During summer breaks, before football practice started at Niles McKinley High School, friends Stephen E. Hrosar and Kristopher Violette took jobs as painters to make extra money.
When they graduated in 1994, both took jobs in the same company as painters. They worked all day for someone else, then spent evenings working side jobs for themselves.
In late 1998, the side jobs took on full-time proportions and they started S & amp;K Painting.
The business does residential and commercial interior and exterior painting with a concentration in high-end custom work.
When they started, the partners plugged along, bidding and fighting for jobs, getting in their van every day and going out to paint.
How it went: The business grew so fast that by last summer, they had a crew of seven working for them and still had trouble keeping up with the demand. Concerned that they couldn't keep tight enough control on quality, they cut back on expansion and returned to just two employees.
"There's the regular way to paint and then there's our way," Violette said.
Quality is what drives their business and their philosophy and it's what gives them a backlog of work, they said. It's important to take the extra steps in preparation and finishing which will make the job last, Violette added.
Attention to detail and a reputation for delivering what they promise has given the business good word-of-mouth advertising, they said.
Starting a business in their early 20s proved right for them, said Hrosar and Violette, because they had little to risk. Now, at 25, with both planning to get married within months of each other this year, there is more on the line.
A lot of their growth has been though trial and error. They've sought out advice but in the end, they've done what felt right to them, Violette said. Besides the painting business, they own 13 rental units and MVP Power Wash.
Getting along: There have been times when the partnership has strained the friendship, but that's nature's course, they said. Having two opinions can be a strength, they said.
The partners admit they never thought the business would get as big as it did. Size was never their goal. Instead, they're interested in building a good, reputable business, one that will last and one that will help improve their part of the world.