If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

That was the approach James Wright took when his first application to H.J. Holtz & Son was turned down.

Wright began his career working with a general contractor, but left that position to focus on painting. By the time he approached Holtz & Son, he had four years of painting experience under his belt. Following the initial “no,” Wright bided his time.

After six months, he submitted a new application – and was hired. In May 2022, Wright marks his 10th anniversary with the firm.

“Before I came here, when I was with other painting companies, other people always said Holtz was the best company to work for,” Wright says. “I figured, if I get on there, I’m going to make it last as long as possible.”

Wright says H.J. Holtz & Son’s good reputation among working painters is related to the firm’s bevy of employee benefits, including paid vacation time, which many painting companies don’t offer. Additionally, Holtz & Son offers the chance to broaden your skills, Wright says, noting that he’s now a relatively new member of the paper-hanging division.

“After eight years, I was getting a little bored with painting,” he says. “I asked if I could try out the wallpaper.”

Because he had seen other employees move within the company, Wright says, he felt confident in making the switch. “James Draine, Shane Legano and Dannon Featherston all helped me,” he says. “I like the artistic freedom [involved in wallpaper projects], and [hanging wallpaper] is not as hard as people make it out to be.”

But he’s still learning, he adds.

“I’m working on my third year in wallpaper,” he says. “There’s a lot of different situations … so many different situations. I know if I need help, [the team] would be there with me.”

Happy anniversary, James!



More than ever, the door is open to new employees at H.J. Holtz & Son.

With increasing demand for painting, carpentry and wallpaper services, Rick Holtz, company president of H.J. Holtz & Son, says he is reaching out to prospective employees as much as prospective customers.

“We need to keep at [hiring] consistently,” Holtz says, noting that the greatest pressure is in the carpentry division, which has expanded dramatically over the last two years.

“We have many stand-alone carpentry jobs now – custom fireplace wraparounds, shelving, you name it,” he says. “What happens is that we go in for a painting or wallpapering job and realize carpentry repairs are necessary, and that just adds to the load.”

Holtz said good workers can come from a variety of backgrounds so long as they are open to learning new skills.

“We need people who aren’t scared to make mistakes,” he says. “We all learn by making mistakes, and we have an atmosphere where we understand that. We put people on teams so they get to know one another and learn from one another. Our craftspeople are always learning.”

As a third-generation company that has added roughly 20 new employees in the past decade, Holtz & Son has established management practices and systems that ensure regular, sustained work. That’s not always possible with smaller firms, Holtz says.

“So many small painting companies don’t have the structure to provide consistent employment,” he notes. “That means workers don’t know what they’re going to do from one day to the next. Or even if they’ll have work from one day to another. We’re not winging it; our teams know what’s coming weeks in advance.”

Steady work means a steady paycheck, and the company also offers access to health insurance and a Simple IRA. Additionally, Holtz & Son has an employee profit-sharing program. When a certain profit level is reached – which has happened every year for the past 6 years – employees receive a portion of the proceeds.

“We have a team atmosphere with goals and direction,” Holtz says. “There’s also the opportunity to have a career path, to change jobs and advance within the company.”

Holtz points to Travis Gibson, who began as a painter a decade ago and is now an estimator, and Shane Legano, who began as a painter, became a wallpaper hanger, and is now lead wallpaper hanger, as just two examples of people within the firm who have taken advantage of in-house opportunities.

“At a lot of painting companies, you’re going to be a painter,” he says. “You might run a job once or twice, but then you have to leave to have a bigger role. That’s not the case here.”

In the end, Holtz says, his goal is to helm a business that succeeds both financially and personally.

“We are a family company, and we all have to make adjustments when necessary,” he says. “We have to be flexible, because we all have demands on our time. We are a company willing to invest in people who want to succeed.”



As the saying goes, the one thing constant in life is change.

At H. J. Holtz & Son we embrace change and think it leads to higher employee retention and customer satisfaction. Recently, we rearranged the duties of a few people and promoted several of our employees. Company president Rick Holtz says he is always happy when existing team members are able to reach into a new area or learn a new skill.

“We like to promote from within,” he says. “People who have been with us for a while know ‘the Holtz way’ and are comfortable with our processes and how we do business. Plus, it makes me happy as an employer to see someone stretch into a new position – to grow and develop with us.”

The update:

Sharon Carroll, Finance & HR Manager

While Carroll’s title hasn’t changed, she now handles all billing, not just wallpaper. The change was necessitated by the 2020 death of family member Carol Hudson, who had managed the bulk of billing as well as some project management duties.

Carroll says the additional responsibilities are manageable, but have a distinctive flow.

“I enjoy doing the billing,” Sharon says. “It is just a bit challenging at times because of the volume tends to be at the end of the month.”

Carroll has been with the company since fall 2014.

Holley Nilson, Project Coordinator

Nilson has occupied a variety of positions at the company in the past six years, managing Instagram, Facebook and blog posts. She shifted away from marketing into assisting with estimates. Now, she works exclusively with Rick Holtz, preparing estimates, coordinating and scheduling wallpaper installations, and other tasks as needed. Nilson says she appreciates being able to see the many facets of the business.

“My new position allows me to see most projects from beginning to end, which I love,” Nilson says. “I enjoy working with the designers, clients and the other members of the Holtz team. My goal is to make it a little easier for everyone involved in the process. I have learned so much, especially about wallpaper and the skills required to hang it. We have the most amazing paper hangers. They are just one of the many skilled craftsman that are a part of the Holtz team, and I have so much respect for all of them!”

Jose Orellana, Painting Foreman

Orellana, who has been with H.J. Holtz & Son for eight years, sought out the promotion to foreman because he felt he was ready to increase his responsibilities.

“I looked for this opportunity because I knew I could do it,” he says, adding that his goal is to ensure punctuality with every job and ensure the details are in place so clients are happy with the process as well as the product.

“I want clients to be satisfied,” he says.

Roxy Reyes, Project Manager

Reyes, who joined the company in fall 2019, has moved quickly from painter to foreman to project manager. She says she is thankful that she was approached to make the change, as it allows her the opportunity to work with more members of the Holtz team.

“Helping people brings me a lot of joy,” she says. “Now I have more responsibilities to help as much as I can.”

Rick Holtz says he’s thankful to have people throughout the company who take their jobs seriously.

“Every person on our team is important,” he says. “We are only as strong as our weakest link.”



While many employees describe working for H.J. Holtz & Son to being part of a family, painter Juan Carlos Villanueva really is surrounded by relatives.

Cousin Oscar Ayala, who has been with the company for nearly a dozen years, initially recruited Villanueva. Now, Villanueva’s two sons – Miguel and Jonathan – are also painters with Holtz & Son.

“They work on other [painting] teams,” Villanueva laughs.

Villanueva, who assists with both interior and exterior jobs, says the in-house training that all Holtz & Son employees receive serves him well for the detail painting work that he prefers. The training also supports the company’s thorough approach to all its jobs.

“There’s a [level of] quality that we have: how we prep the areas, how we take care of [customers’] belongings, furniture, and other items,” he says.

Villanueva says he particularly enjoys working with Fine Paints of Europe, a high-end line of coatings that are preferred by designers and customers looking for a truly luxe and durable finish. H.J. Holtz & Son is recognized as a certified painter by Fine Paints of Europe. FPE coatings are “very delicate,” Villanueva says. “Not everybody can use it.”

And, yes, everyone in the company is treated like family, he says.

“I love working [here] because people are nice,” he says. “Other companies don’t work like this one. When you have to take days off, they give it to you without complaint or asking questions. They have your back.”



Luis Alas says a decade has gone by “real quick.”

When Alas was laid off from his previous job 10 years ago, his friend Oscar Ayala suggested he look to H.J. Holtz & Son for employment. Alas had some painting experience and trusted his friend’s recommendation, so he approached the firm and was hired as an apprentice painter. Now, he’s a foreman, overseeing his own team.

“A lot of people think [painting] is just grabbing a brush, roller and some tape, but it’s more than meets the eye,” he says. “A lot of jobs require some or a lot of preparation, and many jobs require that you are meticulous.”

Alas says he enjoys working on home interiors, especially cabinetry, because the change is so noticeable. In 2019, Alas led a Holtz painting crew working on Carr’s Hill, the home of the president of the University of Virginia. Carr’s Hill, which was built in 1909, received extensive renovations and repairs as part of an 18-month project that fixed roof problems as well as updated the interiors for public and private events. The Holtz team’s responsibilities included stripping paint not only from walls, but on wide crown molding and detailed, decorative plaster work throughout the house.

“We used eco-friendly paint remover and scrapers; the layers were hard to remove,” Alas says. “We started with three or four people, then the crew just kept getting bigger.”

Alas says he appreciates how he learned his craft from experienced Holtz workers, and says he’s now part of that tradition.

“Everybody was good with teaching [me]; now I’m doing it, too – helping younger people who are starting,” he says. “Everybody has their way of doing things, but at the end, you all want to have the same final product.”

Alas says he was happy to become a foreman because it gave him the opportunity to expand his responsibilities and build leadership skills.

“As foreman, there’s more communication with homeowners and the management team,” he says. “I talk with contractors and [job] superintendents daily.”

Alas says he appreciates the confidence that company president Rick Holtz has in his employees. Several years ago, Alas’ crew spent three weeks on a job in Atlanta, on their own. The large project was a renovation of a residential library, with floor-to-ceiling paneling that had to be stripped of paint, sanded, and stained. Holtz had offered to allow the team to fly home on the weekends, but the crew decided to remain in Atlanta and sightsee together.

“He trusted sending his crew to another city, knowing that he can count on us to take care of the job,” Alas says. “It was a nice experience.”

H.J. Holtz & Son has tripled in size since Alas joined the company, a development which has made a difference in one way, but not another, he says.

“I haven’t been able to work with everybody, but [the company] was always family-oriented, and it still is,” Alas says. “[Holtz & Son] was a friendly place from the get-go, and that’s the same. It’s been a great experience.”



Gary Benton had to find a new job.

In 2006, following a surgery for his wife, Benton needed time at home, to care for her and their infant. But his then-employer wanted him on the job. “I was told to show up or I’d be fired, so I called and said, ‘Well, guess I’m fired.’”

A week later, Benton walked into the H.J. Holtz & Son offices and presented himself to president Rick Holtz.

“Rick said ‘When can you start?’” Benton recalls. “It’s one of the best things that’s ever happened to me.”

Fifteen years later, Benton is still with Holtz & Son and continues to be impressed with the company’s focus on what’s really important.

“Anytime you’ve got something going on with the family, you let [the office] know, and they let you go,” he says. “Rick’s got a family – he understands, and he calls all of us family.”

Before joining Holtz & Son, Benton had been working as a foreman for both painting and wallpapering jobs, but when he switched jobs, he went back to being part of a crew and focused on painting exclusively. After some time with Holtz & Son, a painting foreman’s job opened. His decision to apply was confirmed when Rick Holtz found him one day and said, “I expect to hear from you.”

“That was him telling me he thought I was ready,” Benton says.

Over the years, Benton has sought exterior painting jobs, happy to avoid the challenges of interior work, where crews have to be mindful of furnishings and décor. “So much can happen inside, anytime” he says. “I like working outside, and you don’t have the headaches of being inside.”

Of course, there are challenges to exterior painting, with complicated house designs hindering access to areas that need attention.

“Years ago, I’d be like, ‘How are we going to get this done?’” he says. “Now, I’ve pretty well done every angle on a house that you can get to. It’s gotten easier, because I know so much.”

Benton says he initially sought employment with H.J. Holtz & Son because he had heard it was the best company in the area to work for. That reputation was bolstered when Benton himself suffered an accident outside of work, resulting in surgery on both wrists. He didn’t lose his job and came back to work after two weeks of recovery, using only one hand.

“This is the best place somebody could want to work,” he says. “They treat you good, there are good benefits, and all the people who work here are great.

Happy 15th anniversary, Gary Benton!