This New Jersey-based painter credits his Sherwin-Williams team for helping solve some of his biggest challenges
After 28 years of working in the painting industry, Wilber Vargas—founder, owner, and manager of Wilber’s Painting in Maplewood, New Jersey—says it takes a lot to surprise him. But he’s been happily surprised by how his local Sherwin-Williams team has committed to supporting his business.
“I’ve worked with many representatives over the years, and most of them really do want to help you,” Vargas says. “But I’ve been amazed at the last five years of working with my Sherwin-Williams store team. They’ve gone above and beyond to help me. It means a lot when you see that somebody cares about you and your business, and that establishes a strong relationship.”
For Vargas, his key relationships are with Doug Jones, his sales representative for the last five years, and Jose Serna, district manager of the Metro New Jersey area for Sherwin-Williams.
“It’s very easy to work with Wilber,” Jones says. “He’s a down-to-earth guy who’s quick to understand rather than blame others when something goes wrong. He really cares about his customers. And he’s a good man. I’ve seen the way he interacts with his subcontractors, the people in his office, and his team—and that kind of character is nice in today’s world.”
In their two years of working together, Vargas says Serna has repeatedly gone the extra mile to make sure he and his team have the supplies they need.
“We were doing a really big job in Morristown, New Jersey, worth about $500,000,” Vargas says. “Maybe that wouldn’t be a big job for a commercial contractor, but that was a pretty big job for us. This was during the pandemic, when stores were sometimes short on materials, and they didn’t have the supplies we needed in-store. Jose could have apologized or said that was that, but he decided to make our problem his problem. He drove all the way to another state to collect the paint we needed, and he got it back to us in time so we could finish the project and stay on schedule. That was amazing to me. I’ve never seen anybody else do that.”
It wasn’t the first or last time Vargas saw the Sherwin-Williams team come to his rescue on a difficult project. He remembers one time when his team finished staining a large deck, only for the homeowner to get upset weeks later after the stain started bubbling. So Vargas turned to Jones for guidance on how to fix this issue and make it right.
“When you do business, you never want to have an upset customer,” Vargas said. “You want to build a good reputation. So Doug came in and helped us out with them. He followed up with the customer himself and determined what went wrong. It turns out the problem was not the coating; he theorized there was a little bit of moisture underneath where the product was applied.
“So he went to the job site himself, sanded a little spot, checked the wood with a moisture meter, and applied the product after it was dry. Two weeks later, there was no bubbling at all in that spot. So he told the customer he’d found the problem and gave my crew instructions on how to fix it. We followed his instructions, and we ultimately came out successful—and with a happy customer.”
Jones says that dedication to helping however he can is a key part of how he approaches his job.
“I don’t care if you’re a guy who buys $1,000 off me or someone like Wilber who bought over a million dollars last year,” Jones says. “They’re all important to me. That means if a situation’s important to them, it’s important to me. I want them to know I’m always there for them no matter what, and that I’m always going to follow through on the promises I make to them.”
Jones says he makes it a point to highlight for Vargas and other contractors whenever there’s a new Sherwin-Williams product or service that can help save their business time or money. Vargas specifically notes that PRO+ Program benefits like Free Virtual Color Consultation—which allows customers to book a 30-minute session with a Sherwin-Williams Color Consultant—have been hugely helpful to his business.
“We’ve used the Virtual Color Consultation service to win job bids,” Vargas says. “It’s a really good service, because homeowners love the idea of having an expert help them out with color selection—and it comes free for us.”
He also praises the Learning & Development options available, including in-store training. That training really demonstrated for him just how knowledgeable the Sherwin-Williams staff is about the painting trade; Vargas says even his foremen were impressed by Serna, who led the training session.
But Vargas’ favorite PRO+ Program benefit is being able to schedule his paint deliveries with On-Site Delivery: “Sometimes you have the whole crew at the house or the job site, and they’re ready to paint—and then you run out of material. With job site delivery, we usually have the material right there within half an hour or an hour. It saves me so much time to not have to drive to the store and look around for the right material. They bring it right to us.”
Vargas says his preferred coating of choice is Duration® Exterior Acrylic Latex. He says it delivers premium quality that will last for a long time.
“Sherwin-Williams makes quality products,” Vargas says. “When you’re using good products, you can give customers a long warranty without worrying about it. If you do a good job prepping and you use Duration, you’ll be happy for many, many years. I tell my customers, ‘Whenever I paint my house, I use Sherwin-Williams products.’”
Often, it’s the little memories and gestures that define a relationship. For Vargas, one such moment stands out. He recalls one occasion when Serna generously treated Vargas’ entire painting team to a delicious lunch following a training session. More than the food itself, Vargas says the gesture demonstrated Serna’s commitment to making those that work with him feel like part of the Sherwin-Williams family.
Vargas believes the effort put forth by Serna and Jones to show appreciation to his team—as not just their customers, but their partners—has made their relationship all the better throughout the years.
“From the beginning, Sherwin-Williams has been a great supporter of my company,” Vargas says. “Their people have assisted me wherever I need it—whether in the store or in the field—and helped my business grow with good materials. They go the extra mile, and that’s a big help for companies like mine.”