By Jorge Arboleda
The right mix to succeed as a painting contractor? Quality coatings, hard work and attention to detail — but mostly, a close interaction with the customer, says Colombian contractor Jaime Henao
Many contractors dream of large-scale projects. Not Jaime Henao. For him, the ideal projects are smaller in scale, one home at a time, where contact with the client is critical. His company, VIP Painting, LLC, is based in Tallahassee, Fla., and intentionally operates with five or fewer employees.
“I like customized work, with many details to take care of, where you need a personal interaction with the customer,” he says.
According to Henao, residential painting allows for more variety in design, combinations and colors but also, in his case, makes more sense for his business.
“Our cash flow is better,” he says. “In commercial painting, settlement payments take more time.”
Jaime arrived in Florida from Medellin, Colombia, in 2005, with a college degree in Business Administration. He knew that he probably would not be able to use his degree in the U.S. though, and would need to start from scratch as a laborer. He began in remodeling and painting, always with the goal to have his own business to apply what he learned in school.
He first tried creating a company in 2007 but his dreams crash landed with the recession. Armed with a better strategy, better products and a powerful ally, he started VIP Painting in 2012.
“Things started to improve greatly when I partnered with Sherwin-Williams,” he says.
One day, a Sherwin-Williams store manager recommended him for a commercial project of a scale he had never done before. It was a trial by fire that forced him to improve procedures, equipment and products.
“I am very grateful to Sherwin-Williams because they helped my company really take off,” he says. “Today they advise me on my projects and recommend my work for high-level residential homes.”
Henao has an array of preferred interior and exterior coatings including SuperPaint®, Resilience®, Duration®, Cashmere® and Emerald®, depending on conditions and customer expectations. For exteriors, especially for commercial projects such as the Tallahassee Flea Market he worked on last year, his favorite is Duration ® Exterior Acrylic Latex®. But in residential interiors his preferences have undergone a major change.
“I’ve been offering Paint Shield® Microbicidal Paint for the last six months. It has been well received in high-end residences for bathrooms and kitchens and also for children’s bedrooms. Killing select bacteria is a compelling argument for the customers,” he says. “The coating is dense and heavy, but easy to apply.”
Paint Shield is the first EPA-registered microbicidal paint and kills greater than 99.9 percent of Staph (Staphylococcus aureus), MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), E. coli (Escherichia coli), VRE (Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecalis) and Enterobacter aerogenes within two hours of exposure on the painted surface. It continues to kill 90 percent of these bacteria even after repeated contamination for up to four years when the integrity of the surface is maintained. Paint Shield offers the kind of extra value that his customers are willing to pay for.
“The results are just fantastic,” he says. “Homeowners love to hear that they may wash the walls whenever they want, with water and soap. Besides that, the Paint Shield finish is just spectacular – even, consistent, and definitely high quality.”
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