(L-R) Owners Travis Ulrich and Gavin Hepp | Photo Courtesy of Webfoot Painting)
Webfoot Painting’s Recipe for Growing a Successful Business
You’ve seen their vans all over Central Oregon. Sparkling white utility vehicles with a maroon swatch that looks painted on. A yellow webbed feet logo spread across the hood.
Webfoot Painting has a veritable fleet — 25 and counting — with teams of painters, carpenters, drywall specialists and concrete coating professionals that serve all of Central Oregon.
Webfoot not only delivers the highest-quality of service that encompasses lasting and pristine exterior and interior paint work, deck refinishing and maintenance, drywall patching and repair, and carpentry, but it has successfully combined this with a hassle free, friendly and professional experience. Its motto, Seriously Great Painters, can be seen in every completed project.
Webfoot recently announced the launch of its newest division, Webfoot Concrete Coatings, as the exclusive dealer for Penntek Coating in Central Oregon. And looking forward, it plans to expand concrete coatings into Portland.
It’s hard to believe that only 15 years ago the company consisted of two University of Oregon business students and life-long friends, Gavin Hepp and Travis Ulrich, painting houses on their summers off. The steep trajectory from a student side gig to employing over 60 people (80 in the dry season) and becoming one of Central Oregon’s most successful companies consistently achieving 35 percent growth year-over-year, indicates something special. It’s what Webfoot co-owners like to call their “secret sauce.”
Merging Friendship with Business: A Recipe for…Success!
“Travis and I have been friends since before we could walk, and we’ve always had one of those unique relationships where we match each others’ work ethic and drive,” said Hepp. That relationship has been a foundation to the Webfoot recipe.
Rob Moore, owner of Arbor Mortgage Group and a long-time board member of the Bend Chamber of Commerce has an outside perspective of the way Hepp and Ulrich work together. “They trust each other wholeheartedly and allow the other person to be the best they can in what they bring,” Moore said. “They thrive on each others’ strengths and encourage the other person to do those things.”
Hepp also emphasizes the importance of making their mission and vision a priority. And for 15 years, they’ve been in sync focusing on community, teamwork, being the best and not taking themselves too seriously – the remaining ingredients to their success.
It’s All About Community
Webfoot’s focus on community is evident through the variety of philanthropic efforts it spearheads, such as its Carving for Kids fundraiser for the MountainStar Family Relief Nursery and the Project Serious program where it provides $15,000 worth of painting and carpentry services to a local family in need.
Moore also emphasized Webfoot’s co-founders’ commitment to community. “Some people get involved in community events because they know what’s on the backend,” he said. “These guys are sincere and authentic and like being a part of the Central Oregon community. They just have a genuine appreciation for what they’ve got and where they are, and they want to make sure the community is served well within it.”
A Team in Pursuit of the Best
Teamwork has also been an important element to Hepp and Ulrich’s business model. With a large team, it’s easy for one or two of the links along the chain to falter, but Webfoot is determined to ensure a seamless process for clients from phone call to project completion. Part of how they’re able to do this is by training and supporting team members through opportunities for growth within the company and skills training so their teams are highly specialized.
For an industry that can be seasonal, the Webfoot founders realized that to remain viable and retain highly-skilled employees, they needed to ensure year-round employment and go beyond providing painting services. This strategic plan led them to create the deck team in 2012, a carpentry team for both indoor and outdoor projects in 2015, a drywall team in 2016 and most recently, the concrete coatings team.
Webfoot Brings the Fun
The final ingredient to Webfoot’s secret sauce might seem trivial, but it’s what adds that ever-important spice to their work: not to take themselves too seriously. It’s about showing up, having fun and creating a lasting impression. Beyond employee retention, it’s also a matter of branding and market visibility as Webfoot has created strong relationships with other businesses and community members through the fun they bring. For example, any member of the Central Oregon Chamber of Commerce knows Gavin and Travis as the emcees for its holiday party dressed head to toe in holiday-themed suits.
By being authentic and manifesting a sense of fun, employees want to stay long-term. “Our team is very dedicated and we ask a lot of them day in and day out,” Hepp said. “Without that element of fun, or surprise, or taking a break to be silly, it’s not as fulfilling.”
Looking forward, it’s likely the now not-so-secret sauce for Webfoot will get even better with age. With a strategic eye on the needs of its customers, the community and its employees, Webfoot’s recipe is a proven winner. After 15 years becoming a Central Oregon staple, now you know the story behind its unmistakable and ubiquitous vans.