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Ways to Get Motivated in a Coatings Career


By V.C. "Bud" Jenkins

More items for Good Technical Practice

I believe we all would like to do better in our jobs and might even start to wonder how we can accomplish that. We would prefer to have more activity to keep the workplace from becoming a dull and boring place since the same things seem to keep happening day after day. We would like to have more money to dedicate to our hobbies and other interests after work.

To achieve this goal, we need to know what it is that makes us think this way—because that could be the key to making oneself advance up the ranks in the coatings industry.

Motivation can be described as recognizing a need for something and then taking steps to achieve that need. This can be anything, since each individual is different, but it is very human to want to change our circumstances to obtain a better life. I have met people who did not have this attitude.

Man with raised arms
© iStock.com / anyaberkut

Motivation can be described as recognizing a need for something and then taking steps to achieve that need.

I remember one person whose job was to take care of the company’s exposure fence. I asked him if he thought about learning paint technology so he could advance into the lab and become a formulator, and he said, “I plan to do this the rest of my life.” I guess he didn’t know that companies change by getting bought, by growing, by going bankrupt, and sometimes by doing away with complete departments based on what makes more money or less headaches.

1. Learn the Basics

There are so many interesting things and beneficial opportunities in the paint and coatings industry that getting an education in the basics (and then in the specifics) should be something that is a great motivator for everyone.

Did you ever wonder how self-cleaning coatings work? What a great world it would be if every house was coated with fireproof paint? No more fires! Some people are working on solar cells made from paint to paint your roof and give constant energy to your house (when the sun shines). Some paints offer 100-year durability in all kinds of weather. There are coatings for airplanes that keep wings from icing up. There are self-healing coatings that, when scratched, exposing the steel or wood or aluminum beneath, will flow into the scratch and shut out the water and air, all by themselves. Also, sustainable, non-toxic paints are always begging to be invented.

No matter what your job in the coatings industry is, you might want to know how these coatings work. At least a little bit about how they work. Also, there are other coatings in the future that need to be invented, such as better anti-graffiti coatings.

2.  Determine Your Needs

There are other companies and other positions that might interest you. There are other cities and states and countries to work in that might interest you.

Class lecture
Class photos: V.C. "Bud" Jenkins

The LASCT Certified Coatings Technology class at Engineered Polymer Solutions (EPS), a division of Valspar, for a lecture and a tour and pizza. Instructors were Dr. Pat Lutz and Tom Ball, Production/Quality Control Manager.

You might be tired of the people you work with and want to work with a new team that is more compatible and more pleasant. You might be tired of your boss stealing your brainy ideas and telling everyone they are his ideas (the subject of many a movie).

Whatever you recognize as your interest or need, when you get that part done, the next step is to take steps toward that goal.

3. Read, Read and Read

One way to do this is to become self-educated in all aspects of the coating industry to prepare for when an opportunity to advance arises. This is very challenging to do, although not impossible. Reading scientific articles about coatings requires knowledge of the language used and the basics of science being talked about.

Class on factory tour

The tour of EPS, on September 29, 2016, for the LASCT Certified Coatings Technology Class.

I remember when I was a lab technician and would read about epoxy coatings. I always wondered why they were called “epoxy.” Then, a few years later when I took organic chemistry, I learned that “epoxy” was the name of a key part of a molecule that was on the end of an epoxy resin, hence the name. Then, with more experience, a little more knowledge dawned upon me, a bit at a time. I realized how a formal education helped me understand more about the industry I was in and how it helped me advance up the ranks.

This can be anyone’s story if they recognize that with just a little more knowledge gathered from whatever source they can find it will help give them the insight they can have in putting it all together. This process never stops. If the interest is there, the motivation should be there to take a formal class wherever you find it.

4. Learn from the Experts

A paint convention is a great place to take specific classes to add to your toolbox of knowledge.

The American Coatings Association 2017 CoatingsTech conference is one you might consider. The Western Coatings Societies offer one in Las Vegas every other year. The Pacific Northwest Society for Coatings Technology also has an educational conference.

There are numerous webinars from suppliers and other experts offered which you can squeeze in. DurabilityandDesign.com hosts a range of these types of learning tools here.

The Los Angeles Society for Coatings Technology offers a great class based on a coatings textbook (Organic Coatings, Wicks, Jones and Pappas), resulting in a Certificate in Coatings Technology.

You never know what you don’t know, so keep learning as much as you can and the right tool has a better probability of landing in your lap.

5. Apply Your Skills

The best part is what to do with the tools you have once you have them. Paint and coatings technology is actually a specialty under materials science and technology. With these skills it is easy to apply them to other industries should the need or opportunity arise such as adhesives, concrete, cosmetics, food chemistry, rubber, sealants, pharmacology, cleaning solutions, car waxes and polishes, perfume, nail polish, decals, ceramics, inks and composites used for airplane construction.

I would appreciate hearing from readers who can think of other uses for a paint and coatings education. Please let me know. And please stay motivated!


V.C. "Bud" Jenkins

V.C. “Bud” Jenkins started working in the paint business as a contract painter in 1958 when he was 14, earning 50 cents per hour. He painted everything—cars, schools, hospitals, churches, tractors and motorcycles. This led to employment in the lab of a large paint company in 1963, and eventually to ownership of his own paint-consulting business, Coatings Scientist Consulting Services. Bud is a past president of the Los Angeles Society for Coatings Technology and has served as chairman of several society committees. He has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a MBA from the University of California, Riverside. A coatings educator, consultant and thought-leader, Bud is dedicated to demystifying coatings science. Contact Bud.



Tagged categories: Education; Personnel

Comment from Anton Ruesing, (10/20/2016, 12:51 PM)

There is another option for young men and women who seek to begin a coatings career that offers free training, certification and even a college degree under a state-of-the-art curriculum, as well as the opportunity for on the job training - or earn while you learn. That option is an apprenticeship in the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades. With training centers across the United States and Canada, the opportunities for those entering this career are almost limitless with the IUPAT.

Comment from VCBud Jenkins, (10/20/2016, 4:58 PM)

I am interested in how you get young men and women to enter into the apprenticeship. This opportunity should be better advertised.

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (10/21/2016, 8:07 AM)

Perhaps an article on the apprenticeship program.

Comment from Zenith Czora, (11/3/2016, 11:35 PM)

I've been in the coating industries for more than 20 years developing products, tried to change field or industry, but no luck. coating industry in WA is so limited either. It's more on mining. I would like to explore more and be able to use my knowledge and experience in coating technology.

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