When it comes to business, keeping it in the family has many advantages. At Barker-Whittle, this means the master–apprentice relationship between Peter Barker, the team and his son, Ryan, can maintain their reputation as master commercial painters for generations to come. When Ryan joined the apprenticeship programme, the company officially took the first step towards an innovative and stable future. We got Ryan in for a Q&A, to learn a little more about him and his experiences of the company apprenticeship programme.

    Q: Being people-centred is one of the great things about a family business. Barker-Whittle may be heading up large-scale commercial painting services and completing premier residential projects, but we’ve never lost sight of what comes first: the people we do it for, and who we do it with. So please begin by telling us a little about yourself.

    A: I’m one of two sons to Peter and Peta Barker. When I’m away from the business, I enjoy playing and coaching competitive football. I’ve played since I was ten with the state team, Perth Glory and now Cockburn City FC. Aside from football, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends taking in all Perth has to offer.

    Q: What made you decide to join your father in the family business and become a 2nd generation master painter?

    A: I never expected to be a painter, or get into the family business at all! I’ve worked in other jobs and travelled around the world. I learned two things through this — I don’t mind working hard, and one day I want to work for myself. When I returned from a trip to Canada I tried working with my dad and quickly realised that I enjoyed painting and that I have a great opportunity to take over a successful business and keep the family name going in the industry.

    Q: What was growing up in the business like? Do you think its left you at an advantage that others may not have had access to growing up?

    A: My dad never forced his work onto me or tried to teach me anything I didn’t want to know. As a young boy, I just wanted to play football and thought that was all I was going to do. But living in a house from which a business was run meant I did learn one very important thing you can’t be taught in school — that running your own business is hard!  It’s something you spend seven days a week building, for ten or more hours per day. After seeing my family run the business for over twenty-three years I understand what commitment I need to give to keep the business going. That takes passion and hard work.

    Q: What’s your favourite thing about paint and painting?

    A: My job is highly satisfying. As a painter, you can change the whole look of a house with a bit of love and care. Seeing a rundown house come back to life is the best thing about painting.

    Q: What motivates you every day to learn more about the business and the craft of painting?

    A: My dad inspires me every day. Watching him grow the business over the years — I want to be as knowledgeable and talented as he is with painting and running Barker-Whittle.

    Q: Briefly take us through some of the challenges you experienced during apprenticeship.

    A: The first few years were hard “learning-on-the-go.” Everything I was doing on the job was new and difficult at first, and not having any experience in how to overcome daily project challenges. But the more I believe in my technical abilities and gain confidence, the easier it gets. I will always be learning new things and how to get better at my job.

    Q: You’re just about to finish up your second year in the apprenticeship programme. Describe a day in your life as an apprentice in your first two years.

    A:  The first and second year are always hard — learning the basics until you can’t unlearn them. How to prepare surfaces and to apply paint correctly. This sets a high standard for tradesmanship. My days were spent preparing surfaces to a high quality and in applying first coats of paint. I wasn’t allowed to do finishing coats until I was confident in my ability to apply first coats!

    Q: How long does it take to complete an apprenticeship?

    A: Depending on your employer, it’s between 3–4 years. Three years of TAFE/onsite apprenticeship and one extra year onsite if your employer believes you need it.

    Q: Where do you see yourself in five years?

    A: In five years’ time I hope to be working alongside my dad, running Barker-Whittle.

    Q: What’s been your favourite or most challenging project, and why?

    A:  I’ve worked on many projects in the past, but my current one is both my favourite and most challenging! We’re currently working a big, privately funded residential building. There’s an enormous amount of detail going into the job. It takes a lot of time and skill to get the job done to the expected standard. This project offers me an opportunity to practice different types of painting techniques: wallpapering, rag rolling, cabinetry painting, brush, spray and roller application… All with bold and interesting colours!

    Q: How do you get selected for an apprenticeship?

    A: The best way is simply to contact employers in your area and ask them if they’re looking to engage a keen apprentice. You could also contact your local Apprenticeship Centre and list yourself.

    Q: Are you planning to complete additional, complementing qualifications, and how do you see this helping the business?

    A:  I’m halfway through my painter’s registration, which includes a business and estimating skills set course. This will help me run Barker-Whittle one day, and be legally self-employed. It also increases my knowledge about the financial and legal sides to business. After I’ve completed this registration I’ll learn on the job with my dad.

    Ryan is entering his third year of apprenticeship at Barker-Whittle, under the care of it’s team of registered master painters. With a strong family and work ethic, Barker-Whittle looks set to benefit from all that being a family business can provide — a future of quality service, secured. Contact us for a free, no obligations quote and start your relationship with us today, for tomorrow. The future is bright with our second generation master painters.

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