New Orleans. Certainly the most European city in the South; maybe the whole United States. It still holds a French-Creole vibe and the architecture is notably Greek Revival, American Colonial and Victorian, a great mish-mash that its culture also reflects. No doubt, it’s as interesting as it is entertaining. And without any doubt, the demand for quality and niche contractors is essential to sustaining this city’s historic significance.
Fantastic and historic homes line a lot of this city’s renowned neighborhoods and finish contractors need to hold par with the expectations that come with historic palettes and restoration/renovation.
For high-end renovation work in quality finishing, look no further than Jason Bertoniere LLC, the company founded by its name sake Jason Bertoniere that he runs along with his Argentine wife Yamila [Editor’s note: pronounced “Burton Air” and “Sha-Mila”]. The subcontractor is based in New Orleans proper and provides drywall and painting services.
This go-getter founded his business at the age of 18 and has been going strong for 15 years. (The company was featured in a past Generation Next story in W&C.) Yet unlike his competition who have grown by volume in terms of spatial and financial measure, Bertoniere has matured more as the go-to outfit that provides high-end levels of finish and decorative painting. This reputation has secured him work for New Orleans’ residents.
And then there’s that little matter of what happened in the autumn of 2005, which also helped advance Bertoniere’s business.
“Hurricane Katrina was the worst/best thing to happen to New Orleans in a very long time. Of course, it started with homeowners desperate to rebuild and renovate their homes,” says Bertoniere. “Commercial work followed quickly, preparing to reestablish businesses. The entire city is still rebuilding. The motto is, ‘Bigger, Better, Brighter’.”
If W&C’smath serves correct, Bertoniere had five years to hone his skills before the storm ravaged the city. The work post-storm must’ve paid off for the company as Bertoniere himself says the city still is finding its feet but real estate is flourishing.
“New Orleans is booming in both the residential and commercial sector alike,” he says. “People have come from numerous states to establish themselves and to create new businesses and to contribute to the immense rebuilding process. Both locals who were dislocated after Katrina and new arrivals need places to live and work.”
Refining Talent and Skill
Bertoniere says the current construction climate is incredible. To find his place in this system, Bertoniere has taken a more focused and specialized course, notably concentrating on Level-5-finish.
“People in New Orleans/Louisiana take tremendous pride in their homes and their uniqueness,” he says. “Homes here are showcases. Many homes in the uptown section of the city and in the French Quarter are historic and magnificent feats of architecture and art. These homes demand extremely high-quality renovations and upkeep. When these homeowners talk about their homes, they often talk about the contractors that worked on their projects. The handful of contractors that are experts with these kinds of projects are recognized as artisans.
“When I first started, one of our goals was to position ourselves as one of these premier contractors, and I aspired to be a part of these beautiful homes. Even though New Orleans has grown since the exodus after Katrina, it is still a smaller city and everyone virtually knows each other. But even when the population was a bit larger (we are at about 80 percent pre-Katrina population), New Orleans natives and neighborhoods were intimate and interactive.”
Bertoniere gets so invested in the projects he works on and the pursuit of the perfect level of finish, he admits that he needs more discipline on when to step back and take a break. He says oftentimes he works the whole week and obsesses over the details. But there is no such thing as the quick-buck for the company that wants a sustainable business model and Bertoniere knows success comes from hard work.
“We hope to continue establishing our company as the premier Level-5-finish contractor in New Orleans and Southeast Louisiana,” he says.
The company faithfully uses materials by National Gypsum and USG, as well as Magnum mud. These products, in Bertoniere’s mind, are the tools he feels are best to achieve the highest level of finish possible.
“We are nurturing our relationships with clients right now. Truly taking care of our clients by providing them with a great experience is our goal,” he says. “In fact, we not only nurture relationships with clients, but because so many high-end and historic homes employ well-known designers, we have also established excellent relationships with these designers who trust us and our judgments in many instances.
“As noted earlier, we and our men are respectful, reliable and trustworthy. We show up on time, get jobs done in a timely manner, and also aspire to be true artisans who take pride in the work we do,” says Bertoniere, who adds they hope to enter the commercial market soon. “We foster these ambitions because they mirror our own. Contractors, high-end designers, and homeowners alike value and appreciate such a work ethic.”