Bolstering the Family Business

Relationship with Sherwin-Williams rep strengthens this contractor’s bottom line

Since its founding in 1948, Tilden A. Bonin Contractor, Inc. has served clients throughout the greater Lafayette, Louisiana area with high-quality painting. The business has stayed in the family for three generations, being most recently purchased by brothers Todd and Durk Viator from their uncle in 1995.

Shortly after taking over the company, the brothers decided to start buying paint from Sherwin-Williams instead of a rival chain. It was a simple decision at the time, driven by convenience.

“We work a vast area, anywhere from 80 to 100 miles from Lafayette,” says Durk Viator, vice president of Tilden A. Bonin. “The other chain only had one store in the Lafayette market, whereas Sherwin-Williams had stores all over. It just made sense. Why drop everything and drive 30 miles out of the way when there’s a Sherwin-Williams store down the street?”

They couldn’t imagine how pivotal that decision would be—not only for their business, but for their personal lives. Two of Viator’s daughters now work for Sherwin-Williams, and Viator’s oldest daughter met her husband through the matchmaking efforts of a Sherwin-Williams sales representative (“They’ve been married for over 11 years now,” Viator says).

It’s no wonder that Viator considers Sherwin-Williams to be an “extension of the family” today.

“I’m so glad we made the change to Sherwin-Williams all those years ago,” Viator says. “For the last 28 years, we’ve been arguably their largest commercial customer in the Lafayette, Louisiana market, and they’ve been really good to us in return. The prices at Sherwin-Williams are very competitive, and their reps have always bent over backwards to accommodate and help us.”

That extends to their current store representative, Ridge Waguespack, whom Viator says he’s known since Waguespack was only four years old.

“Ridge is a great guy,” Viator says. “He’s our Johnny-on-the-spot. Whenever we need him, he’s always accessible, whether by phone, text, or email.”

Viator says Waguespack goes above and beyond to help Tilden A. Bonin, including handling specifications and paperwork for many of their projects. That’s no small feat. As a large contractor, Tilden A. Bonin has 60 employees and works with major organizations, including Ochsner Health and the Louisiana Healthcare Association.

“Our company handles roughly 320 to 350 jobs per year, and about 40 percent of those jobs need submittals,” Viator says. “Ridge takes care of most of those submittals for us, electronically files all the product specifications we need for these jobs, and sends it to us, so we can ship them to the different contractors we’re working with. That’s time-consuming work. Because Ridge handles it, we don’t have to dedicate or hire an employee to do that. In that regard, the cost savings for us have been astronomical.”

Waguespack has also helped Viator to stay a step ahead when it comes to stocking essential products needed for upcoming jobs.

“Ridge has been able to really bridge the gap by finding innovative ways to get us the products we need ahead of time,” Viator says. “He works the phones, finds out where the product is, and gets it in for us.”

Ultimately, Viator says the personal relationships between painting contractors and their store representatives has always been a strength for Sherwin-Williams. It’s why they’ve stayed in business together for nearly three decades.

“We’ve known all the district managers in this territory for the last 28 years, and they’ve always had that personal relationship with us,” he says. “We’ve shared our perspectives as contractors. They’ve always made us feel valued. It feels like a team effort: they need us just as much as we need them. That’s very important to us.”