No “inside” job here!

When I say that our professionals are dedicated and will work through anything, I mean anything.

One of our longstanding commercial clients is a bank with many locations in western Washington.  For our banking client we perform a wide variety of projects.  We could be involved in a re-branding, providing a cosmetic upgrade of carpet, paint and fixtures or we could be involved in replacing a sewage pumping system for an older branch.  There is always a wide variety of work that we perform for our many clients. 

Several years ago, we were tasked with replacing the complete sewage pumping system for an older bank branch that involved several days of working in the basement level of the branch.  There was an interior back stairwell from which our crews would access the area of work in the basement.  Since our crews had been working on replacing the system for over a week, the bank employees basically forgot that we were onsite working.  Our crews were so forgotten that when the branch was robbed during the middle of the day, the bank staff failed to inform the police that we were working in the basement.  When the crew came upstairs from the back stairwell, they were met with a half dozen police with their guns drawn.  Both groups, our crew and the police, were startled by the presence of each other.   The police did full round of questioning with our employees and determined that we had nothing to do with the robbery.  No “inside” job here!  Due to the investigation and the fact that the FBI was brought in, our team was asked to quickly tie up loose ends and then leave the bank for the remainder of the day.  Nothing like getting off work early for the day because the FBI said so.  Many of our employees have been with us 15 – 20 years, so you can imagine everyone has a few stories to share about some of the more unique things we come up against.

This was our one and only time of dealing with the FBI while on a job site, but one never knows what the day is going to bring.  But as a customer of Wheeler Painting and Restoration Services, our clients KNOW that they are getting highly skilled craftsmen, professional quality work, timely schedule and rates that fit in the budget.  

Does your facility need some attention to details or perhaps a complete tenant improvement project?  Give us a call and let’s see how we can work together to cover all your needs.

Until the next funny story in the Adventures at Wheeler Painting and Restoration Services, be well and do good.

Emergency Parking Lot Services

One of the services offered at Wheeler Painting and Restoration Services is parking lot striping. Many of our commercial accounts; banks, schools, office buildings, restaurants, etc. have used our parking lot striping services.  Over time existing striping fades and needs re-application of paint or maybe the client is looking to add ADA parking stalls or to create a “cross walk” with new parking lot markings – all of this we can help with. 

Parking lot striping can be a little tricky due to all the logistic work that goes into closing off the area to be striped, cleaning of the area, paint application and then leaving the area closed off to traffic while the paint dries.  Of course, there are those who ignore cones and caution tape and will always drive through your freshly painted parking lot before it is dry.  In order to avoid traffic breaking through barriers left in place while paint dries, we often times will leave a few crew members onsite, parked at the entrances to help detour those set on driving through freshly painted lines.

Recently our crew found themselves performing “emergency parking lot services” for a project that had nothing to do with parking lot re-striping.  We were hired by a local restaurant to address some exterior improvements and to repaint their building to update their corporate brand colors.  There was a small parking area in the back of the building that had just received new asphalt and a coat of black sealer.  Our professional painters had just moved to the back of the building and were painting.  The restaurant owner’s wife came to the restaurant and proceeded to park in this back area and was not paying attention to the activities that were happening in this back area.  Needless to say, the owner’s wife swung wide, driving through the bark in the landscape planting area.  Before anyone could flag her down to point out she was not driving on the asphalt, she ran over 4 gallons of paint and proceeded to drive the spilled paint over the newly paved area.  The paint was a full-body orange color that stood out proudly against the new black asphalt.  Talk about a mess!  The paint was on the asphalt, on the car, on the tires and quickly getting everywhere.   Once the crew was able to get the car to stop moving, it was revealed to the driver that she was “re-striping” the back parking lot.  Such a sweet lady, but boy was she embarrassed.

What does one do in a situation like this?  It was not in our bid to clean a parking lot, but our crews are team players who always want to do their best for our clients.  The entire job site stopped working on the approved scope of work and everyone jumped into action to go above and beyond to take care of this “stripping of the parking lot” that was not on our agenda for the day.  The car was cleaned, the tires were cleaned, the car was moved and the entire back parking area was cleaned up in a timely manner so there was no staining on the new asphalt.  When we stripe a parking lot, we typically use white paint, not orange, but after seeing the stark contrast between the new black asphalt and the vibrant orange, we just might start marketing orange striping to our clients. 

It’s not every day that our professional crews need to stop their work to address the mistake of someone else, but we will go the extra mile for our clients. Parking lot striping goes far better when it is a planned project than an “emergency service” project but whatever your project is, we can help if you give us a call today.

Until the next funny story in the Adventures at Wheeler Painting and Restoration Services, be well and do good.

A Puget Sound Exorcism?

At Wheeler Painting and Restoration Services, most days are fairly standard regardless of whether we service our residential or commercial clients. But it only takes one phone call to shift our standard services into the world of unique.

Sometimes we get asked to do unique projects and some of them are really out of the ordinary. When it comes to our commercial clients, our facility maintenance services are fairly standard – maintaining an existing facility to keep it running in top condition. However, several years ago, on an early Sunday morning when the phone rang and I recognized the number. It was a property manager for our largest commercial account, a bank. My first thought was, this can’t be good. What has happened from the close of business on Saturday afternoon until now– early Sunday morning? Some of the “normal” weekend calls would be for a toilet that had been running and is now over-flowing, a rock thrown through a window and emergency board up services needed, or a vehicle too tall to pass clearly through the drive thru resulting in half the drive-up canopy hanging by a thread. This was a one of a kind service request, not a “standard” after-hours emergency call. This call was to remove the devil! “Remove the devil?” I questioned as the property manager…

Overnight, a graffiti “artist” had created a larger than life, 8 foot tall “art” piece on the side of the bank of an all red, subject matter – the devil. Perform an exorcism? Now that was a request we have never been asked to do in 33 years of professional construction services in the greater Puget Sound area. But our team was on it! Our on-call team for the weekend was dispatched and notified that they would be “fighting the devil”, aka graffiti removal. The image was offensive and the size was overwhelming, but our team of professionals was able to get the graffiti image completely removed within a few hours without leaving any residue or traces of the image.

Regardless of what the after hours call is, our team of highly skilled professional carpenters and painters can address just about any facility need. Our crews work during regular business hours as well as after- hours and weekend work because our client’s needs are many. Next time your facility needs a paint job, a tenant improvement, a re-designed layout for an office, mitigation of ground water away from the building, a proof patch or failed sealants replaced (just to name a few services offered), give us a call, we are available to address your needs. Now we haven’t seen the devil in years, but we have come across other graffiti tagging on buildings and have worked to remove them as soon as we get the call.

Until the next funny story in the Adventures of Wheeler Painting and Restoration Services, be well and
do good.

Like Bugs to a Light…

As a commercial contractor we encounter many interesting situations – day and night. Several of our commercial accounts use our services for facility maintenance – handling a wide variety of projects, some of which require our services after hours. One would think that when the sun goes down and all is quiet within the Seattle city limits that a fair amount of work could be addressed without interruptions from the public. Oh how wrong – think again!

Over the years, our experience has taught us that after hours work is met with a mind blowing amount of people in our way – like bugs to a light. A good amount of our facility maintenance work for commercial accounts pertains to safety. A commercial client requested a new concrete anti-slip coating at their ATM locations. Of course, we scheduled this work to be performed after hours to avoid people, because the products being used needed 6 hours to cure before receiving foot traffic. The work was schedule to begin at about 8 pm and the area of work would be closed down until 8 am the following morning. A week in advance of our work, signs were posted that the ATMs would be closed for use on the specific night of our work.

Our crews worked the first few hours of the night shift to prep and apply the anti-slip coating, the remaining 6 hours was literally “watching paint dry”. At this point, the job foreman sent the crew home and he himself was left to wait out the remainder of the shift to ensure the coating was not disturbed and ready for use in the morning. No sooner did the crew pack up and leave, then all the ATM customers in the city needed to use this specific location. With the job foreman standing in front of the area of work to re-direct foot traffic and with the location completely “taped off” with several rows of caution tape, people were fighting their way in to use the ATM machines. Every excuse was given; “I’ll only be a minute”, “I need to get cash out”, “I won’t leave any foot prints”, etc. Why everyone and their brother needed to cross the line and step all over the newly applied anti-slip product that was curing, when there was another ATM machine around the other side of the bank, still has us scratching our heads. No matter how nicely our job foreman tried to redirect traffic, say the ATM machines were out of service, told patrons their shoes would get stuck in the wet concrete, every single bank customer crossed the line without regard for the project at hand. Keep in mind this work was performed on a Tuesday night and the crowds of people were coming in droves between midnight and 4 am. Who would have thought this one bank branch was so popular on a Tuesday night?

No matter what challenge a project brings, we stay the course and make it right for our clients. Our commercial accounts keep coming back to us for services because they know they can count on Wheeler Painting and Restoration Services to do the job right, whatever it takes. We do our best to plan for whatever we think may come at us on a project, but like bugs attracted to light, we had no idea how a wet concrete coating would attract so many patrons at 2 am.

Please reach out and let us know how we can help you maintain your facility, we pride ourselves on a quality job and working within the needs of your specific situation. Until the next funny story in the Adventures of Wheeler Painting and Restoration Services, be well and do good.

Make it a fair fight…

As a contractor that has commercial clients, many times our professional carpenters and painters will need to work nights in order to accommodate the client’s schedule to have the business open and running during regular business hours. We have several large commercial banks with multiple sites throughout Western Washington that we work for and our team members are all very familiar with the after hour’s security protocol. Once the branch is closed and all employees are off site, then our crews can unlock the facility, contact security to let them know we are working in the building for the night, and then proceed to lock up the front door, so there are no unexpected visitors.

Many years ago we had a week long project for a particular bank to remodel/upgrade both restrooms. Once onsite, the job foreman followed the standard security protocol and then got to work with the crew upgrading the first of the two bathrooms. It was about halfway through the shift, around 1 am when all of the sudden the 3 man crew working in the restroom came face to face with police officers in the hallway outside of the bathroom with their guns drawn. Of course the team was just a little freaked out. Apparently the crew had tripped a silent alarm (in the bathroom?) which called the local police. It was very obvious that the crew was working on the bathroom and authorized to be in the branch that night, so nothing became of that situation, but to this day when our crews are working in a commercial bathroom, they look for the “silent alarm switch” – we still haven’t found it.

We do many commercial bathroom upgrades every year. Our teams of professionals work quickly so there is minimum time that the bathroom is not available for service. All products and materials needed are staged onsite before the work begins so we have the assurance that all items are accounted for. Quality is our standard and daily clean up is essential so when staff arrive the following morning there is no evidence outside the restroom that any work is being performed at the branch. It’s not every day
that our crew is greeted by guns or police officers, but all were professionals in the situation. Now when we know the team will be working a night shift in a restroom, the joke is, “grab your guns – nail guns and spray guns, it needs to be a fair fight”!

Let us know if you have a project; we pride ourselves on quality and working within the needs of your situation. Until the next funny story in the Adventures of Wheeler Painting and Restoration services, be well and do good.

“No thank you- I don’t drink coffee”

To all you coffee drinkers out there, you know the value of being well caffeinated particularly for project meetings. Oftentimes, in the construction industry for larger commercial projects, there is a preliminary meeting for subcontractors with the general contractor and client. Many times there are new faces and other subcontractors at these meetings that we are do not know.

Years ago I found myself at one of these pre-construction meetings, in a conference room on the job site. I arrived ahead of the general contractor, but other subcontractors were onsite. When I walked through the door, I noticed that I was the only female at the meeting, not uncommon for my situation at all. One of gentlemen at the table, who was there to represent for one of the subcontractors, was OLDER and requested that I go and “grab coffee for the room”. Obviously, the gentleman thought that I was someone from the office who was sent into the conference room to get coffee for the meeting. I responded to the gentleman saying, “No thank you, I don’t drink coffee” and I proceeded to sit down at the table. Of course the gentleman was a bit confused and a few moments later, the project manager for the general contractor came in to start the meeting. The introductions around the table began, and once it was known that I wasn’t the “gal from the office”, but the painting subcontractor; well…… needless to say, I wasn’t asked to get coffee anymore. This is just one more funny story or awkward situation that I come across as a women who owns and operates her own construction company.

A commercial project is very different than a residential project. Typically, they are larger with many moving parts and several other trades to consider and work with. We have been offering professional painting services in the commercial market for the last 33 years and work well with other subcontractors to complete the project on time for the client. Many commercial projects have complicating issues such as traffic control for exterior work or after hours work for active interior spaces. Our professional team members understand the complexity of commercial projects and offer the flexibility to accommodate factors that lend itself to a successful project.

Our services range from interior and exterior panting to full service general construction. Tenant improvement, refurbishment, modernization of an office space, common space or restrooms are a good amount of what we do. What we don’t do is serve coffee, but we would if the price was right.

Let us know if you have a project coming up that we can take a look at for you. We pride ourselves on quality and working within the needs of your project. Until the next funny story in the Adventures of Wheeler Painting and Restoration Services, be well and do good.

Unexpected Surprises are Nothing for Our Interior Painters

Our team of highly-skilled, professional painters have come across many situations throughout the years. Commercial work presents different issues than residential work and one is not better or easier than the other- just different. Before work begins on a project, the project manager has been onsite,  has had meetings with the client, and noted any issues that the crew should be aware of to ensure the production crew has a smooth running project. Just ask our painters about the process, the products to be used, or even the timeline and they are on it and can provide great insight to a project. However, when a residential client unexpectedly answered the door in her bra and panties, our team members were flustered! This experience happened on a residential project, several years ago, but it’s still a story we all talk about today.

The crew of 3 arrived on the project and the job foreman approached the front door and knocked. Of course when the client answered the door very casually in her bra and panties, the job foreman was beyond embarrassed and didn’t even know what to say. The other two crew members were busy unloading the vehicles and the job foreman was stuck there at the front door with very intense eye contact. The client did not act as if anything was usual and welcomed the team in like nothing was up. After showing the crew to the rooms where the painting was to be done, she excused herself to finish getting ready for the day. There was an awkward silence – the crew not knowing what to say or think. So the team just moved forward with getting to the task at hand – painting. The client left to go to work for the day and I seem to recall it was some time after lunch before the crew broke out in laughter and the jokes started flying. The job foreman was the only one of the 3 professional painter’s onsite that day who was married. The joking was not about the client, but rather should girlfriends and the wife be brought in on the “revelation” of the day.

Interior, residential painting is a very straight forward process for our team of professional painters. Contents are moved out of the way, the flooring is covered, light switches removed, light fixtures removed and then walls and ceiling are prepared for paint (hole or crack repairs). Our standard is to apply two coats of paint to all surfaces to be painted; walls, ceiling, millwork, doors, etc. After all painting is complete, the area is put back together – window blinds re-hung, switch plate covers installed, can light
trim rings installed, masking removed and contents reset. The bra and panty greeting by no means is a regular occurrence for our crew. The crew made the collective decision to start at 8:30 am instead of 8 am for the remainder of the project, in order to give the client plenty of time to make a good outfit selection for the day. No matter what your painting project may be, we are confident our crew of professional painters can handle it, even if it comes with a bra and panty greeting.

Until the next funny story in the Adventures of Wheeler Painting and Restoration Services, be well and do good.

A Woman in the World of Construction

Being a single woman in the world of construction, I have had some experiences that many others have not had. There was a session where we did a good amount of work for one specific general contractor, with one particular project manager. We were a main sub-contractor and performed a wide variety of work. About once a month I would meet with the lead project manager to go over paperwork and get invoices approved before they were submitted to accounts payable for payment. The meetings were always at their corporate office and in the common conference room. I kept the meeting to an hour and only discussed projects. Before an upcoming meeting, the project manager called me and asked if we could move our meeting to a restaurant and have lunch while we discussed the projects. I agreed, but insisted that I pay for lunch. He agreed and just before hanging up, his last comment was, “come dressed to kill”.

Great, this was heading in a direction that was not professional at all. It’s never been easy being a woman in construction, but I really enjoy what I do and the work our company performs for all of our clients is outstanding. So what to do? I wanted to keep it professional, but also communicate that our relationship was just about the business of construction. It took me a good portion of the week leading up to the lunch appointment to figure out what I was going to do and what I would say. The day finally came for the lunch appointment. I was purposely a few minutes late as I did not want to be the first one to the restaurant. I wanted the project manager to be there first, seated at the table so he could get a good look at me when I came in. You should have seen the look on his face when I came to the table in “hunting-camo” from head to toe -including camouflage face paint. I boldly walked up to the table and sat down. “Dressed to kill, what’s the hunting adventure?” I asked. He was so embarrassed and understood that I was not going to play his little game. Needless to say, we went on to have a great lunch, invoices were approved and the working relationship is still going strong to this day.

He never apologized and we never discussed his intent behind his comment “come dressed to kill”, but I thought my solution to the problem was just about the funniest thing ever. If you are wondering what the actual project was that this “hunting lunch” pertained to, it was a commercial building that needed some upgrades to roof top structure for the elevator “dog house”. Our team of professional carpenters fabricated and installed a new roof ladder with anchor points, all up to code. The old metal exterior cladding that was used as a siding material around the elevator “dog house” was removed and upgraded with a texture Hardie Panel siding board. The exterior cladding was sequenced correctly with a new water shield to address the water intrusion issue that was occurring. After the carpenters finished their work, then our teams of professional painters came in to prime and paint the new upgrades completely.

Our team enjoys a variety of projects and a good challenge every now and then. I guess I enjoy a good challenge as well. I’ve never been hunting, but if I ever need to go, I have the outfit. Let us know if you have a project that you need help with. We would love the opportunity to do an amazing job for you, one time and under budget.

Until the next funny story of the Adventures at Wheeler Painting and Restoration Services, be well and do good.

 

Does your Home need a “New Dress or Shoes”?

It is that time of year for exterior painting.  The season here in the Pacific Northwest can start in late April or early May if we have a dry spring, but many times we don’t swing into high gear with exterior painting until after the 4th of July.   The exterior painting season continues well into October and many times early November.  Commonly, when a client reaches out to us to schedule a complimentary onsite appointment for measurements to be taken and to discuss color options, they call and inform our office that they are looking to get a quote to have their exterior painted or something along these lines. 

Our project managers will come out and take a look at a client’s exterior.  Inspect for areas of rot that may need to be replaced, look at the condition of the existing sealants and caulking.  A discussion is had about exterior contents that will need to be moved away from the house and vegetation that will need to be cut back as well before work begins.  Often times, if a client is unsure of colors, the project manager can provide suggestions, show pictures of recently completed project or direct the client to paint companies like Sherwin Williams or Benjamin Moore for more inspiration.  At the time of the initial meeting with the client, our project managers take as much time as needed to gain all the information we need for the project as well as explain in detail what the client can expect through the exterior painting process.   Most clients are not home when our professional painters are working, so a project manager will discuss details like access to the back yard, security of pets, what to expect each day for progress and scope of work.  The flow of work is reviewed with the client from power washing, to masking, to prep work to the actual paint application.  We like to have these in-depth conversations with potential clients so they understand the value they are getting when they hire Wheeler Painting and Restoration Services to be their professional painting contractor.

A few years ago, a client was referred to our company.  This is one of the best ways for us to acquire a new client since a referral comes with a positive experience.  Typically it is a friend, family member, or maybe a business associate that has had a great experience with our professional crew and passes our name along so others can experience the great services we offer.  The phone rings and on the other end is a wonderful lady, very excited, explaining that “her girl” is having a birthday and needs a new dress and a pair of shoes.  I was totally thrown off when I took the call.  I thought to myself we are in the construction industry, not the fashion industry.  I started to explain that I thought the caller had the wrong number or maybe there had been some miscommunication, but we were a painting company, not a fashion company.  The caller responded with perfect, we were just what she needed.  It took a little more time on the phone for me to figure out that “her girl” was the client’s old home and the home was going to be celebrating 100 years that coming summer.  The client wanted a new exterior paint job for the house, therefore equating it to a “new dress”.  I was on board and understood what we could help the client with.  I was still a bit confused as the client also mentioned that “her girl” also needed a “new pair of shoes”.  Come to find out the historic home had wonderful curb appeal, but also had a small retaining wall in the front of the house that needed some attention in order to refresh.  This retaining wall, the shoes, needed some cleaning, concrete patching and a new coat of specialty paint.  All of this was certainly something we could do, I just needed to get up to speed with the terminology the client was using and translate that into the services we offer.  A new dress and a new pair of shoes equaled an exterior painting job and restoration of the front retaining wall.  

Bring our client’s projects to life is what we do.  To provide the client with a professional job, a great experience with our company, and quality craftsmanship is what we are all about.  It took me a hot minute to translate the excitement of the client into specific services that we offer, but once I got on her page, our team of professional painters were able to provide a beautiful “new dress” and a “new pair of shoes” for a great client.  We have gone on to perform many projects on this historic home over the years and “she” is a beauty.  So regardless if you need a “new dress”, a “new pair of shoes”, a kitchen remodel, a bathroom makeover, or an addition to your home, we are the team for you.  

Let us know if you have a project, we would love the opportunity to do an amazing job for you, on time and on budget. 

Until the next funny story of the Adventures at Wheeler Painting and Restoration Services, be well and do good.

The “Bare” Facts about this Kitchen Remodel

Kitchen remodels are a very popular service we perform for many of our clients.  A great deal of time is spent with the client before any onsite work is performed.  There are onsite meetings, design meetings, consultations at showrooms to assist in material selections, flooring and counter top selections, informational meetings about the best appliances and appointments for cabinet selection and layout.  We take our time on the front side of the project so we can provide the dream kitchen for our client.  When the onsite work begins, we first start with removal of appliances, cabinets, counter tops, flooring, etc. so we basically only have the 4 walls of the kitchen remaining.  The project starts with a clean slate.

At Wheeler Painting and Restoration Services, we pride ourselves on outstanding and regular communication with all our clients.  When a project is put on our schedule to start work, we have ensured that our schedule matches up with the client’s schedule, since our work can be very disruptive to someone’s regular routine. By the time our team of professional carpenters are onsite, there has been an abundance of communication with the client.   It takes an average of 2-3 months from when we first take a call from the client to when the actual kitchen remodeling work begins.  During these first few months, most often a client is removing contents, cleaning out cabinets and getting prepared to have the existing kitchen taken completely out.  In most circumstances our clients are at work when this type of project is going on (complete demo of the kitchen) or some even opt to move out of the house for a few weeks while their kitchen undergoes a complete remodel.   In these circumstances a client will provide us with a key for access and the key is kept on site in a lock box attached to the exterior of the home. 

It is our company policy that before entering a home, key in hand or not, that the job foreman rings the door bell, knocks on the door and waits a good 3-5 minutes before entering to ensure we are not disturbing a client’s routine.  Understanding the amount of communication with our clients and our entering process into someone home in the morning (extensive knocking), it is very rare that we find anything but a quiet job site waiting for us when we arrive.

You can only imagine the surprise of the crew when they entered the home of a client for the first day of onsite work for a kitchen remodel when they found the female client completely naked with a towel on her head in front of an open fridge, drinking orange juice from the container.  She screamed and made a nose dive behind the existing kitchen island for cover.  Our crew was completely flustered and ran out of the house without exchanging words with the client.   The flustered job foreman stood in the driveway with the rest of the crew and made a call to the office to explain the situation.  The office advised that the crew wait outside and at some point the client would come out, fully dressed and at that point work would move forward.  

Sure enough within about 30 minutes; a fully dressed, very embarrassed client came out of the front door and deeply apologized for the awkward start to the project and said she had lost track of time while getting ready.  In an effort to ease the awkwardness of the situation the client stated “the whole reason I’m moving forward with the kitchen remodel is for a larger kitchen island, because I never know when I might need to duck and cover.”  She gave a wink and headed off to work.   The crew stood there speechless for a few minutes, waiting for the shock to wear off, before everyone burst into laughter and headed into the house the start the project.

We do our absolute best to cover all situations and discuss all possible issues that might come up on a project, but nothing in our previous experience prepared us for the naked client in the kitchen that morning.  We now know that we might need to cover naked… regardless of what needs to be covered on a project, we pride ourselves on doing an amazing job, on time and on budget.  Let us know if we can be of service with your next project. 

Until we share another funny story; be well and do good.