There are a lot of plastering contractors in the world. There are also a lot of plastering firms where it is a family affair to make the business run. The plastering industry is full of family contracting firms where each family member has a role; supervisor, general manager, accountant and purchaser are some of the common roles in these firms. Kirk Giordano Plastering Inc., a family contracting firm based in Alameda, Calif. is a little different. The Giordano family shares similar roles as other firms, but add to the list titles, such as cameraman, audio supervisor, editing director and host.
Besides being a licensed California contracting firm, the Kirk Giordano family has posted more than 600 videos on YouTube with DIY plastering and stucco tips. With a rapidly growing number of over 17,000 subscribers, they have developed a strong following online with their videos on lath and plastering. These videos are a family endeavor as Kirk’s sons Jason, Carl and Dan run the scenes behind the camera, and his two daughters, Lulie and Madeleine, who are plasterers as well, can be seen in some videos applying stucco alongside their dad.
Looking Back to Look Forward
Kirk started plastering in the 1970s and readily admits it was strictly the artistry of the craft that first attracted him to the trade. He also admits liking the physical work that increased oxygen intake and released endorphins, bringing him a sense of euphoria he had not experienced before. A labor union representative, Tom Savage’s daughter, lived next door and encouraged Kirk to join the union program to learn how to really plaster. Kirk quickly found out that plastering was a lot more than merely taking mud off the hawk and to this day still feels a sense of gratitude.
Kirk remembers working for a good-sized firm called McDermont and Sealy out of Oakland, Calif. mostly doing commercial and institutional work. While learning the craft of plastering, Kirk made friends while working there, like Jerry Pozo of BMI, many who remain friends even 30 years later. To Kirk, that is what makes the plastering business unique; while products, systems and buildings can change as we innovate and progress, the relationships continue on. Kirk treasures those relationships.
Kirk also learned about plaster pumps in those days, including diagnosing problems, repairs and how to make a gun crew productive. He remembers those days of plastering being physically demanding and production levels once common then, today most would find hard to believe. Guys like Fred Smith and Andy Davis of Davis Stucco are mentors that he will never forget. Kirk feels the most significant change in our industry is the lighter-weight products and unfortunate loss in real plastering expertise. His fear for the future is there may be a continued loss of experts in this field.
Kirk feels he can prove that cement stucco is the most durable cladding you can have. He notes that the miserable part of his business is the few times they had to tear stucco off of an old building. He likes other claddings as they generally come off pretty easy.
Roll the Camera
Kirk and his sons started to video their work to simply keep up with the changing times. The idea came from Kirk’s son Jason and after a year of just a few sample videos, requests came in to post more. They obliged the requests and now these YouTube features are regularly posted and cover everything they can think of. Many of their requests are from folks around the world seeking advice on proper ways to apply lath and plaster. They talk about gypsum and Portland cement plaster.
Like a lot of plasterers, Kirk likes talking about the product. YouTube allows him a prefect outlet to explain why he does what he does and it keeps the family together. At last count, they have more than 650 completed projects. The video part of the business may seem a bit ironic as Kirk has plastered a few projects that have even been used in the movies.
Kirk Giordano Plastering has the philosophy that every project, and every project owner, is unique. While all of us implement high quality and ethics, Kirk goes the extra step to learn about his customers and what they really want. Because they do not know plastering and frequently get the terms wrong, it takes a little extra time to find out what they really want. The extra effort pays off as Kirk Giordano Plastering thrives on repeat and referral business. One standard rule that is an absolute must for Kirk is the project must be left cleaner than you found it.
What does the future hold for Kirk Giordano Plastering Inc.? Kirk is not 100 percent certain but he knows his family will be involved and all plans will go through Kirk’s wife Jacqui Giordano’s approval process. Kirk has noted that she is the real brains of the family. “We will continue to produce YouTube videos as long as we have a following and there is an interest,” says Kirk. Their future with YouTube is a frequent family dinner topic.
This is what makes Kirk a little unique for our industry and whether you agree with his advice in the videos or not, you have to credit him with having the vision and dedication to do what most of us have chosen to ignore.