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  #1  
Old 12-10-2011
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raganjo is on a distinguished road
boat painting business

hello all out there. ive personally found this website to be a wealth of information so this time im gonna post my first thread.
i recently painted my 30' Easterly and have had several boat owners as well as the marina staff all tell me i should start a mobile boat painting business here in st petersburg, fl. ive asked around and have had a few people show strong interest in having their boats painted. i do enjoy working on boats and would gladly switch to eventually being my own boss but i cant seem to find much info on the web about actually doing it. obviously i would start out part time then see if it grows to a full time thing. so i am here asking all you here if youve had any experience with it? what are the advantages? pitfalls? basically im hoping someone can share the good, bad, and ugly of doing this. ive taken pics of my boat during the process to show what ive done and already have my first client. any help would be greatly appreciated.

thank you!!
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Old 12-10-2011
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I want to do this too. I am making a gantry with slings and when it is done you can drive under it with the trailer and lift the boat and pull the trailer out. The first to go will be my boat.

I have all the same questions as you do!
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Old 12-10-2011
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Permits and Workmen's comp
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Old 12-10-2011
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for fun, or as an occupation...big difference between "trading dollars" as we say in VA, and making dollars. A building allows clients to stop by, advertising can point to it, and the regulators (all types) have somewhere to find me....of course that makes it easy for dis-satisfied clients to find me as well, but so far those have been few and far between.

I think mobile is going to be a nightmare to get permits for, as many states, as well as the individual counties have specific rules about containment, materials usage, trash, liability and such.

FL, IIRC, has stringent laws as to what you can even do near the water, zoning and all. I know just washing bottoms in some counties require the water to be contained, filtered and such

In my painting experience, I have always had a pressure/temp/humidity/dust controlled environment (almost mandatory for some 2 part or epoxy paint) and I don't see how you can do that "mobile". Same with tools, compressors, mixers, agitators and guns - I would need a small trailer just for the basics. I have a 32' trailer that has many compromises just for a 240" dragster, but it has everything I need to repair, replace, or spot paint..

All the best, and please let us know how it works for you.
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Old 12-10-2011
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I know it's been done, but I would not be interested in have my boat painted outdoors. I would also think that local environmental standards would make this challenging, as the rules that apply to commercial activities are usually far more stringent than those applying to individuals.

Another thought for your planning is that many/most marinas restrict who can work on their property. The most restrictive wouldnt even allow the owner to paint their own boat. In part, because they want to be paid to do it, but also due to the risk it presents for overspray or splatter on neighboring boats. Often, if you are permitted to work on their property, you must give them as much as 15% of what you charge. That really irks some, but think of the cost of real estate and taxes they pay and the mobile operator would otherwise get for free.

Best of luck with the planning.
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Old 12-10-2011
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Let's see, EPA issues. local VOC release issues, product liability, workers comp, local business licenses and taxes (everybody wants a cut) and contamination, along with a host of other issues. I do paint boats for a living and have had a lot of interest from folks all over the country. Not being able to address these and other issues satisfactorly is why we are a FBO.
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Old 12-10-2011
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If you are willing to hustle and do outstanding work, I think there is a market for anything labor intensive.

Contractors of all types are notoriously late and lazy.

There will be pitfalls, such as marinas that don't want you to work there, etc. But, if you want to work on boats there is plenty of other work like detailing and bottom painting that could take up your time. Again, it's just a matter of showing up on time, getting the job done right, and most importantly, on time.

Did I mention doing it right and on time?
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