Throughout the process I felt that achieving the 'right look' for a high-end architectural products showroom was just as important to you as it was to me.
- Richard S. Cohen, Feather River Wood, Wilmette
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Archive for November 2010

Spotting a Craftsman – Meet Olaf

Olof Schneider - Craftsman

Olaf Schneider - Craftsman

Painting in Partnership and its team of craftsmen were asked this week to volunteer its painting and decorating services to help bring to life numerous stage set elements for The Christmas Schooner, a Holiday musical having its opening performance the day after Thanksgiving in Palatine.

We had two and a half days to get the painting and decorative finishing done, including the main set element: the Schooner! To help us get everything done, we were offered two volunteers that we gladly put to work. And then there was Olaf, a white-bearded older gentleman with a thick German accent, who was wearing a captain’s hat and doing carpentry and assembling different things on the stage. He looked like he definitely belonged on this ship! He later told me that, when he was sixteen, his father asked him what he wanted to do in life. He said: “I want to be a ship captain.” He father said: “You belong on a ship; you were made on a ship!

Mast Ladder for The Christmas Schooner

Mast Ladder - The Christmas Schooner

While I was painting with my crew, I noticed how Olaf was going about putting together two climbing ladders for the mast. He was using rope and sticks that he had cut to size, each of them shorter than the one below, in order to match the distance between the ropes. When he was done, he asked me for some black paint and a brush so he could distress the rungs of the ladders to give them a “more authentic look.” After the final touches to the ladders, he said: “Now, the Schooner looks more “shippy.”

After watching all this happen from the corner of my eye, I said to myself: “Now, here is a real craftsman!” What I saw there is a man motivated by one thing: doing everything he can to contribute to the enjoyment and the quality of the experience of the folks who will come to see the performances of The Christmas Schooner. That attitude is at the core of what makes a true craftsman, in any field of endeavor. Heart and passion is what drives a craftsman to perfect his/her techniques, acquire knowledge and use everything at his/her disposal to achieve that main purpose.

I invited Olaf to join my crew for the following day’s work. That next day, Olaf demonstrated another aspect of being a craftsman: respect for another craftsman’s knowledge. He was eager to join the decorating of the hull of the ship. He said that it looked fun and easy. However, Olaf quickly realized that even though it seemed easy, there was a lot more to it than met the eye. Wanting foremost to be of assistance, he retired from the decorative painting tools and limited himself to rollers and brushes for the rest of the day. I was very impressed with that.

As a team of craftsmen, those are qualities that we, at Painting in Partnership, strive to embody on every painting project. Our primary focus is to enhance the client’s quality of life through the painting and decorating work we do.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place: the Crossover Opportunity!

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

In the past two years, most contractors have experienced the dire pressures of the worst economic downturn seen in several generations. This week, when I saw this picture, it inspired me to write a brief article on the challenge and the opportunity of living through such times.

As Chicago area house painting contractors, my company has not been spared from the bite of the recession. Our sales have shrunk by thirty percent and profits have fallen even more. We have had to reduce staff, cut overhead and reduce benefits in order to manage the bottom line. Sounds familiar? Moreover, recovery has not begun yet.

When I go through circumstances like these, I look for the silver lining. I ask myself: what is the opportunity in this scenario? The opportunity I saw in this recession is time; time I did not have before to do major developmental work in my company.

For instance, I saw in the recession a golden opportunity to create an optimized presence on the web for my company through the development of targeted content, blog, newsletter and videos, as well as gaining a foothold in the social media arena, with the help of two trusted professionals. I have been asked: “How can you afford to do all this during times like these?” My answer is: “I cannot afford not to.” I am happy to report that Painting in Partnership is now findable on the web in a myriad of new ways and that the web has contributed eighteen percent of our sales this year!

My fighting spirit tells me: “If I am going to go through times like these, I will do whatever I can for my company to emerge stronger on the other side.” What opportunity have you embraced for your company during the course of this recession?

Peeling Paint Forensics on a House Painting Project

Investigating the cause of peeling paint is critical to doing proper and long-lasting paint restoration, especially for exterior repaint projects. Skipping that step can easily lead to incomplete surface preparation and result in premature paint failure. Read on for an illustration of this principle.

East Side - After Scraping, but Before Sanding

East Side - After Scraping, but Before Sanding

Someone to whom I had given a house painting proposal four years earlier called to tell me how sorry she had been for not hiring my company to repaint her house. Within six months, her new paint job had started to peel. She said that she had chosen a lower price at that time. She said that she was not going to make the same mistake again and wanted Painting in Partnership to do the paint restoration work on her house this time.

Indeed, the South side of her house did show extensive peeling: the paint was peeling down to the bare wood. However, a cursory review of the rest of her house did not reveal much of a peeling issue. What was going on to cause the paint to entirely delaminate from the wood siding?

South Side - After Adhesive, Tinted Primer

South Side - After Adhesive, Tinted Primer

Upon closer examination, we noticed that there was a lot of dead wood fiber attached to the back of the paint chips. It is a known fact that paint cannot adhere to dead wood fiber. We then proceeded to test the adhesion of the paint surfaces that appeared as stable and gave no sign of peeling only to discover that the paint was coming off in sheets! So, even though the paint film gave no sign of impending failure, there was no adhesion between the paint film and the siding. It was only a question of time before it all peeled away. Our theory for what may have caused the problem was that the wood may have sat too long in the elements before first getting coated, but we could not know for sure.

Having diagnosed the problem, I approached the client with a prescription for how to remedy the situation:
– The paint had to come off wherever possible.
– The siding had to be completely sanded to remove all the dead fiber.
– We recommended a high-built, tinted, adhesive primer to ensure that the paint that had not come off would continue to stay put.

All this additional preparation work took about 110 hours of labor, which the client gladly paid for. Our client got what she wanted all along: a long-lasting, good looking paint restoration job! Eighteen months later, there is no peeling paint anywhere on her house.

The Christmas Schooner – TesserAct Theatre Ensemble’s Holiday Musical at Cutting Hall

Sponsoring a community event such as The Christmas Schooner is an opportunity for Painting in Partnership of Palatine to support the arts in our town. At the Sponsor’s Gala Evening on November 18th, it is also an opportunity for us to invite friends, clients and associates to help us usher in the Christmas spirit with the play’s touching story line and wonderful songs.

Christmas Schooner

The Christmas Schooner is based on a true story of the German and Swiss immigrants who sailed on ships like the Rouse Simmons, so called the “Christmas Tree Ship”, that sailed across Lake Michigan to Chicago to deliver Christmas trees (Tannenbaum). “The Christmas Schooner” tells a story of Peter and Alma Stossel, whose pioneering spirit is full of the energy and dreams of German immigrants in America during the 1880’s. The musical is an exciting story of courage, tradition, family value and the spirit of Christmas giving.

The musical is performed by the TesserAct Theatre Ensemble, a not-for-profit organization based in Palatine. Earlier this year, they produced “Music Man” and “Alas! Alas! Zorro’s Back” and offer their performances in local theatres such as Cutting Hall.

You are invited to join us at the Sponsor’s Gala Evening on November 18th. There will be cocktails and hors d’oeuvres from 6:00, with the play starting at 7:30. If you are interested to join us, send us an email for a reservation.