Family ties: 3 generations and 80+ years in residential painting

by Meghann Finn Sepulveda
How maintaining relationships and making a commitment to employees have led to success

When Herman Holtz founded H.J. Holtz & Son in 1936, the small business was primarily focused on wallpapering. But as the years went by, Herman began offering painting services to meet the needs of his customers in the Richmond, VA area. His son, Richard, joined and eventually purchased the family business from him in the early 1970s.

Years later, Richard Jr. (Rick) took the helm, building on the business’ foundation and reputation established by his father and grandfather. As president, Rick has expanded the scope of services and modernized the business to stay current with market trends.

Q: What influenced your decision to join the family business?

I worked for my father every summer since I was 13, but my plan was to attend college, earn a degree, and choose a different career path. After high school, I attended Virginia Tech and graduated with a degree in public administration. I quickly got a job but, after two years, I realized I was miserable. I vividly remember the conversation I had with my grandfather when I told him I wanted to join the family business but had hesitations about becoming a painter. When he said I was going to be a business owner, not a painter, I felt more confi dent with my decision and approached my father, who shared my excitement.

Q: What do you think has made your company so successful?

We’ve been in business for 83 years. I believe the secret to our success comes from following my father’s philosophy of creating and maintaining close relationships with customers and establishing us as the go-to residential painting company.

Over the years, we have evaluated the needs of our customers and added team members to meet those needs. We expanded our high-demand services, such as cabinetry and furniture painting, carpentry, wall art and murals, faux finishing, high-gloss ceilings and decorative flooring. What makes us a unique residential painting company is that we seamlessly manage all tasks from start to finish, so customers don’t have to hire additional contractors to complete their design vision.

We communicate with both past and present customers via monthly newsletters and regular blog posts that highlight projects and other company news. This helps us stay in contact with them—and stay top of mind for repeat business.

We also have a Design Studio for customers to get a better idea of the styles, techniques and materials we have to offer.

Q: How does your Design Studio serve your business?

Three years ago, we purchased a small home around the corner from our shop, renovated it and turned it into a space for our customers and partners to view design ideas for walls, floors and furniture on a large scale.

It has been a great way for customers to get a better understanding of our abilities, feel more confident in their decisions, and gain inspiration. We also welcome and encourage interior designers and decorators to utilize the Design Studio to meet with customers and discuss ideas for their homes, which also sometimes generates new business for us.

Q What’s the magic in maintaining a company for 80+ years?

Customers like a personal touch, and that desire has grown even more in recent years. We achieve that by focusing on our employees. To date, we have 60 employees on staff, some of whom have been with the business for 20 years. Our customers appreciate seeing familiar faces.

We are very relationship-oriented, which often leads to repeat business, which in turn leads to job security for our staff. We keep our employees busy year-round, pay them well and offer benefits. We also provide the vehicles, clothing and tools so our staff has everything they need to do their job thoroughly and well.

We meet regularly to set goals and evaluate areas of improvement. And our profit-sharing program gives employees an incentive to benefit from our earnings, and also encourages them to identify areas of improvement and work hard because they know their efforts can ultimately contribute to our bottom line.

Q What is your focus for 2019?

I hope to concentrate more on high-level objectives that will grow the business. Specifically, I am looking at expanding our services into other towns, and possibly opening a satellite office.

I’m also motivated to invest more in employee development and help new pros learn the skills that will enable them to be successful in the industry.


Rick Holtz is a third-generation painter and the president of H.J. Holtz & Son, Inc. in Richmond, VA. Under his leadership, the residential painting company has earned numerous awards and accolades including PDCA PiPP Awards for decorative finishes, the Best of Houzz Award for service (2015, 2016 and 2017), and the 2017 Best of Richmond Award for top painting contractor and top wallpaper contractor.


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