To hear Bryan Koerber describe it, you would think he was there. “We sold components, pigments in the form of pastes or powders – red lead, white lead; linseed oil; solvents like turpentine, Japan driers. The painters would take these raw materials and mix them by the batch in the field.”
Bryan is President of Budeke’s Paints and Decorating, one of the oldest independent paint retailers in the country. The details from above — one page from a proud and lengthy legacy. You see, since 1868 and as constant as the crab cakes or the tide, Budeke’s Paints could be found in Fells Point at 418 South Broadway, Baltimore.
The fifth generation of his family to captain the Baltimore-based ship, Bryan took the helm from his father in 1996. And to listen to him tell their tale, a story of sailor’s pride unfolds. When asked, he responds, I think it has been our ability to continually adapt both to an ever-changing marketplace but also to the always changing needs of our customers.
The Story of Budeke Paints
The story of Budeke’s Paints starts with Bryan’s great, great grandfather George H. Budeke, who first hung his shingle 142 years ago. His son, George M., who lost his sight to glaucoma, then ran the shop. I mean, imagine that — a man all but blind, dealing in the business of color.
Bryan tells too of his grandfather, who over a period of eight years served his country in World War II. I mean, again, imagine that – an owner and operator away for 8 years only to return to find that his business had endured.
These short segments of history highlight the foundation of a business both vested in and supported by its community. They tell of a company built on the dedication of its employees and upon an equally loyal customer base. Budeke’s is in all way rooted in this heritage, yes, but it may instead be an innate progressiveness that has allowed it to always move forward.
Getting What You Pay For
In our brief conversation, Bryan talked of his organization’s need to remain relevant and responsive, but always value-oriented. He mentions an early advertisement, dated around the turn of the century, which touts, . . . Getting what you pay for. It is a theme that has remained consistent throughout the decades.
Budeke’s was the first name that popped into my head as a go-to for a challenging floor coating repair. And now expanded to 5 locations, the Fells Point location was not my only option. Each has a slightly different tone: From the professional-oriented feel of the Fells Point and Putty Hill locations to the design-focused spaces at Woodholme Square (Reisterstown Road), Timonium and Columbia.
Homeowners and pros alike are welcome in all, and each offers in-home color consultations. As I have, you will find a staff that both has experience in the field and that is thoroughly knowledgeable of the products on hand.
Success Starts with Value Laden Products
But parallel and possibly underlying all of this is Budeke’s ability to align with and carry value-laden products. Some of the names that grace the shelves include Coronado, Zinsser and Fine Paints of Europe (this paint breaks the myth that an oil-based paint cannot be low-VOC; it receives LEED certification), plus products from manufacturers like Wooster, Krud Kutter (covered in the article – Pressure Washing Basics) and ZipWall (covered here), just to name a few.
Budeke’s largest outside vendor Benjamin Moore must too be highlighted here. Of their relationship, which began in 1976, Bryan says – We share somewhat similar histories, both established in the later part of the 19th Century . . . .
Bryan continues, It comes straight down from Warren Buffet (his Berkshire Hathaway owns BMoore) – he tells Benjamin Moore‘s CEO, Denis Abrams, ‘Run it like it is your family’s only asset and you are looking at a 50 to 100 year timeline.’
Lastly, I asked Bryan if he felt the EPA’s new lead rule revisions (as it has been somewhat of big topic around here) will affect the store. His answer, “We will continue to stock a full fare of HEPA filters, plastic and cleaning products, all the things needed to help our professional customers stay compliant.”
But Budeke’s commitment to their pro clients goes beyond this. Just recently, they sponsored 40 individuals’ RRP training in two separate classes.
Bryan finishes, “It happens to be just another wrinkle in the long line of market circumstances (that we discussed above).” And my guess, as for 142 years now, they will handle it right in stride (on at full sail if you will).