Date posted: November 9, 2016


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Varacalli Painters is based in Norwood Adelaide and was established by Shayne’s father Bruno back in 1956 therefore Varacalli Painters has always been part of the family fabric for Shayne.

When he turned 17 Shayne became an Apprentice, saying he “received no special treatment” from his father and especially not the other painters however he’s now grateful for this as 33 years later he’s gained the skills and knowledge to run all facets of the business successfully, saying ‘I know how to paint and therefore can communicate to my team and clients from a position of strong knowledge and experience’. Learning from his father and taking over ownership of Varacalli Painters makes Shayne extremely proud.

Today the family business continues with Shayne and his wife Elaine Varacalli owning and running the business saying ‘even our dogs come to work with us!’. Shayne aspires to continue as a family business reflecting that “without a Varacalli involved we would be just another painting company”.

It was in 2013 that Elaine entered the business bringing with her a wealth of knowledge from roles within private enterprise and government. Her fresh eye and enthusiasm rejuvenated the business and Shayne has found working together a very natural and fun experience, saying “we support each other on all levels and are committed to making sure the business remains proud of its first 60 years but never forgets that each day is a new opportunity to make an even better impression”.

Diversification has been a key goal of the family business for a long time, as Shayne reflects “it not only makes life in the painting industry fun but also rewarding after more than 33 years”. The tagline for Varacalli Painters is ‘No Painting Job too Big or Small!’ and Shayne explains a big job may comprise The Merchant Apartments at Bowden or the Savills office fitout in Hindmarsh Square or a shopping centre redevelopment, while a small job may be the painting of kitchen cupboards, a chair, cot, outdoor setting or even a pair of reading glasses.

A few years ago the business set up ‘Shayne’s Spray Painting Services’ so the spray painting side of the business would be distinguishable from the larger Commercial/Industrial/Residential Painting Business. Shayne says this has worked a treat as he didn’t want people being scared off if they just had a cupboard they wanted painted.

Do you have plans to diversify interstate? 

“We have done some interstate jobs for one of our existing clients but we have no desire to grow interstate.  We strongly believe that bigger isn’t always better and Elaine and I are more than happy with what we have. When you live and work in Adelaide why would you want to leave?”.

What are the greatest challenges of being a husband and wife team?

“Making sure we don’t just talk about work all the time and we remember to have some FUN.  Having a bit of a laugh is critical and this often happens as Elaine loves listening to 80’s and Disco music and can be seen dancing and, unfortunately, heard singing in the office. For the first time in her career she’s not sharing an office so she’s enjoying the freedom that this brings”.

What have been the greatest opportunities being a family business?

“On a personal level it’s having control of what we do, how we do it and who we choose to do it for.  Client wise we have found that people love to know who they are dealing with.  There’s no hiding behind a generic name with us, when someone contacts Varacalli Painters they get Shayne and Elaine Varacalli. We have always been proud to put our name and faces to the business and people enjoy this friendly approach”.

Do you have any key advice for family businesses who are finding the SA economy tough at the moment?

  1. Stick to the core things you do well and do them very, very well.
  2. Look at the things that annoy you as a customer and make sure you don’t do them to your customers. We have discovered that it’s not really hard to stand out from the crowd by simply doing the job you said you would, within budget and on time!
  3. If you and/or your business are struggling you need to make some tough decisions which may not be pleasant at the time. Don’t be afraid to make them because the sooner you do the quicker things will turn around for the better.  

Why choose to be a member of Family Business Australia?

“We are members of other organisations within the Building and Construction industry but we have been blown away by the openness, kindness and shared experiences of people we have met at FBA. It’s been very refreshing meeting people from very different industries and backgrounds at FBA. 

Since joining FBA 3 years ago we have been even more committed to maintaining the ‘family’ element of our business as we have seen the advantages of a family business more clearly.  A few years ago I felt that others were controlling my business and I had to make some hard decisions which included letting a couple of people go and bringing Elaine on board. She has brought with her over 30 years of experience working in many admin and PA roles and her fresh approach has invigorated the business and I enjoy working more now than I have in years.”