Portland’s Paul G. White Interior Solutions provides durable and long-lasting surfaces, from oiled hardwood to stunning natural stone, for Maine homes, schools, and even the Capitol.
You may not know it, but you’ve likely seen the work of Paul G. White Interior Solutions. If you’ve ever shopped at the Maine Mall or attended class at Portland High School or admired the quirky tumbling letters that adorn the carpet of the Press Hotel (where the decor nods to the building’s previous tenant, the Portland Press Herald), you have likely stepped on floors installed by the Portlandbased business. You may even live with the company’s handiwork in your bathroom: many of the condo complexes and apartment buildings in the greater Portland area showcase the business’s tiles, carpeting, natural stone countertops, and hardwood wares. Founded in 1970 by Paul G. White as a ceramic contracting company, over the years the business has expanded, bringing in a dizzying variety of surfaces. You can find textured soapstone for your farmhouse kitchen, colorful mosaic tiles for your beach cottage bathroom, and sleek porcelain for your contemporary mudroom. They offer everything from ceramic tile to hardwood, from durable vinyl flooring to eco-friendly bamboo. Through the business, Paul C. White, the chief executive officer and the company’s second-generation co-owner, his brother, Jonathan White, and their crew have been granted access to some pretty amazing places. “Construction is a very dynamic field, and it allows us to see snapshots of so many different places—and so many beautiful homes,” says White. He took particular pleasure in working on the floors of the State Capitol in Augusta. “It was a renovation, and while the materials were brought in from out of state, my guys felt so much pride to be a small part of such an important place,” he says.
“Flooring is critical to how any space functions, even though people don’t always think about it,” White notes, explaining that it’s tied directly to the safety of a structure. Slippery surfaces, such as polished ceramic tiles, can spell disaster for an older couple or a young child. Flooring also sets the tone for the rest of a space. Solid pine floors immediately call to mind a certain kind of decor (rustic or contemporary), while wallto- wall carpeting in a family room make it clear that this space is used for playful purposes. While some may enter a spacious living room and admire the windows, White says he is “always looking down.” He has an eye to the floor, and he gathers cues from the choices made by business owners and homeowners about how they want their space to be used.
However, he admits that most people tend to be drawn into a space by items at eye level, including countertops. “I will always love natural stone countertops,” he says. “Whether it is quartzite, marble, or soapstone, it’s the focal point in any kitchen or bathroom. Everybody’s eyes are drawn to the countertops, and then their gaze flows around the room from there.”
White has been thinking a lot about stone lately: the company just upgraded the equipment in their stone shop with digitized machines that, thanks to tablets and cellphones, can begin cutting slabs of stone to size before the contractor even leaves the jobsite. “Everything is digital, which means customers can choose the exact layout of every piece of marble,” he explains. “If you want to highlight a specific feature of a piece of stone–like a vein or acolorful stripe of quartz—we can show you on the computer exactly what that will look like.” Site measuring has also gone digital, as have stone-cutting equipment and parts of the installation process.
The technology has been a boon to both White and his employees. Not only is the new equipment safer, it also allows White to upgrade the skill set of his staff, expand his company’s output, and ultimately hire more workers. “Instead of technology causing layoffs, it has enabled us to expand,” he says. “It’s a win–win for everyone.” It’s a seemingly small thing that causes big shifts in perception—kind of like the flooring we walk on, day in and day out.