In each issue of Pintor Pro magazine, we go behind the scenes with successful painting company owners for our series, The Painting Life. This time: A special edition showcasing the contributions of four different contractors to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month.
Each fall, National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on Sept. 15 and ending on Oct. 15.
The theme this year is “United: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation.” In that spirit, Pintor Pro salutes all the Hispanic- owned professional painting companies that are making such a big difference in their communities across the nation, such as the ones showcased in this special installment of our series The Painting Life.
Jaime Henao, VIP Painting LLC, Tallahassee, Florida
Jaime Henao 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.”
Alex García, García and Associates, Sunset Beach, North Carolina
Multiple winner of the Diamond Award in the Parade of Homes of the Association of Home Builders of Brunswick County, Alex García prides himself on having some of the most important builders of Sunset Beach, North Carolina, among his clients.
The owner of García and Associates attributes his success to quality work with quality products.
Originally from Guatemala, García never considered a career in painting before he immigrated to the U.S.
“I worked as a bank employee when I lived in Guatemala, and in the United States I became a car salesman in Raleigh, North Carolina,” he says. “At the dealership, I noticed that my most successful Hispanic customers worked in construction.
“One of them who had a painting business asked me one day to temporarily manage his business and I said yes. It was a big opportunity for me. After a short time, not only had I learned the basics of the business but also wanted to open my own company.”
Working with the best paint supplier is important, he says.
“Our partnership with Sherwin-Williams is a key element of our success. Sherwin-Williams has stores five minutes away from any of my jobs and they have the product ready for me when I get to the store. My sales rep is wherever I need him to be, and Sherwin-Williams stores offer unparalleled support.”
Ricardo Ortiz, Live Painting, Naperville, Illinois
Born in the Mexican state of Jalisco, Ricardo Ortiz is now the owner of Live Painting in Naperville, one of the most affluent cities in Illinois.
“There are very big houses here, many residences of five to eight thousand square feet,” he says. That’s why Sherwin-Williams is critical to the success of his company.
“Given the area, I need to use the best products, to make sure that they’ll call me back.”
With a degree as an electronics technician, Ortiz worked in Mexico fixing computers.
“But since I came to the U.S., everything I do is using the brush,” he says.
In 2000, at the age of 22, he started working as a painter for different companies. He started his own company in 2009, against the advice of many people he knew in the Chicago area trades.
“Everyone told me that I wasn’t going to do well, that it’s not easy, that I shouldn’t do it,” he says. “My mother told me not to listen to them. ‘You’re going to be fine, you will see,’ she told me. I just had to learn from my mistakes.”
His advice for others who would like to start their own painting company?
“First, have insurance coverage for the property and for the workers, to offer warranties, to work with good products. And I would advise them to go to their local Sherwin-Williams store. They can lend them a hand, just as they lent a hand to me.”
Carlos Cubas, C&C Painting, Tampa, Florida
Carlos Cubas’ journey to success started when his father retired and the family moved from Lima, Peru to Tampa, Florida. Carlos was 15 at the time, and two years later discovered his future trade when he started working for a contractor in his spare time.
“I found I had an aptitude for painting,” he says.
Part-time jobs and a soccer scholarship helped pay for college at the University of Tampa, and Cubas graduated in 1994 with a degree in marketing and management.
It was a difficult time for recent graduates, but his work as a painter was picking up. He thought: “Why not make this my business for the rest of my life?”
So that year, he started C&C Painting with his father as his first employee. Today the company employs 20 people, and has expanded geographically and diversified from just residential work to commercial, industrial and government projects. Over its 28 years in business, C&C Painting has won several awards including the Hillsborough County Minority-Owned Business award.
The high quality of Sherwin-Williams coatings helps his company maintain the positive reputation he has worked so hard to achieve.
“Honesty has taken me a long way,” he says. “Many customers do not even ask me the price and just say, ‘Do it.’ They trust in me, and I trust Sherwin-Williams.”
This article was originally published in the Fall 2022 issue of Pintor Pro magazine. ©2022 Northbrook Publishing. Read more stories about successful painting contractors in the Pintor Pro magazine archive.