Meet Your Neighbors Deborah Stegman Steiner and matt Eloe

QUOTE: Behind every small business, there’s a story worth knowing. All the corner shops in our towns and cities, the restaurants, cleaners, gyms, hair salons, hardware stores – these didn’t come out of nowhere. – Paul Ryan

A third generation painter, Deborah (Stegman) Steiner and her partner Matt Eloe carry on the family business. Founded in 1925 by the Stegman Brothers, this family business is in the genes. And eight years shy of 100 years, the business is still in the family and going strong.

In 1972, after taking over the business from his father, Duane Stegman moved the business from California to Anacortes, WA. Stegman Painting and Wallpaper became a well-known name in the community.

Duane’s children (now the third generation) grew up working with dad, learning the family business from a young age. Deborah, like her father, has a real knack for it. Painting and choosing color is second nature to her, add that to her people skills and you have the perfect combination for a great painter.

In October 2012 dad announced it was time to retire and told Deborah it was her turn to carry on the business name. And that is just what she and Matt have done. Now known as Stegman Painting Anacortes, they cover Anacortes, Fir and Camano Island, and Skagit County. Her brother also carried on the family tradition and started Stegman Painting, LLC on San Juan Island.

Matt and Deborah’s primary focus is residential. They find great satisfaction working with the homeowner. A smaller crew now, they put emphasis on quality and working closely with the client.

Before and After

“You make them happy,” Deborah said.

Having the success of a well-established business with a good reputation provides them with a steady client base, referrals being the main source of the business. Their repertoire of services covers interior painting, exterior painting, wall paper, commercial and residential, they even throw in an occasional handyman repair. Over the years, they have built a reliable network of other trades and experts in which they refer clients to and get referrals from.

When choosing colors, some clients know what they want, but most consult with Deborah and asks for her recommendations. Her innate ability to select the right color makes her an invaluable source of information.

The Bait Shop

“We take photos of every job,” Matt said. They use the before photos for a reference when estimating and making final preparations for a project.

The average cycle for a project is anywhere from a day to a couple of weeks. Exterior projects, which are dependent on weather and size, can usually take up to fourteen days.

The Bunk House before
The Bunk House After

We asked Deborah and Matt if color and color combination was something they learned or found it to be second nature for them.

“I don’t think it’s something you can learn,” Deborah said. “You just have it or you don’t.”

For Deborah, like her father, color comes naturally. “He could see what colors worked well together,” Deborah said of her dad. “He also had an amazing color memory. He could automatically match a color.”

The twenty-years of experience in Matt’s previous career in printing supplied him with the experience he needed when he changed careers to become a painter. But it is his artistic instincts that really play a role in being a painter.

But even with all that experience and natural instincts, occasionally they have to rely on technology to match colors.

We asked Matt and Deborah what their most exciting job was?

Deborah laughed and then answered, “For me, when we did the outside of Safeway because I got to drive the forklift. That’s what I like, heavy equipment.”

For Matt, it was his first job with the Stegman crew back in April of 2012. It was the beginning of a new career and just proving to himself he could do it made the job fun and exciting.

The greatest satisfaction for Deborah is knowing she completed something. Each project has a beginning, middle, and an end.

Before and After

“I like going to a house and working on it and making it look better. Because you have that satisfaction of a job well done,” Deborah said.

There are a lot of perks to what they do. Each day is different and the scenery changes all the time. On occasions, when working outside they encounter wildlife. One such place had whales going by and they were so close you could hear them. They even had a llama watch them work all day.

“Sometimes you come across really cool customers, a nice perk of the job,” Matt said.

“One customer told us we have too much fun,” Deborah said. And quite a few of their clients have told them they will be missed once the project was completed.

“We’ve had some great customers,” Deborah said.

Grooming the next generation to take over can sometimes seem like a long process. Growing up in the family business, Deborah experienced all aspects of it and when dad announced his retirement, Deborah and Matt were ready to carry on the family name and business.

“I was elbowing him,” Deborah teased.

In today’s ever-changing, fast-paced world, it is a true honor to see a family business being passed on through the generations, enduring time and the every changing dynamics of being a small business.

"I grew up in a family business... that really has provided the core of my belief in American small business, and in America's ability to grow and operate important businesses that can compete and be successful." Karen Mills

Created By
Karla Locke
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