Associated Finishes Inc. established a tradition of excellence as Drywall and Stucco craftsmen when the company was founded in 1965. A family owned and managed firm, its continued success is based on a commitment to service and quality.
From humble beginnings to modern success, this family owned business has come a long way over the years but one thing that remains the same is their commitment to nothing short of excellence. The Associated Finishes story is as American as they come and they remain today, a company you can trust and believe in.
Licensed in the State of Arizona since 1965, Associated Finishes has been serving the Valley of the Sun with hard work, determination, perseverance and commitment to quality and safety for more than four decades and they hope to be around another 40 years or more.
The Associated Finishes story really begins in 1961. Owner Blaine Burgin was just a young man then. He had just married his wife of 50 years and the young couple was looking to make a move from California, back to Phoenix for more stable work. This is how Blaine “Bill” ended up working for a company called Baxter Drywall and Plaster. New to the business, but hardworking and dedicated, Bill made a place for himself within the company and with owner, David Baxter.
Baxter Drywall was a small business and in 1964, Bill was making $2 per hour. Not much by today’s standards but a good honest living at that time, no doubt.
In late 1964, things would take a turn for the worst when Baxter Drywall and Plaster, through no fault of their own were never paid on a job in Yuma totaling over $5,000. Back then, it was enough to cripple a business, especially a small business like that. It was decided By Dave that they would have to close the doors on Baxter Drywall and plaster. But not yet ready to give up on his dream, Dave decided to stick it out and remain in business. Bill, having nowhere else to go anyway and still a young man himself, decided to stay as well.
The two founded Associated Finishes in 1965 and began a long career together. David’s wife worked in the home office helping with bookkeeping and appointments and his daughter Denise came to work for the family business as well.
Dave and Bill worked very hard to pay off all of the debt owed by Baxter Drywall and to get an honest and clean start in their new business. They worked well together and seemed to just click, much like brothers. Later by the late 70s Bill’s sons, J.R. and Mike would also come to work for the company.
By the 1980s the company was going strong with business relationships with quality builders such as Golden Heritage Homes, Cavalier Homes and US General Homes. It was during this time that the company expanded to other areas of Arizona and even to Las Vegas where they opened a pool company. Business was booming and it was a happy time.
The 90s Bring a Downtime
By the time the 90s rolled around, Dave wanted to retire and the market was dropping a little, mostly due to the economy. Dave was facing some health issues and the pool business was seeing a decline. Dave went to Vegas to tend to the struggling pool business while Bill with the help of his two sons JR and Mike took care of things on the home front.
In 1992, sadly Dave passed away. Neither of the businesses had a lot of net worth as far as dollar figures were involved and all parties involved came to the agreement that Dave’s wife would take the pool company and Bill would take over Associated Finishes. All were happy with the outcome but it was a bit like starting over again.
With Denise still on board, and Bill’s son’s there to help as well, the family business of Associated Finishes continued and is still going strong today. When the economy took a nosedive and most competitors had to close their doors, their business remained honest, loyal and strong for their customers.
One reason for the success of Associated Finishes during financial hardships of the economy lies in the philosophy behind it. Bill says, “We never bought a thing we couldn’t pay cash for.”
In the wake of the recent recession, many competitors were forced to close up shop and move out of town. Bill and his Sons chose not to do this because their employees had been with Associated Finishes 30+ years, coupled with this, the third generation had recently come on board in J.R.s oldest son Joshua. Associated Finishes considers employees as family, and their business is a family legacy along with an investment, not something you just throw away when the times get tough. They stayed to tough it out in the industry.
Bill and his sons offer the following advice on how to survive in this economy:
·Operate debt free
These three things would seem almost the opposite of what “Big Business America” tries to do but in the end, we see who remains standing. Bill adds that he is saving for his kids and their future. “One day J.R. and Mike will own this business.”
“I raised my sons not to splurge and to be humble. And to take good care of our families,” adds Bill.
It is his humble thinking and a strong commitment to service and quality that has kept Associated Finishes alive over the years.
A Trip Down Memory Lane…
Associated Finishes and its founders shared many great times together. Here are some beloved stories of the early days of the company.
Time for a New Ford:
When the company first got off the ground, a young Bill drove a ’49 Ford clunker that ate oil so much you had to drive with the windows down to keep from getting sick from oil fumes, this was rough in winter. In 1969, when he helped friend and business partner, Dave Baxter pay off the debt owed by previous business Baxter Drywall and Plaster, Dave took Bill out to the dealership and bought him a brand new 1969 Ford pickup! In Bills own words “That was a Great day!”.
We Sleep Where We Work:
In the early days, they were a two-man show, working long hours and often sleeping at the jobsite. They would travel out of town in a ’57 Chevy pulling a trailer. At one jobsite, they found the sheetrock on the curb and had to haul it all inside the property and hang it themselves before beginning their work. It took 4-5 days to complete and they slept on the floor of the houses, exhausted and without showers, until the job was completed.
Late at night on the final day of the job, when Dave was ready to spray a duplex they were working on, the sun was down, it was about 10pm already and the neighbors were complaining of noise. They worked as quickly as they could with the loud machine and sometime after midnight moved across town to the other job where they also had to spray there past midnight.
They finished at 5am, likely to the relief of the neighborhood and they hit the road to return home. Dave was scheduled to cook at a convention that very same morning so he called his wife to put on a stock pot as they hit the road. Interstate 40 was being built at the time and they drove up tired and dirty right to a patch of construction blocking their route home.
Dave decided he knew a shortcut through the desert and they circled around for some time only to end up right back where they started off on the closed Interstate. Just as they approached for the 2nd time that morning, it was opened back up to traffic and they continued on their way to phoenix, only to blow a piston in the Chevy and they had to drive the rest of the way back home that way, on five cylinders and at a speed of 35-40 mph for approximately 50 miles! Dave made it to that convention, where he cooked all day.
This is just one example of the stories the two shared in the early days of the business. Some days were difficult but they pushed on with a commitment to quality and to the company that they had built themselves.
Passing of a Dear Friend:
In 1992, David Baxter would pass away. It was a sad time for the families and the company but also a kind of rebirth and carrying on of the name- Associated Finishes. The commitment to service and quality still remains and that early foundation that Dave set for the company that he started with Bill is holding strong under the leadership and example set by three generations of hardworking team members who remain today to carry on the name and the reputation of the company.