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Home | HOUSTON | Spotlight | Spotlight - Dean Stevens, Southwestern Paint and Wallpaper Company Inc.

Spotlight - Dean Stevens, Southwestern Paint and Wallpaper Company Inc.

image L-R: Ava, Dean, Chante and Allie Stevens (bottom)

HOUSTON - Dean Stevens has a story that keeps on turning pages after 22 years. His place in the construction industry was well earned and he had no idea it was going to happen the way it did.






Let’s start with where you were born and raised.
    I am a native Houstonian. I was born and raised here in Houston, TX.

What was your childhood life like?

    It was good; I grew up close to south Houston living in the same house my whole life. We went to one elementary, middle and high school. We never moved around a lot.

What did your parents do that allowed you to stay in one place?

    My father was a construction worker for underground utility construction. My mother was a stay at home mom. My father raised me after the age of 12.

Do you have any siblings?
    I have two sisters, one older and one younger. I am the middle child.

What were some family activities as children?

    I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors. My father did too, so a lot of fishing and hunting.

Did you continue your educational background after high school?
    I did attempt to go to college at San Jacinto College for half a semester. It was tough to [afford cost of living and pay for school].

When did you initially start up within the construction industry?

    In 1997, I got a job working at Southwestern Paint Company in the warehouse sweeping floors and unloading trucks.

Who introduced you to that opportunity?
    At one time my great uncle owned Southwestern Paint. I didn’t know him very well, but I ran into him at a family Christmas party and he began to ask me what it was that I was going to do after my senior year in high school. I told him I was planning on going to college at San Jacinto and was looking for a job to pay my way through school and feed myself at the same time. My great uncle tells me that he owns a paint store, which I didn’t know, and then he asks me if I would be interested in working there. At that moment I was excited about the opportunity, but I did not have a vehicle at that time. So, we visited a little bit and he tells me that he has a pick-up truck that he was willing to give me, granted I pay him back through my weekly paychecks. So, he gave me the truck and I started working in the warehouse.

What model of pick-up truck was it?
    It was a red 1990 Ford F-150.

What happened next?

    About a year after I started working there my great uncle retired from the business and sold out to his partner at that time. [After my great uncle retired] I stayed working for his previous partner and new owner named Frank Orsak.

What was the turning point in your career? When did it happen?

    Shortly, [after continuing to work there], I realized I was not making enough money to afford school and [cost of living]. I had to quit school and the original plan was to save some money and go back to school. Then I started working full time at the paint store and was making slightly above minimum wage. I was a sponge just learning anything I could every time there was an opportunity. It didn’t take long for that to be noticed by the owner.
    Orsak and I started building a work relationship and a personal one. Slowly, but surely I was given opportunities over the next seven years. Around year 10, I was beginning to get some job offers and looking at other opportunities. I got married and wanted to start a family, so I sat down with Orsak and talked to him about what his succession plans were and what I was going to have to do to make a career out of this. We started to verbally go over where he was at and he basically said, “I like what you are doing, but here’s what I need you to do,” and I did, as far as taking over the bookkeeping and business side. As I started learning the business side, we started making it to where instead of him working five days a week, he could work three days a week.
    At about year 12, he mentioned that his son was thinking about getting into the business and asked if I would be interested in partnering with his son. Long story short we sat down and talked about it and made a deal; his son and I are 50/50 partners in this business. We bought the business from his father [Frank Orsak] in 2012.
Did you ever see yourself as a business owner?
    I did not. I wanted to do better financially; I did not see that turning into being a business owner. I’ve always been a hard worker with a good work ethic.

Who was your mentor?

    As far as mentoring me business- and industry-wise, it was the previous owner, Frank Orsak. On a personal level my father is by far my biggest mentor.

Are there any future plans for the company?
    In early 2019 we will be opening up our sixth location down on Galveston Island.

Now can you tell us about your family? Are you married?
    I’ve been married to Chante for 13 years. We have two daughters, Ava, 11 and Allie, 9.

What is the love story between you and Chante?

    She is super supportive; she knew what she was getting into when she married me. I am very passionate for the outdoors and I like to do my hunting and fishing. So, we dated for probably three years and she was happy with me being happy and I figured I had to keep her at that point. She’s honestly the nicest person I’ve ever met. We got married and we’ve had a great relationship. We love our kids and she is a great mom.

Are there any fun facts about you and Chante?   
    Her story is much more exciting because she has lived all over the world, Singapore and Greenland [to name a few]. We were total opposites; I don’t think I ever left the state of Texas until I was 20 years old. She had pretty much traveled the entire world by the time she was 15.

Do you travel now?
    Since meeting Chante and having my work, my entire life changed. So, we don’t travel a whole bunch, but we definitely leave the state a few times a year; sometimes it is work-related or for pleasure.

What are your favorite family activities?
    I am a pretty laid back person. I really enjoy spending one on one time with my kids. I like to take my kids hunting and fishing. As well, the activities that [my daughters] enjoy. One of my daughters plays volleyball and I like to go watch her play. My other daughter is more into different types of dance and I also like to see her perform. The satisfaction and growth that they are getting out of that is satisfying to me.

What are your hobbies and interests?
    I hunt and fish more than the average person. I don’t enjoy canned hunting. I like it to be a challenge so, for example, if I am deer hunting I am more about the age of the deer or the story of what took place that classified it as a trophy.

Are there any goals you’ve set for yourself this year?

    I always have business and personal goals; [my goal] business-wise is to continue to have slow and steady growth. Personal goals are to balance my time and make more time for my family. 

What is one of your keys to success?
    It’s not me. I am truly blessed to be surrounded by a great team of employees and customers. They are really what makes everything work! We are honest with them and treat them as we would treat family and I think that is the main key.
    Southwestern Paint and Wallpaper Company Inc. is a supplier in Houston, TX. –lv

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Author Info
Lexie Velasquez lexie@constructionnews.net