Marge Parkhurst, founder and owner of Painting By Marge, Inc. and the creator of Paint Estimating Program (PEP), has seen a lot of changes in the way women in the painting and decorating industry are treated. When her company was just starting up she ran into issues of being overlooked by clients while on the job.
“If a client had a question they would go to my crew rather than me, even though the name of the company was Painting by Marge so there was no doubt I was the owner.” With a crew that respected her and a drive to succeed, Marge broke that mold and has become one of the most respected residential painting companies in New York.
Even with the strides that she and other women in PDCA have made, Marge thinks there is still a long way to go for women in the industry. “When I go into paint stores I don’t see very many women painters, but I see more now than I ever have before.” she says. “It’s really important for women in the painting industry to believe that if you can dream it you can do it.”
One thing Marge would like to see more of is women who are crew members, rather than leaders. She says it is great that there are so many women who have the vision and the drive to run their own company, but she would love to have more women on her team who can relate to her clientele who are mostly women.
PDCA has been a beacon of hope, though. “There are so many great women in PWP (Professional Women in Painting) who work for high-end clientele, so I give them a lot of credit. They are in big commercial companies, and the commercial world is more about numbers than the residential world, but they still get jobs. Clients are looking for a spray company, not a brush company. That is, they want someone who will just get the job done, and don’t need a lot of detail, so I think it’s harder for women to get that respect. It’s brave of them to be in that commercial field and still succeed.”
She echoes a belief that is held by many PDCA members – the idea that members of PDCA are always welcoming and help each other succeed. “Even when I was one of the only women in PDCA, the guys were always eager to answer my questions or help out. I knew that I could count on them if I ever got on a big job. Luckily I never have needed them, but I know that they support me and I support them. It’s not like things are a big secret in PDCA. It’s very much that everyone helps everyone else.”
Marge has used this support system and her passion for detail to transform Painting by Marge from a small, self-run operation that put her through college into a full-fledged business running multiple projects at once time. By utilizing the latest technology and emphasis on communication with the client, there is no dispute about who her clients ask questions of now.