Getting to know one of our Owners, Austin Ilsley

We’re peeking behind the curtain to learn more about the leadership and staff at Ai Painting Plus LLC. The conversation is starting with company founder and owner, Austin Ilsley.

Describe what you do in a typical day or week in your company? My time is evenly split between sales and operations. In a typical week, I’m frequently meeting with my ops team to troubleshoot scheduling matters, monitoring production KPIs, and evaluating our systems to improve them. I also meet with our sales team weekly to finalize estimates, discuss prospecting strategies, and coach them on our selling systems. Meanwhile, I am also working closely with our leadership team to mentor our up-and-coming team members to build them into leaders.

What makes you qualified to be an expert in your field? I have been a painter since I was 16 years old which would put me at 19 years in the painting industry with 10 of those years being the owner of my company.

Tell us the most satisfying thing(s) about your job? The most satisfying part of my job is the leadership and people development. It’s the why behind what I do. There is no better feeling I get than from providing our team members with the coaching and support they need to grow as individuals and professionals.

Describe a business challenge that you’ve encountered and solved? The trades industry has experienced staffing issues since the recession of 2008-2009 as there has been a mass exodus of skilled tradespeople. We often heard business owners say, “I can’t find any help” or “No one wants to work.” We knew this wasn’t true. We simply had to get creative in attracting quality people. To do this, we developed a comprehensive training program and career ladder that attracted new people to our company and helped define our culture of growth and learning. Since then, we have not had to deal with the staffing issue other trades businesses have experienced.

What is your educational and/or training background: I graduated high school then obtained an associate degree from Moberly Area Community College. One year into my pursuit of a bachelor’s degree at Mizzou, my son was born, and my college days ended as I continued to paint, and I started Ai Painting Plus. Since then, I have been a self-taught entrepreneur.

Tell us about your family: My wife and the company co-owner, Lacie Ilsley, and I have two kids — Aris, our 14-year-old son and Lilly, our 7-year-old daughter. We enjoy camping, sports, and playing music. We also love our three dogs and Maine coon cat. It does make it difficult to keep up with house cleaning, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.

If I wasn’t in this business, I’d be ... I have a not so serious dream of owning a food truck that sells hot sandwiches. The food truck will be called “Leftovers” and feature comfort foods in a grilled sandwich form. After every holiday — Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. — I’d take the leftovers and assemble some pretty dang good sandwiches on the flat top griddle.

How long have you been in the Columbia area? I am born and raised in Columbia and graduated from Hickman in 2007.

When it comes to fun, I like to ... Take family camping trips, workout, play guitar and sing, and play golf.

Is there a favorite quote or source of inspiration you’d like to share? My favorite quote is one I heard from our business coach. “Don’t let perfection get in the way of good and done.” I often can get caught up in the details of a project, wanting to finely polish every aspect of it, when in fact, I hinder myself by not hitting deadlines and overthinking things. My wife, especially, inspires me daily with her tenacity and grit. My employees are also a great source of inspiration to me. Watching them grow is the most satisfying part of my job. Seeing them overcome adversity and achieve their goals — personally and professionally — is truly inspiring.

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Columbia - Hallsville - Boonville - Ashland - Jefferson City - Moberly


Ai Painting Plus
6991 S. Sinclair Rd.
Columbia, MO 65203
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