Case Studies

Service Painting of Florida

Coating, painting and waterproofing experts serving the Sunshine State

Since 1982, Service Painting of Florida (SPF) has been providing customers throughout the Sunshine State with a full slate of professional painting, industrial coatings and waterproofing services.

The locally-owned and –operated business has enjoyed considerable growth over the last 30-plus years and now stands as Florida’s largest painting contractor.

With a headquarters in Fort Meyers and regional offices in Miami and Sarasota, SPF performs painting, industrial coating and waterproofing work across Florida and occasionally into neighboring states.

Service Painting of Florida

The company primarily serves customers in the commercial sector, but works in the industrial sector as well with projects ranging from condos and high-rises to malls, schools, health care facilities, treatment plants, office buildings, sports complex and petro chemical facilities.

In addition to new painting services, SPF offers re-painting and restoration, waterproofing, sealants, deck coatings and specialty coatings.

Originally founded by Dick Duveneck, SPF was run by CEO Gary Johnson until last 2015 when he retired and sold his controlling stake to Liz Perez-Lavin. SPF is now owned by Burt Whitenight and Perez-Lavin, who grew up in the painting business, accompanying her father on weekend painting jobs throughout her childhood before entering the industry in earnest in 2007. As co-owner, Burt Whitenight brings over 23 years of painting and waterproofing industry experience to the company as well.

A Florida institution

SPF recently completed 3.5 years’ worth of projects at IMG Academy, a world-renowned boarding school and sports training facility in Bradenton, Florida. IMG Academy provides education and training to elite youth athletes in eight sports, including baseball, basketball, football, golf, soccer and tennis.

The painting and waterproofing contractor was most recently called in to work at IMG’s Gatorade Sports Science Institute, where student-athletes undergo testing in an effort to optimize performance.

In Sarasota, SPF has completed an industrial coatings project at Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, a not-for-profit marine research organization that preforms animal rehabilitation and seeks to promote sea-related science through a series of educational programs. SPF applied a surface finish to faux rock structure and surrounding walls and waterproofed the tank at the aquarium, gaining vital exposure while helping to ensure the future of marine education in the area.

SPF has performed a considerable amount of work in the health care sector, with Fort Myers Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida standing as the latest effort and over six years of continued work at Sarasota Memorial Hospital campus. The company completed painting work on several new additions and renovations at the children’s hospital and have numerous health care project completed and ongoing in the Miami market as well.

While SPF is eager to retain its status as Florida’s largest painting contractor, not every project is about adding to the company’s bottom line. The company has performed a number of charity projects in the past, including jobs for Habitat for Humanity, Teen Court, Boys & Girls Club, and a recent project that saw the company complete an exterior paint job at a local Ronald McDonald House at no cost to the nonprofit.

“It’s very rewarding when we get to work with people in the field and give back to the community,” says Perez-Lavin, president of SPF.

Developing in-house expertise

SPF has enjoyed considerable growth in recent years, increasing its employee base from 150 to 200 over the last three years. “Now we’re looking at the possibility of expanding into different markets. We’re already doing some work in the different markets, but we’re looking at developing that further,” says Perez-Lavin.

An important aspect of that growth strategy involves ensuring that SPF always has a team of well-qualified employees to help tackle the expanding slate of work. “We have found that with the economy doing what it did several years ago, it’s harder to find people who are experienced and are doing it in way we would like to have it done,” says Perez-Lavin.

In an effort to ensure that its employees are familiar with the latest tools and techniques, SPF has instituted an in-house training program. “We’re all about promoting from within, so we’re trying to build a training system and procedures within our company,” she says. “By offering different classes and training opportunities for our employees, we can bring them from the apprentice level all the way to novice level.”

These training sessions typically focus on the higher lability skills, such as waterproofing and caulking. “If you don’t install those properly, it can cause water damage and leakage, so those are the kind of things we’re focused on,” Perez-Lavin says.

In addition to its in-house training programs, SPF requires all employees to complete a 10-hour Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) training program. In addition, one member of each of SPF’s field teams must complete OSHA’s 30-hour safety training program.

SPF’s future also depends on successfully integrating millennials into the workforce, a problem that Perez-Lavin has spent considerable time thinking about.

“Their attention span is shorter. Baby boomers wanted to figure things out on their own, where the millennials want you to show them, but then they want to figure out how to do it better,” she says. “We had to change their training part classroom and part in the field to adjust to the millennials.”

Looking toward the future, Perez-Lavin is not focused on growth for growth’s sake. “We want to have a place where people can come to work and we can provide them with opportunities. Our goal is not being the biggest; it’s to strive to be better than we were before,” she says.

With a focus on continual training and self-improvement, a strong reputation throughout the state and with experienced ownership of president, Liz Perez-Lavin and Burt Whitenight, executive vice president, Service Painting of Florida is poised to remain a leader in the Florida painting and waterproofing market.

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