Change is good for entrepreneur Gary Loiseau of Penncoat, Inc. The ability to meet change head-on has helped this business owner build a successful commercial and industrial painting and flooring firm.
The Landisville, PA Company was launched in 1987. Its products include epoxy flooring, chemical resistant coatings, and floors that dissipate static electricity. While Penncoat largely services the food processing industry, it has a diverse customer list including churches, hotels, office buildings and hospitals.
Gary’s career didn’t start in large commercial accounts. After attending a local college, he stopped taking classes to paint residential buildings fulltime. Soon the young entrepreneur earned several small commercial jobs, which were followed by a contract to paint a large government housing development.
That’s when Gary began to shift the firm’s focus to commercial clients. He enjoyed working with professional-level customers and the challenge of large-scale jobs. “I realized that if I wanted to make this work, I needed to be in the commercial market,” Gary says.
The company has continued to grow, but like many small businesses Penncoat has been affected by recent economic conditions. Gary, who oversees the company’s internal operations, estimates the commercial and industrial painting and flooring market is about half the size it was just a few years ago. He did, however, note that the “feast or famine” cycle is a familiar experience to many business owners who perform contract work. “You need to accept whatever the situation is and then do what you can do to influence it.”
So as the economic environment has changed, Gary has adjusted the way Penncoat does business. He implemented a marketing plan as well as added a part-time marketing professional. In addition, the company developed methods to assist its salespersons in acquiring and maintaining accounts. The modifications are working. “We’re seeing success,” he notes.
Gary’s success is also a result of his willingness to access local resources available to entrepreneurs. About five years ago, he enlisted the help of SCORE Lancaster, a volunteer organization that provides low-cost workshops and free counseling to emerging and existing small businesses. “I learned that SCORE is a great resource for anybody in small business. They have a wealth of resources and knowledge, and you can find somebody in SCORE that’s involved in any aspect of business.”
He attends the group’s round table discussions, which allow clients to share ideas and learn from each other. He also meets with his SCORE counselor, PetePayne, several times each year. “We talk about business, especially balancing business and family. He’s a wealth of knowledge in all aspects of life. That’s actually where I get my biggest return is in those impromptu discussions,” says the business owner.
For Gary, his SCORE counselor has become a critical sounding board. “He gives me things to think about that I would not normally consider because I’m caught up in day-to-day operations.”
While his work at Penncoat is the only job he’s known, Gary has not allowed himself to become mired in a that’s-the-way-we’ve-always-done-it business model. His willingness to embrace change—and rise to the challenges it brings—has allowed this entrepreneur to paint his own path to success.