The word “carpentry” might not be in H.J. Holtz & Son’s company logo, but woodworking has become the fourth appendage in the body of services the company provides, alongside painting, wallpapering, and specialized finishes.
“People don’t know everything we can do,” says company president Rick Holtz, noting that carpentry work is often involved in projects that are originally seen as purely paint- or wallpaper-focused. “When we paint windows, doors, trim, moldings … all of those are wood. And when we prepare surfaces, we often find damage that needs to be repaired. We’re happy to be able to handle that for our clients.”
Woodworking was a love of Rick Holtz’s grandfather, company founder Herman J. Holtz, who opened his own woodworking business after he sold H.J. Holtz & Son to Rick Holtz’s father, Richard Holtz, Sr. The tradition of craftsmanship is evident in the work that the carpentry division is now creating, Rick Holtz says.
“Our team can replicate historic baseboards or moldings, fabricate decorative and functional wood elements, and rebuild damaged window sashes or pillars,” he says. “We’re never happy when we find problems that need fixing, but we’d rather deal with the problem up front than have it become an issue later.”
Recent projects from Holtz & Son carpenters have included fireplace mantels, built-in shelves and cabinets, radiator covers, and even coffered ceilings, which add architectural interest to an otherwise standard living or dining room. Carpenters have also fashioned new railings and support pillars damaged by years of wear and tear. That broad skill set is useful for clients.
“We’re not here to fully renovate anyone’s home, but we can handle every aspect of work that’s related to an aesthetic update or refresh,” Rick Holtz says. “We’re coordinating all those elements in-house, which means clients don’t have to find other vendors and worry about timing. Plus, we bring the same attention to detail with our carpentry services that we bring with our painting and wallpapering.”
The goal is simple: to deliver an excellent finished product that flows from a professional process.
“All our team members take pride in the work they do,” he adds. “We want every client to be able to look at their house or room and know that the work done there is of the best quality possible.”
Just think of the carpentry possibilities…..
- Radiator covers
- Baseboards & door trim
- Crown molding
- Ceiling coffers
- Window sash repair
- Built-in cabinets
Ann Green knows she likes order and function. When a pipe failed under her garage sink earlier this year, the ensuing flood damaged existing cabinets and boxes on the floor used for storing items that didn’t fit in the kitchen. Once the pipe problem was resolved, Green reached out to Jeff Nonnemacker, manager of H.J. Holtz & Son’s carpentry division, to help her think through her options.
“I told Jeff what my needs were, and he seemed to understand what I wanted,” she says. “He helped me come up with a design and a budget that I could convince myself was worth spending.”
Green’s initial thought was to have the Holtz Built team craft all-new custom cabinetry. But the cost of custom work was more than a garage seemed to deserve. Instead, Nonnemacker suggested high-quality prefabricated cabinets designed for outdoor use, which can withstand moisture and temperature fluctuations.
Holtz Built custom work was limited to a specialty corner cabinet, a cabinet base, and a garden workstation. Architectural touches are found in the frame surrounding a pegboard for tools and in crown molding atop the highest cabinets – not something you’d expect to find in a garage.
With deeper cabinets on the lower level, and more cabinets overall, Green has enclosed storage for extra serving pieces and other kitchenware. She also has cabinets for patio dishes, grilling tools, and cleaning supplies. And the designated garden workstation is even more than she hoped for.
“I asked for something on wheels that I could pull into the middle of the room – something separate from the cabinets,” she says. “[The Holtz team] built a cabinet, and underneath is the table. That doubles the work space. It’s really, really cool.”
Green had hired H.J. Holtz & Son to paint her home’s interior when she first moved in, so she was willing to trust the company with another project.
“I didn’t think I needed this many cabinets, but I’ve actually used all the space,” she says. “This isn’t something that people usually have in their garages. Maybe some people would think it’s peculiar to put kitchen cabinets in a garage, but this is a way for a space that can easily get cluttered and messy to be really useful and pleasant to be in. Here, everything has a place. It might seem excessive, but it’s so nice for me.”
Just what she wanted.
It was an opportunity too good to pass up.
For the past 10 years, H.J. Holtz & Son President Rick Holtz had kept a casual eye on commercial real estate listings, contemplating a change.
The company’s location at 3106 Moore Street in Richmond, within easy reach of several major thoroughfares, was a sweet spot when the company moved there in 2002. Situated at the corner of Moore and Summit streets, the lot offered a large side parking area – necessary for the company’s trucks – and a large building that could accommodate both office and shop areas.
But 20 years is a long time. Over the last two decades, Holtz & Son has grown, adding more trained painters and paper hangers, and expanding its carpentry division to provide wraparound services, as so many home projects require wood repair.
Beyond the front doors, the neighborhood changed, too. When the company moved in, Scott’s Addition was filled mostly with light industrial businesses and warehouses. A scattering of homes and restaurants were on the edges, but the district attracted little attention.
The area began to shift in the early 2000s, as a few warehouses were converted into apartments. Growth slowed during the Great Recession of 2008-2009, but developers quickly returned with more aggressive plans. In 2017, the city changed the neighborhood’s zoning from light industrial to mixed-use, allowing for a bevy of businesses to fill the area.
Now, Scott’s Addition is a hive of activity, day and night. That’s not bad when the Holtz team is looking for lunch, but it creates significant barriers to Holtz & Son expansion.
“There’s just nowhere for us to go,” says Rick Holtz. “We’re hemmed in on every side. And there’s no way I could afford to buy out any of our adjacent neighbors. The property values are just too high.”
Already feeling pinched in the space, the Holtz & Son team faced even greater demand during and after the COVID pandemic, as people upgraded and improved their homes. “Suddenly, everyone was inside their houses, looking at the walls, and realizing they didn’t like what they saw,” Rick Holz says. “Demand doubled. We want to meet demand, for both clients who have worked with us before and new clients. But that became really hard to do.”
Even though much of the work the company does is in customers’ homes, a surprising number of tasks happen in the shop.
“We need space to prep and spray cabinets, build and paint furniture, and paint all types of items our clients ask us to paint,” Rick Holtz says. “We’ve used every inch of the space we have here. There’s just nowhere to go.”
He had almost given up on finding a new location when he had lunch with his friends who work with Benjamin Moore and Spectrum Paint. “My friend and associate Rob Reynolds mentioned that he had a friend who was retiring and might be interested in selling his building,” Rick Holtz says.
He quickly acted on the tip, finding Old Dominion Body Works, just off Hull Street Road, near its intersection with Chippenham Parkway. With almost 12,000 square feet, the shop is double the size of Holtz & Son’s current location.
“We’re acquiring a down draft spray booth, and we’re able to give the Holtz Built carpentry division, which is growing so fast, an even larger dedicated space,” Rick Holtz says. “We’re also going to be able to have multiple projects of varying sizes going at a time, which enables us to finish a job faster. That’s good for the customer who wants their project to move quickly, and it’s good for the customer who’s waiting for us to get to their project.”
H.J. Holtz & Son closed on the sale in May and renovations began immediately. “We’re serving as our own general contractor and are doing as much of the work ourselves as we can,” Rick Holtz says. “Really, we can do it all, except for the plumbing, mechanical and heavy-duty electrical work.
“It’s exciting for our team to work on our own space,” he adds. “We’re getting to show what we can do, and we’ll get to enjoy the finished product. We’re really having fun with it.”
Stay tuned … there’s more to come.
Painting foreman George Baker is a man of few words and steady demeanor. But a soft smile creases his face when he’s asked what he likes about painting.
“I like to look at my work [when I’ve finished a job] and say, ‘I’ve done that,’” he says. “You can see the results.”
When Baker joined the Holtz team in May 2008, he already had painting experience, including working at the Norfolk shipyard. A friend suggested he apply to H.J. Holtz & Son. When he did, he found a similar ethos.
“At the shipyard, inspectors checked everything,” he says. “They wanted a neat job, a clean job, the right way to do a job. That’s what it’s like here. We want everything to be perfect.”
Roughly a decade ago, Baker was asked to step into a foreman’s role, filling a temporary need.
“At the time, they were short-handed, so I said I’ll go ahead and serve as foreman for a while,” he says. “I’m still doing it,” he adds, smiling wryly.
The foreman role brings added responsibilities: maintaining a project’s schedule, managing unexpected situations, and communicating with the client and office staff. “You have to keep it all running,” he says.
In addition to finding satisfaction in a job well done, Baker enjoys the camaraderie found at H.J. Holtz & Son. “It’s a pretty nice atmosphere … with a variety of people,” he says. “Everybody does different things, and you can learn from everyone.”
Baker fondly remembers working with Dick and Geny Holtz, current company president Rick Holtz’s parents. “I could communicate well with them,” Baker says. “Rick is a pretty good owner; I like the company.”
Congratulations, George, on your 15-year anniversary!
De Gournay – the London-based wallpaper firm known for its exquisite hand-painted creations – trusts fewer than three dozen companies in the United States to hang its wallpapers.
And H.J. Holtz & Son is among that select group.
Late in 2022, Emily Wicks, who works in de Gournay’s Logistics and Installation division, came across online images of Holtz installations of de Gournay wallpaper. She contacted company president Rick Holtz and invited him to prepare an application packet.
“That was no small packet,” Holtz says, noting that the company provided a list of projects involving de Gournay wallpaper, photo documentation, and client letters. After the Holtz & Son application packet was reviewed by Wicks and de Gournay Co-founder and Director Dominic Evans-Freke, the Holtz team responded to questions about specific techniques and strategies used from Evans-Freke himself.
The recommendation is worth the effort, Holtz says.
“We wanted to pursue the designation because de Gournay wallpaper is so highly regarded internationally,” Holtz says. “Our clients who have used it in their homes could not be happier with the quality of the designs and workmanship.”
Wicks says applicants are evaluated individually because every setting is unique and presents its own challenges.
“Each installer will have their own ways of creating the perfect finish,” she says. “[Those] who have worked with our papers over the years have discovered that there is not a standard way to hang them, as each ground is so uniquely different from the other.”
Founded in 1986 by Claud Cecil Gurney and his nephew, Evans-Freke, de Gournay began as a firm dedicated to re-introducing the ancient Chinese tradition of hand-painted wallcoverings for a modern era. Now the firm has six collections ranging from classic Asian to panoramas and geometrics. Additional offerings include textured wallcoverings and special collaborations with other design partners.
Customers wishing to have de Gournay creations gracing their homes may select from in-stock offerings that include wallpapers, lampshades, decorative porcelain pieces, mirrors, screens, and framed wallpaper mounted on canvas. Another option is to personalize an existing wallpaper design by specifying flowers or animals depicted to suit taste or geographic location. De Gournay artists will also work with clients wishing to create a one-of-a-kind design.
The Holtz & Son wallpaper team recognizes the significance of being named a de Gournay recommended installer – the only company in Virginia to hold the designation.
“Our team is dedicated to providing professional and thorough service to every customer, no matter what the project involves,” Holtz says. “But they love it when they can hang fine wallpaper such as de Gournay – it really is a work of art. There are few people in the world who can say they’ve had that experience.”