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From Duke to Luke

image Luke and Duke Williams, project manager and owner of D&W Painting

AUSTIN - Luke Williams always knew his future would be in the family business, D&W Painting. “Ever since I was a kid, I always wanted to follow in the footsteps,” he said.







    D&W Painting had an auspicious beginning. Its founder is Duke Williams, Luke’s father and is the president. Duke was a painter, working for another painting contractor in the Austin area in the late 1980s. Unfortunately, this contractor went bankrupt. Duke, however, had made many contacts and relationships with various GCs and homebuilders. Duke asked his contractor boss if he could still work with and for all these folks, and he said sure.
    Duke made it work and started D&W Painting, incorporating it in 1995. “D&W” stands for his initials. Luke said of his father that he took “the best of a bad situation and tried to make the best of it, and obviously he did. He’s built an amazing company. Hat’s off to him.”
    Luke has been involved with the company since his high school days, starting with sanding baseboards. “Ever since I had a driver’s license,” he said, “I’ve been working here pretty much.”
    Williams has worked his way up, going from residential painting, then running materials from job-to-job, then quality controlling the paint jobs, to being in charge of whole subdivisions of paint jobs.
    Now, Williams is one of three commercial project managers that handle the largest contracts, like $100,000 and over. For the first several years of its operations, D&W Painting did a lot of residential work, but in the last 10 years has concentrated on commercial projects.
    D&W has three main divisions: commercial, small commercial/repaint, and multifamily. These contribute pretty equally to its $25 million in revenue annually.
    To get chosen for a job, the general contractor will send out bid invites to those whom he selects, along with a deadline for submission. D&W has four full-time estimators and three others who also can do it. The estimators pour over pages and pages of plans and specs, input all their data into the On Screen Takeoff software, calculating man-hours and materials, etc. The goal is to arrive at a bottom line price they can bid.
    Bidding can be a tedious process, depending how complicated the specs are. Still, Williams jokes and says that a lot of it is “guesstimating.”
    D&W’s estimators must be doing something right, as it has landed some big jobs. They have done projects in the $3 million range. Their calendar is well booked up with no slowdown in sight.
    Williams did say that every so often, a job comes in that didn’t require a bid, but one of those “Can you do this for me?” type of calls from a GC.
    Williams said that D&W has a win-win attitude when it comes to the work. “We’re very team oriented here,” he said. They have a saying; “Everybody’s paycheck is the same at the end of the day,” which means everyone will do what they need to for the benefit of the company. Williams said he has “one of the best groups of people here we’ve ever had that I’m aware of.”
    Williams has been a project manager for the last three years and will continue to press on with D&W. The company that started out of someone’s bankruptcy has grown to well over 100 employees and is covering the Austin area with high-quality paint jobs, fueled by a winning attitude. Duke and Luke have done well.
    D&W Painting is a painting contractor in Leander. -dsz

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Dan Zulli dan@constructionnews.net