James Draine and Shane Legano haven’t seen it all. But they’ve seen plenty.
The pair, who often work together hanging wallpaper and other coverings for H.J. Holtz & Son, are both celebrating their 20th anniversaries with the firm this spring. Shane joined the company in April 2003 and trained for 18 months before he hung wallpaper on his own. James was hired for occasional carpentry work in 2002 and became a full-time crew member less than a month later, in May.
Do they feel the passage of time?
“Sometimes yes, and sometimes no,” Shane says, adding that he now notices his distance from the ground when he’s atop ladders and scaffolding. “I’d do that when I was younger and not even think about it.”
The expanse of years doesn’t present itself “until you start to reminisce,” James says. “Then you really start thinking, ‘That was 20 years ago.’ The whole company has developed; it was nothing compared to what it is now.”
When James joined H.J. Holtz & Son, the company’s building on West Moore Street in Scott’s Addition was so rudimentary that he started by creating in-house work spaces. “There was one rinky-dink office in the back,” he says. “Because I came from framing houses, my first assignment was to build a secretary’s office.”
From there, James moved into the painting division, beginning with exterior prep work. As his skills developed, he moved on to exterior painting, then interior painting. Once he felt confident in his painting skills, he shifted to wallpaper and faux finishes, training under Shane and Dannon Featherston, another longtime team member.
“I’m always like, ‘Okay, what’s next?’” James says, adding that he has no ambitions to move into management, the only company division where he’s never worked. “I will never, ever, ever go into an office,” he says. “I don’t like dealing with other people’s headaches.”
Following a car accident more than five years ago, Shane worked in the front office as he recovered. When he was able to return to in-home projects, he divided his time between office tasks and in-house projects. “That didn’t work,” he says. “Being in the field is stressful, but the office is different. I’m happy to be out in the field.”
Both appreciate the opportunities they have had to learn their craft through practice and continuing education, which the company encourages and pays for. Shane says that conventions expose them to the latest techniques while comparing notes with other paper hangers who do the same kind of work.
And they appreciate how the company values employees. “There are a lot of paint companies who let their guys go in the winter,” James says. “That doesn’t happen here.”
Shane adds: “I’ve never missed work because of a slow time. Even during COVID, we stayed busy. We did crazy stuff [to stay safe and protect clients], but we kept working.”
Company President Rick Holtz also helps in times of personal crisis, they say. Shane lost his son Skyler to cancer in the fall of 2020. He was given paid personal time, both before and after his son’s death, to be home with family. “Not many people would do that,” he says. “Rick came to see me often; we’d just sit on the front porch.”
James says that employees know that if they need help, all they need to do is go into Holtz’s office. “You could walk in there whether you’ve been here a week or three years,” he says. “We’re extremely blessed to be here.”