Member Spotlight: Tim Payne Brings Drone Washing to Chattanooga

Keep showing up. That has been the mantra of Tim Payne, owner and CEO of Tim Payne Painting, for the past three decades as an entrepreneur and small business owner.

“It can feel very lonely running your own business,” said Payne. “Even with a great support system, you have to be prepared to be all in, or it will never be successful.”

As a second-generation painter, Payne was very familiar with the industry and enjoyed the physical act of painting. After graduating from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in finance and economics, Payne decided to apply his education to his love of painting. Since the founding of Tim Payne Painting in 1990, Tim has continued to move his company forward in the industry, always looking to discover the truth of his own capabilities.

“I don’t want to look back and wonder what I was actually capable of accomplishing because I didn’t take the risk and try,” said Payne.

Personal accountability was also a major selling point for Payne when he considered opening his own business, along with providing a service to not only his customers but also employees. In the 30 years of Tim Payne Painting, Payne has never missed a payroll, which in the construction industry can be a rarity.

“There were a few nights I was up pacing at 2 a.m., unsure how we were going to make it work, but we always did. Employees that are well treated in turn help me by providing excellent service to our customers,” said Payne.

Pioneering Drone Washing

Tim and Shannan Payne. Photo Credit Times Free Press Robin Rudd

Throughout his career, Payne looked for existing tools that would allow him and his team to be more efficient. After discovering drone technology, Payne immediately thought about how it could be applied to Tim Payne Painting, which had also started providing pressure washing services.

“You have to think outside of the box and be willing to admit that there may be a better way of accomplishing something to continue to be successful in your industry,” said Payne.

While spray painting drone technology was and still is in the early stages of development, a few companies were quickly approaching a stage of practical application for pressure washing drones. After a few setbacks due to the pandemic, Payne was finally able to meet with Lucid Drone Technologies in 2021, and he is one of the first 20 companies in the United States to offer drone soft washing as a service.

As with any new technology implementation, there were a few bugs along the way.

“It was almost like we were in a beta program for Lucid. We would use the drones and provide feedback on what could be better for our business, and Lucid in turn would not only be able to make those improvements for us, but also learn for future customers,” said Payne.

Drone Washing Takes Off

Now, a little over two years later, Payne has four soft washing drones that can be used in a large range of exterior cleaning projects. Many small business owners may have backed away from a project of this size out of fear of the unknown, but for Payne, he saw the potential.

“When adding any form of new technology, you have to be willing to put in the time and money to make it work,” said Payne.

By using drone technology, Payne is able to provide a safer, greener and more cost-efficient service to his customers. Eliminating the need for lift coordination allows for faster project completion and keeps everyone safely on the ground.

Embracing the Entrepreneurial Spirit

Looking back over his career, Payne wishes that early on he had been more willing to explore alternative ways of accomplishing goals, but ultimately, he has no regrets.

“One thing that I have always lived by is following through with your word and doing so in a timely fashion. It not only keeps you accountable but builds a trustworthy reputation,” said Payne.

Payne’s biggest tips for entrepreneurs early in their careers are to develop a high level of emotional maturity to help you navigate situations and to try to keep your mind in a good spot.

“There is going to be a lot of uncertainty, especially in the beginning. Never lose sight of why you started in the first place,” said Payne.

For more information about Tim Payne Painting, visit here.

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