Fired from his Sherwin Williams clerk job after paint-mixing videos went viral, Tony Piloseno will start new job with Florida Paint in Orlando. The Columbus Dispatch


COLUMBUS – Tony Piloseno began making videos of himself mixing paint a year ago at the Sherwin-Williams store in Athens, Ohio, where he worked. He posted the results on TikTok.

It wasn't a new idea. Piloseno said he had seen workers at other paint stores do it before he tried it.

But Piloseno has done it well. His sixth post received 1 million views.

In just a year, he has accumulated 1.5 million followers and has done nearly 500 videos.

"That's why I like to do it," said the 22-year-old Ohio University senior marketing major from Medina in northeast Ohio. "People seemed to enjoy it. I enjoy it. It was fun."

The videos were working so well that Piloseno pitched his store manager and sales representative in April about doing something more official for the Cleveland-based paint company.

The idea was to promote the company's products with younger consumers who spend time on TikTok. They referred him to Sherwin-Williams' marketing department, which sat on his idea for several months before telling him that, because of the coronavirus, the company would not doing additional promotions at this time.

Piloseno, meanwhile, kept making videos, using dyes, pigments, coffee, beer, onions, berries and other fruits, and other items to mix with paint to produce all kinds of colors. He would use paint that he bought from the Sherwin-Williams store where he worked, along with the machines at the store to mix the paint.

"Everyone is going to have paintat some point in their lives," he said. "That's what I was trying to convey."

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Piloseno, who goes by @tonesterpaints on TikTok, said making the videos never distracted from his work of helping customers.

"It was always customers first. I would never interrupt work procedures for my videos," he said.

Sherwin-Williams, however, didn't see it that way.

The company's loss prevention office called Piloseno in July to follow up on a call from a customer complaining about a video Piloseno made mixing blueberries with paint. Piloseno said it was unclear what the complaint was about.

Initially, Sherwin-Williams thought he was stealing paint to make his videos, a notion that he was able to dispel by showing receipts for what he bought, he said.

He was, though, making some of his videos on company time when things were slow, and using store equipment.

"That really didn't fly with them," he said.

In July, Sherwin-Williams fired him.


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In November, Piloseno went to his TikTok audience to tell them what happened at the store. The video received 30 million views, including several from paint companies that reached out and offered him jobs, and reporters wanting to do stories about him.

"The whole thing was strange," he said of his dismissal from Sherwin-Williams. "I was a model employee. My manager at my store in Athens didn't want to get rid of me."

He said he would have been fine if Sherwin-Williams had just told him to stop making videos in the store.

"What I was most disappointed in was not to be able to tell my side of the story before I got terminated," he said.

PIloseno, who worked at Sherwin-Williams stores in Medina and Akron before relocating to the store in Athens in the summer of 2019, isn't mad at Sherwin-Williams. Instead, he gives the company credit for helping him find his passion for paint.

"There's no bad feelings between Sherwin-Williams and me," he said.

Sherwin-Williams wished Piloseno well.

“We’ve reached out and had constructive dialog with Tony, and we wish him the very best in the next phase of his career," the company said in a statement.

Piloseno, who now makes videos in a friend's basement, wasn't unemployed for long.

He plans to move to Florida this month to start work with Florida Paints, one of the companies that contacted him. He will work with Ohio University to finish his degree as he starts his new job.

He said he will be working as sales associateat one of Florida Paints' stores in Orlando and doing digital marketing for the company.

Co-founder Don Strube said he was introduced to Piloseno's videos by Strube's daughters.

"I was just honest with him," he said. "Dude, what you do is really cool," he said he told Piloseno. "I like it. It's art. Obviously, he has a passion for it."


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Strube said the company, whose slogan is "Paint a Brighter Day," is first and foremost a paint company. Marketing isn't exactly the company's strength, he said.

Strube said he will encourage Piloseno to use his free time to continue to make videos.

"We'll let Tony run with it and we'll see what happens."


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