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Member Spotlight: Torlando Hakes

Posted By Chris Shank, Monday, March 6, 2017
Updated: Monday, March 6, 2017

"When I was 17 years old I was tasked with one of the most grueling summer chores known to adolescents. I had to paint my uncle's garage; a fitting responsibility for a boy such as I. Taking a page out of Tom Sawyer's book, I think I coerced as many friends as I could to help me with such an awful task. Today, every time my uncle sees me he says “Who would have ‘thunk’ it".


These are the words of Torlando Hakes of Color Theory LLC, Bloomington, Indiana.

Torlando’s first job after high school was painting as part of a three-man crew for a construction company.  He was drawn in by the project-oriented nature of painting.  “I could stand back and see what I had accomplished over the course of a day.  The motion of gliding my paint brush along the edge of the wall reminded me of the stroke of the pencil on paper that had taken me away to the creative landscapes of imagination.  I loved the work.”


Torlando received a BFA from Indiana University, and painting became his way to put himself through college.  He had only been through a few semesters when his boss went away to business school, leaving Torlando to run the company.  In the midst of the recession, he began to take on work and slowly his reputation grew.  Torlando decided to incorporate under the name, Color Theory, LLC.


Torlando decided to join PDCA after attending a seminar about estimating.  “At the time I was really trying to wrap my mind around accurate formulaic estimating versus measuring and hoping my pricing was right. I wasn’t very familiar with the PDCA, but by the end of the seminar I realized that the PDCA would have really great resources for paint contractors who wanted to build a professional business.  The PDCA fosters an environment where contractors from different markets can come together and share information with one another in a non- competitive environment. The continual education and seminars help to lead those discussions and drive a lot of best practices home so you aren’t trying to blindly figure this stuff out. There is a path to success and the PDCA does a great job of pulling those resources together.”


Torlando is a believer in utilizing the PDCA Industry Standards. “PDCA Industry Standard P14 has been the most useful to us since we are in the repaint end of the industry.  Standard P14 identifies the ‘Levels of Surface Preparation for Repainting and Maintenance Projects’. This standard has been very useful in communicating to both the customer and the staff what surface preparation expectation to anticipate.  When walls are in rough condition, I can explain to the customer the 5 Levels and ask them how far they want us to go in terms of preparation.  When I get an idea of where they are, I can easily communicate to my team, ‘this is a level 4, or this is a level 3’ and they know how far to take the repair. “


Torlando has found that two of the most challenging aspects of the painting business are maintaining a balanced schedule and finding reliable employees.  His solutions to the problem have been developing a core group of talented craftsmen and women, assembling a good list of seasonal people who come in during the summer months, and effectively utilizing subcontractors he trusts to do the job as well as he would.  In addition, he uses software to track the scheduling of jobs.

Torlando cites PDCA as a contributor to his success.  “PDCA has been a bridge builder for me in terms of education and being around other successful companies. Joining the PDCA was a very smart move for my company as our sales have increased tremendously and our capacity for production has increased. The painting industry is a proven industry with a 500 year history. It’s not a flash in the pan type of business. People will always paint their houses or buildings. Making a good living in the business is directly related to how many people you are able to manage and how low you can keep your expenses. Beyond those two things, as long as you can figure out a way to get people to hear about your business and show them you can do a good job, you will have the opportunity to make a really great living in a field that doesn’t require a PhD. However, you still need a business education in order to achieve victory. PDCA, while not the only source, is a great source for getting that education.”


It is obvious that Torlando loves what he does, and that love is the first and best ingredient for his success.  “While in art school I learned the purpose and function of color. I learned how it works and how it makes us feel and wonder. I began to see the work that I did in peoples’ homes as a kind of art in and of itself. I love sharing that with both those who think they'd like to paint and those who want to refresh their home with color."

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