Report on March Madness in Windsor Locks, Conn.

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These workshops help us as professionals to reinvigorate the lifeblood of NGPP and the services we offer. Whether you’re are a master or novice wallcovering installer, these workshops are something every Guild member should make an attempt to attend. Where else can you get this specialized education for $30 all in one day?


While many of us can’t afford a three-day convention getaway, this is a great opportunity to improve our skills in order to distinguish ourselves as the elite professional paperhangers as opposed to the hackers and cheapskates.



Are you Guild members really doing your homework when it comes to optimizing your online presence? I thought I knew quite a bit until I listened to our young “whipper snapper” computer savvy Guild member Dave Adams of Shelton, Conn. He could work for Google, but let’s not give him any ideas, since it was quite refreshing to listen to his eye-opening summary describing the importance of social networking no matter what your age. Heck, it amazes me that my 82-year-old mother day trades online, but it also motivates and inspires me to really dig in and learn on that tablet or laptop.


Just toying around with Google AdWords will get you excited about posting your website. And if you don’t have a website, Google reps will help you build one for any budget. They’ll also recommend one through several resources such as LinkedIn or Yahoo!. Gone are the days when hiring a website developer was required to build a website. Get recommendations from other contractors for your website or go to your daddy! No, not your own dad … This small-business portal, registration service, and website-building service will actually guide you through the steps to get you started, even if you’re a novice. You can converse with a rep online or by phone. Don’t be intimidated by the amazing- looking models used by GoDaddy. I swear, even average-looking people can use their site! If you don’t believe me, just check out their 2014 Super Bowl ad! I was impressed with GoDaddy’s selection of plans that are available for any income level. And Google understands the needs of small businesses. Have you seen what they can do for your business? They’ll help you market and promote your services while allowing you to log on at will to make changes to your Google account when needed.


They’ll coach you with videos, chats and simple advertising to match your personal budget. You can spend as little as $1 or as much as $200 a day. What mass marketing service does that? Jump on the wagon!


If you think having a smartphone is a waste of time, think again. Two years ago, like the rest of my generation, I wanted nothing to do with a smartphone until a younger friend introduced me to this powerful phone/computer. I quickly found the video recorder, camera, data finder and other apps to be indispensable. Ben Moore, Sherwin-Williams and Behr have apps that are great for displaying colors on a screen swatch so you no longer have to haul those silly fan decks around. With these apps, you can use your Android, iPhone or tablet to take a photo of a room to upload the customers’ new chosen color to help them visualize and finalize their decorating decision. Those evasive and indecisive prospective customers can no longer say they lost the signed contract and agreement, since you’ve got a copy saved in your file and email. Now all you have to do is resend the original because you were smart enough to throw away those useless paper contracts that might have been lost!



I loved Phil Rein’s speech on commercial goods and grass cloths. His approach suggests keeping installations simple by planning and experimenting first— before rushing to complete a room or difficult installation. Why not use that “scoring outside corner” technique to wrap difficult vinyls? His excitement about continuing the quest of learning and sharing his commercial wallcovering expertise seems to inspire those of us who have weathered the tough economy in the past years. His shop talk approach and enthusiasm reminds me of my former high school metalworking teacher. Like Phil, he emphasized the importance of optimizing our craft through patient practice first rather than pumping production for the quick almighty dollar. None of us knows everything. The day we stop learning is the day we will all be out of business.



Sarah Smith demonstrated and encouraged us to always pursue perfection when it comes to installing the almighty delicate fabrics. Using sponge sanding blocks and finding the right company to apply an acrylic backing to these delicates improve handling, stop the bleed-through of paste and minimize shrinkage. Her “Martha Stewart- like” demeanor reminds us all that exemplifying professional confidence is required for demanding customers. Therefore, we must demand much of ourselves as NGPP wallcovering professionals.



Marcie Cooperman, the prominent designer and color author, encouraged us to not overlook opportunities to go one step beyond installing wallcoverings and to represent the world of decor as hands-on craftspeople. Using our expertise can better guide clients in making wise color selections for challenging interior projects.


Dennis Picard educated the group on using the holistic tactic of self-help treatment with useful mental and physical relaxation techniques to overcome pain. I look forward to hearing more about his Jin Shin Jyutsu art form to manage my back stiffness. Can you envision Dennis bringing in a crew of masseuses for whole-body massages at the next workshop? Yes! Bring on the incense and rubbing oil. We can all use that! My personal fitness training has taught me to challenge and stretch the body even during break time while on the job site to heal and manage pain.


Gerald Poirier demonstrated some of his favorite wallpaper sprayers for removing wallpaper, while advising us what tools to buy to make the task easier. His table setup consisted of height-adjustable, light-weight plastic Stanley Horses that will surely reduce back pain when matching, booking and cutting various widths of wallcoverings.


The irony of this March Madness Paperhangers Guild workshop was that just when most of us expected the newest technology and innovation to help us excel as professional paperhangers, Bob Kelly’s expertise as a wallpaper historian reminded us to always research and replicate techniques to optimize the installation of historic reproductions, period documented papers, handprints and screens. Pattern placement, evaluation, symmetry and balance were discussed to encourage us to plan and use wallpaper more creatively as a beautiful work of art. Why not transform your clients’ homes to look just as nice as Bob’s job does at the White House?


Thanks to Anthony Russo, the Connecticut Chapter, and all of those who contributed to a truly interesting and exciting resurgence of NGPP’s presence in the industry. Let’s make the national convention’s attendance this Sept. 12 and 13 in Louisville, Kentucky, a record-breaking accomplishment for those who never want to stop learning more in the wallcovering trade.


About the Author

Thomas V. Kalinoski is the owner of Thomas World Painting in West Chester, Pa. He can be reached at


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