Painting in the Heights with Carlos Devora

Carlos Devora, 28, is the founder and owner of Pro Painting Services, a painting company that has quickly reached professional success in and around Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Coming to the United States at age 13 from Durango, Mexico, Carlos entered the painting industry when he was 15. Married to Luz María Devora, and father of eight-year-old Isaac, his company is focused on apartments and multi-family painting projects.

For this installment of Pintor Pro’s The Painting Life column, Pintor Pro senior editor Jorge Arboleda sat down with the 28-year-old contractor to find out how he became a success in the painting industry.

How did you get your start?

My dad was a painter and he took me to work with him. From then on, I worked for different companies on new construction, repaint, townhouses, apartments, hotels — I learned from all of them until I founded my company in Rio Rancho in 2015.

Why open your own company?

One night I got a phone call from my employer and they told me that they had to let me go. I had already been working weekends independently with the goal of having my own company one day, and my wife and I decided that this was a good time to take the step of starting my own business.

How did you decide to specialize in multi-family projects?

I learned a lot working for companies that painted apartments and hotels. When I had my own company, we gradually developed techniques to paint faster and cheaper in higher places than any other company. Today, about 90 percent of my business is painting apartments.

How do you benefit from your relationship with your paint supplier?

At the beginning, what any new company needs the most is credibility and technical support, and Sherwin-Williams provides us advice and credibility by helping us offer color options and product specifications to our clients. They help us to provide a more solid presentation of our work.

How do you market your company?

I always tell my workers that my best calling card is my job. As we grow, I can no longer be present all the time at all of our jobs, but I try to make our results to look as if had done the job myself. That’s my best marketing tool. Without all the advertising money that Albuquerque’s biggest companies spend everywhere, from billboards to radio stations, customers have gotten to know us for our work.

What project has been the most challenging for you?

Definitely, Tingley Beach Apartments. We applied 16 colors following the architect’s original design, which had never been materialized as intended. We had to rely on a 1990 model hand-painted by the architect himself — but we had limited access to it. Our Sherwin-Williams rep helped us choose colors that matched the model.

The next challenge was to take measurements and draw new ornamental lines based on the original blueprints. It was a very complex project, but I am proud of the results. It’s become one of the calling cards of my company.

Any other cases where the product selection was key in a project?

Since we work very closely with Sherwin-Williams regarding specifications, they talk a lot with the clients to decide the products. In an Albuquerque apartment project called Silver Moon Lodge, the owners wanted bright colors and, at the same time, long-lasting results. Sherwin-Williams recommendation of Resilience® Exterior Acrylic Latex was the perfect solution to meet the owner’s objectives.

What are your favorite coatings?

About 90 percent of New Mexico’s new construction uses stucco instead of siding, in residential and apartments as well. That’s why I like to use ConFlex® XL High Build Coating on stucco since it is textured and fills small gaps and crevices. Regarding paint products, we use A-100® and SuperPaint® a lot since they are highly requested by our clients.

What’s your take on the state of the industry?

Very good. There’s a lot of demand. New companies keep popping up. “The sun rises for everyone,” I say. Competition is always good because it gives us the opportunity to excel. My ambition is not for us to be the biggest company, but to be known for how well we do our job.

Is painting a good career option?

Yes. I would encourage young people to get into painting. It’s a nice career. You can transform a structure with a relatively minor investment. If a friend asked me, I would say yes, go for it, this is a nice job.

What’s the best advice that you’ve ever received?

In Mexico there is a saying: “If you are the owner of the store, you better stay behind the counter.” That is one of the best tips for a company owner because who is going to take better care of the business than the owner?

Many people think that having a company means immediate success, just like that! But you have to build it one day at the time. A company is like having your own baby – you have to be very careful with it, especially when it is a newborn.

Read more stories about successful Latino painting company owners in the Pintor Pro Digital Edition archive.