21 years and counting; Jeff Ragland has been a H.J. Holtz and Son paper hanger and decorative artist. A Richmond native and Douglas Freeman graduate, becoming a paper hanger and decorative artist was not on his radar at the time. While attending J. Sargeant Reynolds his roommate, who worked for H.J. Holtz and Son at the time, suggested he apply for a job. Obviously, Jeff took him up on his suggestion.
Jeff started the Spring of ‘96 as a helper. He sanded, scraped, caulked, puttied and cleaned. He recalls that Rick was a painter on his first job! Jeff made the transition from helper to painter and after a year and a half he began to apprentice under Richard Humlan, who was trained under Herman and Dick Holtz. At this point in his career, Richard was a wallcovering hanger that was contracted to hang H.J.Holtz and Son’s jobs. When Richard dislocated his shoulder, Jeff filled in and became the primary wallcovering hanger. For about five years, Jeff would work with Richard learning the ins and outs of hanging high end residential wallcoverings, but when there was a lull he would continue to perfect his decorative painting.
While he was wallcovering and painting he was self motivated to learn his trade. He attended classes, one in Philadelphia hosted by Ross O’Neill, teaching basic faux finishing techniques and giving information about products and tools.
Seven years into Jeff’s tenure, his friend Shane Legano was hired to work alongside him. Jeff and Shane were kept very busy hanging wallcoverings and decorative painting. They were constantly improving their skills. As the company grew in this area H.J.Holtz and Son joined the Wallcoverings Installers Association (WIA), which is a great support to our craftsmen. It offers training and other professionals to collaborate with, which Jeff and Shane still take advantage of to date. Dannon Featherstone became the third member of this team and together the three of them exclusively hang wallcoverings and decorative paint. Currently the wallpaper and decorative team includes up to seven craftspeople.
Jeff’s real passion is hanging wallcoverings. He likes envisioning the job from the beginning to the end and how to make it the best. He enjoys the complexity engineering nuances, deciding what should be the focal point and how it will look best in the room. He is always striving to improve, asking himself, “What could I have done differently for the next time.” Even mistakes are a positive in Jeff’s eyes because that is how you learn and perfect your trade.
Jeff has grown with the company. “There is always something interesting going on” and knows the work he does is appreciated and respected. Holtz gives him the tools and opportunities to develop and improve his skills, through the projects, continued education and travel. H.J. Holtz and Son cares about every piece of the project from the customers to the craftsmen and Jeff is apart of that team. Seeing the finished product gives Jeff great pride because the dramatic change is satisfying, but also an opportunity to progress in his craft.