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Home | HOUSTON | Spotlight | Spotlight - Eddie Torres, President, Luxz Painting & Design Inc.

Spotlight - Eddie Torres, President, Luxz Painting & Design Inc.

image Eddie Torres President Luxz Painting & Design Inc.

HOUSTON - Share a little about your background. My father was always an entrepreneur, so I always wanted to have my own business. Growing up in San Diego, I worked very hard for my dad growing up, always putting in the time and the hours and sacrificing. I’ve been doing the same since I was young and going to college, sometimes six or seven days a week. That’s just part of business.


    I went to college at San Diego State, and in the meantime ran some of my father’s businesses. My father was in the automotive business and had a lot of parts stores. I was very involved in that, but my first business was a landscaping business in 1994 when I was 22. It was somewhat gratifying; for me, it was about doing my own thing and being able to run and grow that business. I sold it after a couple of years once I built it, and went back to working with my dad.

How long did you work with your dad?
    I would open up ventures as I was going back in forth between his businesses. For many years, I was working in corporate America, and with a partner during that time, I opened up a Mexican restaurant in San Diego. A restaurant is a marriage, though, and it will take everything from you. It’s a lot of hours and a lot of days, seven days a week for month and months at a time. It was a fairly successful business; we sold it in 2008 and I ended up going back to corporate America.

How did you begin your career in the painting business?

    I had a friend who owned a painting company, and I asked him for a job. He asked if I was sure I wanted to do it. Prior to that, I had only painted my own investment properties that I had in California. He was very hesitant to give me a job, saying I was a suit-and-tie guy; at the time I was working with a large company overseeing several restaurants.  I said that I really wanted to do it. I started working with him as a prep guy sanding baseboards for a couple of months, and then I started doing brush and roller painting.
    A year went by of me working hard at it, and an opportunity came up in 2015. At the time, we were doing a lot of hotels, and the portfolio of the company was mainly commercial. I stepped in and helped them with some back-end systems, like sorting out financials. My friend then wanted me to start working in the office, but I asked to paint a little bit longer.

Why did you want to stay on in the physical side of the business?
    I just actually really enjoy painting. For some reason, painting just puts my mind at ease; it’s like therapy. It’s very hard to explain. Seeing the result of my work is the gratifying part of it; I make a difference.
    I was still painting and doing a little bit of project management, and I learned how to read plans and do bids. After I worked all day, I would sometimes go to the office and read bids for a couple of hours to help with doing takeoffs. It got to the point where I was 100% involved in the office, from creating all of the systems and safety programs to doing job walks, financials and HR, since I had come from that corporate environment. We started to work with very large, multi-million dollar contactors and got a lot of ground-ups and buildings, which really helped me a lot and exposed me to things that I wouldn’t have been.
    Along the way, I put in a lot of hours and a lot of days working for this company, and now I’m seeing the return on it. It’s not that it’s easy – it’s never easy – but I know what I need to do to get my company to the level where I was before. For me, it’s a lot easier because I already know that I have to put in the hours. I know how to allocate some of my time to be able to create the systems for my company so that it is a couple of years ahead of its tenure right now.

Do you still get a chance to paint?
    The business has evolved to the point where I cannot hold myself to that anymore because if I do, I’m leaving a lot on the table. The business has grown so much and is much different than what it was. In the office there are four of us and between five and seven painters, which sometimes goes up a little bit more to nine or ten.

What do you do to relax then?

    I preach a lot about “family first,” and towards the end of last year, I started to put those philosophies into place and started spending a lot of time with my son. I saw myself getting wrapped up in the business. It’s a great business, but the work is always going to be there. I needed to make sure I allocated time to devote to my son, to go to his soccer practices.
    I also started to get into meditation and yoga, just so that I can learn to better control certain emotions and myself and have a better way of thinking. It’s really challenging for me because I’m all over the place all of the time with five or six different things going and it’s really hard for me to focus on things. I think that doing yoga first for 45 minutes wears you down, and then you meditate for 15 minutes. My business is in east downtown and there is a yoga spot where I started taking classes. I go to yoga, which is over at 7:30 in the morning, and then I come to the office.

Have you seen the benefits of practicing yoga and meditation?
    I’m just beginning to integrate this into my business because I need it, and it’s taken me a long time to realize it. Sometimes I need to pull myself away from everything that is going on because in this business everything changes every day. I come in with a game plan every day, see my to-do list, and in a heartbeat everything can change. Or sometimes, I have to chase a payment from a client but don’t want to lose my cool with them because I’m still trying to establish relationships, but at the end of the day, everybody has to fulfill their obligations. Because certain things happen throughout the day, sometimes I just need to go to church.
    I go to church on Sundays, but sometimes I get that need to go to church in the middle of the day during the week. It’s the one place where I find 100% peace, where I can shut everything down and be as one. So I’ll turn off my phones and sit in church for 20 minutes, just to focus and be thankful for what I have and for the opportunities that are coming our way. In an indirect way, it’s a form of meditation. We all need to find our escape.

What are your goals for the company?

    Where we’re at as a company, maybe because of the way that I push myself and push my guys, we’re very far ahead of the game. Not to take away from anyone, but we know what we’re doing for the amount of hours that we put in.
    The business expanded late last year so there is a new division of the company now, Luxz Cabinets and Millwork. We relocated so that I can triple my square footage. Now we manufacture cabinets for a small hotel chain. We’ve been given a certain region, Texas and Louisiana, for this hotel chain, and sometime mid-year we hope to expand and look for other hotels and commercial work that we can manufacture cabinets for. It’s another leap, another risk. There is nervousness, because it is a constant unknown. We’ll try to do things right, and hopefully that business will flourish; it’s slowly picking up. The design business seems to be holding on strong, it seems to have both of its feet in the ground, but for me to take that leap again, it’s a little nerve wracking – but it’s a good nerve-wracking.
    So that’s where we are now, manufacturing cabinets as part of the new division of this company, and we still continue to go strong on the painting business, focusing more on commercial work. We’re kicking up to higher-tier hotels and for that we just need to make sure the company is structured correctly. We have everything in place. We get a lot of praise from our clients along the way. It’s been a blessing; I just hope to continue. 
    This will become an employee-owned company; if I’m not here, the employees will reap the benefits and can continue running the company. Along the way, I will probably hold the majority of the stake in the company. Overall, the core employees who helped build this company will receive profit sharing and will be invested in this company. To me, it’s about building something and having those people around me that are contributors to this business to reap the benefits of this company. If we do it together, nothing can ever stop us.
    Luxz Painting & Design Inc. is located is a Houston-based subcontractor. –mjm

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Melissa Jones-Meyer dfweditor@constructionnews.net