Summer jobs are usually just that, a way for teens to make some cash over the summer and the jobs are later forgotten.
For Bob Jung, his summer job turned into a paint-splattered career.
Jung is the owner of Bob Jung Painting & Decorating. If you’ve ever driven around Naperville and saw a sign that said, “I’ve been Junged” you have seen some of his work.
“I started painting in the summer of 1986,” Jung said. “I was 16 and my best friend at the time said ‘do you want to paint some racquetball courts?’”
His answer: Yes.
The teens were given the job of painting 27 racquetball courts at three different locations over the course of the summer. Jung worked at the former Naper Olympic health club and said he was paid $50 a court, which as the time seemed like a decent amount of money for a days work.
“It took eight or nine hours but it was fun,” Jung said.
Staying neat and tidy wasn’t part of the deal back then and he and his friend were often covered in paint.
The manager on the project just wanted the work done, he said. They did well enough that every three years they would repaint the courts.
In the early 1990s a member of the Naper Olympic Health Club approached him about doing some work and he was hired to paint.
His first job he was getting about $7 an hour and he said his first day was 11 hours.
“I couldn’t cut a straight line,” he said.
When he saw his first pay check he was pleased and motivated to keep working. Though he was going to college, he began working full time and decided to finish college at night.
In time, he moved on to another company at Sloshes painting.
“He was a good guy,” Jung said of his old boss. “He taught me how to paint. I wanted to better myself and do more things.”
Soon he began doing side jobs for family and friends.
After his boss sold the business he temporarily worked for the new owner until he found a job where he could be a foreman. He stayed in that job for 13 years.
“I really enjoyed the painting and being a foreman,” Jung said.
Even though he was working long hours, he still found time to do work on the side. Jung began considering starting his own business, but wasn’t sure he could make it happen.
Eventually he took the leap into business ownership but still couldn’t cut the cord from his employer.
He started his own business while he remained working full time for his employer, he said. That went on for a while until the day his boss saw a sign on Jung’s truck that was for Jung’s painting business. Even after that, his boss kept him employed.
After a few months he told his boss, “I just need to do this for me,” he said. He had built up the confidence to step out on his own and he left. His boss wasn’t happy but he understood.
Once he was fully on his own, Jung joined the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce and became very active. He said hat even though there was other painting companies that were members, his involvement helped him make connections and get more business.
Now he participates in the chamber’s Ambassador and Member Connections programs, doing outreach with new members and helping to mentor new members.
In 2008, he won the chamber's Small Business of the Year award.
"I was blown away to be nominated and to win, it was great," he said.
Bob Jung Painting & Decorating has been in business six years and his role has changed so that he is the person who oversees the jobs, does the bids and the paperwork.
He has a team of painters that he knows he can rely upon to get the jobs done, he said. Because he trusts his workers, he knows he doesn’t need to be on site to ensure the work is getting done.
He uses software to determine who much a job will cost and how much time it should take, he said. The work gets broken down, so he can tell if his painters are staying on track.
Owning his painting business has also allowed him to spend time with his son Aaron, 6. He said he’s like a “Mr. Mom” getting him ready for school and he enjoys being able to spend more time with him, which his flexible schedule allows.
Most of his company’s jobs are interior and exterior home projects but Jung said he would like to do more commercial work.
He spends a lot of time at Sullivan’s Steakhouse and the connection helped get him a job painting the restaurant’s interior, he said.
In time, Jung hopes to grow his business but he said he wouldn’t want the job to take over his life.
“I don’t want to live to work,” he said. “… I would rather make less money and have fun with my son, my family and my friends than not be around.”
The economy has made things more difficult and more competitive among painting companies, he said.
“People want a deal but they don’t think about whether [the person they hire] will be around next year,” he said.
He is insured and guarantees the work his company does.
“I believe in being honest and taking on jobs I know I can do and do well,” he said.
Tips for homeowners
- If you are hiring a painting company, always ask for references. Jung said he provides references from his last three jobs.
- Ask a contractor if they have insurance and if they have worker’s compensation.
If taking on a paint job yourself always:
- Buy a good paint brush.
- Spend more on a good roller sleeve – you don’t want fuzz on the paint.
- Buy good paint. Good paint will cover and clean better.