CoatingsPro Magazine

MAY 2017

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 71 of 84

COATINGSPRO MAY 2017 71 No Computer? No Problem! ProFile: Rick Watson Hard Work & Craftsmanship By Christa Youngpeter G iving the Playboy Mansion a facelift might sound like the start of a bad joke, but for Rick Watson, founder and owner of Surmac, Inc., it was just another project. Not only has the Texas-based waterproofing and restoration expert worked on the famed Los Angeles landmark, he has also rehabilitated pieces of the Titanic and the Saturn V Rocket. Known through- out the industry for his outside-the-box thinking, Watson is a go-to resource for many. Not bad for a man who has never owned a computer. Recently, the company took home an International Concrete Repair Institute (ICR I) Award of Excellence for parking structure repairs that, as Watson noted, " five different engineering firms said couldn't be fi xed and had to be torn dow n. T he structure was only four years old, and starting over would have displaced 600 tenants. A nd thanks to trial and error and state-of-the-art but simple techniques on a 260,000 -square foot [24,154.8 m²] garage, we didn't remove a single square foot of concrete, we didn't shut dow n the garage, so there was no disruption, and in the end, we saved the ow ner more than $5 million." W hat's his secret? Filling a Need At 68, Watson is sti l l going strong and solv ing problems, but like many, he got his star t painting houses in col lege. It was a " f un, easy way to ma ke money," he said. A nd it was something that he continued when he got out of school. A f ter mov ing back to San A ntonio, he for med a painting company that quick ly went f rom a f r iend ly venture to ser ious volume in just si x months. Eventually, Watson and his partners went their separate ways, but he stayed in the business. A chance meeting with a gentleman who removed rubber from runways in the early 1970s led to a series of equipment and project innovations that quickly began to revolutionize an industry in desper- ate need. One of Watson's improvised pieces of power spraying equipment was such a success with a seemingly impossible tunnel cleaning project in Houston that the city bought the equipment. Watson would go on to lead projects at the United States mint in New Orleans and at the landmark San Antonio Rivercenter Mall. Into the Future Watson considers his business to be "well rounded and touching on all fields," and he credits his son and his w ife, a retired attorney and now company vice president, for helping w ith revamping Surmac, Inc. into the 20th centur y. "I like to see us as a blend of old and new," Watson explained, adding, "Revenues are doubling, but I don't forget the people that have helped me." Watson is ready and w illing to help young contractors and pass along as much as he can. " W hat I've learned in 20 to 30 years, I can teach them in 20 minutes," he explained. "A nd I've helped competitors, which I believe is just something that you need to do." Watson also noted that his staff of 27 full-time employees, w ith his oldest employee being 80 years old, is the big gest key to his success. "I've had the same people for more than 35 years, and their sons and their sons," he added. Solutions Oriented Watson insists that those in the industr y shouldn't be afraid to take calculated risks as they can pay off big. He is also still heavily involved in ever y project, despite being called to work across the countr y, thanks to an excellent reputation. "Even now, I'm still involved at the start, middle, and close out of ever y project. I have extremely high standards, and I know that a bad job negates 100 good jobs, so I never leave anything to chance, from planning to end," he explained. Despite work being a family affair, Watson makes sure his twin one-and-a- half-year-old grandchildren are a focus for his son away from the office. Watson himself enjoys his sports cars, fishing, and golf. "Work is fun to me, and every day and night, I look so forward to the next day, because you don't know what opportunity will await you," Watson mused, adding, "My mind is always on the problem and creating new equip- ment. In the end, our new trademark will be: We sell solutions." CP Photo courtesy of Surmac Inc.

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