By Tony Severino
Treasurer, Craftsmanship Conference
President – Professional Painters
Last September the P.D.C.A. Craftsmanship Forum held its 4th Annual Conference in Chicago. This conference is a gathering of painting contractors that are committed to encouraging and developing craftsmanship in the painting industry.
The conference is an opportunity for our members to meet face to face and work together, which we have discovered is much more productive and motivating than phone conference calls.
We had attendees from all over America. There were contractors from Massachusetts, Oregon, New York, Michigan and of course Illinois. We even had an attendee participate by phone from Pennsylvania for a few hours. It is truly amazing and inspiring to me to see the commitment that our members have; giving us their time away from their families and their businesses, and incurring the costs of travel expenses, so they can participate in raising the bar of quality in our industry. They are dedicated to increasing the pride and dignity of our profession. A million thanks go out again to all our conference attendees.
We had a jam packed agenda for the two day meeting, but we used our time efficiently and we achieved all of our goals. Our conference was structured to address several topics and concerns.
One of the main purposes of the conference and the Craftsmanship Forum in general is to allow our members to share technical knowledge of our craft. We took a poll at the conference and we discovered that our members in the room collectively had about 160 years of experience in the painting trade—what an incredible resource. By sharing that resource of our combined knowledge, we all benefit. A wise man once said if I give you one dollar and you give me one dollar we both still only have one dollar, but if I give you one great idea and you give me one great idea, now we both have two great ideas.
In order to encourage this exchange of ideas, each attendee had been instructed to prepare and present two or three tricks of the trade or best practices from their companies. As we went around the room, it was incredible how informative and unique the ideas were. I will share a few of them with you.
One of our members, Joel Hamberg, detailed the incredible success he has been having using latex stains and waterborne varnishes. He showed us a video presentation of a major restaurant renovation his company had just completed. His company needed to work at night so the restaurant could be open for business during the day. By using latex stains and waterborne varnishes, they were able to refinish areas overnight, and there were no residual odors for the customers the next day. Also, he explained to us how the new technology of these products is remarkable and their durability has greatly been improved. We learned that woodworking supply stores which cater to furniture makers carry lines of stains and varnishes that are sometimes superior to what our local paint stores carry.
Another member, Mario Guertin, shared with us a management tool that he uses in his interviewing process to assess the craftsmanship and commitment level of his job applicants. By using a standardized rating system of skills and attitudes, he is able to weed out people who are not responsive to the culture of craftsmanship that he is cultivating in his business. He was kind enough to give us all a copy of this tool so that we can use it in our businesses.
One other great idea, presented by George Stathakis, involved spray-painting. He told us that before they spray painted a nine-story building, they first sprayed soapy water on all of the windows. When the soapy water dried, it left a film on the glass. At the end of the job, they simply rinsed the windows with water and any overspray that might have gotten on the glass magically washed away with the water. What a great time saving idea!
Besides the sharing of these great ideas and many others, one of the other purposes of our conference was to continue advancing the work we have been doing on developing a National Skill Standard for painting craftsmen. We continued creating questions for the written exam we are developing, which will measure the knowledge base of painters across America. We crafted many questions for the exam, which will measure the leadership strengths of a painter. These leadership skills are critical for a craftsman to guarantee that a job will run smoothly. Another way we are working on painting standards is through the work we are doing on developing (SOPs) Standard Operating Procedures for painters. These (SOPs) will help standardize our industry by providing step by step instructions on how to safely and properly complete painting tasks in the field.
The conference also provided a convenient venue for us to tackle the general business issues of our Forum. We worked on developing a strategic plan for the future of our Forum, and we dealt with the logistics of our annual election of our board members. Also, we continued working on planning the agenda for the presentation we will deliver at the P.A.C.E. Convention in Tampa. We came up with a new exciting format and we hope to see many new faces at our seminar next January.
Finally, we were very lucky to have one of our industry partners, the XIM Corporation, give us a presentation on a break – through new product called Peel Bond. The presentation was very dynamic and informative and many of us are going to try the product in the field.
Of course, no Conference is complete without an outing of some sort. Past Conferences have included Paint Ball matches, Glow-in-Dark Mini Golf, and a visit to the renowned lounge Blue Chicago. This year’s event was an unforgettable dining experience at the Signature Room on the 95th floor of the John Hancock building in downtown Chicago.
It was an action packed two days, and everyone worked hard to get through all of our important tasks. I was greatly motivated by the energy and dedication of our members, and I eagerly await the completion of our ambitious projects.