TRURO – Practice, persistence and a little bit of self-proclaimed luck proved to be the right formula for Harmony car painter Ryan Smith.
Smith, 23, took his car painting skills to a whole new level last week when he won gold at a national trades competition in Toronto.
It was Smith’s fourth and final year competing in the Skills Canada event. His best previous finish was second in 2012.
“The big thing for me was to not give up and keep going and stay positive and don’t let other people tell you that you can’t or you shouldn’t, or anything like that,” said Smith, who works in the autobody shop at Pye Chevrolet in Truro. “My goal was that gold medal. That’s what I was after.”
Not only did Smith win his category, but he also nabbed regional gold for the highest score among all trades in Atlantic Canada at the competition.
The event required competitors to perform various aspects of car painting. Major categories in determining overall scores included safety, wet sanding, buffing and polishing; spraying, clear-coat blending, tinting and colour matching by eye.
It was in colour matching that Smith did his best work. With no formula and three spray-out cards, he was required to match paint by eye for a white car – a discipline he aced.
“When they put my chip in to scan I actually mixed the exact formula. I got 100 per cent,” he said. “It’s fluke, don’t get me wrong, that’s not gonna happen, but luck was on my side that day and I was actually able to somehow, drip by drip, put the right formula in there. And I actually only handed in two spray-out cards because I did it on the second try and when I put it down and checked it, I was like, ‘I’m not really going to get any closer than that.”’
The experience was invaluable, said Smith, because of the opportunity to network with others in the field and the chance to work with the newest products in the industry.
“Because every year they’re using new products,” he said. “They’re using different types of paint and you’re broadening your skill level, not only to one paint and one material, you’re learning all of them and it’s making you versatile as a painter.”
Smith said he owes gratitude to his employer, who not only gave him the freedom to fulfill his goal, but encouraged him along the way.
“Pye’s really did a huge, huge, job,” he said. “They supported me, they sponsored me, they gave me the time off I needed to train … they were there behind me 100 per cent of the way.”
Smith’s win would have qualified him for the world event in Brazil in 2015, however, he is one year too old for that competition.
“It’s a little disappointing, but I can’t let that take away from what I’ve done,” he said. “I did go there and I did what I wanted and finally got what I wanted. You take the good with the bad, and you can’t focus on the negatives. You can never focus on the negatives or you’ll never get anywhere.”
Smith said he plans to become involved on the coaching, and perhaps even the judging, side of the competition in the future.