Getting to Know Hue: Butch Eley

Headshot of Butch Eley

Welcome to the second installment of our ‘Getting to Know Hue’ series where we highlight truly exceptional people that work at U.S. Paint.

This employee spotlight features Butch Eley, a color specialist that has been working with our team since January 14th, 1985 (happy 38th work anniversary!). We asked Butch to give us an inside look into his passion for paint and what it means to be a color specialist.

What was your position when you started working at U.S. Paint?

I started in the filling department.

Which department at U.S. Paint includes color specialists, and how would you describe the team?

The shading department. The shading team is an elite group of individuals with many years of color matching experience. This team is highly dedicated to the job they perform every day. I call them “Grace under pressure.” USP is very lucky to have this group of talented individuals who work so well and achieve the results they do!

What does an average workday look like for your department?

The shaders arrive very early to start the day. The team reviews priorities for the day. Each shader works on approximately 3-4 batches at a time.

The batch sample is sprayed, and the color position determined at “strike up” using spectrophotometer and visual readings.

The batch is then adjusted using historical data and experience with the specific product.

The goal is to match the color “standard” as close as possible which may take many adjustments and spray outs to achieve the approved color position which can sometimes change based on customer requests. The shaders also are responsible for gloss adjustments on some products which must be in range before color adjustments can begin.

After the color is deemed acceptable, the shaders get a sample for the QC department to start the final testing.

Then starts the paperwork process for the shader. This includes test report color numbers, batch hit logs, any comments on the batch that needs to be noted, labeling the batch panels, signing the batch ticket, color approval, filling out the spray booth logs, moving the batch status, etc….

After all the paperwork is done and the batch panels are ready to send to the customer (one is kept for testing and filed away), the shader then starts on a new batch and the process is repeated.

What are the main responsibilities of a color specialist?

My job is to perfect the color with every batch of paint.

Sometimes the strike-up formula needs adjustment to come in closer to standard. I will work with the Lab with recommendations of the adjustment needed.

Also, to assist and train the new shaders coming into the department. The management of the production standard database. Attending production meetings and being a liaison between the production shaders and the lab. Just to name a few!

Why are color specialists important for U.S. Paint customers?

The color specialist is a direct connection to the shading department and relays information from the customer and the technicians. Also, it enables the shading team to address batches more efficiently and correctly to the customer’s needs and requests.

What is your favorite part of your job?

Solving the puzzles! Each batch color is a puzzle that must be solved to achieve the correct color position. We have all the pieces and need to put them in the correct amounts (order) to make the color complete like a puzzle..

What is one of the most fun processes to do or tools to use as a color specialist?

My favorite tools are the spray equipment. The handheld spray guns especially, because you can finesse the paint with your technique and make it do what you want – which is fun to do.

What is something you’d say to someone interested in joining the color specialist team at U.S. Paint?

Be prepared for anything and everything coming your way. We must work hard but also smart and the end result is very satisfying. You will be part of a specialized group of skilled professionals!

Is there anything you’d like the people reading this spotlight to know?

I have been involved with color for over 30 years at U.S. Paint from shading to development of colors, and I truly enjoy doing it for a living and hope that I can continue to “solve the puzzles” as I like to call it. Also, the shading department is a close group of workers that I think also enjoy what they do for a living!

Top Work Places 2022

U.S. Paint is honored to be named one of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Top Workplaces. This is a great accomplishment and is a testament to the culture, values and daily efforts of the U.S. Paint staff and leadership teams. We’re thrilled to have been included on the list, and thankful to our employees, who made this happen.