Aleksander Gorečan, 2019 Craftsman of the Year
An experienced painter and decorator, Aleksander Gorečan has since 2009 been running Penzel, a company offering a complete range of painting, decorating and stucco services – with an emphasis on decorative techniques. It was his son Peter who convinced him years ago that the focus needed to change: Aleksander, or usually just Sandi, is now glad that he listened and committed fully to decoration, which he says is like spice – there has to be just the right amount.
“Truth be told, it took me quite some time to fully grasp what has happened,” said Sandi Gorečan a month after the award ceremony, where he proudly lifted the Craftsman of the Year award high above his head. “I lifted the statue completely subconsciously. Emotions and triumphant feelings simply overwhelmed me, because I wasn’t expecting the award,” he added.
He is convinced that he wouldn’t have received the award if he had not listened to his son Peter years ago and focused on wall decorating. After graduating in economics, Peter said he would gladly stay with his family business provided that they focus on decorating. “Although I liked the idea, I didn’t think it was possible to make a living of it. Now I know it was the right decision to make. I believe we have really achieved something with our decorating services, that we are different and recognisable,” said Sandi proudly.
Over the course of a decade, they have built up a reputation and regular customers who value a professional approach and the quality of work delivered. The advantage of a smaller company like Sandi’s is that it can fully adapt to its customers. They dedicate their complete attention to each customer, listen to what they want, advise them and prepare samples – and the result is a one-of-a-kind wall decoration in home or office and a satisfied customer. “Customers have always been satisfied with us. We have always produced quality work using top-of-the-line materials, and we thoroughly clean up everything when we are done. But what’s most important is that customers trust us,” said Gorečan.
Trends change quickly
Modern materials allow a variety of decorative effects. Sophisticated elegance or homeliness and warmth can be introduced into the interior through the textures of stone, leather, metal, canvas, wood or sky.
According to Sandi and Peter, decorations featuring imitations of raw concrete and rust are currently trending, but they are better suited to offices, as they are “too heavy” for living spaces. For their homes, customers most often choose more delicate textures, imitations of stone, marble and glitter. Nevertheless, stronger colour tones in living spaces are also making a comeback. They frequently encounter customers who don’t know that their work is done by hand and does not involve wallpaper. “Customers often don’t know what can be done. That’s why we always invite new customers to our showroom to take a look at our products, even if they’re interested only in regular painting services. Many customers get excited about decorative options afterwards.
Sometimes it also happens that someone wants exactly the kind of product they saw somewhere.
We can’t promise that. It will be similar, but not the same. Each product is unique and in a way a work of art,” said Sandi.
There is practically no competition
“We have no competition, but sometimes we’d like to have it. So that people could see the difference in quality,” Sandi pointed out and added: “Regardless, we insist on superior quality. We want to keep our market position and although we’re supposedly good, we want to be even better.”
They explain the fact that they have no competition with the way they think. They always use the best materials to be able to create a superior product. The customers are always prepared to pay extra for real quality. “You cannot skimp on materials. The materials are more expensive, but if you decide to save money instead, the end result will not be the same. This is why they always follow instructions of material manufacturers. There are no shortcuts here,” explains Sandi.
Stucco is even less known
Even though they have fewer stucco jobs, it has an equal place in their business. Because it is quite specific, people know it even less than decorative techniques. “Everybody has old mansions in their heads and small flowers everywhere. But there are also modern lines made by renowned designers. Actually, there are as many possibilities as there are ideas,” said Sandi, who is especially keen on such projects. He enjoys doing detail work where precision with the paintbrush is required or where a detail or two need to be restored. “This is how I relax,” he adds.
Sandi and Peter also restored Plečnik’s stuccowork in the Slovenian Parliament building and the Philip Mansion. The majority of such projects are highly complex and require several months of work.
Education and training
To be able to follow trends and new materials, they attend at least one education programme in Slovenia or abroad every year. They decided from the start that rather than use only material from a single manufacturer, they would use the one that is good. This is why they sometimes attend multiple education programmes or seminars. However, training takes up far more of their time than these programmes. “You can’t simply go to a customer and practice what could be done and how. The greater your ‘mileage’ before the project, the better and easier it is to do it. You have to love this job, though,” said Peter. He has a “studio” in his home basement where he can create. He also trains by watching videos made by others to see what and how they work and with what materials.
As an aside, at the ceremony where Sandi received the Craftsman of the Year award, Peter received a diploma for successfully passing the master craftsman exam for the title of Painting Master. He said that he made the decision to take the exam because he felt that he lacked some basic skills, as well as to boost customer trust. Now that this is behind him, however, he finds that he actually already knew a lot, especially about the more modern techniques and materials. This is why he believes he will be able to contribute his part to the content update in the project team tasked with renewing the master craftsman exam in this field.
Time to form a chamber?
Besides his work, Sandi also finds time for active work in the board of the Painting and Paperhanging Section within the Chamber of Craft and Small Business of Slovenia, and is also the initiator for the establishment of a painting section in the area of the Kranj regional chamber (OOZ Kranj). “Participating in creating better working conditions for painters is my other passion. I was just thinking of giving up, because nothing was changing in this area. However, with the new section president and the adoption of a different approach, things are taking a turn for the better and change is possible,” said Sandi with satisfaction, because he wants to connect painters in the area of OOZ Kranj. “I haven’t succeeded yet. It would be a shame not to cooperate and do something at the local level. This will be my mission for this year,” concluded Sandi Gorečan.