‘Go Big or Go Home'
Building upon its legacy, R & R Coatings, Inc. aspires to continued growth
Sometimes leadership is born from unfortunate events. A family business originally founded in the early ’90s by father-son duo, George Ralph Jr.and George Ralph III, R & R Coatings, Inc. (R & R) has seen tremendous growth over the past two and a half decades. The company, incorporated in 2003, began as a primarily residential painting company, but soon evolved to include large commercial/industrial painting services, concrete restoration and repair, concrete polishing/staining, and seamless resinous systems (epoxy, urethane, MMA, polyaspartic, etc.).
Little did Dan DiGrazio Jr. know that when he joined R & R in 2014 as a Sales Rep/Estimator, that by Spring 2020 he would step into the role of leading the company.
Introduced to R & R by George Ralph III’s daughter (Dan’s then girlfriend), Dan joined the company while he was still in college. “George wanted me to help him grow the business. I started off learning floor installation, then moved to sales, and then estimating,” he says. By 2016, Dan had earned his degree but remained at the company. Two short years later, Dan would find himself handling project management, administration and finances.
In May 2020, George Ralph III died unexpectedly from a heart attack. The family was devastated, but Dan knew what he needed to do. A succession plan quickly went into effect, and Dan stepped into George’s role as President. Today, he continues to guide the company using the values George Jr. and George III worked so hard to instill.
Family First Always
Based in Salisbury, Maryland, R & R has experienced rapid growth throughout the Mid-Atlantic and along the East Coast over the last decade. The company primarily specializes in industrial and commercial painting and high-performance coatings, seamless resinous flooring (like epoxy and urethane), concrete polishing and staining, and media blasting.
Still a family-run company, Dan is now married to George III’s daughter, Hailey DiGrazio, and Dan’s brother, David DiGrazio, is employed by the firm. Dan says, “I have no intention of altering the way the company operated under George’s great leadership. In honor of his legacy, I am maintaining our family atmosphere, camaraderie and people-first mentality.” According to Dan, the staff admired and respected George’s management style, something he strives to emulate.
Finding a Niche
Although it started as a painting company, R&R has found much success in the Mid-Atlantic states providing flooring systems for retail, hospitality and large industrial clients. R & R has worked with several national clients, including Adidas, Dave and Buster’s and Chipotle. Dan estimates they have provided flooring systems for more than 150 Chipotles along the East Coast.
One approach the team has used on “back of the house” flooring in restaurants is a cementitious urethane (a type of seamless resinous flooring system) that provides resistance to thermal shock as well as abrasion and chemical resistance. Knowledge is power, and the R & R teams understands that working in any type of facility involving food and beverages requires strict adherence to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards.
The company’s portfolio isn’t limited to food and beverage, retail or commercial work, says Dan. “We do a lot of projects for local school systems, hospitals and surgery centers, and municipal buildings.” Many health care projects need medical devices to be highly sterilized, so R & R uses a zip wall and Infection Control Risk Assessment (ICRA) protective wall systems in conjunction with dustless grinders, high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuums, and HEPA air scrubbers to ensure all the equipment and air is kept contaminant free.
Dan points to one project in particular that makes him proud—the Peninsula Regional Medical Center (now TidalHealth) helipad restoration in Salisbury. The project consisted of the demolition of existing coatings and design and installation of a coating system commonly found on military flight decks. “It was unique because of the challenge of trying to vapor blast on top of a roof. It also contained elaborate critical stenciling/lettering. We designed, specified and installed this project all in-house.
“Combine that with the cleanliness aspect required here, and it was a very rewarding project to complete, knowing how important it is for the community.” The project won a 2019 Excellence in Construction Award in the Exteriors category from the Chesapeake Shores Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. (ABC).
R & R has strategically developed an array of product offerings to accommodate any wall or flooring challenge a client may have. “My team can do it all, inside or out,” Dan says. “We can paint your walls or reinforce them. We can coat your roof or your floors. We can weather seal your whole building. We are a one-stop shop.”
“Chipotle and Shake Shack like us because we’re proficient at what we do…we provided a seamless resin system to the ‘back of the house’ and then polished the front of house. In many cases we were able to be in and out in three to four days.” R & R can execute with high efficiency because a general contractor only needs to hire one subcontractor to complete a variety of tasks.
Back to Fundamentals
Dan explains that R & R is part of the ABC STEP training and education program currently, receiving the rank of Diamond level. The company uses ISNetworld and ConstructSecure, a risk management solutions provider, to monitor safety protocols as well. “Safety is as important as proper education surrounding the why we take precautions on job sites,” he says. “Our employees undergo a rigorous training program, which includes both individual manufacturers’ training programs as well as the R & R program.”
Dan also currently chairs a regional council for the ABC and has been nominated to sit on the board of directors for the organization. He’s passionate about keeping up to date on current legislation and industry trends to better serve his clients and employees.
But even greater than the training or education aspect, Dan is most impressed by the dedication of his people to maintain George’s legacy. “When George passed, the employees banded together to make sure his legacy continued. They came together to focus on delivering projects, supporting one another and continuing the family culture that was so important to him. It was really special to see.”
Providing Community Service
Part of that culture is a commitment to community. The employees take pride in using their skills to help. Recently, R & R donated the refurbishment of a World War I cannon to a memorial site in Salisbury. Dan said, “It arrived at our shop in need of serious repair. It had been subject to vandalism and decay for many years. We media blasted and refinished it using an industrial grade epoxy with urethane system.” Today, the refinished cannon sits alongside a 1955 War Memorial at Priscilla Street and North Salisbury Boulevard in Maryland.
The team has also partnered with Sherwin-Williams to donate the material and labor necessary to prepare an exterior wall on a historic building off Church Street for a mural honoring an African American Georgetown neighborhood. Recently they also teamed with Pittsburgh Paints (now PPG Paints) to donate refurbishment of a piece of steel recovered from the Twin Towers currently located at the 9/11 firefighters memorial in Ocean City, Maryland.
Dan has a big vision for the company’s future. He not only aspires to continue giving back to his community but also strives to continue to grow the company for the benefit of his employees, their families and customers. His motto—“Go big or go home”— means the possibilities for the future are endless, yet emphasizes that one thing will remain the same. “We may grow but we will never lose our small-company feel, and we’ll never forget our roots and those great leaders who founded R & R.”