Hansen Custom Painting
Third-generation painting contractor Chris Hansen explains the philosophy behind the success, which has become a family motto: "Quality control is everything."
- story by Ellis Anderson
While he’s a third-generation painting professional, Hansen says that he learned to go the extra mile in customer care and quality control from his father-in-law, local contractor Jimmy Crane.
Hansen and Crane Builders, LLC have enjoyed a solid working relationship since 2003. While Hansen has built up a loyal customer base through the years, his company also drywalls and paints most Crane building projects, from elaborate new homes to additions.
Now the two businesses now have family ties as well. In 2016, Chris and Jimmy’s daughter Jackye Crane, who had taken over the reins of Crane Builders earlier that year, married. He says that he and Jackye are like best friends on the job and “have a blast” working together.
“We think exactly the same way when it comes to our professions,” Hansen says. “Very by-the-book and detail-oriented. So it all seems to work out perfectly.”
Perhaps that’s because both contractors have incorporated Jimmy Crane’s commitment to quality as a central guiding principle.
“Quality control is everything,” Hansen says, then goes on to explain the factors contributing to a paint job he’s not afraid to guarantee.
He gives much of the credit to his crew, saying that it’s taken him years to assemble a team where every member is dependable and has quality as their main goal. “We’re like a tight-knit family. Some people have been with me for more than ten years now.”
Extensive preparation is another key factor in a quality job. That’s especially important on historic buildings. Property owners in the Bay’s Historic District have become a mainstay of Hansen’s business, as his reputation as an expert in renovation jobs has spread. Instead of trying to simply paint over old, failed coatings, Hansen’s crews take the time to remove them, for a paint job that looks and lasts far better.
High quality paint products applied by conscientious crews may cost more up front, but the investment pays enormous dividends in the long run.
“While I can drive around and see home exteriors I painted ten years ago still looking great, an average paint job may only last three or four years,” Hansen says. “So over a twenty-year period, a homeowner might have their house repainted several times. Or only two, if it’s well done. That makes our work an exceptional value.”
Safety is a fourth factor that’s important to Hansen. He says his crews follow all OSHA guidelines for coatings and equipment set-up. Workers use safety harnesses and masks when called for.
“I want the people on my crews to live long and healthy lives. They’re real professionals and it’s a pleasure to watch them in action.”
“And like my father-in-law says, ‘If you think hiring an expert is expensive, just wait ‘til you hire an amateur.’”
Hansen may have been inspired by Jimmy Crane’s philosophy on quality, but he also learned about painting at an early age, working for his father’s painting company as a teenager in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Chris was completing his degree in business at Coastal Carolina University when his father fell ill. Dropping out of school to take over his father’s trade proved extremely trying, but Chris eventually found his footing — while also managing to finish work on his degree.
In 2002, he visited a friend on the Mississippi coast and was smitten by the difference between the tranquility of Bay-Waveland in comparison to the frustrations of daily living in a high-paced tourist destination.
“The atmosphere was a lot more appealing. I could see happiness here that I could not see there. So I pulled up my stakes and moved.”
Hansen began working with Jimmy Crane on jobs almost immediately after his move to the coast. Although the Cranes and Hansen both lost their Waveland homes in Hurricane Katrina, the contractors rallied immediately to help with the rebuilding of the coast. Hansen says that with the exception of a lull after the BP oil spill, he’s been going “full steam” for the last twelve years.
Family and work lives are more fulfilling than ever for both Hansens these days. In January, Jackye gave birth to the couple’s son.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better life than this,” Hansen said. “I’m not having to look forward to retirement to enjoy myself. I’m already there.”