About John White Painting

Since 1945, the White family has been painting in Omaha. Three generations of craftsmanship is a tradition we’re very proud of. What began with painting barns and residential exteriors quickly became quality commercial and industrial painting, which led to paper hanging, and then to the upper-end residential painting that has become our niche. But while the market niches have evolved over the past seven decades, the commitment to quality, attention to detail, and the uncompromising delivery of a fulfilling customer service experience we uphold has remained the proverbial bedrock upon which this business has stood.

With 71 years in the industry, John White Painting can be trusted to deliver an exceptional home remodel. The company applies the same open and cheerful communication deeply rooted in its company history to the hand-crafted special touches given to each project that it has come to be known for. The result? Happy contractors, inspired customers, and smooth projects.

The past 71 years have been an amazing journey, and John and David are thrilled for what the future holds!

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A Timeline of History

The story of today’s John White Painting (JWP) begins in the months following Germany’s surrender in May of 1945. After serving the Army in the European theatre, John’s father, David B. White, a native of Alexandria, MN, returned to the US that summer and moved to Omaha to be near his sister and brother-in-law, Kate and Milt Henriksen.

Milt, too, served his country, as an airplane builder at the Martin Bomber plant in Bellevue. When Dave White moved to Omaha in the summer of 1945, they formed the Henriksen & White Spray Painting company. The photo to the right shows Milt and Dave painting a barn somewhere in the “outskirts” of Omaha—which could have been as far away as 144th and Center at the time!

The photo shows them using a massive airless sprayer that had to be run from the back of their box truck, pictured below. (Today they’re much smaller, of course, but in a time when a paint roller was still unheard of, and a brush was the conventional application method for just about everything, this large “spray painter” was considered high-tech.)

The company did well, and even advertised a little, as the small ad to the left from Friday, June 27, 1947 shows.

But, in 1948, things changed. Milt went to work for Douglas Aircraft, continuing his career in aviation until his retirement in 1982. During this time, David White founded his own company, which would eventually become David White Painting, Inc. While no business listing appeared in the 1949 or 1950 phonebooks, next to his name in the residential section is Dave’s vocation: “painter.”

In 1954, the “David White Decorating Co.” makes its Yellow Pages debut, and in 1955 next to the business name is the company’s first tagline: “Painting – Paper Hanging – Cheerful Estimates.”

This 1955 phonebook listing, incidentally, was the first David’s wife and business manager extraordinaire, Mary created, as they were married in 1954.

The fact that Dave’s fledgling company had virtually no public presence until he married Mary cannot be mere coincidence—it is a testament to her savvy that helped make the business thrive for the next 40 years.

Dave was heavily involved in the Painting and Decorating Contractors of America (PDCA) Nebraska Chapter, serving as president of the Omaha PDCA chapter and as a member of the labor negotiating board. This photo shows Dave in the mid 1960s hosting a booth at a PDCA convention.

As the business grew in the 1960s and early 1970s, the company’s scope of work went to commercial and industrial painting. Val-Mont’s plant, and the former Mangelsen’s warehouse at 82nd & J were some of the larger jobs in the company’s history. A postcard advertisement from the late 1960s/early 1970s highlights the company’s commitment to commercial and industrial painting, but also reminds potential customers of their residential painting prowess. Through painting jobs for commercial and industrial properties, Dave would be asked to paint the company owner’s home. While he would gladly do so, his focus was in production, not necessarily the heavily detail-focused upper-end residential market. And, the results were highly positive, as this thank-you/advertisement of a smooth “turn-key” job appeared in the August 15, 1971 Omaha World Herald.

Around 1966, at age nine, Dave’s son, John, began working for the company. One of his first jobs was to paint “Dave White” onto the new aluminum extension ladders and planks. Though rarely used, 50 years later, those planks and some of those ladders are still around the shop.

John worked for his father throughout his teens, eventually training and coming up through the union shop in Omaha. By 1979, John knew he wanted to stay in painting, but, at 61, Dave was looking to slow down. At this point, John went out on his own and built his own list of clients. He started small, wallpapering powder rooms for homeowners for two years before he received his big break with a large interior residential project. He moved the company shop to the garage in back of his Benson home, purchased his dad’s large equipment (ladders, planks, scaffolding, etc.), and John White Painting was born.

Through those first days wallpapering powder bathrooms, John built an expanding client base as he focused the business in the upper-end residential sector. His hard work was paying off, allowing him to afford to spoil his son, David (named after his father), with some amazing Ghostbusters toys.

In 1991, the company moved from Benson to Elkhorn. The business continued to grow and excel in upper-end residential new construction and remodeling—working with both general contractors and homeowners alike—when in the late 1990s John again honed the focus of the company to high end custom cabinetry finishes. Since that time, the glazes, distressing, toning, and shading on kitchen cabinets have remained a staple of the company.

In 2003 at 17, David J. White, John’s son and Dave White’s grandson, went to work for the company during the summer. David returned to work summers and winter breaks throughout college, supplementing intellectual rigor with rewarding manual labor and the colorful and distinct camaraderie unique to construction sites. After completing grad school in the heart of the recession, David returned to work at John White Painting while he felt out the job market. After a year, David realized that the career he’d actually wanted was the one right in front of him, and in 2012 he joined the company permanently.

Meanwhile, following in his father’s footsteps, John became very involved in Painting and Decorating Contractors of America (PDCA) and served as the Platte Valley chapter President.

In early 2014, the company had seriously outgrown their Elkhorn shop of 23 years, so they moved to a bigger facility in Papillion and custom built their state-of-the-art spray shop to handle large loads of cabinet doors and drawers.

Through the Years