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Bliss Painting Finds and Trains Promising New Painter with Help from Michigan Works

Bliss Painting has been in business in Alpena since 2008, offering interior and exterior painting of residential, light commercial, and industrial. As many other Michigan employers have experienced, Bliss has been faced with hiring challenges in the skilled trades over the past six years - even to the point where they’ve had to reduce their staff from 12 to three due to the lack of reliable employees. In the current workforce environment, employment candidates were coming in with much less basic work and life skills. Without being able to hire competent reliable staff, Bliss knew they would not be able to complete the contracts they had in place for 2021.

Due to the lack of available candidates in Alpena, Bliss was finding they were having to pay entry-level employees a substantially higher starting wage in order to attract a potential employee. The conundrum of doing this in a skilled painting trade is it takes approximately twelve months before a new employee can even begin to perform at a level that will earn an employer any profit. So Bliss turned to their local Business Solutions Professional, Shelly Blankenship, at Michigan Works! for guidance.

Shelly reviewed potential job candidates that were already working with Michigan Works. After talking with Michigan Works Youth Career Advisor, Rob Adams, she found the perfect candidate.

Shelly and Rob referred Justin Bond, a Michigan Works WIOA Out-of-School Youth participant, to Bliss. Then Shelly helped Bliss obtain an On-the-Job Training grant, which would pay a portion of Justin’s wages as he learned on the job. This helped Bliss offset the weekly wage cost of hiring and training on the job.

Bliss’ owner, Doug Bliss, reports, “We created a training course for our new employee and Michigan Works! approved it. We then hired Justin Bond and completed basic training. Even though the grant has ceased, we are continuing to work with him on his proficiency of tasks he has been trained on already. Justin has performed exceptionally well for us and he’s already received a raise. Justin’s attitude and desire to learn this trade has been stellar. He has shown a continued interest and desire to advance in all aspects of the painting trade - even to the point of master painter perhaps.”

“I want to communicate our thanks and appreciation to Michigan Works! and the Shelly Blankenship,” continued Doug. “She has been wonderful to work with and has gone over and above the call of duty in assisting us. Also, Justin’s caseworker (Rob) has also gone over and above in his duties to seek the success of Justin as well.”

Doug says the best lesson learned is to have good communication with your new employee and understand our society’s new employment culture. Which means you need to properly assess the needs of your employees and work diligently on employee retention rewards for employees who get the job done.


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