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Photographer / Jubilee Edgell

Following in her father’s footsteps was not something Knox resident Annette Martin initially set out to do. Her plan was to become a nurse. Instead, her company, Creative Custom Finishes, has developed into a successful business that provides painting and plastering services to homes and businesses in northern Indiana. It came into being through knowledge gained while paying off debt.

“I was in nursing school and I realized I really didn’t like it,” Martin says. “My father was a plasterer and when I left nursing school, he made me work for him to pay him back for the tuition.”

While Martin was working with her father, he taught her about painting and plastering. She became a union plasterer by serving a plastering apprenticeship from 2000 to 2004. As the only woman in the field of her cohorts, she received third place in the apprenticeship competition at the 2004 Indiana State Fair.

“Then in 2008 my dad retired,” Martin says. “I waitressed for a while. But then I decided to open up my own painting and plastering company. Plastering really is a specialty trade. People don’t realize that stucco, a form of plastering, is on almost every commercial building. It’s very popular. And there’s actually hardly anyone doing.”

Today, Creative Custom Finishes is busy working on both commercial and residential properties. The company specializes in interior and exterior painting, stucco, and Venetian plaster, but it also offers services such as power washing, staining, wallpaper removal and color consultation. Much of the work done is on new construction, but restoration on existing structures is also part of the business.

“Venetian plaster is a technique that isn’t used much anymore, but you see it all over buildings on places like Las Vegas,” Martin says. “It’s what you might see in restaurants, particularly Spanish or Mexican ones.”

“At the top of my list of satisfying jobs is an old church that we did restoration work on,” Martin says. “The most interesting project we have done was new construction built to look like an old English cottage. It was right out of Harry Potter with medieval metal galvanized crosses and dentil molding. I had to throw the plaster mud on with a big stippling brush. I got so sore, I couldn’t even pick up a drinking glass!”

Stucco is often the finish of choice for industrial and commercial buildings, but Martin states it is trending with new house construction as well as renovation.

“It seems to be the thing for everyone to want to ‘cover it up’. We have been using it on multi-million-dollar homes of bio-med executives up in Warsaw,” Martin says.

Martin finds it easy to build relationships with her clients. Whether the job is residential or commercial, her company is typically there for a few weeks. She and her workers appreciate getting to know the people they are working for.

“I enjoy the work and I like growing the company. It was only myself and another employee when I started in 2009,” Martin says. “I’m always looking for workers during the busy season of warm weather. And I’m glad to train them.”

For more information about Creative Custom Finishes, visit them at creativecustomfinishes.com or call 574-806-0334.

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