Words by Terrell Manasco | Image by Blakeney Cox
Looking pensive, Chuck Dunn furrows his brow, crosses one leg over a knee, and plucks his trademark unlit cigar from his teeth.
In twenty-five years as Jasper Decorating Center’s manager, Chuck has amassed a wealth of knowledge in his field. “I have a doctorate degree,” he deadpans in a low voice as co-worker Clayton Mehearg, the Ed McMahon to Chuck’s Johnny Carson, sits beside him silent as a pharaoh’s tomb. “In paint,” Chuck snickers at the punch line, peppered with Clayton’s laughter.
“Everybody says, ‘You’re the Paint Doctor!’ I say, ‘Yeah, I guess you’d call me that,’” Chuck shrugs.
A native of Parrish, Chuck joined the Air Force after high school in 1967. While stationed in Italy, he met Alida, his wife since 1971. Their older son Charles owns Dunn’s Painting, assisted by younger son Nick. “You could say that paint runs thick in our blood,” Chuck quips.
Chuck finished his remaining service at Minot Air Force Base (North Dakota). “It was too cold for me to stay, so I decided to get out,” he laughs. He came back to Jasper and began working for Sherwin-Williams. “I thought, ‘A job at a paint store? That can’t be toohorribly bad,’” he grins. “But I learned through the years that there’s a lot to know, with all the different products and applications.”
In 1992, Chuck became manager of Jasper Decorating Center, which carries a full line of Benjamin Moore Products. The Paint Doctor says he didn’t earn his name from lack of experience. “I’ve matched everything you can think of: coffee cups, lamp shades, old pieces of paint off walls,” Chuck says. “One person even had me match their shirt.”
One story deserves theGrand Prize. “I had a lady come in one day with a Three Musketeers candy bar,” Chuck says. “She took it out of the wrapper and said, ‘Chuck, I want you to match the chocolate—not the outside chocolate, the insidechocolate.’ I said, ‘I’ll be glad to, as long as I can eat the candy bar when I’m done.’ She said, ‘You sure can!’ We got it matched and she loved it.”
Despite his easygoing manner, Chuck admits he’s a perfectionist. “I’m real picky when it comes to matching paint,” he says. “I figure, if I don’t like it, they’re not going to like it, so I’m probably harder to please sometimes.”
Once a color is chosen, Chuck helps the customer select the correct paint. “First, you find out what their project is,” he says. “Then you get into what they’re going to paint, like a room, or furniture. Then we go over what product we want to use, and we give them at least two options; finishes and prices.”
The nature of the business does limit repeat business, but there are benefits. “We don’t really get a lot of repeat customers soon because the paint lasts so long, but I’ve met a lot of good friends and good customers over the years,” Chuck says. “I’ve always been proud to be able to help people, because if you make them happy, they’re going to come back and see you again. You just sort of guide them through the project.”
Chuck says customers often want a certain shade, based on current color trends. “The big color for this past year is called HC-172, Revere Pewter,” Chuck says. “That color is the rave right now, because it’s all over Pinterest. The color trends for 2017 are grays. The color of the year is called Shadow. As I like to jokingly say, we have more than fifty shades of gray.” 78