For more than three decades, Allen Construction has been building, remodeling, repairing and maintaining custom homes and commercial spaces, while also creating energy and solar solutions for their clients. Headquartered in picturesque Santa Barbara, CA, and with six regional locations, Allen Construction has developed a reputation based on the unique and valuable expertise of their employees and trade partners, who share a passion for their craft and a dedication to their projects and clients.
James Jones, VP of production for Allen Construction, discusses the process of hiring pros—including identifying the desired skills and traits—along with the importance of setting achievable expectations for better performance and consistent results.
Q: What is your process for selecting paint contractors?
A: Considering we have a very broad portfolio that includes residential remodels, tear and repairs, minor touch-ups and complicated finishes, one of the first things we want to know is the contractor’s scope of services, capacities, and abilities as it pertains to applying coatings to walls, ceilings, flooring and cabinetry.
We look at the type of equipment a pro uses, and ask if an off-site space is available to accept products or can be used to apply finishes for a controlled environment.
We’re also very interested in knowing how a pro organizes his or her business, their schedule and availability, as well as the size of the crew and how they are managed. This helps us find the right fit for any given project.
Our goal is to have contractors bid on work that is tailored to their business. This allows us to properly align opportunities, which not only benefits us, but the contractor as well.
After an initial phone interview, we’ll follow up with an in-person meeting to discuss bidding, estimating, and contract deliverables for a very specific scope of work. We’ll also review compliance standards such as insurance and safety requirements, and share overall company policies.
Q: How do you find qualified pros?
A: As we diversify and expand geographically, we continue to partner with seasoned designers, vendors and suppliers who bring us their recommendations for trade professionals who have performed well in the past. Most of the pros we hire have come to us from either a direct or indirect referral.
We have a tremendous amount of respect for all the trades we work with and their talents. We view our relationship as an extension of our company. That said, we expect each pro to take ownership and responsibility. We want to ensure the pros we subcontract share our same core values and fully understand our culture to create an environment of success.
Q: What traits and skills do you look for?
A: We seek pros who have proven experiences with a very diverse background in painting and finishes; not only interior walls or exterior surfaces, but also with raw materials, metal, wood, stucco and plaster—the whole spectrum.
The ability to use a variety of coatings, techniques, product lines and equipment is paramount and provides us with options when hiring a contractor. We respect that, in today’s market, there are highly skilled and tremendously technical pros who can perform these very intricate finishes yet, at times, we also need people who offer more straightforward skills because of the variety of work that we do.
In addition, we look for pros who are prompt and timely, clean up properly, protect their work environment, and manage themselves in a professional manner.
Q: What makes for a great working relationship?
A: We set achievable expectations and hold contractors accountable for quality consistency, which is a fundamental requirement. Like most large construction companies, we’ve had pros who, when called upon to complete a task on a larger scale, were not able to deliver that same level of quality.
Pros should provide samples of work that truly and accurately represent their deliverables—not just on a small application but a full-scale job.
Q: Are paint pros involved in the paint or color selections?
A: Absolutely. We rely heavily on the expertise of our trades to either perform a job or provide alternate means or methods they feel can help us achieve greater end results that offer better value, improved quality, and less maintenance by following the design intent and genre—whether that be modernistic or antique.
Q: How important is a pro’s understanding of green coatings in your decision to work with them?
A: Allen Construction is recognized both locally and nationally as a leader in green building practices. Therefore, the use of green coatings is a large part of our core values. We adhere to very stringent specifications for environmental products and look for alternate ways to align with our eco-friendly goals.
We are respectful that all considerations are taken seriously, especially for clients who are hypersensitive to allergens and chemicals.
We want to be on the forefront of how we can deliver environmentally conscious products on all our projects
James Jones has worked in nearly every aspect of the construction industry from apprentice to union journeyman carpenter, drafting engineer, sales/ production estimator, project manager, and superintendent. His vast industry experience includes luxury hotels, historic renovations, and commercial construction, including mixed-use developments. BuildAllen.com