National Services Group: Offering Community Building Services
- Written by: National Services Group: Offering Community Building Services
- Produced by: National Services Group: Offering Community Building Services
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College Works Painting (CWP) and Empire Painting and Construction (EPC) are affiliated companies based in Irvine, Calif. Both offer painting services across the country, but the CWP business model operates in an unusual setup.
Founded in 1993, CWP has become a leading painting service that also acts as a training program for college students. Both CWP and EPC share back-end operations infrastructure and utilize the same servicing company: National Services Group (NSG).
Ethical business practices, fairness, entrepreneurship and innovation are the driving principles behind all involved. The companies’ hard work has not gone unnoticed, as CWP has cultivated a customer satisfaction rate of 97 percent through consistent performance. Quality delivery and competitive pricing keep customers returning, as the companies work with homeowners associations, property managers, building owners and capital expenditure managers, often on a referral basis.
CWP offers an unusual service to both customers and employees alike. Founded in 1993, the business operates in 26 states and paints over 8,000 homes every year. Additionally, the company employs thousands of college students every year, who work diligently building marketing and management skills in a real world environment. While the students learn, each is also making solid wages to put toward further education.
“CWP is mainly residential,” says Matt Stewart, co-CEO of CWP and director of NSG. “Our niche is painting and helping college students to understand who they are and how to operate in the business world. The real focus is on the whole life cycle management with our employees and life coaching. We make a major impact on these kids. We teach them how they should interact with the community.”
The team at CWP constantly brings forth new initiatives under development to help bulk up business and offer training to more students annually. “We’re excited about our use of technology, real-time info and tracking,” elaborates Stewart. “We have big infrastructure to track and we have to keep up with government regulations. Additionally, customer service systems must be in place.”
The team also has an unusually good safety record. “We’re very excited about our safety initiatives, which have cut down on our safety incidences by over 60 percent last year, over 60 percent the year before and another 20 percent this year,” says Stewart. “We have safety instructors and administrators all over the country, and we go above and beyond OSHA standards. We use mandated fiberglass equipment, which other companies do not.”
The company is also working toward more sustainable practices, to ensure CWP is doing its part. “In the environmental area, change is very expensive,” says Stewart. “We are looking to make sustainability changes that make a difference quickly, and not necessarily five years down the road. Part of that is adding in the wood replacement. We’re also referring customers to solar city for power. Once a year we add a new service that fits in with our core competency and doesn’t create an operational challenge.”
Meanwhile, EPC serves mainly commercial customers. “EPC’s niche is painting and construction for multifamily housing and hotels,” says Mike Profant, president of ECC. “We’re really excited about the change from just painting to full-service construction. We move very slowly into new industries and have started doing wood replacement, refurbishment of the exterior of buildings, interior and exterior remodeling, especially in hotels.”
The EPC team is also working new technology into the business model on both the managerial end and the service end. “The online system for EPC is fantastic,” notes Profant. “We can monitor our projects from the office.”
It only makes sense that EPC’s motto is, “Easy to do business with.” EPC diversified by going from painting exterior renovations and refurbishments to interior and exterior renovations, refurbishments and restorations. “EPC has carefully followed a strategic diversification plan, which paid close attention to our core competency and made slight steps until our new focuses became part of our competencies,” says Profant.
With growing initiatives, both businesses are operating with stability, despite the recession. The ride has not been easy, but changes in business have given both EPC and CWP the necessary boost to stay ahead of the downturn.
“We created our own recession,” explains Stewart. “Our inner marketers were way out of control. We were trying to do a million things without thinking them through. We tried a mortgage company and a real estate development company that didn’t work. Luckily we made it though.”
Growth, too, has been a stubborn operation. “EPA regulations have cost us half-a-million [dollars] a year,” Stewart continues. “Internet and receiving the voice of the customer was a challenge. Expansion into new states is always a challenge. Entrepreneurial to professional business was tough. Every quarter and every year brings a new set of challenges from within and we accommodate.”
Fortunately, both CWP and EPC operate under strong leadership, as well as a network of businesses that offer support when times are tough. Stewart, Profant and the CWP and EPC teams have learned that slow and steady is often the best avenue. College Works Painting and Empire Painting and Construction continue to offer the services each does best, while branching out in familiar areas and offering customers a little more every year. All in all, National Services Group is leading the way for a bright future.
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