White House Hires a Black Painter (He Doesn’t Change the Color)

February 21, 2011  |  

(Entrepreneur) — When Russell Johnson retired from the Marines in 2008 after 21 years in the military and two tours of duty in Iraq, he didn’t think he would be called upon again to serve his country. But last October, Johnson, a former chief warrant officer who runs a Fresh Coat Painters franchise serving eastern North Carolina, found himself at the gates of the White House, waiting for orders.

This time, those orders were to scrape, prime and paint the 14 vehicle and 20 pedestrian gates around the 18 acres of the White House, and his commander was a National Park Service supervisor.  He and his crew of four painters spent three days per gate, constantly adjusting their schedule to accommodate events and Secret Service concerns. In total, it took more than a month to finish the job–two weeks longer than Johnson had anticipated–but the experience was incredible. “You see the White House on TV,” he says, “but seeing it up close and personal every day, seeing the amazing amount of activity that goes on, that was what surprised me.”

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