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Painting Texas, eh?

image Jeff Hawken, owner of Texas Painting Company

AUSTIN - For a Canadian, Jeff Hawken sure has been to a lot of places in America. He met his wife in St. Louis, moved to Phoenix and finally settled in Austin.

 

 

 

 

 

    Further, his company, Texas Painting Company, is so named “because eventually I want to be in all four of the major cities” in the Lone Star State. Hawken’s home base is Austin but opened the San Antonio branch in 2009 and the Houston location in 2019. The main office began in 2005 when he moved down from Phoenix.
     (Note: he did not like Phoenix at all. “That was the worst,” he said, of all the places he lived.)
    Hawken started in the painting business while in college at the University of Western Ontario. As an economics and history major, he ran a franchise of College Pro Painters all four summers of school, making more money each year. College Pro Painters started in the ‘70s as a project for economics majors, and it’s still around today. “It was great,” Hawken said of his experience running it.
    Sensing a good deal, Hawken became a paint contractor in Phoenix during a good time economically. He ran the company with another person who bought him out, which brought him to Austin.
    “I didn’t even know the Hill Country existed,” he said. Hawken and his wife were watching a Rachael Ray show (who was doing shows all over the country at the time), and this one happened to be from Austin. Hawken liked what he saw and moved from Arizona.
    Once Austin got established, Hawken opened the San Antonio and Houston branches. Hawken trained each leader and stays in touch with them with daily phone calls. Each location handles all its own logistics.
    “Dallas and Houston are monsters,” Hawken said. At present, Texas Painting Company has 28 folks in Austin, 14 in San Antonio and six in Houston. He wants to open the Dallas office when he finds the right person to head it.
    “All of Austin’s on fire,” he said. “Even the suburbs are good. It’s a good place to be. We’re pretty much at a sweet spot in Austin,” with all areas of town booming. “It’s a good place to be,” he said.
    Like other contractors, Hawken said that he does more residential jobs because they are quicker and easier, while the commercial jobs are fewer but pay more per job.
    “The easiest things to paint are exterior residential repaints,” he said. They can get in and get out without fussing with objects like furniture or have to work around the occupants. Hawken does his fair share of condos and apartment buildings. “We [also] do a lot of stucco repaints,” he added.
    Hawken said that he doesn’t like new home construction because painters are always having to go back and fix things, like repainting a wall after someone has knocked a hole in it. He will do some work for a buddy of his when called upon.
    Even though the original College Pro Painters has branched into different areas (like window cleaning, lawn care, etc.), Hawken doesn’t see that happening to Texas Painting Company. What he sees is opening the fourth branch in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, then eventually becoming an absentee owner, enjoying the fruits of his labors.
    He does get back to Canada a couple times of year and enjoys the Longhorns and other sports (yes, hockey). “I don’t miss the snow,” he said, “but the heat gets a little old.”
    In comparing Canada to America, he said, “The pace is faster here,” except maybe I-35 through downtown Austin at 4 PM. Still, the Canadian has found a good home here and is helping to make Texas look nice with a fresh coat of paint.
    Texas Painting Company is a painting contractor, headquartered in Austin. -dsz


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Dan Zulli dan@constructionnews.net