Thieves on the Project Site:

There are a good number of job sites that have experienced theft. Thieves come to a job site and steal whatever they can to resell or recycle. The problem has become out of hand, but we have been fortunate not to have this happen to us… until now. One of our commercial clients asked us to fabricate and install a large grate system in their parking lot where they had a very deep storm water drain vault. Now a project of this nature takes several weeks since the grate system is custom-made to fit specifically in the hole. We do not fabricate the grate systems ourselves but have a local vendor that takes care of this for us and our team of professionals would handle the installation.

On this specific project, we did not provide the measurements for the custom build ourselves, we requested that the sales rep meet us at the site and take the measurements. Once the new grates were fabricated, we picked them up from our supplier and took them straight out to the job site to install the new system. The new grate system was installed. All was well, what could go wrong? Since it was only the installation of the grate system, it was not a full day for the 3 man crew. The crew finished up their work around 1:30 pm and was off site for the day. Later, around 5 pm, some random men stopped into the vendor who had made the grate system and were asking “for their money back” indicating that these new grates did not fit their custom project. What the heck? Less than 6 hours after installation, thieves went to our job site, cut out the grates and returned them to the exact fabrication shop we had ordered them from – trying to get a refund. It just so happened that our sales rep, who took the measurements, was in the shop and recognized the project the thieves brought in – recognized it as “his” project. From his back office he went in to call the police while others at the front of the shop were trying to figure out what was going on. Before the police could show up, the thieves took off, leaving the grate system with the fabricators as they could not get a “refund” on “their” custom project.

After our sales rep called the police, we were his next call. We were shocked to find out that the welded in place, bolted down, custom grate system installed (around noon) to prevent people and animals from falling into a very deep storm water drain vault was stolen before the work day was done. We had to scramble and return to the site to cover the hole with a plywood cover to prevent injury. After some modifications were made to “thief – proof” the grates, we returned to the site to install (hopefully for good) the newly modified grate system. That was the first time we had ever experienced a situation where our “project” was stolen from the job site. Some days things can get a little crazy on a job site, but as long as the project is completed and the client is happy with our work, we’ll take a little crazy now and then – it helps to keep us on our toes.

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

No Request is too much for Wheeler!

All the crew members at Wheeler Painting and Restoration Services are amazing people who are highly-skilled at what they do. They are the type of people who would give you the shirt off their back or do anything they possibly could while working on your project to make the experience a good one. We always encourage our people to go above and beyond and go the extra mile for our clients. In all of our 33 years of business, I have never had an employee call and ask me “how far is too far”? Let me set up the situation for you.

When performing work for one of our commercial clients, a bank, our job foreman was required to check out a key for access into the bank because the work day was going to extend into the evening hours. Normally, the job foreman hands off their ID to the bank manager and they record who is “checking out” a key for access.

On one occasion, our team was going to stay late and continue their work in the back area of the bank after business hours. According to protocol, the job foreman went to find the branch manager to show his ID so a key could be checked out. When the job foreman found the branch manager she asked if he could leave his ID on her desk as she needed to go find a spare access key and would return his ID to him when she brought him the key. Sounded good to job foreman and there were a few items that the crew was working on that he could assist with while waiting for the key and his ID. After about 15 minutes, the job foreman decided to return to the branch manager’s office to pick up the key and his ID. He had assumed that the manager had gotten sidetracked and he wanted to make sure he had the key and ID before the bank employees started leaving for the day.

On his way to the manager’s office he noticed a large disturbance in the bank lobby. There was a woman who appeared to be homeless who was insisting that she could stay the night in the bank lobby. She was very loud and making a very large disturbance. The manager was trying to get the woman to leave the branch, called the police and told the woman to leave before the police arrived. As the police were pulling into parking lot, with lights and sirens going. The woman causing all the drama got spooked and on her run out the side door, she grabbed the job foreman’s ID off the manager’s desk and knocked all the paperwork on the ground. Here stood our job foreman in the lobby of a bank watching his ID “run out the door”. The police were able to detain the woman in the parking lot and managed to wrestle the ID out of her hands and return it to our job foreman. Shortly after all the drama, the job foreman called and asked me “how far is too far when going the extra mile for the client?” He relayed the whole story to me and after we both had a good laugh, I answered his question and said, “Giving up your “identity”, who you are, for a client – is just too far”.

We both laughed again, saying you just can’t make up crazy stuff like this. All of us at Wheeler Painting and Restoration Services do amazing work for our clients, provide great solutions to all kinds of problems. We work hard every day to meet all sorts of challenges and client needs. If you have a project you need assistance with, give us a call. We are always happy to help out.

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

The Puffy White Envelope

As a full service general contractor,  Wheeler Painting and Restoration Services offers many diverse services to our clients. Restoration work due to fire, smoke or water damage; new siding, windows and doors, bath room and kitchen remodels, interior and exterior painting , drywall and insulation, waterproofing, concrete work and parking lot striping just to name a few. For all the services we offer, there are just a few forms of payment we accept like: checks, cash, ACH payment, Bill Pay or a bank transfer. It is not often that someone wants to pay in cash, but it does happened once a year or so. A client paying with cash does the “white envelope hand-off” as we refer to it. The client will hand off to one of the crew members a white envelope full of cash and has never been a problem over our 33 years of business. All of our employees have had background checks, are people of great integrity and highly skilled, so no one would ever think the “white envelope” would actually have enough cash in it to match a run to the boarder worthwhile.

Earlier this year, we had a client who wanted to pay in cash. I said that would be just fine and our superintendent was on site the first day as the crew were getting the project stated and so he was the recipient of the “white envelope”. The over-stuffed envelope made its way back to the office. It was counted, documented as to how much was provided as the project deposit and an email was sent to the client confirming the amount of cash received. The client confirmed what was received was exactly what she had sent.

The project progressed nicely. Our team of professional carpenters replaced a lower band of siding around the exterior perimeter of the house due to water damage. The job foreman developed a good working relationship with the client; clearly communicated what the crew was doing, what hidden rot had been found and what the weekly schedule of the repair work was going to look like. The communication was professional, but friendly and the client knew the names of all the crew members and was pleased with the work that she wrote a review online of the positive experience she was having.

As the project was coming to a close, the client handed off the “puffy white envelope” to the job foreman and sent me an email indicating the final payment was being sent back to the office via the job foreman. This was not a problem and it happened frequently that a crew member was bringing final payment back to the office, but normally it was a check. Once the infamous “white envelope” made it back to the office, I locked it up and would deal with the deposit the following day. The next day, I came into the office and retrieved the “white envelope” and proceeded to count out the cash inside. I counted it once, counted it twice and one more time to ensure I was getting the same number. The envelope was short – a full $1,000 less than what was invoiced.

My heart raced, this was not a good situation for anyone. The envelope was sealed, I completely trust all the employees and reaching out to the client to say the envelope was short $1,000 was going to go over like a fart in church. I sat on the situation until the next day. The following morning when the job foreman was in the office, I informed him that envelope was short $1,000. He immediately felt sick to his stomach and was thinking I thought he was the issues. Of course, I didn’t think the foreman took the cash. He insisted the envelope was sealed when it was given to him and when he handed it off to me the day before.

Now it came down to reaching out to the client. Before I sent the client the email, I noticed on the back of the envelope, under the flap there was some calculations, a column of numbers added up a total. I sent the email to the client and waited for a response. It wasn’t positive or negative, it was just a response stating when the envelope was handed over, it was sealed and the correct was enclosed. I didn’t want to argue with the client, but I wasn’t ready to lose $1,000 bucks on the project. I responded to the client with a photocopy of the front and back of the envelope. The front of the envelope had our company name in a certain style of handwriting; the back of the envelope (under the flap) had the column of numbers in a different style of handwriting. My hope was that the two different styles of handwritings would provide some answers to the client. That did the trick! The client recognized the front of the envelope has her handwriting and the back of the envelope as her sister’s handwriting. Mystery was solved. The client had left the envelope with our name on it on her kitchen table and asked her sister to put the cash inside. The sister was short $1,000 and figured she would go to the bank the following day and get the remainder of the cash, but failed to mention that to her sister. So when the client saw the envelope full of cash on the kitchen table, she assumed the amount was correct. She sealed up the envelope and handed it off to the job foreman. What a relief for all parties involved! Needless to say the outstanding balance of $1,000 was mailed to us in the form of a check.

Regardless of the minor confusion at the end of the project, the client did write us an outstanding review of our services. We are always looking to expand the services we offer. We like to be that “one-stop shop” for all of our clients. However, it has now changed that one service we will no longer be offering is the receipt of cash as a form of payment.

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

Sharing is Caring!

We really appreciate our residential clients who treat our crew members so kindly; a cup of coffee at morning break or a pizza for the crew at lunch while they are working on their project. Now none of this is necessary or expected at all, but it is always a nice boost in the day for the crew.

However, on a recent project we had a client announce that they (the clients) had inadvertently shared head lice with the crew. Now most of our crew has short hair, but many also have full beards. You can only imagine the amount of scratching that was going on that day. The job foreman called the office to report the news. The job foreman was given the ability to make the decision to stay on the job with the crew or to pull off and call it a day. The crew, all men on that day, decided if COVID didn’t take us out or shut us down, then they could handle head lice too!

Good news, none of the guys picked up lice but decided wearing hats for the remainder of the project would be a smart move. What was this “head-lice” project? The professional carpenters and painters were on site to install all new flooring throughout an occupied house for the client as well as painting all the walls and ceilings. There was also some restoration work to address as a result of old water damage, improve the water pressure in the master shower, upgrade kitchen cabinet hardware and other handyman fixes the client requested. Working in an occupied space can be challenging, but our professional crews work very well with the clients in coordinating the “dance”. Team Wheeler came into this project and moved all the clients contents, one area at a time, removed the exiting flooring and carpeting and prepped the areas for new LVP – Luxury Vinyl Plank. After the new flooring was installed, the walls and ceiling were painted and all the contents put back in place.

Our professional painters and carpenters work very hard to accommodate client’s needs when we are working in their occupied. home. We take into consideration a client’s schedule, pets, children, if the client works from home, etc. It is rare that the client has the luxury of moving out of their home when our team is hired to perform work. So with much communication and attention to detail we successfully complete projects on time and on budget while working with the client as they live and operate their home.

It is certainly not expected or required to “share” with our field team. In the event that a client would like to provide our team with something, we would like to kindly request that head lice not be on that list. No one ever plans for those life circumstances that come up, but our crews handled it like champs! We truly appreciate all of our clients and we work very hard to exceed their expectations. On time and under budget is our goal on every new project. Until the next funny story in the Adventures at Wheeler Painting and Restoration Services, be well and do good.

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.