Primary Colours – Steeles Paint Décor Store in Woodbridge

The construction of tens of thousands of homes and condominiums in the Greater Toronto Area in the last two decades has resulted in one very certain commonality: thousands of acres of off-white walls, which the current generation of do-it-yourselfers have embraced with a passion.

As a result, these are boom times in the paint business, as the DIY trend has people channelling their inner Picasso to personalize their home, or give it a fresh new look before placing it on the market.

Perhaps the best evidence of this boom is Steeles Paint Décor Store in Woodbridge, a 20,000-sq.-ft. behemoth with a personal touch. Not only is it Canada’s biggest independent paint store and retailer of Benjamin Moore and Para Paints, but it also carries the country’s largest selection of environmentally friendly paint products.

Unlike some big-box stores, Steeles Paint is staffed by 25 knowledgeable employees who are paint specialists. This is the most fully equipped paint centre in the country, with paint and décor experts to assist industry professionals and also guide homeowners through the often- confusing world of paints, textures, mixing and matching.

Leading Steeles Paints is the “Pied Piper of Paints” himself, owner Claudio Grisolia, a 30-year veteran with a passion for paint and the wonderful world of colour.

“Inspiration is not what it is; it is what I was born with,” says the affable Grisolia. “My older brother got involved in the paint store business and soon I was working there. My whole life was hanging around paint stores until I decided to open one of my own.”

Grisolia is described by staff and customers as gregarious, a perfectionist, and obsessed with his store, the quality of customer service and his product knowledge, which he is only too happy to pass along to his staff and each of his customers.

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“My customer is my friend. I tell my staff that if the customer is your friend, you can’t go wrong,” says Grisolia. “Treat them like family or a friend and that’s the key. Take care of them and they’ll come back.”

Thousands kept coming back and Steeles Paint’s growth was rapid. One of Grisolia’s dreams was to build the biggest paint store in Canada, which happened just three years after Steeles Paint moved to its current location at 4190 Steeles Ave. W.

Beyond his passion for the product, Grisolia has a philanthropic side almost as big as his store. For years he has given generously of his time through community-based fundraising events in the fight against breast cancer, raising tens of thousands of dollars in pink-based initiatives. There is a feel-good environment at Steeles Paints, especially when employees are donning “Real Painters Wear Pink” T-shirts and helping to raise funds for cancer research.

Steeles Paints is one of those community-based retail success stories that began small, grew bigger, became more sophisticated, and yet still retains its focus on individual customer service, adding colour to everyone’s life.

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