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Friday, August 3, 2007

Beacon Hill painting; not for the faint of heart! I took this photo in early July while visiting our project at the British Consulate residence on Chestnut street. This painter was working one block away from the Statehouse and what the picture doesn't show is his supervisor on the sidewalk, pacing back and forth while talking on his phone.
I cannot begin to fathom the sheer foolishness of this behaviour. An undersized ladder, placed on a sidewalk without any sort of warning or barrier to interference by pedestrians, is one safety hazard; the added element of risk this painter is subject to, given the fall hazard and especially the balusters below is criminal negligence on the part of the contractor.
No wonder then, our industry struggles to improve its image when this is the public face of residential painting.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Screening for lead in new employees


Federal law requires that painting contractors inform ALL potential customers of the risk of lead poisoning/exposure when working on housing stock built before 1978. This law is designed to protect the homeowner from the risks associated with lead dust during renovation, including painting.

How ironic that the law is limited to protection of the homeowner and does nothing to ensure the protection of the professionals involved in the work.

It would be instructive and valuable if each and every employee was required to read and sign off on a ‘THE HAZARDS OF BEING A PAINTER WHEN WORKING AROUND LEAD PAINT’ form each and every time they are exposed to the same risk.

Since this is not required, it is important that we business owners do what we can to ensure best practices in the field. The first step in any lead awareness protocol has to start with lead testing of each employee. At Catchlight, in conjunction with the mandatory drug testing of new hires, we request bloodwork that reports the lead and zinc levels of the new employee. We find here in New England that almost 20% show elevated and ‘actionable’ levels.

‘Actionable’ in this instance has two meanings;
1) immediate restrictions on further exposure to lead dust to allow levels to fall to ‘normal’, with or without medical intervention(since the testing is done at hiring, our company is not liable for medical remediation costs; these are the responsibility of the previous employer, which in our industry often means Worker’s Compensation, since the average ‘employer’ carries no insurance…);
2) our own responsibility is the immediate education and training of the new hire in safe work practices;

Implementing this level of testing and establishing a baseline for each employee reflects not a magnanimous generosity on the employer’s behalf; it is merely due diligence. Failure to test exposes the company to the risks and costs associated with medical remediation of the affected employee, as there is no proof that the exposure came before the date of hire.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Redecorating with Color

Using paint in home decorating is a powerful way to express who you are, and how you want your home to be perceived. Many people are afraid to paint the walls of a room, either out of fear that the room will seem smaller, or because the commitment of color on the walls is intimidating. But never fear! Redecorating with wall color can give your room a whole new look and feel!

Painting a room in your house can have a whole host of positive effects. It can make your home feel more comfortable to you and to your guests, and it will have a whole new updated and stylish appeal. You will be surprised by how changing the color of your room can be such a simple way to improve your home!

Painting a room can set a mood or tone

Something as simple as adding a splash of color to your walls can set any particular mood you might be going for.

Use earthy tones like browns, and dark reds or greens for a warm and cozy feeling
Use bold colors like bright blues, reds, or even purples for something fun and funky
Use subtle pastels like yellows, pinks, or light grays and blues for something light and airy

The sky’s the limit when it comes to the feeling you want to convey in your newly painted room!

Painting a room can help establish a theme

Using wall color is an excellent start for a particular room theme that you might want to achieve. This can be useful in nurseries and kids’ rooms, bathrooms, and family rooms. For example, if you are designing a nursery that is a “moon and stars” theme, you could use a dark blue paint color, or even a lighter blue (for a girl’s nursery), to simulate the night sky. Wall color can literally be the backdrop to your room’s theme!

Painting a room can be an extension of your personality

Adding wall color to a room can not only improve its appearance, but it can also be a fun way to express your personality. Your home is an extension of who you are, and by expressing yourself through its color and d├ęcor, you are showing the world your personality, whether you are fun, laid back, or intense!

Painting a room can make it feel larger

Many people resist wall color out of fear that it will box the room in, making it feel smaller. This is simply not true! In fact, using bold and darker hues can actually make the room feel larger, by helping to blend the corners of a room together. This gives the feeling or continuous space, and therefore, more space!

Painting can define the limits of a room

Many modern floor plans are open, meaning that it is hard to define where one room starts and another room begins. This can make painting a bit tough. But, by defining spaces with wall color, you not only break up big white spaces, but you create a stylish living environment. But remember, try to coordinate the colors you choose for each space. Otherwise, the walls will look choppy rather than cozy, and the effect you are going for will not materialize!

Are you afraid to paint the whole room one solid color? If so, then take baby steps! Start with one wall in the room. Paint it the color of your choice! This wall can act as an accent wall, or even be used to establish the focal point of the room, such as a fireplace, a piece of art, or even a piece of furniture. You will be surprised at how effective painting just one wall can be! Even the subtlest of changes can make a big difference!

The bottom line is, do not be afraid of color on your walls! It’s only paint, it can be changed if it doesn’t look the way you envisioned it! But, you never know, by taking a chance with wall color, you might end up tapping into a hidden creativity that you never knew you had! Redecorating a room with color can change the entire look and feel of your home, and how you feel in it!

Nigel Costolloe
Catchlight, Inc
A professional company, passionate about painting.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Catchlight, Inc earns PDCA Accreditation

Catchlight, Inc. Becomes a PDCA Accredited Company
(St. Louis – November 6, 2006)

PDCA’S (Painting and Decorating Contractors of America) Contractor College announced today that Catchlight, Inc. of Brookline, MA has successfully earned PDCA Accreditation by completing all the necessary courses and submitting the appropriate business documents. Contractor College would like to congratulate Catchlight, Inc. on this outstanding achievement.

Catchlight, Inc. is yet another company within PDCA to earn the prestigious designation of becoming an Accredited Company. Nigel Costolloe, the Owner of Catchlight, Inc. has many years of experience in the painting industry and has been a PDCA member for more then 10 years.

Catchlight, Inc. specializes in both interior and exterior painting for residential clients and has been in business since 1994. The business specializes in a number of areas such as faux finishes, restoration and natural wood finishes. Nigel prides his business on the workmanship that is completed by his team and the high level of customer service that is
offered to their clients. Catchlight, Inc. is committed to their customers and to providing them with quality service, and competitive prices.

Nigel stated, “Accreditation is a necessary step for any company wishing to build a business worth more then the sum of its vans and tools. The process of Accreditation has proven our professional depth and competence; successful completion of the program is testimony to the knowledge andexpertise of our company, and immediately elevates us above our competition.”

In congratulations to Catchlight,Inc., Dr. Ian R. Horen CAE, PDCA CEO stated, “We are extremely pleased a high quality marketplace leader like Catchlight, Inc. has become a PDCA Accredited Company. PDCA Accreditation will afford Catchlight, Inc. the ability to set themselves apart from other contracting businesses by allowing them a marketplace advantage.”

“As someone who works constantly to improve our business, Accreditation was a natural fit; it represents the next level in business management. The courses tested not only my knowledge of our industry but also challenged some assumptions I had about the way we run our business. That alone was an invaluable lesson,” said Nigel.

The PDCA created Contractor College to provide a quality source for education in the painting and decorating industry. The Accreditation program from Contractor College provides top quality practical business educational opportunities for contractors on-line and through its vast local network. Contractor College instructors are among the best in the industry. They offer practical, state-of-the-art education that covers every aspect of operating a successful contracting business, including such topics as finance and banking, insurance, management and human resources, sales and marketing and products and equipment.

To learn more about PDCA’s Contractor College and to obtain information or enroll in education programming, visit
The Painting and Decorating Contractors of America, is the only trade association that exclusively represents painting and decorating contractors in North America.

Friday, March 9, 2007

On Portable Toilets

As the father of two well-mannered but rambunctious young boys, I am all too familiar with the challenge that distance, direction and biology pose in our bathroom. At Catchlight, Inc. we feel it important to compensate for such design flaws by supplying portable toilets on all of our exterior projects, and as many of our interior projects as possible.

While the passion and love I feel towards my children encourages patience and a certain measure of forgiveness, I would not expect our clients to feel the same way towards our employees!

What better way then, to avoid the whole mess (so to speak) and awkwardness? Portable toilet rental is convenient, affordable, and a welcome relief to our clients and our employees.

Consider; no worries about bothering the homeowner for access, no embarrassment if odors are left behind, no concern over whether to remove shoes before entering the home, no crises if the home is left locked during the day, no etiquette breaches when wondering if one is to unwrap the beautiful French milled soap….. And are those pressed linen hand towels really supposed to be used or are they decoration? Where the heck is the replacement roll of toilet paper?

Come to think of it, providing a temporary toilet is actually a great way to alleviate stress and strain for all the parties involved! And the various service companies that are destined to spend their days without access to facilities, the lawn companies, the UPS driver, the postal carrier, all breathe a sigh of relief when they see that toilet on their routes. So consider the service this policy provides to the community at large.

For us, this is an obvious benefit we can provide both our employees and clients. I am sure this is an unusual topic for a blog. Please feel free to respond, I’d love to hear from you.

Nigel Costolloe
Catchlight, Inc
A professional company, passionate about painting.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007


One of the challenges to establishing a brand is combating stereotypes that prevail in the marketplace.

In our industry, the image of the professional painter is almost derogatory. Technical merit aside, the customary perception involves poorly trained fellows clad in paint-spattered jeans and t-shirts, acting with a minimum of courtesy, prone to drinking, and often moonlighting from their ‘regular’ jobs. Upon reflection, it is remarkable that we allow such workmen onto our property and into our homes. Have you ever opened your door to a professional service company only to be met with a ‘technician’ who somehow doesn’t fit the image the company presents in its advertising?

With the bar set so low, how can a company that aspires to professionalism not be able to surpass the ‘norm’? At Catchlight, Inc, we have taken our customer’s expectations and exceeded them in every way possible.


We DO drug test;
We DO check criminal history using the MA CORI profile;
We DO require and review legal work documents;
We DO expect all employees to be able to communicate effectively in English;
We DO train, test, train and review our employees;
We DO hire employees, not use subcontractors in violation of IRS and DET regulations;
We DO provide, free of charge, uniforms and safety equipment;
We DO provide company owned and insured vehicles to each foreman and ensure all company errands and trips are made in our vehicles;
We DO train employees on the hazards of lead-based paint;
We DO provide health and retirement benefits, sick and vacation pay.

Why do we do this? Such protocols and benefits certainly add overhead to our company. We do this because we enjoy the peace of mind it brings us as well as the professionalism it projects. But we especially value the peace of mind it brings our customers.

If you can think of anything we are not doing, please let us know. We would love to hear from you.


Nigel Costolloe
Catchlight, Inc.
A professional company, passionate about painting.

Monday, March 5, 2007


Having just returned from the annual Painting and Decorating Contractors of America Conference and Expo in Dallas, I am happy to report that the coatings industry continues to keep pace with environmental concerns and the issue of global warming. New materials and products, the results of significant industry investment in R&D, are being released to meet the growing demand for environmentally responsible paints. These materials are engineered to outperform and outlast current coatings, while reducing VOCs(volatile organic compounds) and air pollution.

This spring, Benjamin Moore’s release of its Aura product line, a super premium non-VOC paint, will put New England in the forefront of the ‘green’ coatings evolution. It replaces their existing Eco-spec product line and the formulations will ultimately become the standard for all of their water-borne materials.

Unlike the earlier material however, which still used the solvent-based colorant system, the new paints will be tinted with a waterborne colorant that will allow for even dark colors to be non-VOC compliant.

We look forward to incorporating this paint into our business and introducing it to our customers. If you are concerned that this material is missing the ‘good stuff’ that makes paint stick and endure, then rest assured. The momentum towards green technologies reflects the concept of 'equivalent or better', and through the use of LEED(leadership in environmental and energy design) certification, requires that replacement ‘green paints’ meet or exceed the performance characteristics of the conventional materials they replace. The consumer and the painting professional alike can rest assured that use of these materials does not present a compromise in performance for the sake of environmental consideration.

I hope you will consider using these new materials for all of your indoor painting projects, and as they become available, join with us in encouraging the use of these products for exterior applications as well.

Nigel Costolloe
Catchlight, Inc.
A Professional Company, Passionate about Painting!

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