To say that the path of Orange Elephant has been a long and winding road wouldn't be a stretch. Growing from a simple working relationship between two brothers and their mentor, to a unique and thriving painting and restoration company has taken time, perseverance, and an understanding that—for each client—the company will not simply meet a common market need, but provide a home services experience unmatched in the industry. Today, the trio of Kelly Edwards, Chris Edwards and Steve Noble have BIG plans for the Orange Elephant brand. Just as in their early days of home renovation, Chris and Kelly still draw on the same principles of hard, fast, and efficient work to ensure their customers' satisfaction with each project. What was once just two college students in need of a summer job, has blossomed into a dynamic painting and restoration company with large-scale national growth in its sight. Today, they operate with the mantra “we want to be the painting company we could never find.” In doing so, Orange Elephant has designed The New Normal in Home Painting.
As their real estate and construction businesses continued to thrive, it became apparent that the residential contractor services market—especially the painting segment—was in desperate need of something new, something fresh, and more importantly—something reliable. The young entrepreneurs began formulating plans to turn the contractor world on its head. Calling on their summer painting experience from years past, and folding in their vision to implement the unique business culture they had always hoped for, the brothers realized they were going to need a company name that would match their passion. A name that would signify something much BIGGER than a paint color on the side of a house. One that would represent an unforgettable experience. Orange Elephant was born! The brothers once again partnered with Steve Noble, their house painting "Guru" and mentor...but this time, the twins had nearly 20 years of business success behind them. Reunited after a 10-year hiatus, the trio hit the ground running.
Fast forward to the 2000s. Steve would continue to grow and eventually sell his paint business and the Edwards brothers would earn their MBAs from East Carolina University, and go on to gain experience in the banking, insurance, and construction industries. Immediately following graduate school, the twins decided to renovate an old dilapidated house in Downtown Raleigh—it was quite a project. That one renovation turned into another, and another, and another. Lacking the experience and knowledge of crafty veteran handymen, they worked hard, worked fast, and worked efficiently—all traits they continue to display with their projects today. They also learned that if a project was to be done right, it would ultimately need to be done by the brothers themselves. Through the years, their success in the real estate industry would continue and lead to the launch of The Edwards Companies and Edwards Capital Partners — nationally recognized investment real estate firms based in Raleigh, NC. Their businesses have been featured in Business Insider, The San Francisco Chronicle, Think Realty Magazine, The Houston Chronicle, Personal Real Estate Investor Magazine, and more. In August 2016, on behalf of The Edwards Companies, Kelly and Chris received the Think Realty "Property Rehab Specialist of the Year Award", given by Think Realty Magazine in San Francisco. Learn more about the brothers' work in the investment real estate industry and their efforts to bring back to life some of Downtown Raleigh's most blighted neighborhoods.
After graduating from the University of Illinois, Steve Noble continued his career in the residential painting industry and was quickly promoted to a territory manager for one of the largest painting companies in the United States. The company, which had painted tens of thousands of homes, had been in operation since the 1960s. He would eventually become a Regional President for the organization and master the painting systems which had led to its growth. Steve ultimately moved to the Triangle and launched one of the most successful residential painting companies in North Carolina, consistently painting more than 200 homes per year. In the summer of 1997, Steve hired both Kelly and Chris as Crew Managers over the Raleigh and Cary/Apex divisions, respectively. The brothers found early success while at the same time discovering the challenges of the painting industry. They also learned that they enjoyed seeing a project transform into something amazing, right before their eyes and the eyes of a satisfied customer. The summer work would also peak their interest in Entrepreneurship.
As the famous song Summer of ’69 goes, “…that summer seemed to last forever…those were the best days of my life”. Twin brothers Kelly Edwards and Chris Edwards experienced one of those summers, filled with the long blistering days in the North Carolina heat working for a painting company. The brothers were looking for a typical summer job, some fun, and a few extra dollars for their next year in college. But when they stumbled upon an opportunity to work with a collegiate house painting company, what they got was much more than just a "summer job". Given the opportunity to work alongside Steve Noble, the company's founder who would later become a mentor, that summer provided many life-long lessons that would travel far beyond a season of summer...that seemed to last forever.