Alex Rodway, owner of Place Painting, stands beside the sign for his business at 966 Harpswell Islands Road in Harpswell. Rodway opened the business in January and is already booking exterior jobs through next summer. (J. Craig Anderson photo)

When prospective customers call Place Painting in Harpswell to schedule an exterior painting job, owner Alex Rodway has to pull up his calendar for 2024. And even that is starting to fill up.

“I’m booked out for the entire summer and into next summer,” Rodway said in an interview on July 11. “Contractors in general are so busy right now — it seems like everybody is either buying and selling a house, or remodeling.”

Rodway, a Rangeley native who lives in Harpswell, opened Place Painting in January after moving back to Maine from Salt Lake City, Utah, where he had operated a similar painting business for six years.

Place Painting, at 966 Harpswell Islands Road, offers interior and exterior painting services for residential and small commercial jobs. It’s currently a one-man operation, with Rodway handling everything from painting to scheduling and bookkeeping. He hopes to expand and hire staff next year.

“I would eventually like to grow into a bigger and more capable company,” Rodway said. “So far, it seems like there’s even more of a demand in Harpswell than I thought.”

The local environment can be brutal on home exteriors in Harpswell, he said, given that so many homes are in close proximity to the coast.

Moisture, wind and salt in the air can lead to increased wear and tear on homes. The salt can have a corrosive effect on painted wood exteriors, leading to fading and peeling paint over time. Constant exposure can even cause the wood to warp, rot or otherwise deteriorate.

“If you have a house made of wood, it’s pretty important to keep it coated with something before (the paint) starts to peel,” Rodway said. “Once the moisture gets in, Maine’s environment is so harsh that (the home’s exterior) doesn’t stand a chance.”

Another complicating factor for those customers who want outside work done is the limited number of days each year that a home’s exterior can be painted. Rodway said he can usually paint exteriors from May through early October, and only on days when it’s not raining. The rest of the time, he focuses on interior work.

Rodway said it can take him from a week to a month to finish a job, depending on the size. The hardest thing about being the business’s sole proprietor is that he often has to do office work after coming home from a long day of painting.

But running a painting business can also be a rewarding experience, Rodway said. Unlike some types of contractor work, the results of a painting job are usually dramatic and easily recognizable.

“After showing up and the house looking terrible, it’s nice to walk away with the house looking great,” Rodway said. “It’s pretty satisfying work, and people are generally happy when you leave, because you just made their house look amazing.”

Orr’s Island resident Catherine Kelley said Rodway did “a wonderful job” painting the interior of her studio apartment and restaining her wraparound deck.

“Despite the challenges of a rainy spring, he managed to get both jobs done in a timely fashion with excellent results,” she said via email. 

Kelley praised Rodway for his professionalism and pleasant demeanor, adding that she would “highly recommend” Place Painting to others.

“(Rodway) is such a great addition to our community,” she said.

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