Going The Extra Mile
President & CEO of Pro Coats Hawaii
What business are you in? I’m a custom residential painter. I do high-end work in high-end homes. I created the business in 1995. Prior to that, I worked with other licensed groups on the Island. I’ve been here 24 years.
Where did you grow up? I grew up in New Hampshire in a small seacoast town. My dad was a general contractor for more than 50 years. I went away to boarding school in New York, got recruited by about 15 colleges and universities to play hockey and soccer. (He would enroll at Maine, later at New Hampshire.)
How did you get started in this business? During college, on summer breaks and vacations, friends in my hometown hired me to work for them. One particular person who had his painter’s and contractor’s license took me under his wing and I worked for him for several years.
What sets your business apart? We believe in going the extra mile. There are many phases to what we do. For example, prepping a surface is the key to a high-quality, lasting job. Also, we use premium products that are environmentally friendly, and that’s important, because we work in an industry where there can be a lot of toxicity. So not only using the best and most environmentally safe products, but being almost fanatical to the point where you are truly ahead of the rest.
Give an example of what you do. A homeowner had mold behind the clear finish on the natural wood exterior of his home. We had to strip the existing material, address the mold behind the paint, re-sand, clean up and refinish the surface to bring it back to its high-end self.
What’s the most challenging aspect of your business? The economy. For the last five years, I’ve been doing really high-end and celebrity properties, but the economy is totally different now. I’ve always had guys work for me long term. As a team player, I was committed to go out and sell the business, and they could count on me. I had to let 15 painters go, and it’s just me and two other guys. You didn’t used to see me in the field, but you see me there now.
What do you find rewarding about this business? I thought I might pursue sports. That didn’t work out, but I ended up in this business and I made a decision a long time ago to be serious, and it’s been good to me. It’s a great trade – you can go places in this business. It’s something to be really proud of. You meet fantastic people and it opens doors. I look at my life as a life of service. I look at my business as a ministry. I help people in the field of painting and making over their homes.
How do you measure success? Success to me is having integrity. It’s about your work, who you are as a person, the way you do it and follow through – an honoring of your word and commitment, being a solid guy. Repeat business is a huge part of my business. I take pride in having customers call me again and again.
How do you stay in shape for this business? I run trails and mountains where I feel like I’m on top of the world. I run the backside of Sleeping Giant, and I’m up on top looking all the way over the airport and Anahola, then I go down, come around and go back to the top again and back down again. I feel like the luckiest guy on earth.
What are your plans for the future? Earlier this year I had time to evaluate what’s important, what I need to do, what I want to do. I decided to get involved in mission work, drilling wells for water in Africa, Nicaragua – in villages with little or no water. My short-term goal is to raise $4,800 through my business to drill a well for a whole village. I want to do that as a baby step and then do 10 and then 100 wells.
If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing? I think I would take a leap of faith and move in the direction of the wells ministry. Or I would probably be in some service work such as the Peace Corps and probably working with the under-privileged in a foreign country.
Drew Lovett, president, Pro Coats Hawaii Inc., 821-2180, 639-3023, email@example.com