About the Owner
Carlos Tacuri, Owner
My journey in America has not been one that I would have fathomed when I was a teenager in Ecuador. I come from a poor family with no formal education– what do I know about marketing a business or managing 15 employees? When I was 17, one of my uncles in Ossining offered to pay for my plane ticket, provided me a bed in his house, and had a job lined up for me with one of his flooring-contractor friends. It was Winter 2002, colder than I was used to but I was happy for the chance and began working my second day in America.
INGLES SIN BARRERAS
I had two great bosses, one American and one Irish, both of whom spoke only English. I spoke only Spanish. I didn’t know the work, but they were patient. They showed me by example. I became pretty good at sanding and staining hardwood floors. Being unable to communicate was very unsettling, so I enrolled in an evening class at Westchester Community College – and also enrolled in an online course called Ingles Sin Barreras or “English Without Any Barriers”. My baseline test pegged me at level zero – so that’s where I began. I was highly motivated: I read newspapers outside of class, watched videos, and practiced with anyone who would engage. After six months of immersive English, I was tested again and was able to skip to English Level 4 classes. After two years, I was comfortable enough to no longer attend class.
GETTING PAID AND THEN GETTING FIRED
I had been stateside for a year and was making enough money to buy a car and get my own place. I was of age, but hadn’t really transitioned to adulthood yet. I enjoyed my freedom but hadn’t fully appreciated the responsibility side of the equation. The newfound freedom went to my head; socializing all weekend long became my top priority. The weekend was starting earlier and lasting longer – to the point where being at work Monday mornings was cramping my lifestyle. My bosses - who had been so good to me - may have done the best thing for me by firing me after repeated chances. That reality check rendered a certain amount of clarity and my priorities changed.
MULTIPLE FAILS OUT THE GATE
My first inclination was to continue polishing floors and I took out an ad in the PennySaver. The phone rang - but barely. Things were not working out. Some previous contacts I made reached out to me to help as a subcontractor on some painting jobs. I was learning on the job. The first customer I generated on my own was a disaster. I put an egg-shell finish on a very large ceiling. It streaked on me and looked awful. Fortunately, the homeowner was on vacation. This afforded me the time to fix my error. I consulted with another painter and he was able to explain what went wrong.
For my second job, the homeowner requested that I apply a transparent stain to his wood siding. I didn’t know that transparent stain was a one-coat product. When I applied the second coating, the product was not penetrating and the job looked awful. Fortunately for me, the Benjamin Moore sales rep who I acquired the material from was willing to come see the job to give me advice. He quickly deduced that I applied two coats in error. I proactively reached out to the homeowner, explained the mishap, and asked him for extra time so that I could fix the shoddy work at no extra cost. At first, he was annoyed. Fortunately, he granted me the extra time. I had to strip the entire house and then correctly apply the transparent stain. He was pleased with the revised work and provided me with a glowing referral afterward. So, getting fired taught me the importance of being focused and prioritizing things correctly. Owning up to mistakes became my second important lesson: I concluded even if I lost money on a given job, so long as I made the customer happy, I knew there was a future
EXPANDING MY KNOWLEDGE, SERVICES, AND NETWORK
The third lesson I learned was the need to be committed to getting better. I leveraged anything that could help me in that matter. I joined Painting Contractors of America. I started networking with other local painters and learned about painting techniques and good business practices. I read and re-read The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber. It crystalized my understanding of doing versus thinking in business. I better understood the need to have a system to generate repeatable results and consistent performance. During my first three years of business, the lion share of my work was interior painting as a sub-contractor for a good-sized painting organization. I slowly grew my book of business, especially exterior painting . It became increasingly apparent that carpentry work to replace rotting siding was foundational work and that to have the homeowner engage a third-party was not good customer service. I added our first carpenter to the staff in 2007. We now have 3 full-time carpenters because many paint jobs require refurbishing first and some entail remodeling as well.
It has been so satisfying growing the business. I enjoy sitting with customers to understand their objectives and I love seeing them smile when we deliver a great project. While meeting new customers is always great, the greatest reward is getting called back a second, third or even fourth occasion from repeat customers each time they move or want us to further beautify their homes. While we are seasoned professionals now, I believe that there is always more to learn and embrace continuing education and being a lifelong student. It has been 18 months since I’ve joined the Briarcliff Manor chapter of BNI, Business Boosters. My first few months of driving over to meetings, I was so nervous. I would shake in the car, scared of having to speak in front of successful business men and women in my second tongue. It has been a nurturing organization that has helped me grow my business, polish my communications, learn superb customer service in other fields and have a list of vetted professionals who I can refer to clients and friends.
C.E.T. PAINTING & THE FUTURE
The crew I have now is like family. We all support each other and unify around two things. Being an ethical business and providing exceptional service. Getting better at what we do and mastering more ways to provide service is our formula for growing organically, getting more referrals and earning customers for life. Take a look at our gallery to review our work and call us at (914) 615-1415 when you are ready to talk about your project.