PaintPRO, Vol. 9, No. 2
March/April 2007
PaintPRO, Vol 9 No 2

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Other articles in this issue:
Color Trends
Decorative Plasters
Tooling: Airless Paint Sprayers
Technique: Vinegar Painting
Estimating Etc.
Business Strategies
Product Profiles
Finishing Touch
Paint Industry News
Product News
PaintPRO Archives — Project Profile
Hoppe Bros.
This interior features decorative stained, painted and plastered finishes on everything from the ceiling to the walls and trim. Hoppe Brothers & Sons even refinished furniture for this long-term client.

Hoppe Brothers & Sons Inc.

Going the Extra Mile: An Enduring Customer Relationship. The Hoppe brothers' dedication to their trade turns a one-time customer into a lifelong client.
by Amy Johnson

Mike and Bob Hoppe are used to taking the long view. After all, the cousins are the third generation to prosper as painting contractors in what grew into a family business, Hoppe Brothers & Sons, in Yorba Linda, Calif. The company began to specialize in high-end finishes more than 30 years ago. Today it operates a unique school for faux finishing, Faux Masters Studio, in addition to delivering an exquisite level of technique and service to clients new and old.

Mike Hoppe believes that going above and beyond the call of duty has been the key to a 20-plus year relationship the company has with one customer.

“Our first project together was a remodel,” he says. “Not everybody thinks about the entire journey when they choose materials, so things get put in that the average painter can’t make look right. Instead of settling for a look that was less then perfect, it was all about finding solutions to problems.”

Instead of trying to convince the customer that what she wanted could not be done, Mike asked himself, “What do we need to get there?” And then he looked beyond the usual sources. The first example was wrought iron patio furniture. The house was on the beach, with near-constant exposure to sun and salt-laden moisture. The finish on the furniture failed within a couple of years. Hoppe finally found a solution in the automotive industry — paint developed for cars that could stand up to tough conditions.

Many of the various details in this exterior view require maintenance painting and finishing.

Innovative solutions combined with a crew of professionals who are experts in the latest techniques have kept this relationship strong over the decades. In the mid-1980s the customer wanted an antiqued, distressed look that became very popular — years later. Hoppe Brothers & Sons were ahead of their time when they pioneered techniques to make new oak gates and garage doors look distressed. They even antiqued a steel brace that supported an old tree in the garden.

More than just paint
This problem-solving attitude takes Hoppe Brothers & Sons well beyond the usual job description of house painters. Once the customer grew frustrated with a tile installer with a limited imagination. All he could offer was a glaze that would not deliver the finish she wanted. “She gave me a look that said, you could do better than that,” Mike says. He did.

In fact, Mike and his crew took that implicit challenge throughout the whole house. Instead of simply painting rooms, the company used multiple techniques to make each space unique. The kitchen walls had multiple colored glazes, down to a small oak panel that hid a recess for a can opener. In the family room and living room the walnut paneling was given a furniture finish. The master bedroom had a crackle finish on the wall panels, doors and windows. Even the switch-plates were grained to look like walnut, and track lighting was treated to blend into wood. “The exercise room, the crafts room, the shooting room — there wasn’t anything inside that didn’t have fancy treatment,” says Mike.

Hoppe Bros
This is the back side of the house’s exterior. It faces the ocean.

A painter’s work is never done
This house was just the first of three the Hoppes have worked on for this customer since 1986. The latest is a 25,000-square-foot home on the ocean. “There is always something to be done,” Mike says.

Even when they are done finishing the interior, including the furniture, there will always be exterior work due to the harsh conditions on the beach. “We may be out for a year here and there, but we will always come back to take care of things. We wouldn’t be there if every detail wasn’t important to the customer.”

And how do the Hoppes feel about being called upon to do things outside their job description? Are they apprehensive about trying the unknown? Do they chafe at the demands of exacting clients? Far from it. Bob Hoppe explains, “We have excellent people in the field who have the skill and imagination to solve technical and artistic problems.” Mike Hoppe elaborates: “I view it as a treasure to have the opportunity to respond to these challenges. Life would have been real boring just rolling paint on the wall.”

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