When Dave talks about how his young son Logan is learning the ropes of the home construction industry, there is more to it than a prideful dad painting a perfect picture from happy memories. Dave explained, in a polite, pragmatic manner how his industry is plagued by a “slap and dash” work ethic – something he feels is a side-effect of an increasingly undereducated workforce. “I would estimate that up-to 60 percent of the people out there just slap and dash,” he said. “They want to get it done and they’re cheap when they source materials. They throw lipstick on a pig and walk out the door. So more and more home owners are getting something that looks good for three or four weeks and then when you touch it, it falls apart or you wash the wall and the paint comes off. It’s atrocious out there. You can tell a lot of contractors didn’t grow up helping to source materials and really helping out on projects. By the time I was nine I knew my way around The Lumberyard, Home Depot, Rona.”
What’s worse, Dave continued, is that the slap and dash mantra seems to be catching on with reputable companies that have spread themselves too thin.
“We’re seeing this more and more in million dollar homes we work on. We come in after they are done their job to do the finishing and we need to redo things. The common problems we see is when these companies skip out on two-by-fours for backing or they have used leftover, mismatched materials from other job sites – you know, they’re just not doing what they said they were going to do. They are cutting the corners, and the clients didn’t know any better.”
In the 10 years since Amy and Dave moved to Chilliwack to start Master Painting and Renovations in the nascence of BC’s real estate boom they have noticed a number of trends amongst their competitors but none as pervasive as a “definite lack of training in key jobsite positions,” he explained. “The lack of apprenticeship programs in BC is a big issue, too. We have an apprenticeship program at Master Painting and Renovations where junior-level workers work beside a master for two – or even three years in some positions – before they go out on their own. So they learn from the ground up: they learn to start filling and caulking baseboard and trim, for example, and then they can work on houses that need primer coats and so on. But what really sets us apart from our competitors is that each individual trade position at Master Painting and Renovations is filled by an individual craftsman. So, our electrician only does the electric; our tile setter only does the tiles; the plumber, he’s a plumber; the painters do the painting; the drywaller does the drywall. We don’t have one guy running around doing drywall, tiling, carpentry, pulling electrical, doing a halfway job on the plumbing. Every single person is a craftsman in their own right with their own trade and it makes such a difference.” Dave said he hopes his efforts have a ripple effect throughout the industry – regionally, at least. “I am trying to rectify that problem by getting as much work from people here in Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Hope, Harrison and Mission as I possibly can,” he said. “If we make sure that we live up to and exceed our company values each and every time, it’s going to force others to raise their standards – or at least bring them back to where they used to be.”
In an effort to push local industry standards even further, Dave has brought on board full-time representatives from another trade to augment his team of craftsmen. The Master Painting and Renovations homebase on Harvard Place in Chilliwack is now the workshop of a professional spray shop for cabinet and trim painting. – and Dave made sure that they have everything they need. “Our head finisher has been involved in fine finishing for 40 years and we wanted him to have a dedicated team under him and we wanted to invest in a cabinet spray shop that was right for him,” he said. What motivated this expansion, Dave explained, might shock even readers with knowledge of the home construction industry. “I think a lot of people would be astonished to know how often homeowners will throw away something like really nice solid oak cabinets just because they can’t restain them. They’re taking their oak cabinets to the curb and they’re replacing them with melamine boxes and MDF painted doors – there’s something wrong with that picture. We encourage homeowners, if it’s possible, to have their cabinets reinvented. We bring all of the doors and all of the various components and pieces back to our shop, sand them all down, apply one coat of oil primer and a premium cabinet paint, put new Quartz countertops on a nice tile backsplash, maybe some new lighting, then we take it all back to your home, and reassemble everything. On average the whole process costs only 25 percent of the price tag of a brand new kitchen. Not only is refinishing going to save you money, you’re also making a good choice for the environment.”
Master Painting and Renovations also created a line painting division in 2015. “We have a team that specializes in sport courts, parking lots, and parking garages,” Dave explained. “We had been doing line painting for eight years but we were hiring another company. Then the owner of that company moved away and his foreman, who had done a lot of our projects over the years, was about to be out of a job. So we brought him on full-time, got a van set up, bought the proper equipment, stencils, did some local marketing and now he’s doing a colossal amount of painting for us. We’re really thrilled with that division.”
But there’s nothing that thrills the team at Master Painting and Renovations more than opportunities to give back to communities throughout the Fraser Valley by helping people and the environment. Dave explained how every effort is made on the jobsite and in-house on Harvard Place to recycle, reuse, upsell or upcycle. “If it fits into any of those categories, we keep it, we store it, we put it to use, give it away, or donate it to a charity,” he said. “And we don’t pour anything down the drain. A lot of painters will pour out something that is half full or three-quarters full. We call up community services and rec centres or donate to people we know are in need. I pay my staff for their time, but it is miniscule compared to what it’s doing to giving back.”
“My son Logan has also done a lot of good with materials that we demolish out of homes or salvage in renovations. He contributes a lot of reusable paint and leftover materials to an annual fundraiser for the Great Blue Heron Nature Reserve here in Chilliwack.”
To find out more about the services offered by Master Painting and Renovations and to learn about Dave’s FINAL QUOTE GUARANTEE, please visit masterpainting.ca.
By David MacDonald