Today we are introducing you to Crystal and Barry, the small business owners of C. B. PAINTING CONTRACTORS.
Barry has been a reputable painter in Alice Springs for over 20 years and has strong relationships with local businesses. With these contacts, Crystal and Barry were ready for the challenge of starting their own business. C. B. PAINTING CONTRACTORS is the first Indigenous-owned painting business in Alice Springs, and they have already won multiple large contracts. Crystal and Barry aim to be able to train and employ Indigenous locals, particularly providing teenagers apprenticeships and Indigenous locals on parole job opportunities.
“Our Many Rivers business coach, Lester broke down our expenses and we saw how much we are spending on the day to day running of the business. We hadn’t really noticed all the outgoings and incomings. It helped us realise how much money we need to ask for so that we can still come out on top with a profit.”
Read more about C. B. PAINTING CONTRACTORS’ journey so far.
C. B. PAINTING CONTRACTORS
Our business is C.B PAINTING CONTRACTORS PTY LTD and it was established in 2018. My partner is a local Indigenous man and is a certified house painter and decorator. This includes different styles and textures of house painting. He has been a painter for 20+ year.
I realised he would be the first Indigenous-owned painting business here in town. We have both grown up in Alice Springs and spent all our lives here, so we know everyone. He has some friends he used to work with who were also looking for jobs and he realised if he started his own business, he could employ them down the track. Builders in town know Barry and he has a good name as a person and a painter.
Meet Barry and Crystal
Barry became a painter straight out of high school. He was contracting to the NT Housing Commission. He did a lot of the painting and upgrading here in Alice Springs. The people he worked for ventured out down south and so he went to the Yorke Peninsular and assisted in setting up their business for them down there too. Then he went to the mines before getting back into painting. He worked with Ingkerreke Services, an Indigenous organisation that provides essential services, housing, and infrastructure in Alice Springs and remote communities. He was the senior painter there.
I work for the Government, while also doing the accounts and bookkeeping for C. B. PAINTING CONTRACTORS. I have worked for the Government for 10 years as a Remote Community Engagement Officer for NT Corrections. I work on a program that brings Aboriginal elders into town for a week and takes them to the prisons and rehabilitation centres for them to meet with family and community members who are incarcerated. I look after the Central Barkly region, and this covers nine areas that I have elders from. I love the work and I love the elders; they are beautiful people.
Working with Many Rivers
We were talking to the Central Land Council (CLC) about a grant for our business and they introduced us to Lester. We needed some help getting our application ready and they thought that Lester, the local Many Rivers business coach, might be able to support us.
When I sent through what I have collated for the CLC grant application, they got back to me and explained that they needed a lot more detail in terms of planning and cashflow. I had never done that before, so that is why they put me in touch with Lester. We met at a café the first time and he said he was here to help me with the CLC grant and give me support. Since Christmas we have been meeting over Microsoft teams because COVID-19 is going around. I showed him what I did, and he was so good at broadening what I already had on paper. He showed me how to open my mind when looking at our financial statements and cashflow. The result of the grant application really showed where we were and how we could be a lot more with the CLC grant. We have some friends who were having some trouble with the CLC application too and we referred Lester to them.
We had been sailing along nicely but Lester broke down our expenses and we saw how much we are spending on the day to day running of the business. It made us realise we need to put the price up. When we bought materials and then when people pay us, we hadn’t really noticed all the outgoings and incomings. It helped us realise how much money we need to ask for so that we can still come out on top with a profit. I loved that part and I just got so much out of that, and our business did too.
I think how Lester provided us with so with much support. I had an idea and had it all written down, but he knew how to open my eyes up to the potential and take it further. I told him what we wanted to do with the business including employing Indigenous locals and being Indigenous-owned and he was very supportive and onboard. We shared our goal to be able to give people on parole a job opportunity, so they don’t go back into prison and to give kids an apprenticeships so that in a few years they are fully qualified.
Lester owned his own business years ago in Alice Springs, so he was equipped to give us a lot of assistance about how to run my business.
Finding qualified painters has been hard. We want to employ people and we have put ads out there but we have had people say they can do house painting and they can’t. That is why we want this CLC grant. We hope to be able to provide the apprenticeship to school kids and adults. One of the big barriers is housing. Rentals are so expensive here. We would like to buy a commercial property with a shed where we can operate the business from but it also has accommodation on it so that our employees don’t have to worry about where to live. It provides a bit of a pathway. We hope to offer incarcerated people with employment and with something to look forward to when they come out of prison.
I suppose it was a success that we got some big contracts when we first started. We secured a contract to do the full internal and external painting of the new health clinics in the Ampilatwatja Community and Alpurullum Community. We won that! Barry got a couple of local fellas to help him and he taught them how to paint. They are the two biggest contacts so far. In 2021 we won another big contract with an interstate building committee and they were doing a big refurbishment of 84 units. Luckily, we are always busy!
I have learnt a lot to do with the accounting and bookkeeping side of business. I have no intentions at all to ever become a painter. The only challenge with the business is trying to get experienced painters on board. We just want people who want to work, Barry can provide the mentoring and training and teach them the skills and techniques. Its just getting motivated people on board that is proving to be a new challenge.
We would like an entire team of Indigenous painters working for C. B. PAINTING CONTRACTORS so that we can apply for numerous contractors at once. We want Indigenous people to know, if they are willing to work there is a pathway available to them.
Thanks Barry and Crystal for sharing your business journey. Your story will inspire people who are looking to take their next step toward creating their own business.
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