Growing with the Industry
“I never want to feel stagnant,” says Greg Meeker, painter at Superior Collision in Rogers, Ark. “When you feel like you are not growing or moving, that’s when you burn out.”
Good thing for Meeker, he chose the best industry to feel constant change and growth.
After painting his first vehicle over 35 years ago, Meeker was hooked. He’s now been at Superior Collision for 12 years, and says that he has stayed in the industry because of the ever-growing technology and constant set of new challenges.
Meeker’s first shop experience centered around trial and error and almost entirely teaching himself. Over the course of his career, he has been able to participate in many training classes and certifications to expand his skills and talent. Now, Meeker acts as mentor and source of inspiration for thousands of painters online, along with his own son, Mac Meeker, who now paints with him at Superior Collision.
Every Minute Counts
When Meeker and his son get to the shop they get right to work. Productivity, their work ethic, and set processes push vehicles through the booth at Superior Collision.
“Processes are my favorite,” he says. “You have to look at how you conduct yourself through the day.”
Evaluating how to maximize each minute of the day includes assessing how often you look at your phone throughout the day, and how you are utilizing the time in-between coats on a job. To speed up efficiency, Meeker is sure to also take full advantage of the space he has. He puts up to five different jobs in the booth at once—of all different colors, when he can. “If you have a system that works, keep using it, and further refine it when you get a chance,” he explains. But no matter how many processes and efficiency hacks Meeker has in place at Superior Collision, surprises and new challenges come up each and every day—it’s part of the industry. “Our day is just taking care of the issues that come up,” he says. “Everybody here has to be on their game and focus on their communication.”
Train to Grow
Meeker makes training and constant education part of his routine in order to stay up to date on the ever-changing industry.
“Education is so important because the more you know, the more you increase your value—which is a big deal,” he says. “As long as classes are available and your company pays for it, why wouldn’t you take advantage of them?”
Classes have looked a bit different this past year, with travel discouraged by the companies through majority of 2020 and the beginning of 2021. But that didn’t stop Meeker from continuing to keep up with constant training. He and his wife, who is a teacher, would sit down together on their respective computers at night and take their own classes.
“My wife is always taking courses and bettering herself, we’re both exactly the same with our work ethic,” he explains.
Even though the world seemed to pause for a bit this past year, the technology in the automotive industry continued to progress, making constant education just as essential.
“Everything is still important to keep on top of; we have all new things coming out like electric cars, new finishes, and different structural materials,” he explains. “I want to be able to keep up with what’s coming in the industry.”
Meeker also encourages his son to take as much training as possible to better grow his skills and help him grow, regardless of where he ends up.
“I tell my son that once you get the training and certifications, no matter where you go, the training goes with you,” he says. “The training is always going to benefit you; you’re never going to regret taking a class.”
Reach Out Beyond Borders
Network is important to Meeker, and he has found a strong community outside of Arkansas and in the digital space.
He first made a Facebook account early on to post his work, but noticed there weren’t any specific groups he could join to connect with other painters. Meeker soon stumbled upon a few small groups to join, make conversation, and post his work. Because of his active involvement on a page, he was quickly asked to take on the role of the Facebook group’s admin, where he would monitor the incoming requests and posts. The group soon became a worldwide networking hub, other admins joined on from Sweden, Germany, and all across the globe to be more inclusive to talent from everywhere.
Meeker has since found his home on Instagram as @bmw_painter. There, you can find frequent updates of his work—from videos and photos of current jobs and equipment, to more personal updates on his life. Meeker has gained a large following on the social media platform and has formed invaluable relationships with other painters, who have all been able to lean on each other throughout the years.
“Instagram is a great place to find help, and to find it fast,” he says. “When you can’t wait for your paint manufacturer or someone else to call you back, you can get on Instagram and ask someone you think could help.”
The visual-based app also acts as a daily source of creativity and motivation.
“We are always tossing around ideas online to get inspiration from each other,” Meeker explains.
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