Take a walk around Las Vegas, and you might see the “color” Cory Summerhays has added to the community. From the roof coating systems of Class-A commercial properties to the paint jobs on popular HOA communities to the new $2 billion Allegiant Raiders Stadium, Summerhays’ cosmetic stamp can be found throughout the city. The real impact on the community, however, has been on his people and on what he calls an unforgettable experience.
As founder and president of Unforgettable Coatings, Inc. (UCI), Cory Summerhays is in pursuit to provide his employees and his customers with an unforgettable experience. He has been able to ensure this experience through the company’s focus on the mission and core values.
“This mission is to serve and inspire all those that we encounter along our path – a path that will be built and coated by great people doing great things.” The company’s core values are gratitude, compassion, and trust.
Summerhays’ construction journey began during a 2002 college summer internship He used that opportunity to propel him into leadership at a construction firm before leaving in 2007 to start Unforgettable Coatings in Las Vegas.
UCI initially focused on commercial, multi-family apartments, and HOA painting, and now extends its services to provide construction repairs, roof coatings, and specialty rubber services. It now has offices in Nevada, Arizona, Utah, and Idaho.
Making Unforgettable Coatings a Reputable Employer
Those looking for more than just a job, but also a culture of teamwork and sense of security, have sought out Unforgettable Coatings. Simply put, employees have jumped at the opportunity to join the team and they have chosen to stay.
To further establish this reputation as a good team and culture builder, Cory inspires employees to lend a helping hand each year through philanthropy and community programs. These efforts make a difference at Unforgettable Coatings, and they positively impact the company’s culture and community reputation.
Shaping the Man, Cory Summerhays
As the son of a single teenage mother, Cory learned great lessons from an early age. He was exposed to the importance of hard work, the value of a dollar, and drew inspiration from his mother’s tenacity to meet the family’s needs and create a better life.
This inspiration led to business ideas of his own. At six years old, Cory claimed sidewalk real estate near the local grocery store for a weekly lemonade stand. Clients became regulars. He ran paper routes, sold playing cards out of the garage, and from an early age relied solely on himself for spending money.
Cory told reporters, “There were certainly ramifications to not having two parents and challenges in my teen years. I wasn’t always a kid making correct decisions. That played a role and took its toll, but I was able to turn a corner thanks to a couple of mentors who came into my life, particularly a spiritual mentor who encouraged me to pursue the happiness that comes by serving people,” he said. “I did a two-year mission. And there were times I thought I had a tough upbringing, growing up in the streets of Salt Lake City, but I learned it’s nothing like the upbringing of those in Brazil. My thoughts of a tough upbringing were ridiculous. America is not hard at all; Brazil is hard. That added perspective served me quite well.”
Unforgettable Coatings, A Company Built on Values
Running a company in today’s environment is a challenge. Cory’s experiences and upbringing had a big influence on his drive and leadership style. In order to deal with the challenges, Cory and his leadership team have established a set of core values that are spoken of frequently.
The core values of gratitude, compassion, and trust provide the direction for just about every management question or predicament that the business faces.
The UCI management approach for influencing performance across the board is implemented differently for each unique individual. While the core values are the beacon, to influence performance appropriately each individual is treated uniquely but without questions, all of them are trusted.
“A fundamental definition of a great manager is one who can influence peak performance. How we are able to create good managers is by influencing them to care for their direct reports and be attentive to their personal needs,” Cory says.
Cory’s management style relies on trusting those brought into the company and giving them autonomy to make decisions.
He explains: “Just that expression of trusting the individual has yielded success for us. The worst thing you can do is attract people smarter than you, then tell them what to do. I happen to be the leader of the organization; I happen to know where we ought to be going, but I understand we work in a challenging environment and make complex decisions at all times, so I need to be able to lean on those behind me to maintain that leadership.”
Along with trust, Cory believes in showing employees appreciation. He says showing gratitude to his team is “just good business.” These appreciation tactics include different employee award ideas and appreciation activities throughout the year. Cory has built a positive culture that keeps his team happy and loyal to the company. He also includes the employee’s family in activities. American Express highlighted his efforts in the article 7 Simple Employee Appreciation Activities, writing:
“Each year, the spouses of the management team are invited to participate in a retreat with his wife. ‘We found that certainly for people who work in our organization, it’s important for them to feel as though they are appreciated, but a lot of times, they also have spouses at home who are supporting them and doing what they need to do to ensure our people are successful at work,’ says Summerhays. ‘It’s been a fun event that everybody looks forward to.’ ”
Cory’s leadership style is proving its worth. Inc. Magazine even named Unforgettable Coatings to the inaugural Best Workplaces in 2020. The profile included information on why UCI is the best place to work, with Cory describing:
“Paint and specialty coatings are what we do, and providing unforgettable experiences is who we are. These experiences are the sources of our culture – we have them every day. The bottom line: We love one another. We spend our time doing this, and the natural ramification has been employees never leaving. In fact, in 13 years – 31 in management – one person has turned over. Inspiring other companies to act the same way or emulate our ‘culture’ is a challenge.”
Charity and Philanthropic Efforts
Part of the company mission and purpose is to inspire other business leaders. Cory leads by example by giving back to the community. There are many service initiatives that happen throughout the year as community needs arise. One annual tradition, inspired by an employee in need, helps families with a gift of $15,000 to use for conceiving or adopting.
The Couple Antonio Bocanegra and Bertha Oliva received the gift in 2019 and welcomed a baby girl later that year. The couple struggled with infertility for over 10 years. They used the money gifted through UCI for in vitro treatment, a conception treatment that helps families struggling with infertility. Fortunately, Cory and UCI were able to be part of this family’s journey. You can watch Antonio’s “Gift of a Family” Video on the Unforgettable Coatings YouTube Channel.
Cory and the Unforgettable Coatings team are also special donors to SafeNest, a local nonprofit committed to ending domestic violence in Clark County. An additional part of SafeNest’s mission is to use personal empowerment to inspire hope in a new future for those affected by broken homes.
Along with these annual donations, Cory finds ways of spreading positivity in the community when the need arises. During the coronavirus pandemic, Cory and UCI’s front-line workers helped families selected by employees to get groceries at a Cardenas grocery store, where they filled their carts for free.
In another instance, the team handed out gas gift cards for families in need who were in line at a food drive. Channel 3 News Las Vegas covered this event, writing that the Unforgettable Coatings crew stepped in to add something else that was much needed: free gas. Those in line were offered gas cards to exchange for free fuel at gas stations, including 7-Eleven. Unforgettable Coatings even took it a step further. Crew members pumped gas and cleaned windshields.
Cory told Fox 5 News, “We’ve got a lot of great employees. They’ve got family members that are out of work. People that they know are out of work and are food-deprived. We wanted to give them an opportunity to serve the people closest to them.”
Cory is fulfilled when he sees employees push these initiatives forward and light up at the opportunity to serve other people. Part of the company mission and purpose is to inspire other business leaders. Cory leads by example by giving back to the community and seizes the opportunity to initiate and execute community service initiatives that may arise, even unexpectedly, throughout any given year.
40 Under 40 Recognition
Cory has been recognized for his entrepreneurial work, as well. The Las Vegas Sun annually highlights Nevada entrepreneurs who influence the local economy in a big way. In 2019, the publication included Cory in its 40 Under 40 list.
Judges said the business leader was a good fit for the list because he embodies what it means to be an entrepreneur, from his quality and service ideals to the tremendous growth of UCI.
Vegas Inc’s published feature on Cory said it best, saying:
“Although he is CEO of a $36 million business, Cory Summerhays still drives a truck, carries tools and can often be found with paint on his fingers. ‘It’s in my nature to take time each week to be on the job site,’ he said. Quality and service are central to Summerhays’ business philosophy, which he feels have helped create a loyal customer base and employees.”
Summerhays also told the reporters, “I place a high value on people and building relationships. Companywide, in four states, we have only lost one individual from our management team in 11 years. Over 70 of our painters have been with us for over five years; some have eclipsed the 10-year mark — something almost unheard of in our industry.”
You can read a full breakdown of Cory’s media coverage at Spot On Nevada.
Looking To the Future
Along with Unforgettable Coatings’ commercial painting services, Cory also spearheads other offshoots, which isn’t uncommon for those with an entrepreneurial spirit.
He detailed his business dealings, explaining, “In 2009, we launched an eco-friendly recycled paint manufacturing company, UCI Green Coat, which creates the product used to cover graffiti across Las Vegas.”
Then in 2017, Cory acquired Final Touch Painting, which solidified UCI’s position in the new construction market. Recently the team launched Blue Ape Painting, an automated, web-based, system providing homeowners with an easy home repainting experience Cory believes will be just as unforgettable as the rest of the products and services his other companies provide.
One of Cory’s mantras pushing the UCI team forward focuses on the customer experience. Cory explained to Las Vegas Sun reporters, “Painting is what we do, but providing an unforgettable experience is who we are. We are great at painting — we’re a bunch of paint nerds — but in the end, that just happens to be what we do. If we focus on our pursuit to provide an unforgettable experience for our people and our consumers, we believe we will have success well into the future.”
Are You Ready for an Unforgettable Experience?
Work with Cory Summerhays and discover the Unforgettable Experience. Unforgettable Coatings is a growing painting and roofing company that provides services for clients in Nevada, Arizona, Utah Idaho, and neighboring states.
Along with UCI, Cory also owns and operates Blue Ape Painting, Green Coat Paint Manufacturing, and Final Touch Painting. No matter which business you choose, you will experience the quality and exceptional customer service.
Cory also invites you to connect with him on LinkedIn, follow UCI on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter and subscribe to his YouTube channel. You can also learn more about Cory by browsing http://corysummerhays.com/.