Established 30 years ago from a desire to own a small business, Tri-City Paint & Design has transformed into a full-service paint and design store that serves the colorful design needs of consumers in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, and the surrounding areas. The store was the dream of Thoma Doehring and her husband, Dave, who wanted to work together in a local independent business, and it has grown into a family business.
“Our kids kind of grew up under my desk,” Thoma says. “As soon as they were old enough, they worked in the store for us. One of my daughters still helps with
When the store opened, Thoma intended to spend her time working on the administrative side of the business, but soon discovered she had a knack and passion for design.
“When we decided to start this family business in 1992, I thought I would be doing the bookkeeping and such, considering that the bulk of our customers would be contractors, painters and husbands,” Thoma says. “As it turns out, the DIY decisions were predominantly made by the women. Before I knew it, I was out there on the showroom floor helping customers and loving it. And 30 years later, it is still my passion.”
Over the years, Thoma has taken design classes and engaged in other educational opportunities to hone her skills.
“I am a design professional with 30 years of hands-on experience,” she says. “I learned that it all comes down to having a good ear for listening and a creative eye for the possibilities.”
Beyond Paint and Sundries
Thoma & Co., an extension of the paint store, offers additional services including color consultations for interior and exterior spaces in residential and commercial settings, helping customers choose cabinets, countertops, flooring, lighting and other finishes.
“Design is fundamental to an enjoyable and full life,” Thoma says. “It can support well being in the home, in an office and wherever you spend your time.”
The store’s customers, which are 75% DIYers, appreciate Thoma’s natural eye for design and willingness to go the extra mile to help them turn their houses into homes.
She has chosen to carry high-end paint and stain brands that offer high-quality products and fit her customers’ needs. Tri-City Paint and Design is also known for its variety of design and in-home services and offers a comprehensive, one-stop shop for most design needs, including wallcoverings, window coverings, countertops and more.
Her husband, Dave, is a contractor by trade. He works in the store in the mornings and then uses the afternoons to do kitchen and bathroom renovations and provide handyman services to customers.
“We have customers who have small projects, like changing out a light fixture, or assorted home repairs they can’t complete themselves or don’t have the time to do,” Thomas says. “We’ve taken up that niche to help them check off their honey-do lists.”
Around 14 years ago, Thoma added custom furniture and reupholstery services to diversify the store’s offerings even more.
“We were one of the first to offer in-home color consultations 30 years ago, which was a natural fit for the paint store,” she says. “From there it was an organic progression to get into other home decor items like custom furniture and reupholstery.”
Thoma is a major advocate for supporting local businesses and suppliers whenever possible.
The majority of the custom furniture pieces the store sells are manufactured locally, and if she can’t find that perfect piece for her clients, she strives to find items within Canada.
“It is important to support other local businesses and have that mutually beneficial relationship,” Thoma says. “We also want to be conscious of our environmental footprint and impact.”
Along with a wide selection of products and helpful services, Tri-City Paint & Design is known for its exceptional customer service and friendly and knowledgeable employees, who are more like family than staff, Thoma says.
The store’s design and layout mirror the full-service design offerings and allow customers to see different designs and finishes in a real-life setting. The floors are finished in a metallic epoxy finish to showcase that product, and the store has numerous countertop and fabric samples on-site for customers to see and feel.
“The store layout is indicative of us being more than just a paint store,” Thoma says. “There is a lot of natural light and various lighting sources so that customers can see how colors, fabrics and textures can transform in different spaces.”
Beyond the Store
Outside the walls of Tri-City Paint & Design, Thoma uses her design talents and knowledge as a member of the Color Marketing Group, an international association for color design professionals that identifies the direction of color and design trends.
The organization looks globally for upcoming color trends, taking into account the current events influencing our everyday lives. Thoma says the organization looks at color trends two years in advance and predicts what textures, styles, colors, fabrics and more will be coming in the future.
“I am lucky to have found my color tribe,” she says. “The trends are based on what’s happening in the world, which end up influencing our buying decisions and ultimately, the trends in color in the next few years.”
Thoma also takes part in local education and speaking engagements, sharing her 30 years of knowledge and experience in interior design with various groups and organizations. Thoma supports several local nonprofit organizations, and before the pandemic, she would host events at the store for customers to enjoy.
Looking back over the last 30 years, Thoma has enjoyed serving her customers and assisting them in their design needs. She hopes to attract new customers looking for a full-service design service and explore gaining more commercial and professional customers.
“I want to continue digging deeper into design because it’s such a big part of what we do here,” she says. “I want to show my customers how to turn their design dreams into reality, creating a comfortable, realistic and liveable space.”