Family and business are not always a good mix, but it has definitely been a winning formula for BLS Painting, a highly respected Texas painting contracting company built by the father-and-son team of Benito and Erick Luna.
Based in Austin, BLS Painting has an impressive record, having painted dozens of the most beautiful residences in the state. The company broke the $1 million sales mark in 2006 and is currently painting an average of 50 to 60 mansions a year.
“It has not been easy to get to this point,” says Erick Luna. “These homes require a lot of dedication, with many hours spent on details and working with designers and architects. But we always treat our customers well, and they always come back.”
Given the magnitude of these properties, the contractor must usually deal with managers and not directly with the owners, he says. At the mention of the variety of architectural styles we see in these properties, Erick says that he has noticed a recent change.
“The style in Texas is predominantly traditional, very Mediterranean, but about 10 years ago they began to build very modern, less conventional houses,” he says. “It’s not the majority, but you can already see a change.”
Company founder Benito Luna came to Texas from Mexico City in the late 1980s. After working s a painter for other companies, Benito went out on his own in 1995 with a four-person crew. When his eldest son Erick finished high school, he wanted to get involved in the family business. He started out by helping out in management and then, when business slowed down during the winter, by visiting construction companies to offer their services.
“They disregarded everything I said, but things changed when I mentioned my father, who was already known because he had so many years in the industry,” Erick says.
Determined to drive the business forward, Erick studied Business Administration and dedicated himself to sales and marketing and “being the face of the company.” He focused his efforts on the exclusive high-end residential market in central Texas, including Austin, West Lake Hills, Lakeway, Horseshoe Bay, Spicewood and other communities. Today, BLS Painting has a staff of 26 people and employs a variety of subcontractors depending on their needs.
“We are very fortunate with the amount of work we have,” Erick says. “Throughout the year, we try to keep 14 groups working each day in 14 different residential mansions.”
As with many businesses, the 2020 pandemic has had an impact on BLS Painting. “COVID-19 hit us hard at the start, but
now we are back up to 70 percent,” Benito says. “There is still a lot of work, especially when people are looking for quality work.”
Benito oversees the quality and progress of the work, and discusses the needs of each job site with Erick.Erick focuses on sales and deals directly with clients, contractors, decorators and architects about every detail, from budgets and colors to supplies and work schedules.
The company has established four main skill levels for its employees to advance:
- Master Painter has the most experience in types of paint/stains, paint application, technique, has been with our company for minimum of two years and has experience managing a crew.
- Paint Technician has extensive knowledge in types of paint/stains, paint application, technique, and is learning to direct peers.
- Paint Apprentice has basic paint skills, is learning to perfect them and learning about applying all types of paints.
- Helper assists with loading, unloading, sanding, cleaning, set-up and organizing our vans.
Erick stresses the importance of every employee to the company’s success.
“We need to trust in the capacity of each one of them,” he says. “My dad and I try to get our crew members to stand on their own two feet. They call it empowerment and that’s what we try to do with each one of them. From the beginning, we realized that if we wanted to grow, we couldn’t pay attention to every detail ourselves, and that each of our painters had to be independent and responsible.”
This story was originally published in the Winter 2020 issue of Pintor Pro magazine. Photos courtesy of BLS Painting. Read about other successful pro painters in the Pintor Pro magazine archive.