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Meet Our Winner of Mission: Vacation

28 March, 2019

Introducing Dustin Zupancic of Dreamscape Painting

By Emily Howard

Dustin Zupancic, owner of Dreamscape Painting, is a second-generation painter. Dreamscape was founded by his father, Rene, nearly 30 years ago. Like most second-generation painters, Zupancic spent a good portion of his childhood on jobsites.

“From a very young age I was a cleaning rollers and brushes for a dollar apiece,” he recalls. “Sometimes [my father] would take me or my brother or sister to the jobsite. We’d do a little filling and caulking for an hour and then go out for breakfast.”

And like many second-generation painters, Zupancic was adamant he wouldn’t be joining the family business. “It was just the best paying job I could get while I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life,” he says. But about 15 years ago, he became involved in the management side of the company and he found he really enjoyed the work. Gradually he took on more of those projects, and ultimately bought into the company eight years ago.

Taking over the company was a long transition process, but it’s about to become more final. This November, Zupancic’s father will be transitioning out of his fulltime leadership role, leaving his son fully in charge. APC magazine talked to Zupancic about how Mission: Vacation can help him prepare for this transition.

Dustin Zupancic, owner of Dreamscape Painting. Photo courtesy Jayme Lang.

APC: What are you most nervous about in that transition?

DZ: I’m not super-nervous because it’s not like my dad’s going that far. He’s still going to retain ownership of his portion of the company. He’s going to stay on as an hourly employee to maintain benefits, so he’ll still be available for consulting and for support.

APC: Anything that you’re anxious about as you as you move into the head honcho seat?

DZ: I guess I’m anxious in that I want everything to succeed. I want all these people who are working for us now to not be wasting their time. I want to do well and for them and their families. So that causes a little anxiety.

Right now we have 12 full-time painters and then we have a part time admin in the office and an operations manager who just got hired a few short weeks ago. And myself, and I do everything else.

APC: What led you to enter Mission: Vacation?

DZ: There’s a lot that I don’t know. A lot. I didn’t go to college, I didn’t take any postsecondary classes for business. My dad would say that he ran his business by the seat of his pants and the grace of God. We didn’t have any real formal system. Everything that we’re putting into place now is just from what I’m learning from the PDCA and other peers and just stuff that I’m picking up myself. There’s a lot of transitions happening in our business right now and I want to transition well and set myself up for success. I’d rather not have to learn through mistakes all the time. So it seems like a really great opportunity to get a little head start.

APC: You’re working about 70 hours a week now, which is quite a lot. What do your days look like right now?

DZ: I’m usually out of the house by 5:00 or 5:30 a.m. I start my day at a jobsite or two to get people set up and get stuff ready for the day. We do mostly new construction, so I’m not there with homeowners. But I start my day setting up sites and then I’m usually at the office working on quotes and marketing, going through the financials, doing all the office work and facilitating client communication. I like to start early so I can put in 10 or 11 hours, then go home and hang out with my kids at a reasonable time.

APC: Over the next four months, you’ll be getting consulting from Nolan Consulting and we’ll be following you through that. What are one or two things that you hope to get out of this experience?

Brian Nolan, managing partner of Nolan Consulting Group, talks about the first steps toward systemizing a painting business.

DZ: What’s really on my mind is getting this operation functioning at a high level, because it’s expensive taking on overhead. I also would really value someone else’s outside input on what I have already set up in place. I don’t know what my blind spots are.

APC: Is there anything you’re nervous about facing or learning in this process?

DZ: Nolan Consulting sent me over a form to prepare. It was all these different business systems and [I checked] either ‘implemented’ or ‘needs attention.’ As I was filling it out, there weren’t too many I could check that were implemented. But I’m not really nervous because I feel like I’m pretty open to change.

APC: I understand you talk to a lot of contractors out in the field and at networking events. What challenges do you feel you have in common?

DZ: A big thing that I hear is a lot of people struggle with growing the business outside of themselves. They’re so integral to the business that they find it really hard to see things in a different light, or they internalize the problems. I think a lot of problems come down to that.

Dreamscape Painting Top Job 2018 crew.

APC: What’s your favorite thing about working in the painting industry?

DZ: What brings me the greatest joy is feeling like I can provide opportunities for the people on my team to build a career and support their families. I want this to be a company where I would enjoy working. I think that that’s what I love most. I get the most excited by seeing my team get excited about those things.

APC: Once this is all said and done, we’re hoping to send you off on vacation. Where do you want to go?

DZ: There is an awful lot of pressure. There are two options. One is taking the kids to Drumheller, Alberta, to go see the dinosaurs, which they would be so pumped about. Or we might go somewhere a little warmer. APC

Don't miss the first podcast with Dustin Zupancic coming out in March. Listen in at or follow the entire series at //

Emily Howard is editor in chief of APC magazine. She can be reached at


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