Cats and Dogs Living Together

SAN ANTONIO – Ernest Juarez compares following stucco up work with paint to a marriage between a cat and a dog: unnatural and fraught with trouble. The Diamante Coatings owner increasingly faced that unholy union at the beginning of his career as he took on more painting projects.

“As a painter, I ended up having to do minor repairs to stucco. Stucco and paint aren’t a common marriage; they’re separate trades entirely,” Juarez says. “Starting with a patch, we ended up doing entire houses, and I kind of fell towards the stucco side.”

As the company progressed, Juarez found there was a demand for stucco renovation.

“We found that there were more and more repairs needing to be done to stucco due to cracking and other issues that were involved,” he says. “As we began to repair them prior to painting them – because I was still in the painting mode – I had to learn the trade of stucco. As time went by, my stucco crews that I had trained had to be followed by my painters because you couldn’t just have any painter follow a stucco installation. One guy is going to be pointing the finger at the other [over mistakes and quality], and you don’t want that. To create a better environment for the customer, I had my painters follow the stucco guys and make small corrections, cleanups, touch ups, and spot repairs that they had left behind so that we delivered a complete result to the customer.”

Diamante’s commercial projects include Candlewood Estates, the Starwood Hotel, and Lackland Air Force Base’s airport annex.

“On the commercial side, we have people calling us directly to do commercial repairs and renovations and completely new installations. For residential, people do a major purchase of homes that can be any number of square feet. I’ve done some of the largest homes in San Antonio, and some of the smallest,” Juarez says. “The greatest satisfaction is that I am giving somebody what means the most to him or her, and that’s beautifying their property in a way that they can’t do. Stucco’s not something that you can just go to Yahoo or any resource and just learn. Even though you might have all of the instructions in front to you, you have to practice. It would be like me writing the book on how to ride a bicycle: here’s your bicycle and here are your instructions. You’d end up with a few bumps and bruises.”

Juarez relies on a dedicated team of subcontractors to complete the projects.

“They’re not just any subcontractors though,” Juarez explains with pride. “They are subcontractors who have worked with me over the last 10 to 20 years, are very familiar with the product we’re producing and the kind of customer demands that are required. I educate our subs to the standards and expectations our customers are having. That’s what I’ve created, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have these people working for me for so many years.”

As for future plans, the sky is truly the limit for Juarez. But rather than create grandiose schemes, he is dedicated to using his range of experience to help others succeed in the industry.

“I’m developing websites dedicated solely to the promotion of construction, real estate and stucco so that I can take other companies, put them in the directory and guide business to other stucco, painting, real estate and property management-type businesses,” he says.

It’s a lot of knowledge to pass on to others, as Juarez will be quietly celebrating his business’ 35-year anniversary this year. Rather than a blowout celebration, Juarez is content to reflect on the company’s accomplishments in the past three-and-a-half decades.

“It hardly seems like that much time has passed,” he says. “We don’t have any particular celebrations planned; we’ve had so many milestones, some being the largest house or building we’ve ever done. It’s all in a day’s work, and at the end of the day, we all go home happy that we’re making a name for ourselves and instilling that type of pride has been the mainstay of the business.”

Diamante Coatings in San Antonio provides solar panels, siding, exterior painting and stucco repair. –mjm