Do You Do What You Love?

For centuries people have been arguing both sides of this question.  Social Media has hundreds of pictures that I have even shared or posted with the most popular quotes. The following quote is my personal favorite:

Steve Jobs 2

Everyone has a passion for something. Neither Angelo nor I had aspirations as children or teenagers of becoming painters. I wanted to be the general manager of a grand hotel in some exotic location somewhere in this great, big world. Angelo was sure he would be out on top of the world as an astronaut.

But for whatever circumstance brought us to this career, we truly are passionate and love what we do.  Things have been far from easy – some of the risks have been too great – and I will admit there are days that I really do not like my job.  Seriously, who loves working long, hot summer days in the sun on ladders? Not being able to wash the paint out your hair, going from one job to another, digging the caulk and putty out of my finger nails at night? It wasn’t just the physical demands. After all the labor was complete, the focus would switch to fiscal responsibilities: paying  vendors, collecting money, placing orders, letters of credit, insurance, payroll, taxes, attorneys, profits margins, COGs, G&A expenses, credit management, contracts – the list is endless.  Consider we spent most of our days away from home and our kids, having only a few hours in the evening to wind down and touch base with our family. We all have tasks in our job that we don’t enjoy, but the main role in everyone’s job should be to embrace your talents and passions that touch on the things you love.

I loathe making collection calls, but I love when my bills are paid and there are a few extra dollars left. Angelo hates ordering paint but is full of pride when we walk a finishing project and see all that paint on the wall.

Balancing what you love to do, with making a living is probably the most difficult challenge with which we all struggle.  You’ll have to closely look at your priorities; you’ll need to define success differently (our generation defined success with the size of our paychecks).  So many people I know are left always chasing that check, working long hours, doing things all day that they hate doing, hating their boss and co-workers – to me all of that translates to difficult evenings at home, issues with relationships with wife and kids, increased stress and ultimately health issues.  You’ll need to ask yourself some tough questions. Does it really matter if drive a BMW or Hyundai?  Does it really matter if you have a mansion or a townhouse? Do you really need all the latest expensive gadgets?  What is your definition of love, fulfillment and satisfaction?  How is it that I have painters that work with us that are so proud of what they do?  Because they love it.

I believe in the endless possibilities we can create for ourselves; I believe in making tough choices or take risks to reach our goals.  I believe in my ability to deal with the uncertainty and hurdles that I will encounter.  I believe in dreaming, working hard, learning daily.

I believe in the American Dream where by definition “life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement”.  We are proof!


As we reflect back on 2013, many things come to mind.  The highs, the lows, the good, the bad, the profitable jobs and the not so profitable ones, are all playing through our minds.  The Metrics for the year and the comparison charts are starting to actually get reviewed and broken down.  Using this information we plot our course for next year and in our good fortune the year after that.

But one thing that stands out for me as the small business owner,  as the most critical and crucial to our business and the construction  industry as a whole, is something we have already known about yet nothing has really changed.  This conversation has been had for at least the last ten years, yet not enough has been done to put a dent in the staggering numbers.  What I am talking about is our workforce shortage!

Based on data collected for the THE CONSTRUCTION CHART BOOK, we will be faced with serious issues in the short years to come.   In the next ten years, taking in to account the expected growth in our industry, and the fact that our workers need replacement (due retirement or out of industry), we will need 160,000 painters, 408,300 carpenters and 289,200 electricians.  That’s a lot of people – just to accommodate the expected demand in this country alone.

We need to make a difference!  How do you think we can reach this next generation of millenials and transfer to them our passion for this industry?

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It’s never great news when the feds notify you that you’re going to be audited. But for Barbara Spyridakis, who runs Thesis Painting in Springfield, it turned into a positive experience and an opportunity to become one of the first companies in Virginia to join a federal program that ensures that workers are in this country legally.

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American Business

American Business Magazine

Thesis Painting is like many other small businesses—it was built on the skills of family members. Angelo Spyridakis came to America as a Greek immigrant who worked as a painter with his father and brother. But Angelo didn’t have the goal of making it in America simply as a craftsman with a job—he had the burning desire to live the American dream by building a successful company.

Barbara Spyridakis, who is now a partner with her husband Angelo, didn’t immediately work full-time for Thesis Painting. In the company’s early years, she worked for a law firm during the day while helping with the books and marketing at night.

That changed in 1998 when Barbara was on maternity leave. During that time, she was able to generate enough new business to cover what she was making at the law firm, which allowed her to join Thesis Painting full time. Below, she recounts her and Angelo’s journey to success during the Great Recession.

Barbara Spryidakis: “Our company, Thesis Painting, is primarily a painting and wall covering business in the Washington, D.C., metro area, and recently has expanded into floor covering, as well. We concentrate on the commercial and government sectors—a highly competitive market. We have approximately 48 employees on a seasonal basis and generate over $5 million in annual revenue. We get our name from ancient Greece where Thesis was the deity of creation. In more modern times, Thesis means a position of prominence or high standing in the community.

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