Tools of the Trade
Services Plus Corporation finds success in expansion
The most successful businesses never rest on success; instead, they look for ways and reasons to grow. Amazon started out just selling books. Netflix got its start renting DVDs through the mail. Both still do what they started out doing, but they’ve grown far beyond that.
Uga Defreitas, CEO of Services Plus Corporation, based in Holliston, Massachusetts, looks at his business in much the same way—never resting on success, but finding ways and means to grow and expand into new business. The name itself is proof of that.
Services Plus is the new name for a business Uga started in 2002, which was named Painters Plus. “Painting and construction is the industry I grew up in,” Uga says. “I was 16 when my family came to the United States from Brazil. I didn’t speak any English. I went to work in construction to help my parents. For a long time, it was just a paycheck.”
As a dedicated martial artist, Uga would work from 5 a.m. to 3 p.m., then head to the gym until 11 p.m. almost every day. He spent several years doing this, working as a subcontractor, until, at the age of 30, he decided he wanted something more. He saw the opportunity to build a new company.
A New Name and a New Start
For 15 years, Painters Plus grew, but Uga came to realize there were opportunities to expand and enlarge his business. In 2017, he added general contracting to his services, and Painters Plus was rechristened Services Plus.
“The problem with painting is it doesn’t have much repeat business,” Uga says. “When someone gets their house painted, it doesn’t need to be painted again for years. By then, maybe they’ve lost your business card, or maybe they’ve moved, and they don’t call you again.”
He adds, “Often houses also need work before painting. At first, we started hiring carpenters to add to our crews. Houses might need new trim, new wood, a new roof. I decided to add general contracting to our business so we would be able to handle all those things. Now, customers can one-stop shop with us. Our crews can handle all the customers’ needs. We have one crew working with the customer throughout the process. We build a relationship with the customer and they know they can call on us. Services Plus lets us create long-term relationships for all our customers’ needs.”
Building relationships with customers is a cornerstone of the Services Plus business model, a point of emphasis for Uga from the beginning.
“We give the customer item-by-item pricing so they know how much each part of the job costs,” Uga says. “That helps both of us. We send an estimator who documents everything that needs to be done, with pictures of every part of the job. When guys in the field arrive at the job, they can see the pictures the estimator took and know exactly what needs to be done. The customer receives an email 24 hours before the crew arrives, along with a video of the field manager introducing himself. It helps the relationship start to grow and breaks the ice.”
“Once the project is finished,” he continues, “the operations manager comes to the site, goes over the job with the crew, then goes over it with the customer. We make sure the customer is completely satisfied and then the job is complete. Only then do we get paid. We even offer a three-year warranty and call after a year to see if the customer is still completely satisfied. If anything has gone wrong, we go back and fix it for no additional cost.”
More Than a New Coat of Paint
Though becoming a general contractor has opened a number of doors for Services Plus, Uga isn’t turning his back on the work that has brought him this far. Painting is still the core of the business, with about 80 percent of the work being residential painting. In 2017, Services Plus painted 384 homes. So far this year, that number is up by 19 percent.
“Last year our revenues were $3.7 million,” Uga says. “This year we’re projecting $4.1 million. We’re going to continue expanding. We’re already up to 12 crews, and next year we’re opening a second location in Rhode Island.”
Much of the work Services Plus does is for individual homeowners, but an increasing number of jobs are coming from residential builders. The company just signed a contract for painting three residential buildings totaling 150,000 square feet.
Technology plays a key role at Services Plus. The company has done away with paper entirely; whether it’s communication between employees, shooting video or taking pictures of projects, everything is done using iPads. Uga has brought in the latest technology for every aspect of the company’s work, including using EagleView, software that automates specific measuring processes in the construction industry, to take roof measurements for a job.
“Every contact we have with a customer is logged in to our computer,” Uga says. “We use a program that was custom-designed for us. I hired a company in Canada and told them everything I wanted it to be able to do, and they designed it for us specifically.”
Services Plus is one of the largest Sherwin-Williams accounts in Massachusetts, and Sherwin-Williams owns a business called Valspar.
“Valspar designed a glass that lets the colorblind see color,” Uga says. “It’s an amazing product, and we’re working with them to create a program to bring these glasses to people around the state who need them.”
Though technology can be an invaluable tool, it’s the people who do the work that are the backbone of a business. Uga is proud of the team he’s assembled and takes pains to make them better with additional training on a weekly basis—whether it’s OSHA training, learning new equipment or simply discussing new ways the company can improve.
“We understand that in order to provide the best services, the people in the field represent who I am,” Uga says. “No matter what I do, it’s up to the guys in the field. My guys are well-paid and well-trained. I’m the name behind the business, but they’re the guys who represent who we are. I want to take care of them and make sure they’re part of the business. We do events throughout the year for all the families. We try to support one another. We’re involved in each other’s lives. We try to create a family environment with everyone in the business.”