Case Studies

Leach Painting Company

Serving the commercial market in St. Louis and across the Midwest

Founded in 2003, Leach Painting Company is a full-service painting, wall covering and drywall finishing contractor serving customers throughout the St. Louis Area.

Focused largely on commercial tenant build-outs and other commercial projects, Leach also performs a small amount of work in the residential sector.

The company was founded by John Leach and Mark Borgmann along with Brian Borgmann in 2003, who all serve as both estimators and project managers. The company is now headed up by majority owner Mark Borgmann, who also serves as president.

Leach Painting Company

Borgmann did not travel the well-worn path on his way to owning Leach. After graduating from Southwest Missouri State University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting in 1995, Borgmann made a major pivot and decided to take a position as an estimator for a local painting company. “I just couldn’t picture myself sitting behind a desk all say,” he says.

After working for eight years under an established painting contractor, Borgmann and Leach struck out on his own, enlisting the help of Borgmanns brother Brian.  In 2008 Borgmann became the majority owner and brought in industry veteran Fischer Jr. who had spent 15 years working as a journeyman painter after receiving training from International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPT) District Council No. 2.

As a proud union shop, Leach has a staff of 35-45 experienced painters who are well qualified to handle any job that might come down the line. While Leach performs work primarily in the local St. Louis market, the company will travel throughout the state for the right job.

Honoring industry forerunners

As the economy continues recover from the recent recession, Borgmann says that the company has managed to build up a full slate of projects that should carry Leach through the near future.

These jobs include finish work for Cavender’s St. Louis location. Using rags and sponges, Leach applied a faux finish across the whole store to give the western wear retailer a distinctive appearance. “We’ve done this before, but this is the grandest scale we’ve done so far and giving it a textured look like that takes a lot of time,” says Borgmann.

Leach just finished work on a project of great historical significance to not only St. Louis, but the construction industry as a whole. The Henry Miller Museum honors the founder of the National Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (NBEW) — now known as the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) — who signed the union’s collective bargaining agreement at a three-story boarding house in the city’s JeffVanderLou neighborhood.

The IBEW began its quest to purchase the building in 2014, raising $54,000 to buy the dilapidated building which will now be renovated into a museum honoring the history of the NBEW-IBEW at a cost of $6 million. The full renovation included trim to paint and stain, as well as doors, frames and plaster. “The biggest part of the project was all the stained wood. We did over 20,000 feet of wainscot trim and stained the bar on-site, so the stain package on the project was huge,” he says.

The unique, historical nature of the site presented a number of challenges for Leach and required the painting contractor to work side-by-side with stakeholders to ensure that the project met its strict deadline.

“Some of the things that delay a job like this are things like coordination, weather and color selection. Everyone has their own opinion on what they want it to look like, so we have to coordinate with the architect, the owner, the designer and the end user to make sure they’re all on the same page; It’s a very collaborative environment,” says Borgmann.

In downtown St. Louis, Leach is working to break into the booming renovation market and take advantage of the growing trend toward converting old office space into loft apartments. Leach recently completed one such project as part of Lofts @ Euclid in St. Louis’ West End. “We’re painting walls and ceilings at the same time that the building is getting all new windows, which is causing some havoc,” Borgmann says.

While Borgmann would like to see the company complete more projects in this growing sector, he says it can be a difficult niche to break into. “The competition is really steep because it’s a specialty job, but it presents some good opportunities for the industry as a whole,” he says.

Addressing shifting expectations

Borgmann knows that a successful company must do everything it can to prepare for the future, and employees are no exception. As a younger generation of workers enters the business, the industry veteran has had to work to ensure that the company and its newest employees see eye to eye on issues of work ethic and company culture.

“They aren’t as eager to start at 7 a.m. and the start/stop times are getting a little more fluid but as long as they work their eight hours I don’t have a huge issue with that,” he says.

Millennial employees are less accustomed to blindly follow orders and are continually seeking a seat at the decision making table. While many employers might take issue with such employee’s desire to wield a greater influence in the business, Borgmann welcomes this new generation of highly involved employees. “They want to be able to make a decision or feel like they are part of a decision and they want to be involved; I don’t have a problem with that,” he says.

A strong slate of projects paired with a focus on integrating the next generation of workers into the business will see Leach Painting Company cement its reputation as one of St. Louis’ premier painting, wall covering, drywall and taping contractors.

Published on: December 14, 2016

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