The Complete History Of Cochran & Mann
December 22, 2017
Cousins Will and Mike Cochran grew up together, working summers through high school and college in the painting trade.
With a six-year head start on Will, Mike worked the management side of painting for his uncle, Bill, who’s now retired. This spurred his interest in leadership, but due to an impending shutdown of the company they all worked for, the trio lost their jobs.
As a solution to unsteady work, the family teamed up with Ron Mann, who’s since retired, and his son, Ron Mann Jr., to develop Cochran & Mann in 1989.
“We knew and had proven we could trust each other, work hard together, [and] live meagerly if needed,” Mike, current president of Cochran & Mann, said.
The group sat in an office to decide which roles each team member would take on. As a small-town icon with more than 25 years of relationships and craftsmanship in construction, Bill was the most experienced and well-known component of their new painting company. Mike became a “pivot person”, diving into a leadership role for sales and estimating, as he always wanted.
After Will received his bachelor’s in business administration with a concentration in human resources from Salisbury State University, he “quickly emerged” as the “driving force for success” due to his “relentless schedule to meet crews” and work nights and weekends to deliver a project on time. He’s the current executive vice president and equal owner of the company.
“We all had a passion for having fun while navigating construction project deadlines,” Mike said. “Most of all, we knew great customer service and quality.”
During this initial meeting, the group also developed a list of names to call their new company. “Cochran & Mann, Inc.” wasn’t sexy, but it stuck. The original team holed up in a single 200-square-foot office with a bay warehouse in Gaithersburg and worked “a few moonlighting jobs and banked it for [incoming] startup costs”. The team finished remaining projects from the foreclosed company and worked referral jobs, including residential projects.
“I had to work days estimating by hand measurements on blueprints,” Mike recalled. “Will would hand-write payroll checks and bills after working in the field all day.”
After proving their ability to succeed in the painting trade, Cochran & Mann, Inc. was officially open for business in 1991.
One of their first projects was for Dick Building Company in Pittsburgh during the company’s renovation of Union Station’s rail tracks and other portions of the facility. Cochran & Mann was contracted to sandblast and repaint the caponies near the boarding area of the train station.
Their first large-scale job proved to be difficult, as several canopies needed completion along tracks that were hundreds of yards long. Cochran & Mann finished the job on time, containing excess debris from passengers below a dangerous high-power electrical system.
The company moved across the street to a larger space in 1993, which is currently their satellite office and warehouse. Their current headquarters is in Frederick.
Since that first project, the painting company has been a consistent part of the everchanging Washington, D.C. skyline and renovated portions of The Old Post Office Pavilion into the Trump International Hotel and Conference Center as well as The Spa by Ivanka Trump in D.C. The team assisted in the marble restoration, hand-painted, and faux-finished to blend into existing stones -- and got to see the Trump family regularly.
During this large project, the company was involved with early test mock-ups and awarded portions of the Public Annex renovation, which included the city’s largest ballrooms with gold leaf accents and crystal chandeliers.
Their services have also evolved into strictly commercial paint and include specialties like wallcovering and metallic-spray finishes. Cochran & Mann also plans to create an apprenticeship program to encourage trade work in a younger generation.
“We have been very fortunate to grow, learn, [and] listen to each other,” Mike said. “Most importantly, we have the best core individuals who are grounded, hardworking, [and] eager to be...by our side and accomplish the impossible. I don’t think we would be anything without our people.”
With constant reinvention as the fuel behind their name, Cochran & Mann hopes to continue adopting a company culture of achievement and encouragement.
“It’s not two guys in a van with paint and a bunch of ladders rolling up to paint your house. We were never that company.”