Ireland’s Finest was founded in 1995 by Andrew Toole in central Denver. Toole himself moved to the United States from his native Ireland only a year before, originally settling in New York City. On a trip to Colorado, he fell in love with the beauty of Denver and its surrounding area and decided to open his own company here. A painting company gave Toole the opportunity to be self-employed and use his love of architecture in a professional setting.
He started with a shoestring budget. It didn’t take much to get started painting residences in the Cheesman Park neighborhood of central Denver. Pretty soon, Toole had a crew of fellow Irishmen to help him, and they were off and running.
The early years were tough. Toole had a hard time holding onto workers, and he says he “worked eighty hours a week for ten years, only getting paid for forty.” But it was worth it. Over time, he found quality painters to help him, and his attitude of always putting his community, customers, and employees first started to pay dividends.
The first jobs were challenging. Toole had to put together crews with sometimes less-than-optimal equipment for large jobs. He recalls one walled-off school on South Pearl street (which has since been closed) with little safety equipment. After watching his workers paint at awkward angles without all the things they needed, Toole decided to re-invest.
About eighteen years ago, Ireland’s Finest got a unique opportunity. They were contracted to paint the Molly Brown House in Capitol Hill. The famous museum and former residence of the unsinkable Molly Brown was swamped by tourists for days, but Toole and his crew navigated the crowds and helped restore the building to the radiant example of old-town architecture still standing in Denver it is today.
Toole says it was difficult to get paid by customers at times when he was just starting out. “Every job was a challenge, from learning the equipment—the sprayers, ladders, scaffolding, and so on—to struggling to get paid for a job we already completed. At times I felt like people were trying to take advantage of our inexperience. Over time though, we’ve formed great relationships with our customers and our community.”
He and his crew made mistakes, to be sure, but they always rectified the situation. “We fixed stuff when we made mistakes. We even hired third-parties to come in and fix what we messed up. It was costly in the beginning, but over time we’ve earned a reputation for honest work no matter what.”
From the beginning, Ireland’s Finest has prioritized workers, customers, and the central Denver area. He pays his workers well and is very choosy when hiring new painters. He gives his workers full vacations and is always looking for more work in the central Denver area to satisfy his team. Although Toole plans to expand somewhat into foothills communities like Genesee and Parker, he wants to keep his focus on central Denver to keep logistics and commutes realistic.
Toole is focused on giving back to the community as well. He started the Hard Times, Warm Hearts fundraiser to help families in central Denver in need. Ireland is now known in the neighborhood as a quality painting contractor ready to jump in and help the community.