PCA History

About PCA


The Painting and Decorating Contractors of America came into legal existence in New York City on January 15, 1885, as the Master House Painters’ Association of the United States and Canada.  The organization was established by a group of far-sighted contractors for the purpose of attacking industry abuses arising from “unwise competition,” remedying a defective apprentice system, solving problems created by unsatisfactory materials, and assuring the public of the “skill, honorable reputation and probity” of master painters.

In 1890 the name was changed to Master House Painters and Decorators’ Association of the United States of America.  In 1903 “and Canada” were again added, and a year later the name was further amplified to International Association of Master House Painters and Decorators.  At the 1904 convention in Toronto, a Canadian Association was organized.  For the net 30 years the Canadian members were very active in the Association and two Canadians were elected to the presidency.

In 1928 the name was changed again to the International Society of Master Painters and Decorators.  At that time the Constitution and Bylaws were amended to designate state associations as Councils and local groups as Chapters of the Councils (or Independent Chapters where no Council existed in the area).

At the 1937 convention the organization changed its name for the last time and became known as the Painting and Decorating Contractors of America.  This change was in response to a group of members who felt that the term “Master Painter” implied an organization of craftsmen rather than businessmen and did not accurately describe the type and scope of the work they performed.

Throughout the long history of the organization, PCA has never lost sight of its purpose and goals to:
enhance the advancement of the coating application industry;
provide a conduit for communication between those involved in the coating application industry;
provide services to members that cannot be obtained in small groups or individually;
be the voice of the coating application industry;
promulgate an attitude of ethical responsibility in business.


PCA is an international organization of some 3,100 contractors. PDCA also provides associate memberships to local and national suppliers to the industry, and affiliate memberships to agencies engaged in coatings application, but not in the contracting business.

PCA business is managed by an Executive Committee consisting of the President, President-Elect, Senior Vice-President, Vice-President, Director of the Treasury, and the Immediate Past President.  Delegates from the Councils elect these officers at the annual meeting held during the annual convention.  The Executive Committee is responsible to the Board of Directors, which is made up of an elected representative from each Council, four At-Large representatives, and all active members who are Past Presidents of the National Association.

The Executive Committee is vested with the powers to conduct the business of PCA in accordance with the purposes and goals stated for the organization in the Bylaws.  The President, with the approval of the Executive Committee, appoints members to all permanent committees of PDCA (Apprenticeship and Training, Budget, Government Affairs, Insurance Safety and Loss Control, Investment, Manpower and Training, national Committee of Union Contractors, and National Trade Board), and may create additional appointive committees as necessary, i.e. Chapter Council Staff, National Associates Committee, Residential, Cost and Estimating, Wallcovering, Workforce and Career Development).  The Executive Committee is the most powerful governing group in the organization.  It has the widest responsibilities and greatest authority to implement programs for the membership.

PCA, under the authority of the Bylaws, employs a full-time paid Executive Vice-President, who is responsible for hiring adequate staff and personnel necessary to conduct the operations of the Association, within the policy, procedures and budgets established by the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee.


PCA membership is organized by Chapters and Councils.  The members’ primary contact with PCA is through the local Chapter.  Most Chapters hold regular monthly meetings and sponsor programs addressing professional issues concerning the membership.  Chapter meetings also provide one of the greatest benefits of PCA membership:  interaction and exchange of information with fellow contractors.

To join PCA, a contractor must apply for membership in the local Chapter where their place of business is located.  If no Chapter exists in the area, or if for some reason (usually labor relations), the contractor is refused membership by the local Chapter, the contractor may become an individual member of a Council.  If also refused membership in the Council, the contractor may be accepted as a National Individual Member, although these cases are extremely rare.

The PCA Bylaws require that two or more Chapters in the same geographic region form a Council.  Currently, there are 31 PCA Councils covering Western Canada and all areas of the United States.

Councils perform several different functions.  In all cases, the Council members select a representative to serve on National PCA’s Board of Directors and select delegates to the annual meeting.  Delegates to the annual meeting, in addition to electing PCA’s officer, approve Bylaws changes, vote on resolutions offered by convention committees, and vote on any non-binding resolution as a means of direction to the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee.

Most Councils organize an annual convention to provide educational programs and opportunities for members to interact with contractors from other Chapters.  Frequently, several Councils join together to form a Conference, primarily for the purpose of sponsoring a convention.

In 1996, two councils were formed based upon affiliation and interest in a particular segment of our industry.  They are the Industrial Painting Council and the Residential Council.  The formation of these industry-specific councils was a result of the strategic planning recommendation approved at the annual meeting.