O’Brien Painting named top Petaluma small business

The company was recognized for service to the community at annual awards ceremony.|

Dustin O’Brien credits his parents, Don and Anthy O’Brien, for instilling in him the value of community service. The owner of O’Brien Painting grew up learning the business by watching and later working alongside his father before inheriting the 43-year-old Petaluma company in 2005.

“They would insist that we get involved in the community,” said O’Brien, 37. “It’s super rewarding and it makes you feel good. If you give to Petaluma, Petaluma gives back.”

O’Brien has been involved in several recent community improvement projects. He helped paint the structures and benches at Walnut Park, which was restored with volunteer labor. He has worked with Rebuilding Together Petaluma. And he has contributed his time or donated to other Petaluma nonprofits including COTS, Cinnabar Theater, Petaluma Women’s Club and Peace Officers Association of Petaluma.

For O’Brien’s efforts, O’Brien Painting was honored with the Small Business of the Year award at the Petaluma Community Awards of Excellence on April 20.

Born and raised in Petaluma, O’Brien began working for his father when he was 12 years old. He said he has always liked the business of painting.

“I our business, you get to move around a lot. You get to be outdoors and there is always new scenery,” he said. “You get to know people, and it really connects you to the town. Also, you get to make things look good, and there is a creative aspect to it.”

O’Brien said he thrives on the community work outside of his regular jobs. One of his biggest projects was the Walnut Park restoration. He painted the police substation in the park and the restored gazebo. He is currently working on painting the adult day center on Howard Street for Petaluma People Services Center.

In nominating O’Brien for the award, John and Libby Fitzgerald wrote that his business has made a positive impact on Petaluma.

“Painting by Dustin O’Brien has made a significant contribution to our Petaluma community as well as to the county and state levels of the painting contractors profession,” they wrote.

O’Brien serves on the board of the Painting and Decorating Contractors of California, and the Redwood Empire chapter of the Painting and Decorating Contractors of America.

The father of two - daughter Ella, 8, and son Donnie, 6 - lives with his wife Lara. He said that he might some day pass on the business to his children.

“It wouldn’t surprise me,” he said.

(Contact Matt Brown at

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