40 years of painting: Billy Woodie was helping out when was 14, then started his own business

Published 12:01 am Sunday, November 20, 2022

SALISBURY — Billy Woodie likes to keep things simple.

For 40 years, Woodie has owned and operated Woodie’s Painting Inc. in Salisbury for a loyal fan base that keeps coming back to him for any projects they may have. He believes the secret to his longevity is pretty straightforward.

“I think first thing is being honest with people. Doing good quality work. My logo is ‘Good quality work at a reasonable price,'” Woodie said. “We’re a custom paint company, not a standard company. We take extra steps; I put a lot of preparation in my work.”

When he was 14, Woodie was hired by a local painting company to help clean their trucks during the summer in exchange for some burgers and a little spending money. After a few years, he and a few other kids started working for them as “Painter helpers. We’d clean up behind the painters, wash windows, clean up the trash,” Woodie said.

Eventually, while working at a hospital, Woodie’s new boss transitioned him to a different, busier shift. This inspired him to start his own business, even if he didn’t have all the equipment available that his competitors had.

“When I started, I didn’t have a van or a truck. I just had some ladders and equipment. So at the time, my brother-in-law, I’d call him up and ask him, ‘Hey, will you come move my ladders?’ because he had a truck,” Woodie said.

After obtaining a truck and more business over time, Woodie started the process of building a company that would last decades.

“We didn’t have the internet or Facebook, all of the devices you got today to start a business. You had to sell your work. You had to do good quality work,” Woodie explained. “It wasn’t that we could just put reviews on the internet and sell our work that way. We had to sell our work, we had to sell your knowledge and your skills.”

To this day, Woodie does not do any internet advertising. He has a website, but mostly advertises with the Post and the Yellow Pages. The rest is all word-of-mouth. “It must be working because I’m still here 40 years later,” he said.

Woodie credits all of the painters and companies he worked with back in the day to help guide and educate him on doing the best job he could for his customers and still hasn’t forgotten their lessons

“I learned a lot back in the day from older painters. I was the youngest painter in the group, you figure I was 19-20 years old and I was hiring people that were 35-40 years old. I learned a lot from them on how to do things, we still apply that today, the things we learned back then,” Woodie said.

Being in business this long has made Woodie pay attention to trends and what people want. He realizes taste is fluid and he is always up for what people ask him to paint.

“Painting’s like clothes: styles come in and styles go out. We go through these phases where people like bright colors or real light colors and now I’m seeing people are starting to go back to your deeper based colors, your darker colors. Painting changes about every 8-10 years. I see that people’s choices change on products, on the colors, on the fabrics that they use that they match their colors with,” Woodie said.

Woodie mostly does residential work, but also does different kinds of renovations, too. This includes the Meroney Theater and most of the churches in the city according to Woodie. Working on churches is something that is very special for Woodie and makes him do his best work.

“When you do a church job, you take a different pride in it, it’s like you’re working for 300 people at one time. You’ve got a lot of people looking at your work, so you’re wanting to please everybody.”

Even though he has been in business for so long, Woodie is dead set on not slowing down anytime soon.

“I don’t plan on quitting. I’m hoping to be here for another at least 10 years. I’m going to try and make 50 years service.”

Woodie’s Painting Inc. has been in business since 1982.

This is some of the equipment Woodie uses for his projects.

Woodie has helped renovate many local institutions like the Meroney Theater