Oscar Ayala, who has just celebrated 10 years of employment with H.J. Holtz & Son, believes that part of doing a job well is doing it neatly.
“I always like to have everything nice – how everyone looks, how they work,” he says. “I want each job to be the best.”
Ayala’s position as foreman means he coordinates project details between the main office and the work site, managing the site and handling unforeseen developments that necessitate quick responses.
“Sometimes, there are differences [to navigate,] but we always figure it out,” he says.
One recent project that featured distinctive challenges was the Cedar Works apartment building, in Richmond’s Rocketts Landing neighborhood. The building, which had been part of a multi-structure manufacturing complex, was renovated and restyled with upscale apartments that featured bare brick walls and wood support beams.
Ayala spearheaded the painting of the building’s six levels (five residential floors and the basement), which necessitated working around the historic wood beams – some of which are said to have markings left by workers more than 100 years ago – and steering clear of exposed ceiling duct work.
Despite the obstacles, and residents, who were eager to see the project completed, Ayala says the job was a delight.
“I always like a big job because we get to work in one place for a while,” he says. “We do have to clean it every day – because people live there – but it was a good job. We just worked around everything.”
Ayala had worked as a painter for six years before coming to the company at the encouraging of several friends, who were then working for H.J. Holtz & Son. Even though Ayala was already an experienced painter, he had to learn the “Holtz ways” of doing things, he says. He was quickly promoted to foreman because of his ability to coordinate multiple tasks and keep projects on schedule.
“This company is one of the best in Richmond, and the painters are good to work with,” he says. Ayala says he enjoys his work because it’s always changing. “Every day, we learn something different,” he says, adding that he keeps abreast of new paints and techniques through videos and product classes.
In the end, he says, he enjoys both leading a team as well as delivering a finished project that will satisfy the client, noting “We want to make sure everything looks good.”