Hester Painting & Decorating
- Written by: Tom Faunce
- Produced by: Ian Nichols
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
In its second generation of family ownership, Hester Painting & Decorating has been providing high-end residential and commercial painting services throughout the state of Illinois for 48 years. Located in Skokie, Illinois, Hester specializes in painting new-construction and existing homes and is a one-stop shop for commercial painting services, including faux and specialty finishes, wall coverings and interior and exterior painting.
Hester was founded in 1968 by Tom Hester as a small residential painting contractor. In 1979, the company built a showroom for faux finishes, which allowed customers to view the decorative painting that Hester performs.
Hester continued to grow and gain clients and in 2000, the company launched its commercial division. “We felt it was a good time because the residential market in the area was slowing down,” says Jeff Hester, vice president of Hester, who runs the company with his brother, Steve Hester. “We also felt that was a nice way to grow the company and add another service.”
While Hester focuses on the Chicagoland metropolitan area, the company utilizes its 70 employees to complete work all over the state of Illinois and also maintains clients in Michigan and Wisconsin. “We’ll even travel around the country for certain projects,” says Jeff. “We also currently have the third generation of the Hester family working with us.”
The company self-performs all of its work without the need to hire a subcontractor for anything involved in a painting project. As a union contractor, Hester has access to highly-skilled painters for which it is able to provide year-round work. “We try to keep three to four apprentices on staff at all times,” says Jeff. “That allows us to keep a rotation for when guys retire.”
Building a future for the industry
As many companies within the construction industry have experienced, finding quality help and talented tradesmen in the younger generations has presented a challenge. Hester is combating this by reaching out and becoming involved with the local trade schools to help spark interest in students. Jeff is the chairman of the local Joint Apprentice & Training Committee (JATC). “It’s really a different mindset with the younger generations today as far as their outlook on the construction industry,” says Jeff. “In the ‘70s and ‘80s, we had an influx of young people coming to us looking for work and now it’s the other way around.”
The approach that Jeff and the JATC take is to show younger people that painting and other construction trades have the potential to offer fulfilling and rewarding careers. “It’s so much more than just making money so you can pay your bills,” says Jeff. “It’s the feeling of fulfillment at the end of the day or the rewarding feeling you get when you drive by something that you were involved in building. A lot of people don’t realize that and that’s what we’re trying to expose them to.”
With its commercial division, Hester had the pleasure of performing all painting services for a $20 million renovation at Le Méridien Chicago – Oakbrook Center, a high-end hotel owned by Starwood Hotels & Resorts.
Hester also recently completed a project with WMS Industries, which built a new LEED Platinum-certified, state-of the-art technology development center in Chicago. Hester was the painting contractor for the entire 120,000-square-foot facility. The structure features an atrium with a signature folded roof, four game development studios, two game laboratories, two product testing showrooms, a 120-seat auditorium, offices and team collaboration areas.
Sustainability aspects of the WMS building include a living roof designed to absorb sunlight and improve insulation, an outdoor terrace with grasses and flowering plants, a rain harvesting system with underground storage and a computer-controlled, advanced building system linking sunlight and temperature to automatic window shades and lighting.
What it takes to thrive
In its 48 years of business, Hester has experienced the ups and downs of the country’s economy. By maintaining the production of the high-quality product the company has become known for, Hester has been able to weather the storm during the most recent economic downturn. “We refuse to provide a lesser quality product for our customers,” says Jeff. “We’ve always maintained the mindset that we either do it the right way or we would rather not put our name on it.”
With so many projects going on at one time, Hester is able to maintain that quality thanks to its seven project managers who not only sell the projects but also oversee the work to ensure client satisfaction on all jobs.
With a strong formula in place for success, Hester will remain on its current path. The company is content with its current size and volume of work as it helps to maintain the highest quality for its customers. “It’s easy for companies to want to grow too big too fast,” says Jeff. “It then becomes difficult to maintain control of quality. Right now we’re at a perfect size.”
With a strong team mixed with seasoned workers and young apprentices, Hester Painting & Decorating is positioned to build upon its rich history and remain a leading residential and commercial painting contractor of the Chicagoland area.
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