Slapstick housepainters who create chaos â€“ such as The Three Stooges in â€œJerks of All Tradesâ€ â€“ get laughs on television, but who would turn them loose on a real building?
â€œNothing travels faster than news about a bad painting job,â€ said Amy Bergeron, owner and president of Whitehouse Residential & Commercial Painting Co. â€œOur mission is 100 percent customer satisfaction, and we achieve it through top-quality craftsmanship and products. We want our customers to be our customers for life.â€
The business was named for the family who founded it in 1993. Amy was hired as an estimator in 2001, and purchased the company two years later.
â€œWhen I started working here, I didnâ€™t know if I would like it,â€ she said. â€œEven before I became the owner, it was interesting to be a woman in a male-dominated industry. As I grew more comfortable with that, I grew more in love with the job. I loved working with customers on a personal level and seeing the transformation of a project from start to finish. As time went on, I realized that I could see myself doing this forever.â€
Certified as a Womenâ€™s Business Enterprise, Whitehouse currently accepts about 190 projects annually, including houses, banks, schools, corporate headquarters and churches.
â€œThe St. John Center for Homeless Men was a neat project for us. It used to be a church, and there were tapestry-type paintings on the walls. Because of the way we had to build the scaffolding, we were at eye level with the paintings, and saw the intricate detail,â€ she said. â€œIt takes special craftsmanship to do old homes, too. We pride ourselves on that. Old houses have become a niche for us â€“ theyâ€™re what weâ€™re known for.â€
Two summers ago, the Historic Homes Foundation, Inc. hired Whitehouse to repaint the exterior of Whitehall House & Gardens on Lexington Road. The Southern-style Greek Revival mansion required about five weeks of scrupulous care by a crew of four.
Buildings such as Whitehall that must meet historic-preservation standards may require colors which match the original ones, or approval to use other shades. The homeowner may not know the exact name of a shade that was applied years ago. When that happens, a paint chip is removed for matching as closely as possible.
â€œDuring the project, Whitehall was open for tours, meetings and weddings. We had to adjust our work accordingly and couldnâ€™t be there for days at a time. Brides donâ€™t want ladders all over the place, or wet paint and tarps,â€ Amy said. â€œWe also had to be very careful not to damage the ivy and other beautiful plantings.â€
To accommodate the needs of Whitehallâ€™s owners and guests, Whitehouse developed an unusual strategy. A crew often paints a houseâ€™s entire fascia and soffit at one time, and all of the brickwork at another, and so on. But to keep Whitehallâ€™s lovely portico available for visitors and photographs, the crew painted that entire side at once, including the towering Corinthian columns.
â€œThose wooden columns had undergone some interesting repairs over the years,â€ she said. â€œThere was a hole that someone had filled with blank pages of notebook paper. Our craftsmen did the carpentry that was necessary to repair it and match what was original.â€
Whitehouse has greatly expanded its range of projects. A second company â€“ Whitehouse Painting & Construction â€“ now does renovations such as bathroom and kitchen upgrading, and hardwood floor installation. Maintenance plans that provide periodic touch-ups are available, as are faux finishes and murals. Factory-grade coatings can be applied to make existing kitchen cabinets look like new.
â€œWeâ€™re becoming a one-stop shop for people who need anything from changing out a bathroom vanity to refinishing a basement,â€ said Ann Dreisbach, who, in addition to being Amyâ€™s mother, handles Whitehouseâ€™s marketing and development of new business. â€œWomen are very detail-oriented, and attention to detail is one thing that sets us apart. So does our determination to do whatever it takes to make our customers happy. This is a beautiful business to be in.â€
Whitehouse Residential & Commercial Painting Co., 8045 Warwick Ave., provides estimates and services by appointment. For more information, visit www.whitehousepaint.com or phone 502.425.0483.