To Bob Grabill, owner of Grabill Painting & Drywall, the formula for success is simple: Offer the best service, hire the best employees and do the best job.
“I enjoy what I do,” he says, “and I want to be the best at it.”
Grabill has been conducting business based on that principle since he started working for his father while he was still in high school and it has paid off. By 1988, he had bought one third of the company from his father and just eight years later he was able to purchase the remaining two thirds.
While the company originally handled only painting, Grabill quickly incorporated drywall into the mix. The move made perfect sense to Grabill, who believes that even the best paint job can look bad when the underlying drywall isn’t done well. Customers agreed and immediately started taking advantage of the new service.
Today, Grabill Painting & Drywall offers a broad range of services for residential and commercial applications. From new construction to remodeling to repair work on projects large and small, there isn’t much the company doesn’t do.
“We cover all the bases,” says Grabill.
Having such broad footing allows the company to better weather economic storms. When there’s a downturn in the new housing market, for example, one of the other trade areas can carry the business.
However, what really drives Grabill Painting & Drywall’s success is the company’s commitment to quality and service at a fair price. Anyone can offer two of those three elements, but according to Grabill, “it’s hard to have all three. But when you do, competition melts away.”
Grabill is quick to give credit to his team. “It’s not about me,” he says. “I’m where I am because of my employees.”
Even though the company boasts a staff of 43, it still feels like a family. Turnover is low; Grabill notes that sometimes the company will go two or three years without losing an employee – and those who leave often come back. “It’s a nice place to work,” he says.
Taking care of workers represents only half of the company’s motto. According to Grabill it has two parts: Part 1) Take care of employees, Part 2) Take care of customers.
To make sure he is offering the best possible value, Grabill keeps the company lean and efficient. He believes firmly in the responsible stewardship of resources, so he keeps things well organized. For example, the shop is set up like an auto bay, and each service vehicle has a permanently assigned parking spot inside. Racking in front of each truck serves as a staging area where workers preload the day’s materials. When it is time to load the truck for the next job, the materials are positioned and ready, saving time and effort.
“We know who is going to which job every day,” says Grabill. “We stay as efficient as possible.”
That helps keep jobs on schedule, too. Unlike many other service companies that schedule arrival windows that span hours, Grabill Painting & Drywall’s customers know exactly when to expect a work crew. Schedulers set up specific appointment times and the crews stick to them.
“We want to be as customer friendly as possible,” says Grabill. “When we show up, we want people to be happy with us, not irritated. This is what our guys do and they’re good at it.”
Purchasing or refreshing a home can be a stressful time for many people, and Grabill wants to take the stress out of the parts he can control. With his company’s service, quality and fair price focus, he hopes to make the process as enjoyable as possible for his customers.
This approach has allowed the company to secure thousands of jobs over the years, and they all matter to Grabill. The large jobs, he says, “make you feel like you really accomplished something, but the small ones feel more personal.” On occasion, Grabill even gets a thank you card from a homeowner. And he has a special appreciation for the mid-sized jobs that keep the company going.
The jobs that stand out the most are the ones Grabill Painting & Drywall can do in kind. Homes the company has painted for Habitat for Humanity, for example, really mean a lot to Grabill. “It feels good to do something that gives back to the community,” he says. “You know the benefit it will bring.”
Grabill prides himself on being a fair and honest competitor. He doesn’t go after other companies’ work, and he values the experience of others.
“I have a lot of respect for guys who have been in this industry longer than me,” he says.
Clearly, Grabill enjoys his work, and he’d like to think that his deliberate efforts toward maintaining a skilled and customer-focused staff have dressed up the profession.
“The construction industry is feast or famine. If I didn’t like it, I’d fail,” says Grabill. “After all these years, we’re still here and we’re here to stay.”
Owner(s): Bob Grabill
Address: 7212 Venture Lane, Fort Wayne, Indiana 46818
Phone: 888-GRABILL (472-2455)
Years in Business: 36
Number of Employees: 43
Products & Services: Residential and commercial painting and drywall services, including new construction, remodeling and repair work.