Beauty and function are the two features that govern the decorative arts. To Luis Pereira, the art of living and the art of doing business is immersed in the walls, floors, and ceilings of our home and work spaces. The understanding convinced the owner-operator of Colours & Space to transition from being a painting contractor to a specialist in custom decorative and architectural finishes.
“Everyone is trying to set themselves apart from the competition and give the customer something different,” Pereira said. “I feel happy that I have taken this route and can be creative. It’s not mundane, every job is very different from the last and every customer wants something that gets beyond basic paint and tile.”
Better known in European decorative traditions, the decorative and architectural finishes Colours & Space offers include hand trowelling work that brings texture to walls and ceilings, wall sculptures, gold leaf work and other custom treatments and details. Their clients include the Toronto Raptors head office at the OVO Centre, boutique luxury hotels, salons and high-end restaurants.
“The industry is changing and growing fast,” Pereira said in a recent telephone interview, “and I have been able to stay at the forefront.”
Pereira attributes some of his success in transitioning from painting contractor to custom finishings specialist to his participation in the Starter Company PLUS Program through the Mississauga Business Enterprise Centre (MBEC).
“It helped in so many ways,” Pereira remembered. “I’d had a business plan before, but I couldn’t see it as anything beyond numbers on paper, but with the program and the people at MBEC, I could document all of my thoughts and was finally able to evaluate my business. I could see where I was and where I wanted to go.”
The program is one that Pereira recommends to other skilled tradespeople.
“It’s a leap of faith honestly, but I would tell other people in the trades that you have to get out of your comfort zone and tell yourself you are going to spend the money to invest in other people,” Pereira said. “As tradespeople, we have a fear of spending money on people and their expertise. I highly recommend getting a good accountant and going to MBEC. Just telling them what your struggles are in business is a huge relief because you learn you are not alone. Other people care about your success.”
With the grant provided by the program, Pereira was able to hire the expertise he needed to successfully transition his business.
“Through the Starter Company Plus grant, I was able to connect with a lawyer and account, who offered advice on how to run my business” Pereira said. “The advice they offered is helping me make better decision with my books and more complex contracts, which I’m dealing with now.”
With access to expertise, Pereira believes he has broken through the limitations that a lot of skilled tradespeople come up against.
“In the trades, the business is usually managed by one person with two or three people working under them,” Pereira said. “They are so focused on doing the day-to-day work that they don’t have time to deal with the systems of the business itself. The most important thing I learned through the program at MBEC was to trust and rely on other people. At the end of the day, you are putting out a product and you want that output to be of the highest quality possible. That’s hard to do if you don’t have those hard business systems in place. Now that I have them, I’m growing and I’m learning as a person and in my business every day.”
The Starter Company PLUS Program is delivered by the Mississauga Business Enterprise Centre (MBEC) for the Mississauga area. MBEC is a business unit of the City of Mississauga’s Economic Development Office. The Starter Company PLUS program is funded by the Province of Ontario and is delivered by Small Business Enterprise Centres (SBECs) across Ontario who are part of the Province’s Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE). For information about the program outside of the Mississauga area, please refer to the list of Small Business Entrepreneur Centres and Community-Based Provider Locations in Ontario