Jon Kosmoski established the House of Kolor® 57 years ago, long before he was a world-renowned custom painter. As a 19-year-old student studying automotive repair, Kosmoski rebuilt a ‘40 Chevy Coupe and took it to the best shop in town to have his baby painted. “When I got that car back, I wasn’t happy at all,” Kosmoski explained. “The paint job wasn’t what I had expected. If this is the best car painter in town and this is what they’re giving me, I was disappointed. I thought I can do better than this. So, I took night classes on paint and collision repair and jumped into it pretty quickly.”
Within a short time, Kosmoski was known throughout Minneapolis for his skills as a custom painter. He loved being creative and producing outstanding cars and motorcycles, but he wasn’t enamored with the challenging lacquers and enamels of the late 1950’s, because he discovered that they would easily sun-fade or cold-crack. He experimented and absorbed valuable information like a paint sponge, because Jon Kosmoski isn’t afraid to learn as much as he can about any subject that will help him to do a better job.
Kosmoski wanted something superior to apply to the numerous cars and motorcycles that were now flying through the doors at the House of Kolor® in the early 1960s. “I started working with a polymer chemist to produce custom paints that wouldn’t tarnish or crack and perform well despite all of the other problems I was encountering with existing products. There was nothing out there even close to what I wanted, so I had to invent it. I started using organic pigments way back in 1963, while most paint manufacturers were using only inorganic pigments.” With his new paint and by constantly honing his painting skills and tapping into his zeal for creativity and innovation, House of Kolor® became a household name by the mid 1970s.
In 1996, the House of Kolor® was purchased by the Valspar Automotive Coatings Division. Today, Kosmoski is still involved with House of Kolor® in a 12,000 square-foot shop with “Tebo” his electrician, fabricator and mechanic. Jon produces 4–6 cars or motorcycles for car shows and magazine covers every year, while traveling worldwide to teach his painting techniques. He’s known for many things, but has become one of the leading experts on candy paint. One of his true loves is helping painters to learn what he’s discovered over 55 years in this industry, he explained.
“Our unique product line gives custom painters the flexibility to use their creativity and skills to design, invent, and create “one-of-a-kind” custom paint jobs that last, Kosmoski said. “That’s why I love this business, because creating a one-of-a-kind paint job requires a combination of technical skill and artistic ability. I enjoy passing all of my knowledge and experience in my training classes, so that’s very satisfying.”
With a plethora of award-winning vehicles created over the years, Kosmoski cites a handful as his most notable—all of which starred on the show floors of SEMA shows over a 12-year period. “I would say that my 1967 Mustang with a matching motorcycle; 1934 Ford 5-window coupe with a 383 in it; 1948 International Pickup, which was unveiled at the SEMA Show in 2008, and our 1932 Ford Roadster—those are the ones people seem to like the most.”
After experimenting with a wide range of different spray guns for many years, Tony Larimer, the director of sales & marketing at Dan-Am Company, exclusive independent distributor of SATA in USA, gave a few of his company’s guns for Kosmoski to use in 1999. When he got his hands on SATAjet 2000 B RP (no longer in production) he quickly became a serious SATA supporter.
“Tony said try this gun and let us know what you think,” Kosmoski said. “That 2000 RP really turned my head and I rarely say that about any product! I loved the way it handled almost immediately. Right then and there I decided to start using SATA guns exclusively. I used that 2000 for a while, and then when SATA came out with the 3000, I changed over. The 3000 was over-the-top and SATA really stepped up with that gun. Now I use the 4000 B RP, their newest gun and it is exceptional.”
To kick off their association in 2000, SATA and Kosmoski worked together to produce a signature special etched jet blacks two-gun set. Only 500 were produced and they were sold quickly, but you can still find a few used ones on sale now and again over the Internet.
Larimer values SATA’s relationship with Kosmoski and the House of Kolor® for many reasons. “We’re glad to be associated with Jon because he uses our guns exclusively and teaches other painters about how to spray using SATA guns,” Larimer said. “He’s more than an impressive partner, because he’s also my friend of 15 years. We talk almost weekly and his passion for what he’s doing is contagious. When people meet Jon for the first time, they always come away saying wow—what a fascinating and driven guy and still going nonstop at age 75! He has the energy of six people. It’s unbelievable.”
Having a visionary like Kosmoski on the SATA team is important, because Jon offers feedback all the time about the company’s products and their capabilities, Larimer said.
“One of the things I love about Jon is that he’s an unlimited source of information. Some artist/painters keep a lot of their tips and techniques secret, but Jon loves to share his knowledge to anyone that wants it. At SATA, we always listen to our painters, so that we can use their input for our next generation of products.”
Why does Kosmoski covet his SATAjet 4000?
“I’ve been working with this gun for almost three years now and it’s a beautiful gun. It gives me a very uniform pattern and I’ve learned that I don’t need to apply so much pressure with the 4000—only about 26–27 PSI. I am a heavy-handed painter by nature, when it’s required and the 4000 works great when I need to go that way.
“Also, this gun saves money by improving my efficiency and using less paint, while getting a glossier and cleaner look.
“I’ve been teaching painters for 35 years now, and I train everyone on a SATA.”