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94 JANUARY 2017 COATINGSPROMAG.COM possibly get. Learning should never stop, regardless of how much experi- ence you have or how long you have been in the business." Chavez took it a step further. He said, "Don't procrastinate, push a little harder, and do not let your career drag you along. Got a better idea? Go home, have dinner, and work on it! If it's comfortable enough, we tend to settle for what we have, for the situation we find ourselves in, when we could be doing more. But that does take effort. I wish I'd taken that to heart earlier." Scisciani 's take was on the practi- cal side: "Research and check material manufacturers' case histories and industry reputations. Be careful when dealing with general contractors. Again, research reputations. Build a personal relationship with your suppli- ers and customers." What would you tell a new contractor coming into the coatings business? Chavez sug gested newcomers should " find an 'old dog,' and have him or her mentor you. Certainly the products and process and even the bidding environment has changed, but he or she has business experience that w ill be invaluable. You know the new products, processes, and safety procedures, but they have years of experience! Utilize it." Greenfield 's advice was practical: "Be realistic in what you can try to accomplish. Establish a real quality control program, and encourage not only safety but doing the work correctly the first time. Bid work to make money, not just to get the work. ere is little satisfaction with hard work and no reward." Scisciani stressed the customer in his response: "Make customer service your highest priority. Your reputation is what will help you maintain a long successful business." What would you tell or ask experienced contractors getting ready to retire? "Between golf, grandchildren, and gardening, go help a youngster start- ing out. ey need you more than you know — and more than they know. Besides, it really does feel good mento- ring someone and seeing him or her succeed," Chavez said. What resources do coatings contractors need to be successful in this industry? Chavez suggested industry associa- tions: "SSPC [Society for Protective Coatings] and NACE to name two! Organizations are underappreciated by many newcomers in all industries. Without strong industry associations (both those who make standards and those more clearly supporting a trade group), we cannot progress." Greenfield brought it back to the jobsite: "Financial resources are an obvious, but probably the most important resource is the people to do the work right the first time and establish the culture of quality and safety within the organiza- tion. Find the right people to start." What are the most positive and most negative aspects of this industry? Mahaffey said, "e most positive aspect of our industry is the people — great individuals who have a zest for life and great hobbies. e negative is that the nature of the business requires the use of substances that can be toxic to us and the environment. When these are used improperly, it is negative for all." "On a positive note, it's a large industry with many opportunities for those who can do it right. On the negative side, failure can be just as huge. It's competitive to a fault at times; know when to pass on the project," Greenfield said. What are the most important decisions you make as a leader of your organization? As the owner of a contracting business, Scisciani 's answers made sense: "Material and application choices, how you train and treat your employees, and lead by example." To Greenfield, as a leader, "plotting the path forward," is important. "I haven't always been good at it. ings change: industry, customers, the workforce. It's important to have a clear and well-thought-out plan for success and then to continually relook and adjust." What is one mistake you witness people in the coatings industry making more frequently than others? Scisciani said the biggest mistake is when people "make the almighty dollar their main objective." For Chavez and Greenfield, the mistakes they see are more about the coating application process. Chavez said it's preparation. "It's a pain and doesn't show in the end because it's all 'covered up' — well, covered up until the failure of the coating." Mahaffey said, "The most positive aspect of our industry is the people — great individuals who have a zest for life and great hobbies." YEAR S Celebrating