Father of four followed his own dad into painting business

10/03/2013 12:00 AM

10/02/2013 6:45 PM

It isn’t unusual to find a couple of Nathan Brumbelow’s sons with him on the job. His second job, that is.

A couple of hours after Nathan, 8, and A.J., 6, get out of school, Brumbelow can often be found striping a parking lot somewhere in Wichita. That’s also an hour or two after his house-painting crews with Custom Painting go home for the day.

“They want to go to work with Dad,” Brumbelow said of his sons.

Brumbelow followed his own father into the painting business, although he initially resisted the idea. Born in Los Angeles and raised in Wichita, Brumbelow returned to the West Coast after high school to operate heavy equipment at a refinery. An explosion at another California facility convinced him to make a career change.

Back in Wichita, Brumbelow joined his father, Thomas, in the painting business.

“My dad was a real nice guy. He had customers everywhere,” he said.

The painstaking process of getting a paint job right – starting with cleaning, prepping and priming the surface – didn’t appeal to Nathan at first. But after a couple of years, Brumbelow says he started to take pride in the work and satisfaction in pleasing customers.

Today, interacting with home and business owners is one of his favorite parts of the job.

“I meet a lot of cool people,” he said. “There are a lot of interesting people out there.”

Brumbelow started Custom Painting in 1998. In addition to himself, he generally has two to four painters working with him on one or two jobs at a time.

About 80 percent of Custom’s painting work is residential, with the rest coming from larger commercial commercial or institutional clients. Brumbelow has done extensive work for Bishop Carroll High School, painting hallways, classrooms, working on the stadium and outbuildings and striping the parking lot. Triumph Industries is another client.

Over the years, Brumbelow has added dry-walling and texturing to the services Custom offers. Smoothing popcorn ceilings is requested by many homeowners, along with staining and enameling wooden features.

One of his biggest challenges is staying on schedule. Homeowners tend to ask for more work once they’ve got a job under way.

“We’re there so we try to keep going for the customer,” he said.

Brumbelow has striped parking lots for years, starting by hand and then moving to a spray painter. Recently, he invested in a Graco LineLazer, which he calls a state-of-the-art parking lot striper.

“To do bigger jobs, you need bigger equipment,” he said.

And with four sons to feed – Tyler, 14, and Gator, 4, are his others – Brumbelow can always use bigger jobs.

Barefoot and racing around the parking lot with soft drinks in their hands, Nathan and A.J. weren’t much help on Brumbelow’s most recent striping job. But he predicts one or more of his boys may eventually join him the family business.

“I think there will be a couple there,” he said. “Maybe they’ll take it further.”

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