A brush With Destiny


If your family has been in commercial painting for four generations, it’s taken for granted that you’ll pick up a brush too, right?

And yet Sean Hersee, son of well-known Newcastle master painter John, was adamant when he finished school that he wouldn’t join the family fold [two of his brothers also have painting businesses]. “Dad was trying to get me into his industry as the fifth generation and it was the last thing I wanted to do, I enjoyed school and thought I could do better,” says the 31-year-old.

In the end, Hersee took his father’s advice and did a four-year apprenticeship to “fall back on”, and during his studies reached a turning point when he won a skills competition at TAFE.

“I could see the potential down the track of owning my own business, it wasn’t just about painting anymore,” he says.

Mr Hersee worked for the commercial painting firm of his Dublin-born father – whose Irish father, grandfather and great-grandfather all painted – for a decade before forming his business, Sage Painting, in 2012.

Its core work is in residential, and Mr Hersee says his staff take great pride on the presentation of their work.

He gives short shrift to those who think painting a slap-happy profession: “People spend hundreds of thousands on a renovation and then do the painting themselves, but it’s the showpiece of the whole project.”

Mr Hersee says Sage may not offer the cheapest quote on a job but wins the job “on value”, including a strong reputation, premium products, a free colour consultation and a five to seven year work guarantee.

On the tools less as he mentors his team, including two apprentices, his passion for the task comes from seeing a home transform before his eyes.

He says he’s very driven – “In my work and private life, I’m just trying to better myself” – which explains why he’s competing in the German ironman triathalon Challenge Roth this month.

“I thought ironman was unachievable so to be able to do it makes you believe in yourself and you realise anything is possible,” he says.