LOS GATOS − Like many high school graduates in search of direction, a young Cleve Dayton had hoped to discover his professional livelihood in the academic realm. However, it wasn’t until he looked beyond the classroom that he found his true calling. “I was attending junior college, basically just trying to find my way, when I became acquainted with the owner of a local painting company,” he recalls. “After a while, he invited me to come and work for him. As a detail-oriented person, I found a lot of satisfaction in painting, both in performing the work and seeing the end results. After about four years, I realized I was a painter, so I got my license and started my own business.”
Today, more than 35 years after founding The Painting Pros, Cleve says that while he no longer performs the physical work, he finds equivalent satisfaction from handling the operational side of things. “I enjoy running and developing the business, from the sales and marketing aspects to interacting with customers and making sure they’re satisfied.”
A lifelong resident of Los Gatos, where he lives with his wife, Karen, Cleve enjoys being part of the community in which he grew up. “Los Gatos is my home—I’ve never found another place I’d rather live,” he says. “I’m very involved in the community, and I even serve on the Board of Directors for the Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce.”
Outside of work, Cleve’s primary hobby is playing and performing music, an interest he’s pursued since his youth. “My wife and I play in a local rock band called Rusty—I’m the guitarist and she’s the singer,” he says. “Oddly enough, almost every member of the band is a past customer of mine. While on the job, I’d see a drum set or keyboard and we’d start talking. Next thing you know, we’re jamming together!” In addition to playing music, Cleve enjoys videography; photography; and spending time with his son, Daniel, and his three grandchildren.
In his life and career, Cleve has found that true success requires exceptional effort. “I once read that successful people think about what will get results, while unsuccessful people think about what will be easiest,” he explains. “That’s why my guys and I always go the extra mile to please our customers. I think that’s why we get such good reviews—our goal is simply to do the best possible job and make people happy.”
When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Cleve says he’d take a trip that would incorporate several of his interests. “I’d book a photography safari and take my guitar with me. Traveling, photography and music—put all three of those together and I’d be fine.”