough one both mentally and physically. Real estate might be just as tough in a different way, but it can also be fun and rewarding. There is nothing like seeing the excitement in your clients eyes after they buy their dream home! It is ironic, the one thing that I thought was going to hold me back, ended up being the one thing that helps set me apart.