I've used the same brand of wallpaper seam smoother for many years. I tried others - some cheaper, others more expensive, but none worked as well as the Wal Wiz. My most recent commercial project involved hanging almost 5000 yards of commercial vinyl, and that's a lot of seams. The Wal Wiz isn't an expensive tool, but it works well and feels comfortable in my hand. After smoothing thousands of seams with this implement, the motions are almost instinctive. But the edges wear down eventually, and I go through them quickly on a big job like this. My stock was getting low, but I couldn't find any locally. My paint store rep tried to find them and couldn't. He suggested another brand, but it was just too flimsy for me. I looked online, and every site that advertised them noted it was out of stock. An inquiry to Zinsser, the manufacturer, revealed that the Wal Wiz had been discontinued. So I've been calling places all over the country who carried them in the past to see if I could buy up the remaining stock. Eventually those will be gone and I'll have to find something new. So far I haven't found a suitable substitute.
That seam smoother reminds me of many things in my business. Those old tools worked well, but it seems like everyone has a newer solution, and the old way of doing things is difficult to find. It used to be that contractors mailed signed estimates to prospective customers; now digitally-signed emails are the norm. A live voice on the end of a telephone has been replaced with an automated answering system. Estimating software has taken over for a calculator and experience.
At North Pine Painting we do things a little differently - the old-fashioned way, mostly. Rarely do I give an estimate on the phone - I'd prefer to come out and look at your project and talk things over with you. If you call my office, you'll reach my wife, who runs the administrative end. You can contact me by email, but I always give my customers my cell phone number so they can talk directly to me when it's important. And it's my belief that a computer program can't ever take the place of skills gained from years of hands-on experience. If that's outdated, that's just fine with me; it's the way I prefer to do business. And it must be okay with my customers, because over the years I've hardly ever needed to advertise - word of mouth keeps me plenty busy. That doesn't mean I'm technology-shy; after all, I am blogging here! Plus if you'd prefer an email estimate, I can handle that, too. After all, the old-fashioned way meant putting the customer first. And that's how I do business.
In the painting and decorating business, technology is changing things, just as it is in all industries. But at North Pine Painting we're not about to let technology take the place of good, old-fashioned customer care and craftsmanship. If that's what you're looking for in a painting contractor, give me a call. And if you've got a good substitute for the soon-extinct Wal Wiz please let me know.