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Disaster Recovery, Part I: Hotel/Facility Priorities Come First

The lady walked toward her vehicle in Home Depot’s parking lot. In one hand, she grasped two, 1-gallon cans of Glidden’s Interior Latex Paint. In the other, she held onto a 2-inch Purdy paintbrush, a 6-inch paint roller with cover and an orange combination paint tray and screen.

It was one day after Hurricane Irma, and the tornadoes that it had spawned, had whipped through Central Florida.

When a major disaster hits – eg. hurricane, tropical storm, tornado – painting should be one of the last things on your immediate agenda.

HOTEL/FACILITY PAINTER’S TOP TEN PRIORITIES

1. Help your chief engineer check out all systems that are under the department’s charge – eg. mechanical, electrical, plumbing.

2. As part of the engineering team: (a) assess each building’s condition, interior and exterior; (b) identify problem areas; (c) determine which problems to resolve a.s.a.p., and, (d) decide how to handle each of them promptly and safely.

3. As part of the engineering team, get the department back in shape, so that all of you can do the major recovery and repair tasks and projects as efficiently as possible.

4. As part of the engineering team, help implement the plan to (a) make repairs and (b) get everything up and running again in a timely, safe and cost-effective manner.

5. Assist groundspersons in clearing away all broken trees, limbs and branches and brush; also dismantled lumber, metal, piping; debris, garbage, etc. This includes clearing main traffic areas.

6. Help repair and replace all crucial lighting – especially front entrance, parking, walkways, corridors, lobby, public restrooms. Also repair main walkways, as soon as possible.

7. Assist other departments, as necessary, to get their areas up and running again.

8. Assist chief engineer in working with utility companies, outside contractors, repair services, etc. to get property systems and amenities, and business operations back in working order.

9. Between efforts to help others, start to get your paintshop back in shape. HINT: Try to unpack, then set up what you’ll need to use first.

10. When your chief engineer gives the go-ahead, concentrate your efforts on reorganizing the paintshop so that you can get back to your painting job.

By the way, it can be tempting to ignore the engineering department’s big job during this very disorganized and stressful time. You might be tempted to hide in your area. Do not do it!

This is one instance when painting will be lower on the list of everyone’s priorities.

At the top of every staff member’s and department’s disaster recovery list needs to be:

1. people
2. property
3. business
4. “neighborhood”

This is one time when, both now and later, you’ll be glad that you helped others first.

See: “Painting It: Disaster Recovery, Part 2: Paintshop Priorities.”
See: “Painting It: Disaster Recovery, Part 3: When Painting Is Not Enough.”

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Thank you for doing your best job every day. Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”
Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

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Painter’s Hurricane Preparedness, Part 3: In the Paintshop

Many of the following tips make sense when preparing for any natural disaster.

 

IMPORTANT PAPERWORK, COMPUTERS, PERIPHERALS, ETC.

 

  1. SECURE all flash drives, software packages, important papers, logs, supply/inventory lists, guidebooks and manuals, etc. in weatherproof metal box. Store in chief engineer’s private storage unit on the property, or in main office of hotel or facility.
  2. Carefully place all computers, cords, hard drives, and other peripherals into their original boxes if you have them, or equally sturdy storage boxes. Also put them in your boss’s storage.

 

PAINTSHOP MATERIALS, SUPPLIES, TOOLS, EQUIPMENT

 

  1. Clear off all open surfaces such as workbenches, countertops, tables, etc.
  2. Clear off the floor. Remove everything from all traffic areas – real, potential, emergency.
  3. Move smaller objects such as supplies and manual hand tools into sturdy cabinets and closets.
  4. Place paintbrushes into their wrappers, or clean newspaper pages. Place on end in clean, dry, plastic 5-gallon paint buckets. Secure lids. TIP: With permanent black marker, print BRUSHES on lid and several spots around bucket. Store upright in closet or large cabinet that locks.
  5. Place roller covers into their plastic wraps, bubble wrap, or soft shipping paper. Place in clean 5-gallon plastic bucket(s). Secure lids. Label bucket. Store in same closet or cabinet as brushes.
  6. Carefully wrap spray guns in clean, heavier fabric, soft vinyl, foam sheets, or bubble wrap. Tie twine or smaller rope around to secure. Place guns, boxes of tips, repair parts, etc. in 5-gallon bucket. Secure lid. TIP: Use permanent black marker to label “SPRAY GUNS” several places.
  7. Tightly close, then move all containers of paint and finishing products, wallcoverings, etc. into closets with secure door locks. TIP: Cram everything into the corners. Neatness helps later.
  8. Wrap power hand tools with attached electrical cords in heavy ply plastic or bubble wrap. TIP: I like to use doubled-up zip-lock freezer bags. Place tools together in smaller tool box with lid, heavy box or crate. Place in waterproof cabinet or closet with secure door locks.
  9. Place all electrical cords, connectors, plugs, etc. in deep drawers. Run rope or heavy twine through drawer handles and around knobs. Inter-tie off with nautical knot.
  10. Place sharp objects, tools, etc. into thick cardboard boxes, or wooden crates. Secure inside a cabinet or closet that locks tightly.
  11. Turn over tables and movable benches. Push against the inside walls of workshop.
  12. Put chairs, stools, etc. into a closet. OR, jam them under any of the built-in workbenches.
  13. After you’ve moved the smaller items into cabinets and closets, place all shorter ladders, multi-purpose stools, carts, wheelbarrels, etc. inside the same closets. TIP: I like to set them on their sides, then tightly PUSH them against the rest of the stored supplies, tools, equipment.
  14. Roll your heaviest equipment such as compressors into whatever closet still has room.
  15. Turn your heaviest, largest ladders on their ends. Tightly push them against the turned over tables and movable benches already hugging the inside walls of the workshop. TIP: Rex in Miami lays the ladders flat, one long end pushed against an inner wall. Then he “wheels” his heaviest, portable equipment between ladder rungs. Last, he ties the pieces of equipment to each other using heavy rope. “In Katrina, the guys helped me move concrete blocks onto the ladder rungs. Nothing budged.”

 

 

BOTTOM LINE: First protect lives. Second protect valuables. Third, if there’s any time left, protect whatever else really matters, most essential things first.

 

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Major disasters swoop in, then leave.

People and pets are meant to stick around longer.

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Stay alert, smart and safe. Thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Painter’s World: Painters and Gardens

The rain drip, dripped, then beat upon my hearty vegetable plants. I hoped that they would make it.

Last year, the torrential rains knocked my tomato, pepper and pole bean plants to the ground. Broken, limp and lifeless.

Miraculously, the repeated rainfalls recently – all of them needed desperately – saturated the earth. And, they bounced off the leaves of every plant. Even the young, more vulnerable ones.

WHY DOES ONE CROP SURVIVE AND THRIVE? Why does the last crop curl up and die?

An “THIS-GARDEN” ANSWER

This season I pre-treated the soil with a fertilizer spray solution: 1-cup ammonia to 1-gallon water. (TIP: Do not increase the ratio.)

I found the old solution printed in Amish Gardening Secrets by Mardy D. Nicholas. (Copyright 2005, James Direct, Inc., Hartsville, Ohio 64632.)

I did not expect the results that I’ve gotten so far. Many buds on every plant.

Yield estimate: If one half of the buds produce fresh vegetables, the yields will be amazing. More than enough to share with non-gardening neighbors. Plus a few local painters and former co-workers. And, still have enough fresh veggies to freeze or can.

ABOUT GARDEN SIZE

Garden size does not determine plant yield. Nutrients in the soil, quality of vegetable seeds, timely cooperation of the weather (rain, sun, shade, heat, humidity), and, planting and tending DO have everything to do with it.

Since 2013, I’ve cut down the garden size by 50 percent. Fewer tomato, pepper, bean, and pea plants, less lettuce, and only one or two herbs.

In my family, painters and decorators have also gardened. In Indiana: a huge “truck patch.” Hundreds of plants. In South Florida: six-to-eight plants in huge earthen patio pots. In Central Florida: ten-to-twenty-five plants mainly in the ground, also in earthen and plastic pots.

Teammate Tip: If a teammate shows up with a basketful of home-grown vegetables and/or fruit, take some. That’s why he or she brought them. If you’re not interested, please take a few for a neighbor or friend.

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It’s not how you start, but how you finish.
It’s not where you begin, but where you end.
It’s not what you plant, but what you end up with.
It’s not how much you plant, but the quality of your yield.

..Paraphrased quote by Tommy Tu, director, “Grand Hotel”
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Thanks to painters that also grow gardens.

Thanks from “Painting with Bob.”
Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Surviving a Hotel or Hospital Property Sale

The rumor mill has been grinding out “guess whats” for weeks. The “hotel” or “hospital” where you work is up for sale.

 

The order comes down, straight from the top.6uT

 

‘Be on your best behavior.”  “Keep this place running smoothly.”  “Keep your mouth shut.”

“You never know who might be watching – or standing in front of you.”

 

“Don’t blow it!”

 

Then you hear that the strangers walking around are prospective buyers.

 

“Keep on your toes. Stay alert.”

 

For weeks… months, the staff sees a steady stream of serious buyers canvassing the property.

“Be extra courteous and hospitable,” management team tells everyone.

 

The stream of prospects reduces to a trickle. It might even stop altogether. Or so it seems.

 

Then the big guys show up. With their cameras, webcams, custom-apped smartphones, tape measures, calculators, etc. It appears that they’re walking around every foot of the place. Staff spots them everywhere. Even in secured, private areas.

 

Things quiet down again. You see a handful of the same people moving around the property. Checking things out very carefully, several times. The rumor mill shuts down.

 

Word leaks out: The property has been sold. The G.M. confirms it. An announcement to all staff includes the name or names of the new owner/owners, and their take-over date.

 

All this while you’ve needed to get your work done.

A lull hits the entire organization. An eerie type of mourning engulfs the place. A very brief time is allowed for everyone to accept the news.

 

The transition work begins for everyone.

 

You – and probably everyone else on staff – start asking the same questions:

 

  1. What are the new company’s policies and rules?
  2. What are the new company’s practices that every staff member is expected to follow, effective immediately?
  3. What are the new company’s policies, rules and practices specifically aimed at your department? For your job as “Painter”?
  4. What kind of help will be available if you run into any problem trying to work under the new system?
  5. How long do you get to make the transition?
  6. Is your job at risk? How long do you have?

 

Usually, change takes place very quickly, when a hotel or hospital property is sold.

 

They “clean house” thoroughly. Bodies are moved out at sometimes a shockingly fast speed. And, heads roll.

 

The chain of command may change. Management may change drastically.

 

For those staff members left, job descriptions change and switch. Work shifts and schedules may change. Pay scales, dress codes and benefit packages will probably change.

 

New owners, new managers, new game.

 

Surviving the sale many not be your call. Surviving may, or may not, be what you think.

 

 A few tips for surviving the sale of your workplace

 

  1. Promptly start getting ready for whatever may be coming down, at the first hint of a possible change of hands.
  2. “Keep your nose clean,” as my father once advised.
  3. “Zip your lip,” as my grandfather used to say.
  4. “Prepare for every possible scenario that may affect you,” as I’m suggesting via this blog.

 

Final note: Some property sales move silently and swiftly. No signs. No rumors. No strange visitors milling around. No news!
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Surviving the sale of your work property comes down to your self-preservation skills, and attitude.

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Thanks for following “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Call 911 First, Security Second. Override Policy.

Certain circumstances call for a staff member – eg. Painter – to phone 911 FAST! Then Security.

 
Some emergency situations on the job demand immediate action, whether the person is a teammate or manager, guest/visitor, vendor, or property’s owner. Your response must be quick, precise and necessary.

 

Call 911 or Chief of Security First. It’s Your Call – 11 Examples

 

  1. Trips, falls – especially involving blows to the head.
  2. Severe asthma attacks – clamped breathing.
  3. Adverse reactions to toxic exposure – lost vision, can’t breathe, immediate rash, swelling.
  4. Hazardous materials contact – eyes, skin, lungs.
  5. Stroke symptoms – face numb, speech slur, arm drop, lost balance, blurry vision, dizzy.
  6. Heart attack symptoms – chest/back/shoulder pain, dizziness, numbness, sweating, shortness of breath, nausea.
  7. Choking – Note: While waiting, Heimlich method may be wise action.
  8. Turning blue – any part of body. Also look for stopped breathing, numbness signs.
  9. Allergic reactions – Sudden swelling, rash, hives, clamped breathing.
  10. Paralysis, numbness, tingling – No time to hesitate!
  11. Heat illness symptoms – weakness, sweating, dizziness, dehydration, thirst, tremors.

 

Anyone who is experiencing any of the above symptoms, or any combination of them, requires immediate emergency help.

 

At least four times on the same job, I was in crisis. I suffered at least two of the above sets of symptoms. Other people were around in each instance. No one called 911. Care to guess what happened eventually?

 

3 REAL-LIFE COMPANY PAINTER CRISIS SITUATIONS

 

ONE. Joel was on the job less than a week. He’d moved to Florida to help care for his elderly parents. He noticed something wasn’t right the minute he removed the lid from a new gallon of paint. Sudden headache, problem breathing, burning eyes, itching skin.

 

“Latex is non-toxic,” he told himself.

 

When he got dizzy, he stumbled out of the hotel guest room. He yelled for help, and pushed the call button on the mobile. No one came.

 

TWO. Maria was considered one of the most fastidious housekeepers at the hotel. The director of her department had put her in charge of mold and mildew cleanups. She’d suffered mild mold fungi symptoms from Day 1 on the job, over 17 years ago.

 

Shortly after her fortieth birthday, she noticed the problems weren’t getting better. After every exposure to the mold, then the chlorine bleach cleaning agent, her eyes burned and wouldn’t focus. She experienced serious problems driving, reading, knitting, etc. Her chest muscles ached. She felt tired a lot. She developed skin rashes, even hives.

 

Less than one hour after clocking in one morning, she was washing walls down with bleach. She couldn’t get her breath. She got very dizzy, and started to pass out. She pushed her mobile phone button. No immediate response.

 

THREE. Curt dropped a box of full paint spray cans on his head. No big deal, he thought. He loaded up his golf cart, and sped toward the pool side gazebo, to get set up for the day. He felt a little weak, but got busy.

 

By 11:00 AM, he felt nauseous, light-headed, headach-y, and a strange pain around the neck. It was ninety degrees outdoors. He passed out. When he came to, three children stood over him. No one called for help. He got himself into an empty, air-conditioned guest room and spread out on a bed.

 

A “911” situation may not be that obvious at first. You may need to rely on your gut feeling, holler for help, then take a closer look for the other symptoms.

 

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The life you save may be very precious to someone else. Act! Don’t hesitate to help!

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Thank you for reading “Painting with Bob.”

 

Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Paintshop: Expanding your space

Every Paintshop Has Space to Expand. Somewhere!

 

It falls under the lead painter’s job description. And, it requires every engineering team member to keep it in shape.

 

Usually, the paintshop space is smaller than the volume of things that must be housed there. The amount of open floor space is limited. The size of the area available for in-shop work must compete with the space needed for traffic flow; moving supplies, tools and equipment in and out; and tool and equipment maintenance.

 

Thirteen ways to stretch your paintshop’s space

 

1. Every three months, take photos of the paintshop. Print and post on the department bulletin board. How does the place look? Can you see where improvements are needed?

 

2. Monthly, clean house! Get rid of everything that (a) does not belong there, (b) is no longer used, and (c) is too dangerous and unsafe to store there.

 

3. TIP: Discard each item properly and safely, according to MSDS instructions, EPA standards, and your department’s/company’s policies. No exceptions!

 

4. At the end of every day/first shift, pick up after yourselves.

A. Put supplies, tools and equipment in their proper storage places.

B. Tightly close/seal all product cans and containers; place them in designated areas.

C. Into trash receptacle, throw used sandpaper sheets, rags, disposable masks and gloves, etc.

D. Close all drawers, cupboard doors, fold-outs, etc.

5. Regularly, assess how you are using the paintshop space. What kind of space is running short? Shelving, drawers, wall, open work area?

 

6. On 1-inch to 1-foot grid paper, draw a layout of the painshop.

A. Measure each use area; sketch into its proper place on the layout.

B. Examples: Paint can shelving – 12 ft. long; Hazardous chemical steel cabinet – 6 ft. wide; Closet 1 – 4 ft. deep by 8 ft. wide; ladder loft – 6 ft. deep by 8 ft. wide; compressor area – 6 ft. by 6 ft.

 

7. Jot down which spaces are crammed.

A. Make a note of the items in each of those spaces that can be moved to a bigger storage shed or outbuilding on the property.

B. List the types of items that you will still need more space to store.

 

8. Go back to your gridded layout.

A. Where do you have room to make more room? For what kind of inventory?

B. Measure the running feet available to add another shelving section.

C. Measure the area where you can fit a second, smaller cabinet.

D. How can the tool and supply drawers be re-compartmentalized? Cut clutter.

E. Do you have any open wall space, even 4 feet long?

1. Can you build in a counter there? What about installing a few shelves above?

2. What about building shelving underneath, or adding cabinetry (with doors)?

9. Keep a chart of what improvements you want to make; the supplies and estimated costs for each; proposed location for each. (I code each into the layout, using letters. Examples: SB= Shelving below); HTS=Hand tool storage; P=Priority (eg ASAP, by December).

 

10. Keep your chief engineer in the loop. Brainstorm with him or her about available budget, necessity of addition, scheduling.

 

11. Get everyone that uses the paintshop involved in its upkeep.

 

12. Regularly, post messages on the department’s bulletin white board. Keep them upbeat and to the point.

 

13. Let your teammates and boss know that you appreciate their efforts to help keep the paintshop organized, neat, safe, and useable.

 

 

Motivating Tip: In the dark… in an emergency, how easily could you, or your boss, find something in the paintshop?

 

Look at it this way: Your paintshop says a lot about you as a professional. How you approach your work. And, the quality of the job you leave behind each time.

 

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Keep your paintshop in top shape, and it will help you do your job right – and in timely manner.

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Many thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

 

Copyright 2016. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Painting It: Hotel/facility painter and custom finishes

Ordinarily, a hotel/facility painter will not be expected to restore or maintain custom finishes applied by fine artists. Example: Front lobby’s faux marbleized columns and fascia, done during original construction.

 

That job might change, however, when:

 

  1. management/owners want the job done, and will not contract for fine craftsmen to do it;
  2. something must be done about area, and the painting/decorating budget is frozen for the rest of the year;
  3. necessary repairs and replacement to the area – due to rain/water leak, major mold infestation, structural aging, fire damage – force a “restorative” level of painting.
  4. major reconstructive/upgrading requires “blending” old, original finishes with newly applied ones. Particularly in high traffic, frequently used areas – eg. luxury suites, conference centers, entertainment room.
  5. Management issues an order for you to maintain, duplicate, or restore custom finished surfaces/areas.

 

So, what do you do, when you’ve never applied a fine finish – not even in apprenticeship school?

 

SIX + ONE + THREE TIPS TO HELP YOU GET THE JOB DONE RIGHT!

 

  1. Create a sample board, made of the same construction material as the surface involved. Do a super job of duplicating the problematic finish on the surface/area. Repair, prepare and refinish by following the same steps you’d use on the real surface.
  2. Once both you and management are satisfied with the result on that sample board, find the most obscure and worst small section of the area to be redone.
  3. Repair, replace and refinish that section using the identical technique, products, supplies, and tools used on that sample board.
  4. If possible, let that refinished area stand for at least five full days. Preferably longer. See how it appears to you. Compare your redone section to the finish on the overall area.
  5. Encourage management and the big shots to take several look-sees. Invite a few very observant teammates to check it out, too.
  6. Get a written “special project order” signed and dated by the hotel’s/facility’s top management officer. Your supervisor’s order to proceed is not good enough. This approved order must include the following:

A. Project scheduling and completion date, based on your availability and regular work responsibilities (that you will still have to get done during this time);

B. List of all needed products, materials, supplies, tools, and equipment – as required;

C. Pre-signed and pre-dated requisitions for delivery of all needed items in “B.”

D. A “no interference and no changes statement,” leaving authority with you.

E. Statement about cordoning/securing entire work area for the time that you require;

F. A “project delay start date”, if management has not had required products, materials, etc. delivered according to agreed upon schedule.

 

ONE SCHEDULING TIP: Slot out time thirty days out from project start date, if possible. This gives everyone the ability to get their respective ducks in a row. You, teammates, supervisor(s), management, purchasing, suppliers, etc.

 

THREE SUCCESS TIPS:

 

  1. Do your best to work ahead on your regular tasks, work orders and projects. Hint: With your supervisor, do a weekly “walk through” to make sure you’re both covering the basics.
  2. One week out: Meet with your supervisor. Include teammate(s) that will be covering for you in getting regular work done. NOTE: By this point, the list of “to do’s” will have been agreed upon between you and your boss.
  3. One week out: Closely check your project inventory. Run through the list of products, materials, supplies, etc. Is everything ready? Has everything been delivered?

 

BOTTOM LINE: Keep in mind that you’re really at the mercy of management. Too often, what they say they want is not matched by their compliance to their part of the deal. Tread carefully, my friends!

 

FINAL NOTE – and CAUTION

I’m a stickler when it comes to “special projects” that flow from the desks of management. I never start one of these projects on the fly. And, I never proceed with any “special project” that everyone involved has not, in advance, committed to in writing!

 

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Certain faux finishing projects need to be redone by the experts.

And, you are not they, if you don’t know a lot about this specialized art form.

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Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”
Copyright 2016. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

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