James Draine’s simple wish for a job has led to a whole lot more: a career.
Starting with H.J. Holtz & Son in 2002 at the age of 19, Draine became a full-time employee in 2003 and just celebrated his 15th anniversary with the company. Along the way, he has worked in the carpentry, paint and wallpaper divisions, learning new skills at every opportunity.
“I always want to do the next step,” he says. “They find a way to get me there.” While Draine’s path began in carpentry, he moved on to prep work and then painting, eventually becoming a painting foreman. Even though he appreciated the progress, he knew he wanted to transition to paper hanging.“I like the transformation you make in a quick time,” he says. “When you’re painting a room, it’s gradual. When you hang paper, it’s like you snap your fingers” and see the difference.
Developing the skill set needed to be a good paper hanger doesn’t happen overnight, Draine notes. “I’ve only been with wallpaper for five years,” he says. “I’m just getting to the point where I’m hanging by myself. The more you do, the better you get.”
Draine credits Holtz & Son with providing training opportunities – both in-house and beyond – that benefit both employees and customers. “They teach us the proper way to do things,” he says, adding he especially appreciates how the company sends employees to national wallpaper conferences, where they can experience, first-hand, new techniques and materials.
“There aren’t that many people in Virginia who do high-end residential wallpaper,” he notes. “At the conference, you can talk about a problem you have, and five other people have dealt with that problem.”
Those challenges are what make the job fun, Draine says. For example, he recently worked on a project where he was hanging hand-painted, scenic Gracie wallpaper. The paper is so delicate, Draine says, that he has to be careful to keep his hands completely dry. He can’t wear gloves, because they would disturb the “feel” as he applies the paper to the wall. Yet, he enjoys working with that particular kind of wallpaper.
“There are a lot of people who work for a long time who never get to touch these [high-end papers],” he says.
Draine says he’s eager to continue to grow with Holtz & Son. “Everything’s different from job to job. Each paper dictates how you start it, how you stop it, how you do it,” he says. “I can only go up with productivity and quality.”