You’ve seen the headlines. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has begun dragging a few dead bodies around town to show everyone Lead RRP is being enforced. For some, these fines are their reward for acting properly while their competitors do not. Others wait to see fines taking place before they decide to comply. Many see these fines as yet another way to complain about EPA.

RRP has incited our frustration with our economy and become the undisputed champion of why we lose work. Do you really believe that losing work to unlicensed, unregulated and illegal workforces began when RRP was established? You probably are saying, “As long as I lose the job to someone legitimate, I wouldn’t mind.” I never enjoyed losing a job to anyone regardless of why.

I believe you should see RRP fines as a way to increase sales and convince homeowners why they need you on their renovation project. You also should see these penalties as a way to accomplish what the rule is attempting: prevent people living and working in homes with lead-based paint from getting poisoned.

During a recent class I taught for EPA certification in lead-safe work practices, I met Steve who was full of all the typical grumblings I wish I had a nickel for every time I hear. I watched his frustrations grow as he became overwhelmed with all the issues RRP forces you to consider. I asked him privately whether he ever thought being a business owner wasn’t for everyone.

As a consumer, when I call you to work on my house I expect to interact with someone who is more than a good painter or carpenter; I want a professional who handles all the responsibilities of business ownership. Consumers assume you have insurance, a license, safe equipment, and that you pay your taxes and bills. If all you provide is your skill, aren’t you as illegitimate as the people you complain about? How much of your frustration has to do with becoming a complete business owner?

Consumers truly do not understand the depth of your knowledge, skill and talent to perform your work. You may passionately explain your work methods and years of experience, yet you do not take the time to share your knowledge of potential poisoning from lead in their home because “they won’t pay for it.” If you weren’t aware of the dangers of this poison, would you pay for it?

I pointed out to Steve and the class that the person who owns the lead home has the problem. You possess the knowledge and specialty training to work on their problem without anyone getting poisoned. You shouldn’t have to pay for a homeowner’s problem with your health. Why would you work on a home without using lead-safe work practices?

A few weeks after the class, Steve called me. “I just signed my second lead job in 10 days,” he said. He explained that on one of the jobs he was the most expensive bid but still got the job, which was something he had never experienced.

“What was different?” I asked.

“I finally realized I am worth it,” Steve answered.

His answer was the best paycheck I have gotten in awhile. He made it worth it for me … .

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