Posted by: Diane Capuano
Mike Fleck, the newest member of the PDRA Board, is the owner of Flecks Paint Spot, which has stores in Toms River and Forked River, N.J.
To introduce Mike to our readership, Paint & Decorating Retailer magazine recently conducted a Q&A interview. Below are excerpts from that interview.
Q: First, can you provide a bit of background about you and your store? How did you get involved in the retail paint and decorating business?
A: I guess you could say I was born into the industry. My grandfather was a painter/paperhanger out of Philadelphia in the 1930s, and my dad, Bob Fleck, followed in his footsteps during the 1950s. In 1976, my parents opened a retail paint store in Toms River, N.J., and a year later, I started working for a dollar an hour. We have since expanded to a second location in 1989. I have been involved in some capacity for the past 35 years. My father stepped aside from day-to-day operations in 1997, and I have been running the business since that time, along with long-time general manager Jerry Savastano. (If you divide my salary by hours worked, I think I am still making a dollar an hour.)
Q: What is it about your business that sets you apart from other paint and decorating stores in your community?
A: We are truly one of the only independently owned paint and decorating stores in our area. Unlike the big box stores, we know our customers on a first-name basis and provide an atmosphere that is not provided in other stores. The box stores and company-owned stores can’t seem to put the package together. Customers are pleasantly surprised that we have an on-staff decorator to assist them. We also designed our own color card to reflect the most popular color trends in our market.
Q: Can you tell us about your experience with PDRA (and its predecessor organization NDPA)? When did you first join the association? What are some of the advantages that NDPA/PDRA has brought you over the years?
A: It’s funny; I just came across our “Welcome to the NDPA” letter signed by Bob Petit, dated March 15, 1982, so I guess it has been 30 years. The information that is provided in the monthly magazine has been a great resource for the growth of our business. It has also allowed me to network with fellow PDRA members to exchange invaluable ideas and information.
Q: Are you doing anything with social media—i.e., Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.?
A: We are in the early stages of social media. Thanks to the young blood in our organization, we are in the process of getting active with this media form, knowing the potential impact it can provide. We are on Facebook looking for friends. Social media seems to be the direction the business world is heading, and we are looking to tap into this venue.
Q: What are your thoughts about what you can contribute to the industry as a member of the PDRA Board?
A: As a board member, I am looking to help keep the independent strong and INDEPENDENT.
Q: Give your best “sales pitch” on why an independent paint store owner should join PDRA.
A: We have been noticing a resurgence in customers shopping at locally owned for American-made products. The independent should be THE brand in his or her market. When this recession finally runs its course, those who survive will survive big. Belonging to the PDRA and a buying group will help in your survival. If you do not belong to the PDRA, you are doing your business and your employees a disservice.
Tags: Retailer to Retailer