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Painting relationships

image Father and son, Gerry and Jay Elizalde of Santex Painting and Drywall Inc. are ready for another 40 years.

SAN ANTONIO - Raised in a construction family and being around construction his entire life, it was only natural that Gerry Elizalde, president of Santex Painting and Drywall Inc. would pursue a career in construction.





    “Right after high school I went to San Antonio College for a few years.  But life happens and I had a new family to support.  I had no choice but to quit and it was a natural decision to go back into construction.  I had a few odd jobs here and there but I couldn’t make ends meet,” says Elizalde.
    He knew he did not want to be a mason like his father, but wasn’t sure which direction to go.  His brother was a painting contractor at the time so he decided to give it a try.  As it turned out, it was the right fit for him.
    In 1977, 40 short years ago, Santex Painting and Drywall Inc. was established.
    “We started out of nothing, just hard work and dedication.   In the beginning, it was a couple of guys and myself.  We were painting for custom home builders and eventually for bigger home builders, all the while working out of my house.  We did that for about two years until the neighbors started complaining because all my workers were parking in front of their houses.  That’s when I decided to buy this place.”
    Elizalde says it was difficult getting started.  “When you’re new, you don’t have the opportunities you have when you’re established because you don’t have the reputation. You don’t have the ability to open accounts at supply stores because you have no record.  You have to start from ground zero.
    “We worked long hours and weekends.  Thank God, I had the drive to keep going.  Being raised by my dad, we were never afraid of hard work.  I remember when I was a child I would go to work with him and mix the mortar. It was hard work but it helped me to be able to do what I needed to do.”
    The ‘80s slow down opened another door of opportunities for Elizalde.  He would begin venturing into commercial painting in some of San Antonio’s high rises and has been going fast and furious ever since.  “We do some residential, which I love, but now mostly commercial.”
    Jay Elizalde, Gerry’s son and vice president, has been around the business since he was a small child.  Although Gerry never pushed Jay to join him, Jay would eventually decide he wanted to be a part of his father’s legacy and help keep it going.
     After graduating from high school, Jay got a degree in real estate finance from UTSA. After working a few years in commercial real estate, he approached his dad about joining the business and went on-board.
    “Real estate was great.  I learned a lot about business, myself, and how to manage client relationships. At the time I was working for a company based in Austin and I was their San Antonio guy.  I was renting an office from my dad in the back and observed  how he did business and thought I might add some value to the team.  It was just a natural fit. 
    “I love what we do.  We are very much a niche contractor.  We really get to know our clients well.  They become our friends and I think that is very unique in the business world or any business when you build relationships like that,” adds Jay.
    When asked if Jay was ready to carry on his father’s legacy when he retires, Jay says he’s up to the challenge.
    “I absolutely feel I will carry this on for another 40 years.  This company put my sister and I through college.  We are very much a family here with our employees.  Some have been with us for 20-plus years. We have the loyalty of our employees and our clients.  We are very selective on who we bring on board because they have to mesh well with the other guys.  They have to be technically good at their trade. It’s sometimes hard to find good people, but we take the time to vet them.  I think that is very important as we move into the future and lean on those guys that have been with us and create new teams. I am up to that challenge.”
    When not working, they are hunting, fishing and enjoying the outdoors. They even take time to enjoy reading the many articles in Construction News.  “We enjoy reading the Construction News and about all the companies and everything going on in the construction industry.”
    Santex Painting and Drywall Inc. is a subcontractor specializing in painting and complete finish-out in San Antonio. –cmw

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Carol Wiatrek meditor@constructionnews.net