Founder Rony Delgarde is on a Passionate Mission to Change the World with Color

Environmental, social, and governance, or ESG initiatives have been thrust to the forefront of people’s minds of late. On this week’s episode of The Playbook, host Mark Collier, Area Director for the UGA Small Business Development Center, sits down with Rony Delgarde, Founder and CEO of Global Paint for Charity, Inc., the very first sustainable paint waste management company.

Rony has been featured on CNBC, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, CNN International, NASDAQ, and Fox News. Additionally, Rony has been recognized in the Atlanta area and worldwide for his outstanding work in global housing rehabilitation by transforming slums and shantytowns into beautiful habitats in communities across the globe. GPC’s message of using color to change the world is resonating worldwide.

Transcription:

Mark Collier:
Welcome into The Playbook, Rony.

Rony Delgarde:
Wow. Thank you so much, Mark, for having me. I have goosebumps. Just wonderful introduction. Thank you so much.

Mark Collier:
You’re more than welcome. You have certainly earned it, my friend.

Rony Delgarde:
That’s very kind of you.

Mark Collier:
All right. So for those who don’t know as much about you as I do, shared with me a little bit about your background and how you got into this very worthwhile charity business.

Rony Delgarde:
Well, Mark for those of you who don’t know too much about me, my name is Rony Delgarde. I’m the founder and CEO of Global Paint for Charity. As you mentioned, we are the first sustainable paint waste management organizations in the U.S., but the programs start since I was my early childhood experience. Okay. I grew up, as you can tell, I have a beautiful accent. I grew up in a small town in Haiti, in the north part, and my mother left me when I was nine months old-

Mark Collier:
Oh my goodness.

Rony Delgarde:
… with my grandparents on my father’s side. They had French and Hispanic background, and they are farmers. And they grow their crops and sold the crops in the local markets. And as a child, I didn’t know what I want to do when I grow up. And as you know, Haiti, it’s always bad news. The weather, it’s always disastrous experience that we experienced in our early childhood. My parents had to leave the little town and to move to the city where I grew up with corporations in north part. And from there, I had no clue. I couldn’t read. I couldn’t write. I couldn’t even put my ideas on paper, and it was a very tough time for me. But I love colors. The textbook, I can look at the textbook and read and see the pictures and some of the pictures of the textbook. They come from France, Canada, and those pictures are items I’ve never seen in my whole life.

Rony Delgarde:
They are trains. Where I was in a small little town, we didn’t see airplanes and trains and big boats on those kind of things. Well, for that experience, even living in the city, I need to adjust. I need to get used to the lifestyle in the city, but I was very fortunate to come to the United States in my late twenties. And that’s when I landed at Miami International Airport. To see the beautiful colors of the buildings. In Miami, they love colors.

Mark Collier:
Yes, they do.

Rony Delgarde:
And that’s what inspired me at that moment. I said, oh my goodness. Colors can really make a difference. But it was until after that, I went to college, graduate, and start working at different companies from here and there. And from that, I said, well, I was not happy. I want to do something that I can give back to communities and help many people. I don’t know if you can remember when they—earthquake occurred in Haiti.

Mark Collier:
Absolutely. I remember that.

Rony Delgarde:
And that was the time-

Mark Collier:
That was a global event.

Rony Delgarde:
Yeah. And most people want to help and support Haiti. I have many friends reach out to me, say, “Rony, what you going to do to help in Haiti? What you going to do? Whatever you want to do, we will support you.” I review my skillset. At that time, they need more doctors, nurses, or people who could provide immediate or emergency support and have support to help the people. And I didn’t have construction skills. And I look at all, did the evaluation about myself and see what I can do to help.

Rony Delgarde:
And it would come down to see, well, people go into rebuild their homes. They were into to find a way to get their life back to normal. And that’s when the time I say, “Well, what if I bring paint to these people?” And to make the story short, I wake up one day. I went to Home Depot to buy paint. And in front of me, there was a lady with a few cans of paint and want to return it to Home Depot. And they didn’t want to listen to her. Right. They said, “Well, we sold the paint. It’s final. We don’t accept used paint.” And the lady was, “Please. I sold my house, and I gave away everything I had but the paint. I couldn’t get any way to dispose of it.” And they couldn’t help her. She left this store and I was the next person I said, “Well, let me follow her outside.”

Mark Collier:
So the light bulb kind of went off.

Rony Delgarde:
Oh, yeah.

Mark Collier:
You made that connection then.

Rony Delgarde:
Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. And I went outside. I said, “What you going to do with the paint?” She said … well, she didn’t want to dispose of it and trash it. She want to be responsible, but there’s no way she can find anyway. I said, “Ma’am, I was going to buy paint. I have some money. Would you mind I take your paint?” And she said, “No, sweetheart, I don’t need your money. You can have all of the paint.” And I took the paint. I went on my car. I said, well, that was a good day. I have all that paint.

Mark Collier:
And it was free.

Rony Delgarde:
It was free. So my money is in my pocket. But she come back. She’s knock on my door. And she say, “Well, what’s your name? I didn’t get your name.” I said, “Well, my name is Rony.” She said, “Well, you sound like you are going to do something with remarkable with that paint. If you need more paint, I can call the people in my neighborhood and schedule a date you can come and they will give you all their paint because I know they have paint.” I said, “Wow, that’s amazing.” And when I went home, Mark, I went to Google and found out that every homes in the United States has five to 10 gallons of leftover paints in their basement.

Mark Collier:
Yeah. I’ve got at least that in my basement as well.

Rony Delgarde:
And I said, whoa, what? And then I keep learning about, but there were not all the waste management organization. And I found out that every home have that much paint, and the 70 million gallons of paint go to waste every year.

Mark Collier:
Yes, absolutely.

Rony Delgarde:
And I say, wow. And that was the first time in my life facing problems, I have the solutions, and I know people will need it and it can make an impact in people’s life. That’s how the—

Mark Collier:
So that was the inception of Global Paint. Just from that one interaction with a lady at Home Depot.

Rony Delgarde:
Yes.

Mark Collier:
Phenomenal story, Rony, phenomenal story.

Rony Delgarde:
Thank you.

Mark Collier:
All right. So let’s talk about your charity itself, Global Paint. Talk to me a little bit about the mission and the vision of Global Paint.

Rony Delgarde:
Well, the Global Paint for Charity, we started as a 501(c) non-profit organizations. And we were the first sustainable paint waste management organization and the largest exporter and provider of latex paint to communities in need. Our mission is to recover latex back from businesses and residents, to uplift and change people’s life around the world. And it’s a big missions, but our vision is to use the latex paint to promote a sustainable, healthy, and beautiful, colorful environment for everyone regardless where they come from, whether Africa, Central America and the Caribbean. And we have been to reach our goals by working with corporations and non-profit organizations, and to host different paint drives and paint projects so that we can paint schools and families homes, whether here in the United States and other countries where we are providing our paint and other resources.

Mark Collier:
All right. So listen, I mean, you’ve got a global reach with your worthwhile charity and organization. I just want to commend for that. I’ve watched you work tirelessly to spread that message and the mission for Global Paint. So how is it that you never get tired, man?

Rony Delgarde:
I get that all the time back there. Thank you so much. But one of my mentor mentioned to me, he said, “When you find your passion, when you find your calling, you wake up every day, you never tired, and you put so many hours.” And for me, Global Paint is my passion. It is my calling. And I remember when I landed at Miami International Airport, the curiosity I had seeing colors, that many buildings and beautiful places, and that’s what I want to give to the world. I want to be able to help many people. And paint is such a beautiful things.

Mark Collier:
It is.

Rony Delgarde:
And everywhere you go, who doesn’t love paint? But the thing is, what we have been able to do to protect the environment and reduce that are amount of paint from the environment and be in a position to change people’s lives. And there are places we go, Mark, people never see paint before.

Mark Collier:
Yeah. That’s true.

Rony Delgarde:
And you see people make less than $2 a day, and a gallon of paint that costs $35 in the U.S., $60 in the U.S. People make this $2 a day cannot afford a gallon of paint. So you look at classroom where people are living in their house for many years after generations and generations. Their house never been painted because they cannot afford it. To be able to bring color and beautification on those places, it’s really inspired people, motivate people. So that keep me going, that keep me happy. I see the smile on their face reflect the happiness inside when I see that.

Mark Collier:
I get it.

Rony Delgarde:
And that’s what keep me moving forward.

Mark Collier:
All right, man. So listen, operating a non-profit obviously is … it’s not easy. And one of the core responsibilities of non-profit is fundraising.

Rony Delgarde:
Yeah.

Mark Collier:
So let’s talk about the nuts and bolts of that. I mean, how simple or how difficult is it for you to secure funding for your charity?

Rony Delgarde:
Oh, you nailed it. Because when I first started, fundraising was very difficult. Like I mentioned earlier, my grandparents, my grandpa always said, “Rony, a man should never go to another man and ask him for money. So whatever you have to do, whether you live within your means or you find a way to get extra money somewhere to take care of your needs.” And I live by that standard. But starting a nonprofit, I didn’t know. That was my biggest weakness. And to go and ask other people for money. And I was, I remember one time I went to an event with one of my board members. And at that event, our table … next to our table, there were three wonderful, wealthy people. And my board member said, “Rony, when they’re about to end the meeting, I want you to go and talk to these folks and ask them for money.”

Rony Delgarde:
All right. I said, “No, I can’t do that. I can’t ask people for money.” She said, “Well, you have to because they give money to everybody. And what you do is so valuable. You protect the environment. You have so many people. People notice your work. You can go and ask people for money.” And she insist and I went and I said, well, okay, that’s fine. I want talk to these three people. The moment I arrived at the table, the gentleman stood up. He said, “Rony, he’s the pain guy. Wow. How can I help you?” I said, what? They know me and I’m from … And I was so happy to talk to him. But at the same time, I sit there, the charismatic gesture and generosity from him. So really want to help. And I said, “Well, I was just about to ask you how you can help us.” And he said, “Well, Rony, this is my card. Reach out time and to see what we can do to help you, because we love your work.” I didn’t know it was so easy to raise money.

Mark Collier:
Well, maybe easy for you, but I can assure you as others know. But you know what? It all boils down to having a worthwhile purpose that is serving a greater good. And I think your charity checks all those boxes. So for you, I can see how it would be very easy for you to raise money.

Rony Delgarde:
Yeah. It was easy. It wasn’t easy. It was uncomfortable. But when we do the work, we show the work we do. It was a little bit easier, but we made lot of mistakes in the beginning because when we first started, we’ll go from home to home and ask people what they do with their leftover paint. And most of the time, people will give us paint that we can’t even ship to other places because-

Mark Collier:
It was unusable.

Rony Delgarde:
Unusable. And some of the cans are empty. They thought we were just a waste management company, which we are not. And we said, well, we cannot do business like that. That wasn’t good for us. And we use all our resources to cover funds to dispose our product we couldn’t use. Yeah. So we said, we’d have to find a better way. 80% of our product were coming from the residents. And when we start focusing on a different side of the business when we wasted good traction. CNN did an interview. Fox News did a story and agency. All the media reach out to us to publish what we were doing. And we had start having tractions. And during that time there was where we said, well, we are receiving call from Sherwin Williams, from Benjamin Moore, PPG. They want to reach out to see how they can get rid of so much paint.

Mark Collier:
To partner with you in that very worthwhile effort.

Rony Delgarde:
And the paints were brand new. Most of the time, 99% of the time, the buckets, the cans full, paints we cannot even need to reopen and do anything.

Mark Collier:
So you had a shift in your business model then-

Rony Delgarde:
Yes.

Mark Collier:
… from obtaining paint from individuals to corporate donations.

Rony Delgarde:
Corporate donation. We’re still recycle paint from residential, but that’s for now, it’s only 20%. And much of the paint we receive from corporations.

Mark Collier:
All right. So what’s your greatest advice for others who are seeking to start an impactful non-profit? What advice would you give them?

Rony Delgarde:
Well, an impactful non-profit. I will say for me, I was lucky because paint is such a very unique product. But I will say people figured out the problems. Find out what problems you want to solve. And there are so many problems around the world, and Coca-Cola was a problem. McDonald’s was the problems Chick-fil-A was a problem. So there are so many ways we can solve the problems and when … but we have to know ourself.

Mark Collier:
That’s right.

Rony Delgarde:
Myself, I know in the beginning I was that kid who couldn’t do anything. But that didn’t stop me from going after things that I understand. And I think the next step is when you find that problem, take action. Don’t leave. Don’t sleep on it. When I first started, I think I had so many problem against me as a foreigner.

Mark Collier:
Correct, yeah.

Rony Delgarde:
And there are so many odd against me, but some of them were advantage that I just didn’t know I could use them as my advantage. So if you don’t have money, it’s okay. If you don’t have the right knowledge, the right training, it’s okay. But you need to take actions.

Mark Collier:
I think you started with the very important concept of identify a problem, come up with a solution and then where you don’t have the skills, you go out and acquire those skills from additional team members that bring value to your organization.

Rony Delgarde:
To your organization. Yeah.

Mark Collier:
You’ve done it the right way.

Rony Delgarde:
Great job, Mark.

Mark Collier:
All right. So you’re all about color. So I got to ask you, what’s your favorite color and why?

Rony Delgarde:
Oh, wow. I didn’t know this one coming, but blue is my favorite color.

Mark Collier:
Blue. Okay.

Rony Delgarde:
Yeah. If you had asked me that questions maybe when I was in teenage years, I was very, I liked red because it was color of victory, color of flamboyant and notice, show off. But nowadays I’m a blue because it’s more reserved. It’s color of kindness and peace and color of the sky and the ocean.

Mark Collier:
I love it.

Rony Delgarde:
It’s my color. My favorite color. So what’s your favorite color? I know this is your show.

Mark Collier:
My favorite color is green. I would’ve to say green, just kind of a hunter forest green. That’s always been my favorite color. It’s just calming to me.

Rony Delgarde:
That’s wonderful.

Mark Collier:
I’ve never had a guest ask me a question before.

Rony Delgarde:
We are a color business.

Mark Collier:
There you go.

Rony Delgarde:
Thank you.

Mark Collier:
All right. So we’re going to scroll your website information down below so people who want to get in touch with you certainly can.

Rony Delgarde:
Sure, sure.

Mark Collier:
Rony Delgarde, CEO of Global Paint for Charity, Inc. I just want to thank you for taking time out of your busy day to come in and just give me some details around the great work that you’re doing, man. It is well needed around the world, and you’re making a difference, and I just want to commend you.

Rony Delgarde:
Well, thank you so much for having me, and thank you for the opportunity.

Mark Collier:
All right.


The Atlanta Small Business Network, from start-up to success, we are your go-to resource for small business news, expert advice, information, and event coverage.

While you’re here, don’t forget to subscribe to our email newsletter for all the latest business news know-how from Atlanta Small Business Network.