Community Portrait: In fat times and lean, Jason Keim is in Auburn for keeps

Community Portrait
By: Story and photo Michael Kirby
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Auburn’s Jason Keim is pretty much a regular guy. Keim is 37 years old and has been living in Auburn since 1989. By trade he’s a painter. He’s also family man, married to Tiffany, an Auburn Journal employee, and they are raising two boys, ages 11 and 5. He has hobbies. He likes to play Texas Hold ’em poker and participates in fantasy league sports. He also likes to give back to the community that he lives and works in because he believes it’s important. Keim coached Junior Hillmen football and currently is a coach with the Placer High School junior varsity football team. He’s a Freemason, a member of the Masonic Eureka Lodge 16 in Auburn’s Central Square. He’s also been known to volunteer his painting services to numerous projects around town. Keim had his share of trials growing up but you won’t find him complaining about anything. He is very upbeat and positive, a pleasure to be around. With his family growing up, he estimates that he moved over 50 times before finally settling down in Auburn in 1987. At 15 and one-half years old, Keim left school, took the General Educational Development (GED) test and graduated from high school. He went to work in the family painting business after his father had a heart attack at 52. He’s been commercially painting ever since. He owns JPS Painting, a small business in Auburn. He does residential, commercial, industrial and is licensed, bonded and insured and in his words, “I’ll paint anything that needs painting.” JPS Painting consists of Keim and one employee, and in this economy Keim is struggling like so many self-employed small business owners. Keim has the can-do attitude that most small business people have and will not give up even when faced with the ups and downs of running a business and in the face of the worst economic conditions of our lifetimes. Keim is typical of many small business owners who find themselves having to re-invent their businesses to survive in our down-turned economy, depending on himself to make a living and support his family. Most self-employed individuals, especially very small business owners, enjoy the freedom of self-employment, and don’t have any regrets when their work calls for extra-long hours to finish a project that was promised. For Keim, finding jobs can be hard because many people who have been downsized or lost their job due to the poor economy have become painters. “Everybody becomes a painter when times are tough, is the old saying,” Keim said. Bidding against non-licensed and non-insured companies is challenging in today’s business climate. “I believe that good people and good companies that do what you say they will do, building a strong reputation, will survive through hard times and come out stronger for it,” he said. “I think it’s important to never drop the quality of your work no matter what business you’re in.” Further slowing business, many people have put off improvements but when the economy picks up Keim hopes to be really busy. Keim likes living in Auburn and being self-employed even considering the challenges. “I like my freedom and the interaction I have with my customers. Many have become very close friends,” he said. “I’ll be in Auburn for the rest of my life.”