Painting tradition


Roots of Arthur Kargman's business stretch into Ukraine of more than 40 years ago


Arthur Kargman

Painter, wallpaper hanger, business owner

Kargmans Inc., Owings Mills

Salary --$80,000 plus profits

Age --38

Years on the job --24

How he got started --Kargman's father and uncle began hanging wallpaper in the late 1960s while living in Ukraine. When they moved to the United States in 1979, they continued to work on a part-time basis as a way to make extra money. In 1981, the two went full time and expanded their company to include interior and exterior painting and light carpentry work.

Kargman used to help out on weekends while in high school and later as a college student. After three years of taking business classes, Kargman decided to join the company full time. He now runs the business with his uncle still helping part time.

Typical day --Kargman works on the administrative and sales side of the company. His day consists mostly of visiting clients, pricing jobs and inspecting the work for quality control. He sees about three or four clients a day and manages 10 employees. He usually has about three jobs going at a time, with the average residential job lasting about two or three days. Most of his jobs are residential, but the company also has commercial contracts.

Wallpapering --On occasion Kargman still gets his hands dirty and will do a wallpaper job. He said while wallpaper was popular about 20 years ago and died out, it is making a slow comeback with some customers. "There's not a huge demand, but there's also not a lot of full-time paper hangers out there anymore. I guess it's a dying trade. I enjoy hanging paper once in a while. I like to see how it transforms a room."

Wallpapering an average bedroom would cost about $420 in labor.

The good --"Closing a deal."

The bad --"The hours." Kargman estimates he works 70 to 75 hours in a typical week. "Running your own business, that's what you have to do."

Family business --"My father and uncle started this because it was something they knew how to do to make extra income. It was hard times back then, especially in the Ukraine. [The company] is special to me because it's been in the family so long," said Kargman, whose eldest son is 11 years old. He hopes that if the company continues to grow, his son would take it over some day.

Painting --Kargman estimates that about 75 percent of the work is painting. An average bedroom, with ceiling and walls painted, would cost $400 for labor.

Popular color right now --Olive.

Favorite paint: --Sherwin-Williams.

When to call a professional: --If their walls are in good shape, Kargman said, homeowners can do it themselves. The most important thing is to do a good job taping the borders. But if walls are in poor shape, the work is better left to professionals.

Philosophy: --"Keep the customer happy and you will always have work."

Nancy Jones-Bonbrest Special to The Sun

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