According to ALCA 2000 Salary Survey the high end pay rate for an experienced applicator in a company grossing under $500,000 is $26,000. That takes into account all of the USA. Midwest regional numbers are a touch lower than that - like $25,000 per year. People managing one "crew" (not managing one applicator) makes $27,500 (average). Managing multi crews gets $34,000 (average).
Sounds like your guy has a rather high opinion of himself, and given what you describe - he's the only one with that opinion.