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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on January 29th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 13, Issue 47 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 47

Art-Craft lands victorious

The airport board gives a local aircraft painting business another chance

BY CAMILLIA LANHAM

Art-Craft Paint Inc. owner Teresa Arredondo’s wide smile made her face glow on Jan. 24 after Santa Maria Public Airport General Manager Chris Hastert told her she wouldn’t be evicted from the World War II-era hangar her business has occupied for three decades.


RESTORING A CRAFT:
José Mendoza recently stripped paint off of a flight controller for a Cessna 172 that Art-Craft Paint Inc. is restoring. The company avoided being evicted by the Santa Maria Public Airport on Jan. 24.
PHOTO BY CAMILLIA LANHAM

“I’m very, very happy that I’m going to be left alone and continue growing my operation and enjoying the day-to-day operations of my business,” she said.

For the past two weeks, she’s scrambled to take care of loose ends that the airport district board of directors requested be tied up in order for her to avoid eviction. Their concerns included a history of late rent payments that sometimes required the airport to take legal action, back taxes owed, and lack of a business plan and a line of credit.

Business consultant Tom Widroe spoke on behalf of Arredondo’s airplane painting business at the beginning of the board meeting on Jan. 24. He told the board members that in the last week Art-Craft had paid the government $15,000 in back taxes, revamped its business plan, and started searching for a future line of credit up to $100,000.

“She takes everything that you have said and this whole process very seriously,” Widroe said. “She has been chastened by this experience; she has come far too close to losing it all with this whole thing.”

Airport general manager Hastert said that this road is one the airport has traveled with Arredondo several times before. However, this was the first time Art-Craft faced actual eviction before the board.

“Our board’s concern is that we don’t continue down the same path we have for the last four years,” Hastert said.


PLANE READY:
Teresa Arredondo is ready to move forward with a new business plan after nearly losing it all with a threatened eviction by the Santa Maria Public Airport Board of Directors.
PHOTO BY CAMILLIA LANHAM

Over those years, the airport served Arredondo with an action to “pay or quit” within three days at least four times. Those “unlawful detainer” actions meant Art-Craft was more than 10 days late on the rent and had to pay 10 percent of the $8,000 monthly rent fee in addition to any associated legal fees.

Although she’s now paid up and current, she hadn’t yet paid after being served her last three-day “pay or quit” notice from the airport, a board member told the Sun, which is why she faced eviction before the board.

Arredondo said it was a practice that, for her, was just a part of how she ran her business for the last 20 years.

“They would give me the three-day notice and I would pay the fine and it was fine,” she said. “Honestly ... I was thinking about them as a line of credit. For many years, I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong.”

Art-Craft often had trouble making rent, Arredondo explained, because she didn’t have any cash on hand while waiting for payment on government contracts. It can take up to 180 days to get paid after a project is completed.

Widroe recommended that Arredondo gain a line of credit from a bank as a move to resolve her cash flow issue.

The business has grown and shrunk over the years since she bought it out in 1997. Arredondo gradually purchased the business from the owner, Uri Arad, in the mid-1990s. It began as Aero Flair in 1983, and she changed the name to Art-Craft Paint Inc. when she nabbed the last piece.

It grew from a $500,000-a-year company to a $1.7 million-a-year company under her hand, but after the airplane-related disasters of Sept. 11, 2001, her business shrank back down to $500,000, and it’s been a slow recovery process.

Arredondo would like to bring the business back to where it once was, but said she’s been wrapped up in the day-to-day operations of the facility rather than focusing on growing the business. Her goal is to gain enough business to expand from 20 employees to 35.

“I have a business plan now,” she said. “If you take your destiny into your hands, you can become whatever you want to become.”

As part of her new business plan, Arredondo expects to hire a general manager and a human resource manager. She’s already hired an accountant. Her focus will be on sales.

The board agreed to keep Art-Craft on a month-to-month lease with the airport. Hastert said it could potentially turn into a longer-term lease if the rent is consistently paid on time over the next few months.

“We hope everything turns around for her,” Hastert said.

Contact Staff Writer Camillia Lanham at clanham@santamariasun.com.