Sometimes a career can find you before you realize it. East Bank painter Dwayne Olson started painting when he was in grade school. He helped out with projects around home, learning the basics from his grandfather, who was also a painter. By junior high Olson’s mother, a real estate agent, had him painting homes her company was trying to sell.
But upon graduating from Richfield High, Olson wasn’t sure what he wanted to do for a living. He bounced around from job to job before landing at a motorcycle distributor. He worked in shipping and receiving there for 10 years until the business closed.
The state was offering training to dislocated workers at the time, so Olson decided to try making a living as a painter. After training, Olson went to work for a company called Mr. Giles, where he spent 17 years in the trade. When Mr. Giles decided to close shop, Olson sought help through his union. Two months later he landed a job at the U, where he has remained for nearly four years now.
Olson enjoys the daily challenges at the U and working on something new every day. He says that day-to-day contact with customers makes his job easier because he gets to know what they want from him.
Outside of work, Olson enjoys getting together with family for barbecues and card games and gathering in friends’ homes to watch movies. His favorite movies are “The Perfect Storm and “Mr. Brooks.”
As a painter, Olson’s friends and family always know who to talk to when it comes time to spruce up their homes. He’s learned to make sure and get something in return for his services. The coolest thing he ever got in exchange for painting was a new furnace … twice. His brother-in-law installed one in his old house before he moved and in is new house after he moved. But, he has also painted his sister’s house about five times.
One of the things that Olson loves about painting is the power to change the look and feel of a room whenever you want. This is illustrated by his favorite project at the U -- the library in Pillsbury Hall.
“When I walked in there it was a disaster,” remembered Olson. “It hadn’t been painted in years. The walls were in bad shape, plaster was loose in spots and the windows all had to be caulked. But, it looked like a different room when it was done.”
For a guy who once would rather be a real estate agent than the hired hand that painted the properties, it sounds like Dwayne Olson has found his calling.
“Once I got into painting, I never regretted it.”