"People hate to watch paint dry, but all I see is dollar signs."
So says Jason Phillips, the Dallas-area based owner of Phillips Painting, during his appearance on CNBC's Blue Collar Millionaires at 9 p.m. Jan. 18. The other millionaires in his episode include a couple in construction and an auto mechanic who specializes in revving up cars.
(Phillips is the second millionaire in a row from North Texas that the show has featured. North Texas junkyard king Ron Sturgeon was on last week.)
After graduating Plano Senior High School, Phillips set out to be an actuary. But he didn't want to be tied down. He started painting houses. When the company "ran into the ground," he struck out on his own with nothing but fliers and shoe leather. That decision changed everything.
Well, there was also that choice to go from using credit to paying for everything in cash. At one point, he was paying past bills while also paying for current materials. But it ended up saving him money, allowing him to make more and get better deals.
"Honestly, I believe it was something that the good Lord led me to do. I get my core values from the Bible," he says. "I think that debt's a bad thing. That was a pivotal point for us. We had to suck it up doing that."
People tend to have a picture in their heads of how millionaires are made. Phillips' story can make one take a closer look; he still goes out on jobs.
"I don't do it every week," he says. "Nothing replaces getting out there and seeing what the problems are that people are dealing with, and the solutions, talking with the customers. I find that it's something very valuable because it gives me a reality check."
And it gives him ideas, which is how his business added gutters and roofing as services.
On the show, he says that in 2007, the business grossed $200,000 with about $65,000 profit.
"We just finished out with $13 million this year," he says. On the show, he says he wants to hit $20 million in the next five to seven years.
While money has been the end result for his step out on faith, it's not foremost in Phillips' mind.
"One of the most valuable things are people," he says. "And I believe people and relationships are more valuable than money. What we do is enrich people's lives, whether that's our customers or our employees. That's kind of a cheesy answer."
Cheesy or not, the job description that's more like a philosophy has served him well.
Phillips lives in a completely automated mansion in Lucas with his wife and their five children, from ages 11 to 21.
He calls his wife "Queen," and she calls him "King," and viewers get to go inside the house that's outfitted with high-backed throne-like chairs, suits of armor and a round "scripture" table commissioned from Emmanuel Design Group in Dallas.
And that's where he plans to watch tonight's episode with "some friends from work and some family." He doesn't have expectations of what the appearance on the show might bring. But he's thought about it.
"The way I look at it is that the dedication of our team -- our dedication to workmanship beyond their expectations, to value people, to value a project and the home and all that, has led to success. And so I don't want to make any apologies about that," he says. "I don't have any apologies to make. I just have credit to give and I give my credit to the Lord. My good friend Joe, he says 'I believe in two things: prayer and getting things done'." And I totally agree with that.
"And so I'd like to think that it will get us some good recognition. ... But it's really not about me. I feel that I've been entrusted with something from the Master and I need to make the most out of it. And that's literally what my mission is. ... I feel like I've been given a lot of opportunity and I need to be a good steward and I need to use this to touch as many lives as I can. ... serving [the customer] with excellence in an industry that has typically not had a lot of excellence around here."