New Britain, Connecticut is known as the Hardware City, a factory town built over a swamp during the Industrial Revolution. Residents like sign painter John Boyle were as hardy as they were innovative. Case in point, Boyle saw an opportunity in being both a painter and a paint seller back in 1878, reinventing himself as local industry boomed – and begged for a splash of color.
Now in its fourth generation of family ownership and management, John Boyle Decorating Centers is Connecticut’s oldest and certainly, its most trusted independent paint retailer. With nine stores located across the state, including the head office in New Britain, the company proudly continues the founder’s tradition of innovation.
“If there is a key to being around over 140 years, it is our great employees and the previous generations of hardworking family members,” says owner Bryan King, who oversees a team of 42 paint and design professionals, including certified interior designers, design consultants and skilled installers.
“Our company has continued to reinvent itself by evolving with the times, and changing our products and service offerings according to what customers want. What the market needs is what we have always tried to provide.”
John Boyle Decorating Centers specializes in residential and commercial design, carrying a wide selection of floor coverings, window treatments, custom draperies and, of course, quality paint, painting accessories and equipment. Although much of its business comes from the trust earned generation after generation, most comes from word-of-mouth recommendations from happy customers.
“People know that they’re not just buying paint products from us, they’re buying a whole support system that comes with it – that includes personalized service and the expertise of industry professionals who have been working here for 10 years or more,” King says.
In fact, many customers walk in to John Boyle Decorating Centers solely seeking their solid advice – and often, enthusiastically presenting photos of inspirational Houzz or HGTV projects on their smartphones.
“I see a lot of shiplap,” King laughs.
“But seriously, we’re always glad to validate design ideas that people find online. These days, if you’re trying to figure out how to do something, you’ll go to Google or YouTube first. And sure, it looks easy enough until you discover that you’re missing an essential tool or just can’t get the technique right. When that happens, people can always turn to us. We’ll walk them through the project from start to finish, and give them advice about the process based on our own experiences. It becomes a real collaboration.”
After 140 years, John Boyle’s family company shows no sign of slowing down. In fact, it is about to once again revolutionize the way Connecticutians buy paint products – by introducing a new website that combines the in-store experience with the virtual convenience of online shopping.
“Those people who come in with the phones, excited to start a project? They’re often looking for ideas at 10 o’clock at night so it makes perfect sense to give them access to our products and services 24 hours a day,” says King, noting that in addition to being able to place their paint orders and schedule pick-ups, homeowners and contractors alike will be able to interact with the experts.
“Customers get the benefit of a great online experience in the privacy of their own home or the convenience of their mobile device but at the same time, get a good feeling knowing that they’re still supporting small business in their own hometown.”
Four generations and many millions of paint gallons after its first store opened, John Boyle Decorating Centers is proving that they remain masters of reinvention.