On a Roll
Employee training, commitment to community help U.S. Coatings stand out
At this company that’s all about making things perfect at the surface level, it’s what’s underneath that matters most.
At U.S. Coatings, that’s leadership committed to quality workmanship, customer satisfaction, employee education, creative solutions and a focus on community.
The person overseeing the full-service paint contracting firm —Sharolyn McCrary —delivers.
“We’re here to make you look good and make your life easier,” says McCrary, who for the last five years has served as the San Diego-based company’s Director of Operations while transitioning into the role of President.
The company serves commercial, industrial, government and residential customers. It performs interior and exterior painting for new construction, repainting, tenant improvement projects, remodels, refreshes and more.
Learning on the Job
McCrary, who earned a degree in accounting, has been learning every facet of the industry for more than a dozen years at U.S. Coatings.
“I came from not knowing anything about this business to having someone trust me enough to turn over their business,” she says. “I owe all my knowledge and education in the field to the amazing mentorship of Peter Andersen.”
The invaluable lessons she has learned from Andersen, outgoing President of the company, combined with her personal background and experience give her a unique perspective not often seen in construction and building services—this is a firm run by an African-American, disabled, veteran woman.
“It’s rare for this industry to have a leader who is all four of those things,” McCrary says, “but it’s worth recognizing.”
It’s true that her diverse background makes U.S. Coatings eligible for government contracts for minority-owned businesses, but the bigger advantage is how it positions her to lead the company and best serve her community, employees and customers.
“Having an operation where the overall day-to-day is female-run allows us to think outside the box, get things done and find solutions that others might overlook,” McCrary says. “It’s worth celebrating—we are sending a message to other young women and breaking down barriers.”
Of the 20 employees at U.S. Coatings, four females work on the business side of things and one is in the field. “This industry has been male-dominated for so long, but we are making progress,” McCrary says.
As the company’s leader, McCrary has made education and training a priority for all employees. Having staff that is knowledgeable about products and applications helps U.S. Coatings stand out from its Southern California competitors. That doesn’t happen without special attention.
“We make sure our people develop mentorships and relationships so that everyone can get experience with specialty products and have a range of knowledge,” McCrary says. “We try to cross-train, educate and provide hands-on experience for everyone in all areas.”
In addition to a full range of painting services, U.S. Coatings provides anti- graffiti coatings, high-performance faux finishing, hydroblast cleaning, stucco repair and refinishing, wall covering installation, as well as staining.
The team can also install flexible waterproofing systems, known as elastomeric coatings, which are typically used on projects that have had water penetration problems or severe cracking. The finish looks like paint but is thicker and allows the substrate to crack underneath up to a 1/8 inch without any visual appearance.
U.S. Coatings professionals also specialize in epoxy polyurethane coatings, which feature high-performance paint products used in areas where rust can be a problem. These coatings are options for exposed structural steel and architectural metals that are exposed to moisture.
“We do constant training to give everyone on staff a foundation on all of our services, so that anyone can complete any of our jobs and meet our standards,” McCrary says.
All that training and mentorship has built a true camaraderie among the team and created a tight-knit family atmosphere.
“We all have come to really know one another and have strong relationships,” McCrary says. “That helps us understand and explore one another’s strengths and weaknesses so we can lift each other up. At U.S. Coatings, we all grow together.”
Making Customers Happy
That environment also fosters a focus on McCrary’s top priority: doing the job right and on time.
“When using us, clients know they are not only getting quality services, a great rate, product expertise and quality paint, but also an ability to be flexible,” she says.
Satisfied clients aren’t stingy with their praise.
U.S. Coatings was instrumental in helping deliver high-quality, attractive work on new construction projects, general contractor Zigman/Shields says. James Connolly of Triton Properties had a similar experience. “U.S. Coatings is one of the best contractors I’ve ever worked with,” he says. “They did beautiful work and were efficient in getting it done.”
Like many in the industry, U.S. Coatings has faced challenges in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The biggest obstacle has been paint shortages. McCrary says proper planning and scheduling has helped her crews to continue delivering on-time results.
“Paint is harder to come by, but the work remains,” she says. “So, we’ve had to seek and procure the materials in advance to keep projects on schedule and keep things rolling.”
Serving the Community
U.S. Coatings has completed work in Texas and Northern California, but the bulk of its jobs have been in Southern California.
One recent job that McCrary is particularly proud of is an Amazon facility in Vista, California.
“Having the ability to provide various services and be a part of a project that will provide job opportunities for our local community during the pandemic has been really wonderful,” she says.
Serving the San Diego community is important to McCrary, not just with paint and finishing jobs, but also by giving back and helping others.
With her children, McCrary has organized blanket drives and collected hygiene and personal supplies for those experiencing homelessness in her community. They also regularly donate time and volunteer serving meals. She has rallied others from her team to do the same.
“We are doing it genuinely from our hearts,” she says. “We aren’t doing it to make a big production, but rather to serve and to fill a need. We’re looking to be a big vessel and give back to our community.”