Two painting employees are celebrating long tenures with H.J. Holtz & Son this month.
Jack Faya and Jose Perez have been team members for 15 and 10 years, respectively. Each has had his own path at the firm; both agree the company’s atmosphere is special.
Jose Perez, a native of Azusa, Calif., came to Richmond after a chance meeting at a soccer game with someone from Richmond. That acquaintance became a friend, helping him get settled in a new town and find employment.
Jose worked for other painting companies in Richmond before coming to Holtz & Son in 2010 and says he saw differences between Holtz and other businesses immediately.
“There’s more conversation about the [painting] process here,” he says. “We have discussions about how to do a project. That helps us work better.”
Jose says he appreciates the thoughtfulness the Holtz team brings to jobsites. “I learn something different every day,” he says. “Each project is something different.”
Jack Faya, who is marking his 15th anniversary with H.J. Holtz & Son, also came to Richmond from a different place – a different continent.
In 2005, Faya was living in Ghana with his wife, having fled civil war in their home country of Togo. He was able to seek asylum in the United States because he had a sponsor already living in the U.S., which was required before he could emigrate.
Faya arrived in March, obtained a Social Security card on April 15 – essential for employment – and began his search for work. In July, as he was riding a bicycle through the Scott’s Addition neighborhood, he saw the sign for H.J. Holtz and Son and walked in.
He was greeted by Rick Holtz and his wife, Lindsay, who happened to be in the office. Between Faya’s limited English and Lindsay Holtz’s limited French, Faya was able to communicate that he had worked as a painter in Togo and needed a job in Richmond.
By the end of the day, he had one, working as an apprentice in the painting division.
Later, Faya worked in the carpentry shop, adding to his skill set. Eventually, he returned to painting and now is a foreman of his own team.
Faya says the transition to living and working in the United States wasn’t easy. He was startled by the many differences between his native country and the U.S., and the language barrier made it hard for him to interact with others, to explain what he was thinking and to ask questions.
After several years at H.J. Holtz & Son, Faya thought he should look for a different job, one where he would be more comfortable.
“Rick said, ‘No, I’m not letting you go; don’t think somewhere else will be better. Everything’s going to be all right here,’” Faya says. “That’s when I started to have hope.”
Now, Faya says, he is fully at home in Richmond and at Holtz & Son.
“It’s like family here,” he says. “Relationships are strong. Even when conflicts happen, the recovery is fast.”
For the past year, Faya has been working at Carter’s Grove in Williamsburg, a complete restoration of an 18th century mansion on the banks of the James River. The work there, Faya says, is unique, given the special needs of an historic property.
“That’s why I like working here; you have the opportunity to move [within the company] and learn something new,” Faya says. “This company is where you can stay and prove yourself.”