We had the good fortune of connecting with Rony Delgarde and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rony, what do you think makes you most happy? Why?
If I were to really tell you my story, it would include a very long list of things that make me happy, I had gained a love for simple things like books, fashion, sports, arts, good company, and colors, etc. An unknown Author once said “When you discover your passion, you will find your purpose. You will pursue it and always be happy no matter the obstacles.” I was never one of those kids that automatically knew what they wanted to do when they grow up. In my primary school years, I couldn’t write, and I was fear of public speaking. There were few times I was totally alone and didn’t want to be around anyone. (Toastmasters and Dale Carnegie have changed my life, still working on my confidence as a public speaker, I am a lot better at it now). Even if you know what you want to become when you grow up, our west indies parents agreed to chose three careers for you: doctor, engineer, or lawyer. And they are very strict with that. Being an entrepreneur is a bad thing for our parents. For them, an entrepreneur is someone who constantly rips people off. They think all entrepreneurs are dishonest individuals, persuaders, racketeers, cheaters, and exploiters. I always knew I wanted to do something that I am able to give back to others, and at the same time, I would enjoy doing it every day. I also had an interest in starting my own business. I thought that being an entrepreneur would fit all my interests, hobbies, and dislikes.
As I read more books, attended numerous seminars, and researched entrepreneurship, I became very interested in starting my company. I am so happy to find something that I could impact and change lives worldwide and to be able to do it in this space and at this level where it has never been done before is a phenomenal blessing. Today, I am happy to work in the paint industry. The global paints and coatings market is expected to grow at a multifactorial rate of 4.3%- 10% in the next 20 to 30 years. There are so many options and possibilities that I am excited to explore in the future, and it is not just us that is learning, exploring, growing, and expanding.
Lastly, the entire Global Paint for Charity’s activities excites me. Times have certainly changed since I first began the journey in 2010, and I am so happy to see so many people being helped in developing countries and major cities right here in the United States. I am passionate about the people we help every day, and I just love colors. Using colors to bring happiness, pride, confidence, hope, freedom, and peace in places where people have never seen colors before is my greatest happiness and fulfillment. To see the look on the people’s faces once their houses, schools, and institutional facilities are painted with our bright colors, I become inspired, and we are bringing others around with us to be able to do the same things that we are doing around the globe. It is a long journey. It is a community journey, which is why I find myself not afraid of putting in many long hours and traveling around the world because I want to help more people. It is amazing how happy you can become when you find your passion.
But the most honored moment in my life to date is being on the BIG screen of Nasdaq Tower in Times Square in New York after completing the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center’s Milestone Makers program in the middle of the global pandemic last year. As someone who grew up without knowing what I wanted to do. And I have experienced many obstacles more than anyone could imagine to become the first entrepreneur in my family. And not only that, I become the first entrepreneur in my native country to be featured on the Nasdaq Big Screen, which also has featured the world richest individuals and greatest chief executives from Steve Jobs, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Sheryl Sandberg.. it is a moment I will celebrate for a long time. I am blessed. I went from a poor child to an inspirational entrepreneur. It feels like all of the hard work, all of the sacrifice, self-doubts, and rejections paid off.
What should our readers know about your business?
First, I think Global Paint for Charity “GPC” becomes a great brand, so much so that some may think it seems like such an insignificant thing – how can paint change the world? The answer is two-fold: (1) Global Paint for Charity helps ecosystems by diverting unused paint from landfills; and (2) the organization brings joy and beauty to communities that have been ravaged by disaster, extreme poverty, or otherwise lack of resources. Our ability to solve these two big problems simultaneously helped us to grow. In the United States, up to 69 million gallons of house paint are disposed of in a given year, less than seven percent of them are recycled, and it only takes one gallon of this paint to pollute up to 250,000 gallons of drinking water. This problem is compounded by the dearth of convenient and sustainable paint disposal options. Without such options, it is far more likely that paint will find its way into landfills or water sources, where negative environmental impacts resound for generations.
I am even happier that GPC provides a safe, sustainable way for businesses and consumers to dispose of unwanted paint that may otherwise contribute to the ongoing global environmental crisis. We also created stronger and more sustainable communities than I could ever imagine. Even in the global pandemic, we experienced an influx of paint requests as local stores and retailers closed their doors and needed an inexpensive solution to get rid of their current supply. GPC was able to support these businesses by providing this service in an environmentally friendly way.
The company hopes to offer additional services and negotiate strategic partnership opportunities with large paint manufacturers, universities, corporations, and government agencies to recycle excess paint waste and redistribute it to underserved communities worldwide. Due to GPC, today over 320,000 tons of discarded paints have been removed from the waste stream, recycled, reprocessed, and then donated to 40 U.S. cities and 44 countries in West Africa, the Caribbean, Central and South America, and targeted areas in the Middle East. The goal of GPC is to use color to help beautify urban slums, boost people’s confidence, bring hope and happiness, and assist the vulnerable individuals in reaching their full potential. A picture is worth a thousand words, and as demonstrated here, GPC continues to visibly improve the lives of so many through bringing a brighter, cleaner solution to the human condition…one gallon of paint at a time.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
It’s funny you asked this after the last question. I have visited 49 countries since I started Global Paint. In Atlanta depends on the part of town, a lot could have changed over the past year due to COVID19. But Atlanta Tech Village and the Gathering Spot are great places for entrepreneurs. Many of the most important relationships I made, have come from those spots. There is a strong culture of building each other up that I think is pretty unique. And it is always a high-energy environment, and everyone is always willing to introduce you to a celebrity or simply help you to achieve more and do more.
I love to dance, and I like French food and beverages. You may run onto me or catch me hanging out with few key friends at the Bilboquet, American Cut, Gypsy Kitchen, or Eclipse di Luna in Buckhead. For a good cigar spot, I like to go to Fellaship when it is not very crowded. But Corona Cigar Downtown Orlando is my best cigar spot. Gotta add it to your bucket list.
If you love street arts and beautiful murals like “moi”, I hope you visit the Atlanta Betline, and you will fall in love with the colorful neighborhoods and beautiful environment. Global Paint has supported many local artists and muralists hosting painting projects at Betline. Together, we bring joy to these people in underserved neighborhoods through murals and housing rehabilitation projects. You will see the transformation of a community’s spirit through the use of brightly colored paint and recent public art murals that portray both diversity and inclusion. Donating your unneeded paints today will make an impact in healing our communities.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I am grateful for many blessings, but nothing comes easily for me. I have had many opportunities in my life, but I always work hard and very hard for everything. I am very blessed to be able to beat the odds most of the time. However, I have experienced more (inside and outside) than anyone could imagine. First of all, both of my parents have been my mentors. My mother’s entrepreneurial strength and confidence had inspired me to believe in myself that I could and can do anything. She passed away nine years ago. My father is one of my biggest mentors, and he has taught me to work ethic and perseverance. We speak over the phone every Sunday, and our conversations can go many hours long. Together they challenge me to reach my highest potential while holding myself accountable for my decisions, results, and mistakes along the way.
Secondly, I have been blessed to have several wonderful mentors. Still, one of my most significant mentors throughout my calling was one of the most remarkable individuals I have ever had the chance to encounter, Trish Joyner, former Director of Gwinnett Neighborhood Leadership Institute. I don’t know where she is right now, but when I first moved to Atlanta over a decade ago, I didn’t know anyone in the area and had minimal resources; Mrs. Joyner took me under her wing. She was like a mother to me. She has helped to purchase my first car, coached me, counseled, and introduced me to many leaders in our community. I was able to co-found the Volunteer Interpreter Program of Gwinnett in 2002. The program recruits bilingual volunteers to ride with the police and sheriff officers, providing on-the-scene interpretation and translation to crime victims and witnesses who don’t speak English and whose information is needed for investigations.
The program was a huge success and was later replicated in other counties with an influx of immigrants. Trish helped me get a voice in the community issues and become the contact point for several immigrant communities in Gwinnett County. She helped published my first article in the Atlanta Journal Constitutional in 2002. Trish has not only taught me the fundamental leadership skills needed to run a successful program; she has taught me, through example, how servant leadership should look, the value of empathy, genuine care and encouragement for others, and how to build relationships based on doing the right thing. These skills have helped me be successful not only in my company but in my personal life.
Also, “The Painted House” a John Grisham novel and movie about a boy who lived with his parents and grandparents in a house that had never been painted. This book was recommended to me in my early days after graduating from college by one of my mentors and colleagues, Mr. Harold Watkins, a retired VP of sales at Avon Products. Watkins told me the boy, a big baseball fan, lusted over a red Cardinal jacket at the beginning of the story. By the end, however, he had matured beyond his years, and instead of buying the jacket with the money he’d earned harvesting cotton, he used his money to buy paint for the house. I thought that was exactly what I was trying to do, helping people feel better about their lives. Mr. Watkins loved the idea so much he decided to invest time and money in my vision. He even wrote a few checks to help me get started. One of the enormous lessons I took from this book is how important it is to help others with paint and how colors are essential in the community. Life is art. I am happy to live mine in color.