By Pete Zamplas- Merrell Paint & Decorating Inc. has three generations of expertise and creativity, offering various Benjamin Moore paints and customized color blends for home design solutions.
Manager Monica Davis has been a difference-maker in the store since it started 31 years ago, in 1988. Since 1993, Merrell Paint has been at 1030 Greenville Highway in Brookdale Square in Hendersonville near downtown.
Her son Chris Roper has works there for nearly half of his life, since he got a worker’s permit at age 14.
He turns 25 in June. He is a 2012 grad of East Henderson; his mother is an ’83 Eagle alumnus. Chris played lacrosse for two seasons, while at East. He attended Blue Ridge Community College, then decided to focus on the family business.
Bill Merrell, 76, founded Merrell Paint. He is Monica’s father, and Chris’ grandfather. He has worked in the paint business since 1965, 54 years ago. For 18 years (1970-88), he managed the Sherwin Williams store on Main Street.
His family emphasizes service, quality and value.
Bill is retired. But he comes by the store at least two days a week to help out. The other day, he worked briskly to mix paint. Bill’s wife Elaine worked behind the counter for 22 years, until retiring in 2010.
Monica said that “My favorite part of coming to work” is to get to still work with family. “I feel extremely fortunate to spend that precious time with my Dad, and also with my son. Not many people get to go to work, and spend ten hours a day with family.” She typically is there an extra hour, for 11-hour work days.
“I rely on his experience and knowledge,” such as in weighing new products, Monica said of her father. As Bill said, “Monica runs the place.”
Color Consultant Chris
They are proud of how well Chris Roper has evolved, as a key cog in the operations in many ways. Construction contractors stop by in early mornings on their way to work sites. Chris helps them find paint, stain and other products to best fit their specific tasks.
“Giving the customers the products they need” is what it is all about, Chris said. “It feels very satisfying, to steer someone into the right direction.” He noted “most have some general idea, while some know exactly what they want” as a look in their home or business or on the exterior.
Customizing involves some interior decorating skill, of color coordination. Those who work with him agree Chris Roper is especially skilled in visualizing color combos.
“Chris is a color consultant. His eye for color is amazing,” Monica said. “He helps people choose colors, and coordinate colors together.” Chris is a chip off the ‘ole block, in customizing service. Monica once called Bill a “paint doctor. He solves your paint problems.”
Monica also enjoys advancing the customer’s creative journey, such as seeking “exciting shades for an entertainment room, or dining room.” She noted some customers opted for a “deep red, or eggplant shade. One lady did black on her walls, with clean white trim. It was so dramatic.”
Monica said “I absolutely love color” and that in her own home, to go with neutral-shaded walls. She rotates accent shades by season, such as red and green for Christmas. “Right now it’s teal, red and orange — for spring. Flowers are blooming. I love to bring the outside in. Color makes you happy — instead of dull, drab shades.”
Many customers bring in examples of what color they want a wall to look like — such as a furniture item, or to stain the item to match the wall. It is easier to show a cell phone photo of an item. But the color in the photo may not be precise, if skewered by artificial light or if the flash was too bright or dim.
Thus it is most accurate to bring in the item to match color to it. Monica enjoys seeing what people bring in, and is important to them. “They’ll bring their favorite decorative dishes, or piece of art. They want it to pop on the wall, to be the main focal point” set up by the wall’s color combination.
Color combining is similar to clothing style, such as matching a secondary shade of a multi-colored tie or shirt with the dress jacket. “We’ll ‘pull’ a piece of color of that art,” Monica said. “So it looks good throughout the room. Typically, it will be a more subdued shade of the art and not the most dynamic tone — so that stands out in the art instead of the wall. People want to see the art, more than the wall it’s on.”
Benjamin Moore’s 2019 color of the year is elegant Metropolitan AF-690 which looks like an off-white offshoot of champagne. Moore lauds it as “comforting, composed, effortlessly sophisticated.”
Bedding is another item that Merrell Paint customers bring, to produce the “master suite flow,” Monica said. They might choose a similar color in repainting the bathroom, but in a shade lighter. “It depends how much natural light the bathroom gets, from a window or skylight.” The brighter that natural light, the darker the wall shade should be since it will lighten.
Part of consulting is to suggest how many coats to use to reach the desired shade, by realizing how absorbent the material is. Chris and Monica noted that wood by being more porous absorbs much more stain than a wall does paint. Further, it takes more coats of a lighter shade over a darker existing tone than vice-versa.
“You have to see that color clearly, to get the custom match,” Monica noted. She said Chris is adept to realize “it needs a little more red or yellow, to get an accurate match.”
Even now, Bill is adept at matching colors when mixing paint shades. “I can match,” knowing what colors to blend together to get a certain shade, Bill said.
As Chris notes, much time is put in to mix paint to get the precise shade. “If it takes an hour or two to get it just right, we’ll put the time in. We’re very patient.” Mixing paint is an ongoing process for much of the work day, and Monica and Bill handle much of that along with other workers.
Aura of Aura®
One might say Merrell Paint exudes an “Aura” of colorful decor indoors and splashes outside as well. Aura® is Benjamin Moore’s premium, durable fade-resistant paint and primer. It comes in waterborne interior paint for a non-glossy matte finish, and also for exterior use, and has a lifetime-warranty.
Merrell Paint has carried it for a decade, and it remains very popular, Monica said. “It’s gone over really well. Once someone decides to paint, they want to do the best. It’s an expense that pays for itself, by lasting longer. You don’t have to have to repaint as often.” She added that when hiring painters, “labor costs way more than the paint.”
A major selling point is how Aura® resists fading from sunlight and flaking from moisture-caused mildew and algae, the Merrell family emphasized. Bill explained that “most paint work has peaks and valleys, where moisture can get in.”
Monica said, “Aura® is very resistant to fading, and to mildew. It rains so often here, that mildew grows so much.” She added that “some houses are on the side of a mountain,” lack shade trees near or are otherwise exposed to direct sunlight. “The sun bakes and beats the paint. One good coat works, unless you’re making a drastic (light over dark) color change.”
A Benjamin Moore display in the store promotes it for “Nuance. Light. Expression” and states: “A stunning range of color characteristics that come to life, in this sophisticated collection of 240 colors.” Further, Aura® has Color Lock® technology for what Benjamin Moore terms “brilliant” shades and “premium color performance, and unsurpassed surface smoothness.”
Bill Merrell touts how “Aura is pure, with no VOC colorant that most paints use. It’s very natural, and looks different” than other paint.
Benjamin Moore was founded in 1883, and is based in New Jersey.
Bill Merrell grew up in Edneyville. He graduated from Edneyville High School in 1961. That was a pivotal year in local school history, as the first academic year of then-new East and West Henderson high schools. He was a Yellow Jacket baseball second baseman and left fielder. After graduation, he grew four inches to six feet three inches tall.
He golfed for many decades, often six days per week. Now “my passion is working in my yard” in gardening and landscaping. Choosing flower colors in one’s garden is like selecting paint combinations. Rather than mix several flower colors, Bill planted azalea bushes that all produce red flowers. This provides maximal impact, for a large splash of red. They are in full bloom.
Meanwhile, in the spring cleaning and painting season, Merrell Paint is in full gear and busy customizing service for customers. For more on Merrell Paint call 696-9880, stop in at 1030 Greenville Hwy., or first check online. A color search is via merrellpaint.com/color