CoatingsPro Magazine

JUL 2013

CoatingsPro offers an in-depth look at coatings based on case studies, successful business operation, new products, industry news, and the safe and profitable use of coatings and equipment.

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Page 74 of 86

Hard Work & CraftsmansHip Co-Owners Combine Forces PROFILE: Luke Pappas and Chris Stamas By Stephanie Marie Chizik W hen Luke Pappas and Chris Stamas saw what they considered a deteriorating infrastructure in America, they saw an opportunity to do something about it. They believe that maintenance and preservation, not new construction, is the business to be in going forward. Friends since childhood, the two thirty-somethings thought they could contribute to extending the lifecycles of the roads, dams, bridges, and more with preventative maintenance, such as highperformance coatings. "We saw it as a niche market, one we knew presented great opportunity," explained Pappas. on a Whim It seems as if Pappas and Stamas, who together own Southern Road and Bridge, LLC, were destined for this business. Growing up in Tarpon Springs, Fla., together, they grew up like family. In fact, not only are their fathers lifelong friends, but Stamas has two kids with wife, Brooke, who also happens to be Pappas' cousin. As if that weren't enough history to keep them connected, both of their families have lived in Tarpon Springs since the early 1900s. Having such deep roots in a town that's full of established bridge painters — there are painters next door, across the street, and down the road — gave them something to strive for and resources to pull from. If it wasn't nature, it was surely nurture that inspired Pappas and Stamas to start a coatings contracting business. "It's something we've been around all our lives," said Stamas. "We have close friends and family in the industry. We knew that we could accomplish good things because of Luke's finance background and my 72 coatingsPro g July 2013 construction background, and our ability to adapt and overcome any issues that came our way. There are no shortages of issues in the bridge painting business." And so when Stamas stopped by Pappas' office one day, just like many other times in the past, they discussed the opportunity of bidding on a large beautification project in downtown Tampa together. They knew it could be the perfect tactic to achieving their overall goal. They'd get an "in" with the city and then start moving forward toward bridge painting. They won that contract and from there continued to make strides. Up to the Challenge Between Pappas and Stamas, they have all of their business bases covered. Pappas spends a lot of time bidding projects to ensure that the company maintains a strong backlog of work. He also manages the financial and bonding parts of the business. And Stamas covers all aspects of field operations. He is in constant contact with their foreman to make certain that the projects are on schedule, and he coordinates employee travel and material shipments. Together, they tackle all of the different challenges that this industry throws at them, and they do it in a partnership where no one worries about egos getting in the way. As if being childhood friends and business partners weren't enough, they're also both general contractors. This helps keep them busy, even during the winter months when coatings jobs can be few and far between. Additionally, the business is in the process of acquiring certifications for applying marine coatings and removing hazardous coatings. They're hoping that their collective knowledge will give the team even more of a solid Photo of Stamas and Pappas foundation to enable them to win and complete a variety of projects. It's no surprise, then, that Pappas and Stamas are working at Southern Bridge pretty much seven days a week. If they're not at the office, then they're on the road going to another jobsite. But they don't mind the time commitment of being co-owners. They don't even let the stress of it all affect how they treat their employees. "We try to be fair and helpful to our employees, but we definitely expect 16 ounces from them. That's really the only way to make money in this business: to grind real hard, get in, and get the job done correctly and quickly," said Stamas. And the pair makes sure to treat their clients well, too, by doing exactly what they say they're going to do. It helps that the duo enjoys what they're doing. "Every job is different and requires a different attack," said Pappas. "We have to have a different approach to get [each job] done cost effectively and safely. They're not boilerplate." And since they like being presented with on-the-job challenges, they wake up each day ready for new learning opportunities. "This industry has a bright future," said Pappas. "We're thankful and excited to be a part of it." CP

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