Business

Painting With A Master

caffieroCaffiero Painting brings a new level of professionalism to the Islands

By Kathy Borsuk ~ Photos By Christine Morden, Provo Pictures

Michelangelo is considered a virtuoso for his paintings on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel; Michael Caffiero and his crew at Caffiero Painting Co. TCI are virtuosos in painting not only ceilings    . . . but walls, trim, decks, railings and just about every surface of the many new and existing structures spanning the Turks & Caicos Islands.

With virtuoso being defined as having “masterly skill or technique in the arts,” Michael Caffiero has worked hard to blend his years of experience with a reputation for professionalism. He explains, “Since we got started here in TCI in 2005, my goal is to run a full-service painting company that supplies and installs quality products led by trained professionals.”

The robust, straightforward Caffiero, never long without a cigarette in his hand, says he’s spent his whole life painting . . . or at least since the age of 16. That’s when he was taught by Walter Schmitz, a German from Long Island New York, the man who gave him a chance and had the foresight to see that he had the drive for perfection. (Although when dealing with less then perfect surfaces and situations, Caffiero qualifies, “You need to create the illusion of perfection.”)

With nearly 30 years of experience behind his brush and running Caffiero Painting in Hawthorne, New York since 1990, Michael came on vacation to Providenciales in 2002 with his wife Alexandra. He explains, “Our good friends who lived here suggested that the Islands could use an experienced painting company, but I was here to relax, not to expand. Actually, it was my wife who encouraged me to open up shop here. Without her intuition and support, this never would have happened.” After returning a week later to investigate the options, Caffiero decided to start small and went into business with a local partner, one truck (the same one that’s always dashing around Provo) and a handful of painters from his operation in New York. He recalls, “We faced tremendous hurdles and lost a lot of money at the beginning, but we were committed to doing it right from the start.”

To this perfectionist, “doing it right” means a number of things. “First of all, we offer full service. This means that we take care of everything relating to painting from start to finish. This includes all the prep work, moving and protecting furnishings, cleaning up . . . in fact, we usually take pictures of the rooms so we know exactly how to put everything back in place. Then there’s the trust factor. I am a man of my word and I expect my crew to follow suit. Not only does this mean that we complete the terms of our contract for the price quoted, but that owners can trust us with their keys, knowing their home and its contents will be secure. A lot of our smaller customers I have never met, including some of the famous people with houses on Parrot Cay. We just go in, do the job, clean up and leave. When they return, their house is just as they left it – except freshly painted.”

Caffiero also relies on his extensive knowledge and industry contacts to choose the proper paints for a project and determine how and when to apply them. He uses Benjamin Moore products, which are publicly accepted and known worldwide, and maintains a large inventory of paint and supplies on-island, ready to be mixed as needed. When working as a contractor for larger developments, Michael says an important part of his job is understanding the role of the other trades and knowing “when it’s his turn,” to avoid back-tracking or expensive revisions. He also says he feels a professional responsibility to recommend the best product for the job (especially important in an island environment) and speak up when he sees a client – large or small – making a mistake. “Our customers know that we know the painting business period . . . if they have any question related to paint they know we will have the correct answer.”

After touring several sites, I can concur that “crispness” and “perfection” (or at least its illusion) are Caffiero trademarks. Moldings, baseboards, doorways and ceiling/wall interfaces sport “razor-sharp” lines, while large surfaces, indoors and out, are uniformly colored and blemish free as a clear summer sky. Michael thinks that no job is too small. “If I paint your closet, no doubt I’m going to paint your house . . . and your neighbor’s house and the house down the street . . . that’s how confident I am in our work. Most of our jobs come from referrals by satisfied clients.”

caffiero-crewMichael Caffiero credits his loyal crew for maintaining the company’s high standards. Led by Antonio Espinosa, formerly one of his lead painters from New York, and coordinated by Michael himself, his work force is carefully trained to his specifications to handle any job and includes trusted family members and friends.  Michael explains, “I know everyone’s best talents and can assign them to jobs that bring out the best in them.” The respect with which I saw “the boss” treat his crew is reflected with a strong sense of loyalty. In fact, Michael says he is like a father figure to some of the younger workers, who are away from home for the first time and struggling to get used to a new environment. Having each employee wear a clean “Caffiero” t-shirt and white pants on the job fosters an image of professionalism. “When I enter a job site, I and everyone there know exactly who my guys are.”

The Caffiero TCI portfolio is varied and steadily growing, with an estimated 25/75% ratio of existing homes and businesses to new construction. Some projects are more plebian, such as Quality Supermarket, The Saltmills Plaza and parts of Graceway IGA. Others comprise the hospitality sector, such as re-spraying all the louvered windows at Ocean Club or painting The Alexandra, Grace Bay Suites and the new SkyBase terminal. Still others represent the country’s upscale market, including The Somerset penthouses, several celebrity homes on Parrot Cay and, most recently, the Isle Homes at Leeward Marina and the entire interior of the new Nikki Beach Resort. But Michael Caffiero will never forget his first real job as a sub-contractor for Johnston International. “We were new to the island and really excited about being hired to paint the St. Charles condominiums on North Caicos. Then we realized we had to use a boat to ferry our guys and all the supplies over to North everyday. It was a challenging job, but we passed the test.”

isle-homesIndeed they did. Besides the massive Leeward Marina project, TCI building mogul Johnston International has also contacted Caffiero to discuss painting the long-awaited hospitals on Providenciales and Grand Turk. Rob Marks, Johnston’s building project manager, explains why Caffiero Painting is right for their jobs. “We require quality, detail and professionalism and they supply the whole package. I like the fact that Michael always returns phone calls and emails and shows up when we need him. He’s able to answer our questions quickly and thoroughly. In industry, it’s important to have that close working relationship. For the hospital projects, he worked with his supplier to come up with just the right material for the project’s environment and was able to secure quality products at a lesser cost. This is someone who is in tune with his profession.”

To successfully work on larger projects calls for special skills, explains the savvy Caffiero. “When writing your estimate, you have to choose the best product for the best price, and developers are consistently demanding high-end finishes, yet want to remain competitive. You have to be able to function inside what’s already occurring on site – there’s often a lot going on at the same time – and work extra or odd hours to finish under tight deadlines. I also think its key to take responsibility for any unexpected issues that come up. Handling them positively and successfully only enhances your reputation.”

As business expands, Michael Caffiero gave up his New York operation to focus exclusively on the Islands. “Because of my personality and way of doing business, I like to be very hands-on. Dividing my time just didn’t work anymore.” His love for the country, its people and its beautiful sea, was also an enticement. “To me it’s priceless to be able to be here, enjoy the place and earn a living at the same time. The business gives me an opportunity to do just that. I have no desire to go anywhere else.” In fact, with a new island partner and miles of unpainted surfaces on the horizon, he assures the community that “We’re here to stay.”

Michael Caffiero can be reached at 649 941 4615 or mcaffiero@caffieropainting.com.



2 Comments

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boudlal
Sep 2, 2011 14:42

bonjour,
je suis peintre professionel decoration ,j’arrive la fin du mois a turks et caicos islands,je cherche voir si je peut travailler dans votre entreprise,je parlle francais ,englais,merci

boudlal
Sep 3, 2011 5:42

bonjour,hello.
ıam painting mane,experience 15 years,proffesionel in decoration of painting,ı hoppe working in your campany,please send me message in email,

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