WINTER PARK, FL: After being fired by Sherwin-Williams, TikTok star Tony Piloseno has been hired by Florida Paints and given a studio where he can continue making his popular paint-mixing videos.
Florida Paints founder Don Strube told PRWeek that he feels bad for Sherwin-Williams, which has been getting blowback on social media for firing Piloseno from his sales associate job because he made videos during work hours with company equipment, according to BuzzFeed. Piloseno mixes paints on his TikTok channel, @tonesterpaints, which has more than 1.4 million followers.
“Sherwin-Williams is a great company,” said Strube. “I kind of feel bad for them because when you’re really big you have to have boundaries and policies because otherwise there will be chaos. This is one of those things that slipped through the cracks on them.”
Strube added that this kind of thing likely happens all the time at big corporations, but this was a situation where the person Sherwin-Williams fired “has 1.4 million people who really like him.” Strube said there will be no such red tape at Florida Paints, a small business that launched in 2012 and has 25 locations and 200 staffers.
“I know every employee,” Strube said. “If they have a talent, gift, issue or problem, they can give me a call.”
Strube said he has been a fan of Piloseno’s TikTok videos for more than a year and thinks they are “super creative.” He found out about his firing from a BuzzFeed story sent to him by a plant manager.
“I thought, ‘I need to call this guy,’” said Strube. “I sent him a message on LinkedIn and we had a call.”
He had an honest conversation with Piloseno about his company.
“I said, ‘All I know is we are growing and our people are passionate about paint and you are too, so let’s keep talking,’” said Strube.
The conversation won Piloseno over. He is officially joining the company next week in a field sales or operations position. He is moving from Ohio to Florida for the job.
Strube noted that Florida Paints “doesn’t have much of a marketing department” -- it’s made up of two staffers -- but he added that Piloseno “will be involved in some form of marketing one way or another at some point.”
“He creates colors and we manufacture paint,” said Strube. “So he will put his color in our paint. There will be some branding opportunities there.”
Additionally, Florida Paints is giving Piloseno an old lab located in the same building as the store he will work in.
“We are setting up a studio where he can continue to do his art,” said Strube. “It’ll be the Tonester Studio.”
Even though Piloseno’s firing garnered a lot of attention from media outlets and social media users, Florida Paints is not proactively promoting the fact that they hired him. Strubo has received calls from a few publications, but the phone “isn’t ringing off the hook,” he said.
Even if he didn’t have a large social media following, Strubo said they would have brought Piloseno on.
“Marketing and comms is changing so rapidly; you kind of get how a brand can grow virally,” said Strubo. “[Piloseno] is tapped into this and he is dedicated to his art and religiously dedicated to his followers and that is why he has become so popular. He creates colors based on requests by his followers. People connect with him.”
Strubo noted that Florida Paints is a B2B company that doesn’t have a budget for traditional forms of advertising and most of its growth is through relationships and word of mouth.
“We haven’t had time to talk about what the strategy is,” said Strubo. “The best way to get a message out is to tell the truth and the truth is he just so happened that he decided to come here and we like his art. Plus, he’s been working in the industry for three years so he already has a lot of knowledge.”
Piloseno, meanwhile, is excited about his new job. He has posted two videos to TikTok about why he decided to join Florida Paints.
Piloseno and a Sherwin-Williams spokesperson were not immediately available for comment.