As a painting contractor and a tournament poker player, Beverly Kruskol battles gender stereotyping.
By Mark R. Madler
Walking to the table for a tournament poker game and being on the job site for her custom painting contracting business are similar to Beverly Kruskol.
In both she finds her abilities are underestimated because of her gender.
Speaking with an accent courtesy of her native South African, Kruskol describes herself as mild mannered – but only to a certain extent.
“I can be rough and tough when I need to be,” she said.
As president of M.Y. Pacific Building Inc., Kruskol has little time to play much poker these days. She oversees a work crew that spreads out from Orange County to Ventura County doing painting, drywall, carpentry and repair work in upscale private homes and restaurants, apartment buildings and condominiums.
Their work can be seen on the concession stands at the Hollywood Bowl, the Farm of Beverly Hills, Downtown Disney, the Pinot Bistro, and Zucca Restaurant.
Less publicly accessible are the multi-million dollar homes in Calabasas and the Santa Monica mountains, and the apartments at Mariners Village in Marina del Rey.
Good, reliable painters and carpenters are hard to come by, say several clients of Kruskol’s.
Especially hard to find are those who can do woodwork that matches the original, said Michael Lecesse, the maintenance manager at Mariners Village.
“It’s an art form,” Lecesse said.
With such a large crew at her disposal, Kruskol has workers with talents in specific areas such as molding and trim work, said Carrie Fundingsland, an interior designer with her own firm, Houseplay Inc.
Fundingsland also acts as a color consultant for Kruskol’s clients who do not have a designer of their own.
As an interior designer, she has worked with a lot of contractors and Pacific Building is one of the few she keeps going back to. Fundingsland said, “She does more than just a regular painting contractor can do.”
Testimonials such as these keep the work coming in to the office of M.Y. Pacific Building, located in a non-descript industrial park off Oxnard Street in Tarzana.
Kruskol estimates that 80 percent of her jobs come from referrals. Homeowners tell other homeowners about the company’s work. One job at a 200-unit apartment building in Montebello led to the company receiving work at two apartment complexes in Oxnard.
With a Bang
Getting Pacific Building on the path to its current success started off with a bang – literally.
In 2002, Kruskol supervised a job in Northridge when the same client contacted her about some emergency work in Torrance.
A natural gas explosion had damaged 80 homes, some in a gated community. It was those high-end homes she was hired to repair and paint.
That led to Kruskol establishing relationships with companies that respond to fires and floods and make repairs for the insurance companies.
J.J. MacDonald, project manager with Protech, one such disaster response company, said that Kruskol’s company is one of only two painting contractors he uses.
The customer service she provides is excellent, as she keeps an open line of communication at all times with the client. If there is a problem, Kruskol or a manager calls the client.
“It is a no-stress thing for me when they are on the job,” MacDonald said.
Last fall’s wildfires presented new clients.
Kruskol submitted a bid to repair a fire-damaged home in Malibu and was also asked to do some work on homes in San Diego, an offer she turned down.
The distance was too great from her base and she likes to keep an eye on what is going on at the job site, she said.
“That’s a problem waiting to happen,” Kruskol added.
On the Job Training
Kruskol exchanged a career in property management for one in custom painting.
Pacific Building was started by her ex-husband and she later took the reins as it operated under her painting and contracting license. She always had an interest in construction although cannot explain why.
Her business education was minimal – she completed an accounting course at a junior college in the Chicago area after moving there from South Africa.
Everything else Kruskol knows about running a business she learned on the job.
Her tournament poker playing days took place while she was still in the property management field. She played against – and beat – Phil Hellmuth, a winner of the World Series of Poker; and Lakers owner Jerry Buss.
Kruskol’s two goals are to be the first woman to win the World Series of Poker and to have the largest painting contracting business west of the Mississippi.
The World Series is on the back burner while she concentrates on business.
Assisting her in that are the members of Pacific’s work crews; painters, carpenters, and drywallers whom Kruskol treats with respect and who in turn show that same respect to her.
Both Lecesse and MacDonald appreciate that the crew members are good at a variety of tasks.
So is Kruskol.
One client, owner of an $18 million home in the hills above Sherman Oaks, wanted the doors and door frames to have an antique appearance and so the painters left the brush strokes visible.
The trust that Kruskol has in her employees gets passed over to those they work for.
“When you walk into these multi-million dollar homes people want to feel comfortable that they can leave and [the crew will] not walk away with everything,” Kruskol said.
SNAPSHOT – M.Y. Pacific Building
Year Founded: 1993
Born: January 13, 1954
Revenues 2006: $1.5 million
Revenues 2007: $2.5 million
Employees 2006: 35
Employees 2007: 45