Blog : Green Collar Careers: Minute Men Painters co-owner, Sean Sturk

By Ken | Apr 17, 2015 | in

By Ken Johnson

Sean Sturk has been painting for most of his life. After college, Sturk could've easily pursued a career in business or marketing, putting his degrees to use. Instead he followed the job he'd loved doing as a teen; running paint crews and slowly becoming an expert in the business. He eventually owned and operated a paint store, which included eco-friendly options, furthering his knowledge of products and painting techniques. Then, in 2000, Sturk became co-owner of Minute Men Painters.

Bringing his knowledge of environmentally-friendly paints and supplies, Sturk has helped Minute Men Painters grow to specialize in using low-VOC (volatile organic compound) and VOC-free paints, making them a stand out in an industry that uses chemicals with long-lasting effects on painters and paint suppliers. According to Sturk, he's seen these damaging, toxic effects first-hand.

“[A] co-worker of mine, had no sense of smell and we know that this is a result of years of working with toxic fumes," said Sturk. "We grew the company to take the burden off of ourselves physically but now we have these other options for our employees. As a company we made a conscious decision to decrease the toxicity of our products and learn as much as we could about them.”

Specializing in interior and exterior painting, Minute Men Painters is constantly busy meeting customer demand for safer painting services. Most of their new business comes from referrals, with roughly 60 percent residential and 40 percent commercial. Servicing southern New Hampshire, Maine and North Shore Massachusetts, Minute Men Painters also offers power washing and deck and exotic wood restoration.

Sturk says that he takes pride in Minute Men's sustainable practices. A New Hampshire native, Sturk earned degrees in business management and marketing from the University of New Hampshire and Franklin Pierce University. And Sturk has been able to put those degrees to use. Today, Sturk is responsible for the company's sales and marketing duties, while co-owner Christopher Tufts handles the daily operations of project management and quality assurance.

Ken Johnson (KJ): What do you like most about your job?
Sean Sturk (SS): I like to communicate and work with people. I take pride in what the guys do for work and looking at the final product. I've been doing it all my life, so it's hard to say exactly. Working with people and educating people about things they aren't familiar with and seeing what our company and guys do as a final product. I started painting as a summer job in high school, a friend owned a [painting] company, I did it for a couple of summers. Then I did it through college, and did a lot of my projects at the business school on [that] paint company.

KJ: Where did you go to college? Does your college education help with your current job? What skills from college most prepared you for the work you do now?
SS: I received my associates degree at the Thompson School at UNH, in applied business management. Then I did continuing education at Franklin Pierce College, in Salem, New Hampshire, for marketing. My college education helped me to learn the business side and make the company look more professional and helped me be more professional. People want service as much as a good paint job, so my college education taught me the service and marketing end of the business, which seems to be paying off, since we are very busy and very booked up. What helped me the most was working in the summers; managing my own jobs and learning from my hands-on experience. It was more the summer break that prepared me than the classroom. I always taught myself, through researching, better ways of doing painting during summers; more efficient ways of doing it and I would bring that to the job every day.

KJ: What do you look for in an employee in the field?
SS: We look for someone who is honest and someone who is reliable. Someone who wants to learn new [techniques] and isn't stuck in their way of doing things; that they are willing to learn the Minute Man Painters way. And you want people who are trainable and have experience as well.

KJ: What made you integrate sustainability into your business/go into a green industry?
SS: You are around all these products, day in and day out, and you read all the labels on them and it doesn't sound like they are great for you. We try to provide a healthier environment for our employees and families, as well as the families we work for. Having my own kids, and working in my own kids rooms, I was really conscious to make sure I wasn't putting high-VOC paints in my own house. And if I am going to do that, why wouldn't I [do the same] for other people? As the green movement grew, we were already educated in it and we could educate our clients better and had tested the products.

KJ: What are you most proud of in your business as it relates to sustainability?
SS: I am most proud of educating our clients and the contractors we work for on better ways of producing a quality job and how to use VOC-compliant products that are durable versus other products. I think the biggest thing is, money is always the bottom line, but if you don't do it right and you don't take the right steps, or the appropriate steps, you'll be doing it twice or it isn't going to last as long. I think the biggest thing is just teaching people how to do it right the first time, even though it may cost a little more. You are going to get a longer life and less redo cost with the maintenance of the [home].

Green Alliance members save 5% on all exterior and interior paint services at Minute Men Painters! For the month of April, membership fees only cost $20! Not a member? Join here!