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Focus - Painting, a strong industry

image Jay Elizalde, Vice President, Santex Painting & Drywall Inc., San Antonio, TX

SAN ANTONIO - Founded in 1977 by Gerardo Elizalde, Santex Painting & Drywall Inc. has been family owned and operated since the beginning. “I like to think of our company as being in the customer service business, specializing in construction. The satisfaction of our clients is our number one priority, and we hope to service them successfully for another 40 plus years.”




    Having been around the family business since he was a small child, Jay eventually found his way back after graduating from UTSA and working in the commercial real estate market. “Being a part of our family business is just a natural fit. I love what we do.”

How would you describe the state of the construction industry in general terms?

    The current state of the construction industry is strong. Locally, the opportunities for quality specialty contractors have been steady for several years now. Recently we have noticed an increase in residential remodels coming online, which we view as a great indication of continued overall consumer confidence.
How has this increase affected your company and how you conduct business?
    We are constantly looking for ways to service our clients more effectively. This includes expanding our team with valuable new members to keep up with the needs of our clients here and in surrounding markets.

What are the “hot button” issues in your industry?

    Quality labor is a big one. Most people outside our industry probably wouldn’t put much weight on the difficulty of painting, taping and floating. However, those who have tried it for themselves understand that it takes a special level of skills to do a quality job. The pool of those skilled laborers can be shallow at times like these where we’re seeing increased workloads across the board.

What are the major changes in the industry in recent years relating to the type of work you do?
    There are updated OSHO requirements regarding crystalline silica exposure in the workplace that we are keeping a close watch on. According to the sources we track, the current tested respirable levels of silica related to sanding joint compound are low enough not to require us to use engineering controls or respirators. However, these new challenges could be on the horizon.

What is the most significant challenge your industry faces? Labor shortages? Cost increases? Other?
    The most significant challenge the painting and drywall industry faces, like every other trade, is a shortage of qualified tradesmen.

What are the cost increases relating to your industry?

    Material and labor costs only increase. Metal studs, sheetrock, paint, even plastic sheathing and tape see increases year to year.

How are you dealing with these challenges?

    We are charged with the responsibility of educating our clients on these cost increases and rely heavily on our suppliers to assist with this. They do a wonderful job of providing access to information when needed.

What is on the horizon for your industry? Changes in technology, codes, ordinances, laws, other?
    A lot of research and development goes into making paint products safer, more effective and more accessible to both contractors and the general consumer. Staying up to date with the new products and their methods of application presents its own set of challenges as it relates to educating our workforce as well as our clients.

What are the rewards of the industry?
    The rewards are enormous. Nothing makes us happier than knowing we’ve exceeded our client’s expectations. It’s all about the call back.

What are keys to being successful in your industry?
    Do what you say you’re going to do and know your limitations. These go hand in hand.

    Santex Painting & Drywall is a painting and drywall contractor in San Antonio, TX. -cmw

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Carol Wiatrek meditor@constructionnews.net