Growing up during the depression of the 1930s was a trying time, but as a lad of six years old in 1937, it seemed like just another adult problem.
So, when our family of three moved from the East Coast and landed in Santa Monica in 1937, I thought we had traveled to a foreign land. It was beautiful and fun, but short on work for my dad’s business.
My father, John Lehne, Sr., had brought his house painting business with us to Santa Monica, hoping things would be better here in California. In some ways, it was. Despite economic troubles, people were still painting their homes, and somehow we survived.
Then came WWII, and how life changed. Paint was hard to come by, and people were not as interested as much in home improvement. So, my dad took whatever job was available to make a living for me and mom.
Peace finally came, the war ended, and the world, including Santa Monica, started spending again, and dad’s first painting jobs started to come in.
Thankfully, it hasn’t stopped for the last 83 years. That’s right, you read that right, we are still very much in the painting business. After having taken over the business from my dad (and now 89 years young!), I am retired and watching my son run the company.
Our son Steve is now in charge of Lehne & Son Painting Contractors That’s three generations in the U.S. of Lehnes managing the business. The actual ‘first generation’ was my grand- father Gustav Lehne (my dad’s father) who started the business in Northern Germany back in the early 1900s.
Total score of generations in the business: Gustav, John Sr., John Jr., Steve, and now (hold on to your hats), Steve’s son Kaden. He is in his last year at Arizona State University, and is also working summers at the office and in the field. When I asked him what he wanted to do after college he said, “Grandpa, I’m going into business with dad (Steve).” Kaden will be our fifth generation of Lehne & Son Painting Contractors.
The majority of our employees have been with us an average of 20 years. Our superintendent, Luis, has been with us 37 years. He is now in charge of estimating and the daily running of the operation.
When I first came full time with m dad in 1960, he told me to always treat your employees like family – it results in loyalty, production, and quality. And it’s still that way today. So, if we can ever be of help with your painting needs, please call us at 310-280-0597.
By John Lehne