- Photo by Charles Bruce III
Owner, Ai Painting Plus, LLC
Austin Ilsley is more than a house painter. He is a leader and developer of people who happens to own a painting business.
For Austin, every morning starts with strong black coffee and a meeting with the leadership team at Ai Painting Plus. The team discusses the daily schedule and team logistics and coaches each other on leadership strategy. Once the team disburses to the field, Austin prepares for the client meetings and consultations on his schedule for the day and fields any emails or messages the office staff has ready for him.
Any additional time is spent building new systems, networking, strategizing for the future, and working on ways to improve and develop the culture and community impact. He typically commits to a hard stop of all work activity by 4:30 p.m. to make time for exercise and family.
“A common misconception about what I do is that I simply paint houses. In actuality, it is much more than that,” Austin says. “We like to say at Ai Painting Plus that we are a customer service and team development company that just happens to paint houses.”
Painting is simply the vehicle Austin and his team use to pursue their larger mission, which is to create a place of work that provides opportunity for growth and professional advancement for everyone involved, especially those who feel stuck in life and have no clear direction.
Austin’s character and purpose has not gone unnoticed in the community. “The work that Austin does in his business is of superior quality, living out his company’s mission statement,” says Greg Brockmeier. “Where Austin’s craft truly shines is through the passion and encouragement he offers his team, giving measurable goals and apprenticeship advancement within his training program. This work has poured over into his work within the community partnering with many nonprofits, and Austin has plans to help build Columbia’s labor-ready workforce.”
In 2022, Austin hopes to provide opportunities for 16 to 18 employees and produce a gross revenue of $1.8 million. He would also like to bring on a salesperson to allow him more time to focus on the things he loves such as visioning, leadership coaching, and improving company culture.
Fun Fact: Austin is an introvert and often uncomfortable in social situations. “I’m successful at it,” Austin says, “but it’s draining.”