On March 27th, 2024, Vivaxians gathered at the Holiday Theater in Denver for a celebration of the company’s 20th anniversary. Led by founder Jeremiah Owen and featuring a Q&A with the Vivax Vision Team of core leaders, this event was a chance to reflect on past accomplishments and generate momentum for the year ahead. Kicking off the festivities, an at-times visibly emotional Jeremiah took stock of two decades in the house painting business, while emphasizing this moment’s place in Vivax history: the First Year of the Next Twenty. “I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished, but I’m not satisfied,” Jeremiah said. “There’s more impact to be made”. In this event recap, we’ll go over highlights from our 20th anniversary celebration, with an eye towards the future of Vivax and our plans for growth and community engagement. We hope you enjoy reading and would like to give a sincere thank you to all of our valued customers, crews, and team members who have helped us build our company to where we are today! 

20 Years Ago: Vivax Paints their First Houses

In a video montage, Jeremiah and other long-time Vivaxians recounted the early history of the company. “I’m in my grandparent’s house, in their basement, that’s where I was living at the time… I had some good skills, I had been doing an internship where I learned how to run a painting company. I wanted to go out on my own, so I ended up starting Vivax. I walk out of my grandparent’s house and start knocking on doors, trying to convince people to trust a 25 year old with a two-day old company… and started painting some houses.” Lindsay Winters, V.P. of Sales, recalled being “crammed into Jeremiah’s tiny little office; we were every ounce of a start-up.” Logan Hall, Head of Production. remembered a “rag-tag group of individuals with lots of dreams and a bucket of paint brushes.” Photo reels from the early 2000s showed a youthful Jeremiah and co. at work and at play. “There were some spontaneous planking competitions”, long-time COO Kirk Schreck added wryly, a fun reminder that the competitive instinct has long been a part of the company’s DNA. “And then there are the memories about hard decisions we had to make and sitting around the room and looking at each other and trusting each other.” 

Growth, Impact, and Company Character 

In the 20 years since, Vivax Paint Pros has grown into the premier exterior house painter in Colorado, while launching two successful expansions– to Austin and Dallas– in just the past few years. Along the way, Jeremiah and other old-school Vivaxians fought to build and maintain a company character of excellence, honesty, integrity, and optimism– no mean feat when your business has grown at a rapid clip over two decades of continuous service and production. Spurred by success in house painting, Vivax expanded to multiservice home improvement in the early 2010s, but eventually decided to re-focus on the core business by the end of the decade. “We kept learning this lesson and we learned it over and over again that if you’re doing more than one thing, you’re probably not doing it at the mastery level you should be,” Lindsay recalled, of the planned move to stop servicing roof, window, and solar. “Making the decision to essentially dissolve those other divisions was a really smart thing but was scary at the time… but ultimately it’s slowing down that has allowed us to speed up.” Despite an expected drop in revenue the year after winding down multiservice, Vivax was able to make up that revenue within a few short years as demand increased for our exterior house painting services across Colorado, with our team and crews working tirelessly to grow the business. 

“Care for the team and care for the customers and the crews is what matters most”, Jeremiah told the theater full of Vivaxians in his introduction, a theme visited repeatedly by other members of the Vivax Vision Team in their roundtable discussion. The 20th anniversary logo– a lighthouse framed by rolling waves labelled Growth and Impact– symbolizes the intention to be a positive force in our community while framing the theme for the year. “When I say growth, I don’t mean growing revenue– which we will– but growing as a person and growing as a leader”, Jeremiah said. With this in mind, he announced 21 small-group discussions for members of the Vivax team in 2024, each touching on a saying or set of ideas that have influenced Jeremiah’s attitude towards life and business. “Eat The Biggest Hairiest Frog First”, “Preserve the Core, but Stimulate Progress”, and “Rent is Due Everyday” were just a few of the concepts he previewed for discussion this year, which will also be published on Youtube in the coming months.

Over and over again, the Vision team emphasized character as the essential ingredient to Vivax’s success: “The stronger the character of the team, the more positive the people you will attract,” Lindsay said in a response to a question about our strategy for future growth. Jeremiah agreed, adding “Our character is what we have to hold on to over the next twenty years; becoming a thirty market, billion-dollar company doesn’t matter if we lose our character.” So what, exactly, is the company character then? Members of our team will already be familiar with our five core values: Pride, Perfection, Enthusiasm, Integrity, and Ownership. For customers, then, the impact of that character is seen in the quality of our work and our commitment to excellence at the point of production. It’s the reason we’re able to offer a no-exception warranty on our work, and why our paint crews stay with Vivax year in and year out. 

Rocky Mountain Tree Festival 

In response to a question about our plan for future community engagement, Chelsea Teston, Head of Coordination, recounted the history of Vivax’s community engagement, from working with Habitat for Humanity to providing a fresh paint job for a women’s shelter. But the idea for our signature event, an annual tree planting day and associated music festival, came into being in 2015, powered by the simple question, “what if we planted a tree for every customer we serviced?”. At the same time, the Rocky Mountain Tree Festival was conceived as a way to celebrate those volunteers with a day of music, food, and community. As the company grows to include Austin, Dallas, and more cities in the years ahead, Vivax is looking towards simultaneous volunteer days across the country– all of which would, of course, need their own Tree Fests. “We could have one of the biggest planting days in all of the U.S.” Chelsea said. But at the same time, it’s always been our intention to let the event grow organically. Rocky Mountain Tree Festival 2024 will take place May 11th at New Terrain Brewing in Golden, with a line-up to be announced! 

Conclusion: Patience, Preserving the Core, and Building Right

Further along in the Q&A, Marketing Director Scott Bondy tackled the challenges we’ve faced expanding to Austin and Dallas, and what he’s most proud of in that process. He touched on patience as essential for the company as we continue to grow and expand into new markets. “Patience is the number one thing we need to model for our division heads… because they’re so excited to go out and crush, but it’s more about building right, and building sustainably. We’re not willing to risk people’s satisfaction, our crews, our customer’s being stoked that we came out for the job.” As for points of pride, Scott and Kirk both highlighted Vivax’s recognition as one of the best place to work in not only Colorado (Denver Post, 2024) but the entire country– coming in at #40 out of 140,000 mid-size “best places to work” by USA Today just this year. 

Preserving the core elements leading to that level of job satisfaction while simultaneously expanding into new markets will be one of the biggest challenges for the company in the years ahead. Jeremiah framed the mission as figuring out how to “continue building systems and mechanisms within our business to make sure that we continue to reinforce the character we have today… recruiting processes that attract high character individuals that are hungry to work hard and figure out what they’re capable of– who care about their teammates, the company, and care about the people around them, and be that lighthouse.” In a final video montage, prepared as a surprise for Jeremiah, colleagues paid tribute to the founder, often getting teary-eyed themselves. We couldn’t say it better than Jeremiah’s sister and early business partner Jess: “Knowing how incredibly talented and powerful the entire Vivax family is has been incredible to watch… so to all of you: congratulations on twenty years, and to twenty more.” 

More 20th Anniversary coverage is on the way! This event also featured a discussion between Jeremiah and Coach Keenan Clement of Aurora’s Vista Peak High School, which we’ll highlight in an upcoming feature: “Building Teams the Coach Keenan Way”.  

Vivax Founder Jeremiah Owen (second from left) share a laugh with Vivax Paint crews.