If you have owned a business for any length of time, or even if you just pay attention to the business world in general, you know that the state of the economy has a lot to do with whether or not a business succeeds or fails. In a booming economy it can seem like almost any business you start has a great chance of success, while in a less-than-favorable economy, getting a business to succeed can feel almost impossible. But are there any types of small businesses that are “recession-proof”—meaning, they can withstand economic downturns without experiencing any sort of downturn themselves?
When you think of businesses that are recession-proof, things like grocery stores and accounting firms may come to mind. After all, everyone needs to eat and pay their taxes, regardless of what the economy is doing. But what about home improvement companies?
Jon Ray, the owner of San Diego house painting company, PaintGreen, has found that residential painting is one of those industries that doesn’t necessarily slow down in down economies.
Back in 2006, Ray was working in real estate in Phoenix, Arizona. At one point, business almost completely froze. The phone stopped ringing, as everyone seemed to be scared to buy houses in such uncertain economic times. It was then that Ray decided to make a change and transition into an industry that he thought wouldn’t be so up and down.
Ray had managed a painting franchise during college. He knew the house painting industry and what it would take to succeed in that type of business. So, even though there was no end in sight of the economic recession, Ray took the plunge. He moved to San Diego and opened PaintGreen, a painting company dedicated to using environmentally friendly methods and materials.
Ray’s instincts turned out to be correct. Even though the housing market was a mess, people still needed the interiors and exteriors of their houses painted. His business grew—slowly at first, but then it exploded. At one point, Ray had to intentionally scale things back because his business had grown too quickly and he didn’t have the systems in place to support the growth. After a time of refocusing and restructuring, Ray began to grow his business again.
Then 2020 came along.
Ray found himself operating in the midst of another economic downturn. Being located in Southern California, there were many restrictions placed on his and other businesses. Businesses all around him were closing their doors, taking out huge loans to try to stay afloat, and laying off or furloughing employees.
Fortunately, business at PaintGreen didn’t slow down. In fact, the company found itself busier than ever. Early on in the stay-at-home orders, Ray decided to shift the focus of his business from residential painting to office painting, reasoning that many offices were sitting empty and it would be a great time for business owners to have the interiors of their offices painted. He also focused some of his marketing efforts on his company’s exterior painting services, knowing that most homeowners wouldn’t be comfortable having a painting crew inside their home during a pandemic.
Ray’s efforts paid off and his company grew throughout 2020, even as other businesses in the area languished or even shut down. While the full effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy have yet to be seen, Ray is confident that his painting business will see continued success.