Slapstick housepainters who create chaos – such as The Three Stooges in “Jerks of All Trades” – get laughs on television, but who would turn them loose on a real building?
“Nothing travels faster than news about a bad painting job,” said Amy Bergeron, owner and president of Whitehouse Residential & Commercial Painting Co. “Our 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.”
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.
“When I started working here, I didn’t know if I would like it,” she said. “Even 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.”
Certified as a Women’s Business Enterprise, Whitehouse currently accepts about 190 projects annually, including houses, banks, schools, corporate headquarters and churches.
“The 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,” she said. “It takes special craftsmanship to do old homes, too. We pride ourselves on that. Old houses have become a niche for us – they’re what we’re known for.”
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.
“During the project, Whitehall was open for tours, meetings and weddings. We had to adjust our work accordingly and couldn’t be there for days at a time. Brides don’t want ladders all over the place, or wet paint and tarps,” Amy said. “We also had to be very careful not to damage the ivy and other beautiful plantings.”
To accommodate the needs of Whitehall’s owners and guests, Whitehouse developed an unusual strategy. A crew often paints a house’s entire fascia and soffit at one time, and all of the brickwork at another, and so on. But to keep Whitehall’s lovely portico available for visitors and photographs, the crew painted that entire side at once, including the towering Corinthian columns.
“Those wooden columns had undergone some interesting repairs over the years,” she said. “There 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.”
Whitehouse has greatly expanded its range of projects. A second company – Whitehouse Painting & Construction – 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.
“We’re becoming a one-stop shop for people who need anything from changing out a bathroom vanity to refinishing a basement,” said Ann Dreisbach, who, in addition to being Amy’s mother, handles Whitehouse’s marketing and development of new business. “Women 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.”
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.