Harrison Contracting is Helping Change the Image of Painting Contractors
Even more than quantity, HCC wants to be known for the quality it delivers to clients thanks to its high standards.
In the past two years, Harrison Contracting Co. (HCC) has completed more than 10,000 building repaints using more than 600,000 gallons of paint, and its facility maintenance team has completed more than 10,000 work orders during the same time. More than quantity, however, HCC wants to be known for the quality it delivers.
With high standards and a vision of elevating the image of the painting industry, HCC works with a number of high-profile, repeat clients.
“Our approach is fairly simple: We strive to do what we say we will do,” Director of Strategic Alliances Sean Gillespie says. “It’s a simple but effective approach that has served us very well considering it can be a struggle to find that in our industry.
“We’re very intentional about how we represent ourselves,” he adds. “Our first measure of success is ‘reputation.’ We want to be known for being reliable, presenting a clean, professional image, in a trade where the perception can be the exact opposite.”
Gillespie explains that “it is about intentionality. We show up to projects clean to set ourselves apart. Bill Harrison’s father, Deryl, started the company in 1995 and would routinely say, ‘We may be a bunch of painters, but we don’t have to look like it.’ As a result, our crews arrive at your jobsite in a clean company vehicle, wearing clean company shirts and jackets, clean white painters’ pants and work boots, not sneakers.”
That may be easier said than done, because the company color is bright red. “All of our trucks are bright red,” Gillespie explains, “and red is featured prominently in our clothing, vehicles, marketing, our offices and shop buildings, and even the lines in our parking lot are red. People know HCC by the color red, and by how clean we represent our brand. When you add that to the quality we deliver, people quickly recognize that we aren’t just a typical painting contractor — they see we have different standards.
“But ‘RED’ has become much more than just our company color, it is our company culture. It stands for ‘reliable, experienced and diligent,’” he adds. “Reliable is about trust. We want to be known as trustworthy in all we do. Experience speaks to our applied knowledge. This year we are celebrating our 25th year in business. This simply wouldn’t have been possible without consistently applying what we’ve learned to every additional project. Diligence is all about earnestness. It represents our desire to do things right and do things well. The reality is that sometimes things can go wrong but how we approach resolution is critical. Our customers want and need a partner and not just a painter.”
As a commercial painting contractor, HCC’s business is divided into three key pillars: new construction painting, repainting or re-imaging, and facility maintenance. From a new construction perspective, the company has remained focused on the southeastern United States across Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and parts of the Carolinas.
It has worked with multiple general contracting firms, including Hoar Construction, Benning Construction, Garbutt Construction, Vratsinas Construction (VCC), Brasfield & Gorrie, New South and JE Dunn.
Repaint is a significant part of the company’s portfolio, including both nationwide painting programs and local direct-to-owner (DTO). National work is primarily in the retail segment including firms like The Home Depot, Walmart, Sam’s, Kohl’s, Advance Auto Parts, Publix, Lowe’s, Auto Zone and O’Reilly Auto Parts. Publix Super Markets is the company’s longest-standing customer, Gillespie notes, and “we have painted for them since we started back in 1995.”
Lastly, HCC also has a facility maintenance division dedicated to the reactive maintenance needs of firms with multiple sites nationwide, including Office Depot, Grainger and Floor & Décor. “If something breaks in a store,” Gillespie says, “our facility maintenance group can fix it, including lot resurfacing and striping, replacing doors and window, plumbing, electrical and more.”
HCC’s focus on quality and working repeatedly with so many large clients has enabled the company to grow significantly, Gillespie says. “We’ve expanded our operations from our headquarters outside of Atlanta to include Savannah, Tampa, Destin, Baton Rouge and now Dallas,” he notes. While the revenue growth has also been significant, Gillespie says it’s not all about the revenue number. “We’re not focused on getting to a specific revenue number as a company,” he explains. “Instead, we focus every month on achieving our goals regardless of what we achieved the month before.” And that focus has helped the company move up to be the sixth-largest painting contractor in the United States, according to Engineering News-Record.
As it continues growing, HCC has found it is important to break down its work into smaller pieces. Gillespie says the company regionalizes its field leadership teams to ensure oversight and quality assurance. Additionally, HCC has invested heavily into its logistical capabilities over the past several years to ensure both cost efficiency and quality assurance. This includes an expanded fleet of service vehicles and planes that enables the company to save money and time as thousands of jobsites are checked annually for quality.
“When you’re working with some companies, you’ve got to be prepared for demanding scopes of work,” Gillespie explains. “Some of our paint project scopes can be very complex. The client can be very demanding because of what their brand represents and how that translates to their customers’ experience. But some of our customer relationships go back 20 to 25 years and we attribute that to a couple of things: First, we focus on the details of every project, every week in an effort to minimize or eliminate complacency. Second, we think these long-standing relationships reflect our reputation for doing what we said we would do and being collaborative in the process.”