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Old 02-02-2016, 10:16 AM   #1
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So it would appear as if bidding the *actual* architects specifications for commercial work will always and forever result in practically zero awards. I think I have finally resigned myself to this sad fact.
I guess in order to compete with the heavy hitters in our area and stay busy with commercial work, we're going to have to bid "paint to cover" on all surfaces and crank out 2 coat jobs. I realize this is a "can't beat em - join em" attitude but I'm tired of sending out dead bids knowing that the winners are not doing the full scope. "Bids don't feed the kids" man. If GC's are going to shop lowest bid (and they always will), then whether or not they admit to it, they are going to have to turn their heads and not count coats of paint right? We, of course; have to make the job look right and I would imagine every once in a while we'll get our feet held to the fire and have to do a 3rd coat but my thinking is for every time that happens, we should have 10 times as many that don't.
I would respect the groups input on this.
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Old 02-02-2016, 11:10 AM   #2
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It's almost impossible to compete with hungry migrant workers who are happy to earn twelve bucks an hour (cash). A painting contractor can load a job up with four painters to your two, and not only run circles around you, but deliver a pretty decent product.

And all the painting contractor has to do, at best, is deliver the materials, give instructions to the lead painter, maybe drop off a box of donuts or pan, tell a few stupid stories, receive a few courtesy laughs from the crew, sip some java, drive off in the new pick up, collect the check,....so on and so on.
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Old 02-02-2016, 01:21 PM   #3
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It seems that the days of integrity and pride are gone. The typical migrant worker may perform a "decent" job, but there is a difference. The craftsman and the worker....my guys take pride in the fact that we are painting for the long term. For instance, if it's gonna freeze tonight or tomorrow or conditions don't exist, they won't paint it. Even if it means couch time.

My painters work for a name they will carry on with them. They work for "We painted that!". Which means next year and three years later and so on.... they'll do everything in their power to make sure it's painted correctly today.

I'm not sure the migrant workers care much about that kind of stuff? May be I'm wrong?

But it sure blows getting beat 30, 40, 60% on light commercial. Someone is cheating to beat us at those levels. Or at least not paying for adequate insurance/licensing/taxes.

I'll remain thankful that we have work today....

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Old 02-02-2016, 06:59 PM   #4
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It is possible to do a good job without following the specs. Sometimes what the architects specs is impossible to do, old painting systems/products or would cost so much no one could afford it. I was reading a spec once for a deck ceiling in some classrooms. It called for 2 coats of epoxy primer followed by 2 coats of a epoxy finish. I passed on the job because I didn't want to get stuck with this spec, but the guy who got it painted it with one coat of latex dryfall. IMO there is nothing wrong with the way he did it. The epoxy would of been 10 times the price and I don't know if it would of lasted any longer.
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Old 02-03-2016, 07:25 AM   #5
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All valid remarks - thank you. There is no question that illegal labor has driven the prices down instead of up, but the organizations we are loosing these jobs to are not small bucket and brush guys that swing into 7-11 with a pick up truck and fill the back with day laborers. No. They are very large painting contractors here in the greater DC region that do 10,20,30 million in sales each year. I have a hard time believing they would be willing to risk their ability to function by loading up a job with illegal labor. Our work force consists of about 40 payroll painters and 4 subs (most of which used to work for me). Where these guys get their papers I have no idea but I *will not* hire someone that cannot complete the I9 form. I know it's frowned on in here but I'm willing to share that for GWB walls (rolled) we are bidding $ .20 p/sf - PVA primer & $ .24-26 p/sf eggshell and loosing jobs left and right. That just doesn't make sense to me. The only answer I can think of is short cuts, short cuts, short cuts.
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Old 02-03-2016, 10:10 AM   #6
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The problem with the painting trade is that everyone thinks they can paint. Plus for $100 you can have all the tools you need to start. This drives down the prices. Most of my employees had a company at one time.
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Old 02-03-2016, 11:35 AM   #7
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I feel you pain. This week I was underbid on a job by someone who was willing to do it for less than I could pay one of my workers to do it. And it was a 2 man job. But me being a professional and fully insured business is being compared to a cheap one man shop. It's just painting at the end of the day, right!?Unfortunately, it doesn't take much money or brains to "have your own painting company."

In respect to your multimillion dollar example, companies of that size are able to do work for prices smaller shops can't. They have their overhead and profits coming from other projects and employees so they are able to keep guys busy at cost on others. Maybe it's not fair to the small shop but it's the power of size. I've also heard of union shops paying for part of the project just to keep a nonunion shop for winning the job. There are multiple variables when it comes to prices and shop size. It also has to do with the scale of the project. 100,000 sqft project vs 400sqft job at .20sqft.
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Old 02-03-2016, 05:03 PM   #8
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The problem with the painting trade is that everyone thinks they can paint. Plus for $100 you can have all the tools you need to start. This drives down the prices. Most of my employees had a company at one time.
Yep.. they forgot about the part about having to spend money to make the phone ring.
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Old 02-03-2016, 11:57 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by akrause View Post
So it would appear as if bidding the *actual* architects specifications for commercial work will always and forever result in practically zero awards. I think I have finally resigned myself to this sad fact.
I guess in order to compete with the heavy hitters in our area and stay busy with commercial work, we're going to have to bid "paint to cover" on all surfaces and crank out 2 coat jobs. I realize this is a "can't beat em - join em" attitude but I'm tired of sending out dead bids knowing that the winners are not doing the full scope. "Bids don't feed the kids" man. If GC's are going to shop lowest bid (and they always will), then whether or not they admit to it, they are going to have to turn their heads and not count coats of paint right? We, of course; have to make the job look right and I would imagine every once in a while we'll get our feet held to the fire and have to do a 3rd coat but my thinking is for every time that happens, we should have 10 times as many that don't.
I would respect the groups input on this.
I couldn't disagree with this statement more, sorry!! I worked in the painting sales field for nearly 20 years before leaving it all behind to become a contractor. I only do residential, which I prefer to commercial because I create my own specifications as to what I will use. In the commercial field, architect specs are necessary to insure everyone is bidding it equally. What you might not understand is there are ways to change the specs with the help from your sales rep. If you are doing commercial work and do not have an outside sales rep from your paint brand of choice you are losing out. The outside rep must take the architect spec and create a submittal for you to be approved by said architect. Sometimes a lower grade product may be substituted to save on cost, or an entire spec may be wrong and is changed through the submittal process. As far as paint companies not following primer and 2coats, you are dreaming if you think they don't.
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Old 02-04-2016, 09:03 AM   #10
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As far as paint companies not following primer and 2coats, you are dreaming if you think they don't.
I couldn't disagree with this statement more, sorry!! Maybe you should try bidding on some commercial work. I worked for most of the big companies here and all of them were 2 coats of glidden ultra. Didn't matter if it was a dog house or a million dollar condo, all got 2 coats of glidden ultra.
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Old 02-05-2016, 12:57 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Gracobucks View Post
I couldn't disagree with this statement more, sorry!! Maybe you should try bidding on some commercial work. I worked for most of the big companies here and all of them were 2 coats of glidden ultra. Didn't matter if it was a dog house or a million dollar condo, all got 2 coats of glidden ultra.
It's Canada!! Probably subsidized

I would consider a dog house, residential work and a new condo, new residential work. Both are far different than commercial work to me.

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Old 02-05-2016, 08:39 AM   #12
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Its amazing the difference a few cents on your production numbers will make. Sometimes, you take the large jobs at tighter margins for job flow. Price it tight, keeps people running while you hit on ones with more meat on the bone. Big job or small, you rarely have to man them with too many people. Learning your numbers is key. Creating and knowing job flow and manipulating job flow is even more important.
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Old 02-05-2016, 08:42 AM   #13
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It's Canada!! Probably subsidized

I would consider a dog house, residential work and a new condo, new residential work. Both are far different than commercial work to me.
Maybe bad examples. Didn't matter if they were public beach outhouses or brand new Hotels. Still got 2 coats of glidden Ultra.
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Old 02-05-2016, 08:42 AM   #14
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As far as lame specs by architect, inclusions and exclusions are key. If it is a copy and paste spec, qualify your bid.

And if there is something thr bid is missing (say intumescent paint on exposed spray foam or whatnot) dont say a blessed thing. Bid the job even lower than you know you would, win the job and hit it with a change order AFTER your on the job under contract.
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Old 02-05-2016, 08:47 AM   #15
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Last thing, large commercial is constantly abused. Walls always beat to hell. Seriously doubt anyone getti ng away with just two coats. With egshell and semi it aint gonna happen. Knowing your walls are gonna get ate up, prime, get a base coat on that looks satisfactory and wait. See to many of the "craftsmen" try and make it perfect on the front end. Waste of money waste of time. Ill keep my extra 500 or 1000 gallons for later. Job flow and timing matter because they equal money.
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Old 02-10-2016, 08:27 PM   #16
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My biggest competition in town has 20 Hondurans. He gets a lot of commercial and residential work. Only 4
Or 5 of them or legal. Most barely speak English. Pays them between $9-$12 an hour. At the same time the local 7-11 day labor won't talk to you for less than $15/hr.
He's got the support of the outside sales rep helping him find the leads and make the commercial bids.
His employees hate him and his competition hate him too. But, he keeps them busy so they put up with him.
Workers comp in nj is 15%. How can I compete on the commercial side?
So, I stick to residential work. And a few small commercial jobs.



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Old 02-10-2016, 11:27 PM   #17
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My biggest competition in town has 20 Hondurans. He gets a lot of commercial and residential work. Only 4
Or 5 of them or legal. Most barely speak English. Pays them between $9-$12 an hour. At the same time the local 7-11 day labor won't talk to you for less than $15/hr.
He's got the support of the outside sales rep helping him find the leads and make the commercial bids.
His employees hate him and his competition hate him too. But, he keeps them busy so they put up with him.
Workers comp in nj is 15%. How can I compete on the commercial side?
So, I stick to residential work. And a few small commercial jobs.



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Hire the legal ones from under his nose at $15 and start bidding commercial.
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Old 02-11-2016, 03:57 PM   #18
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Mike beat me to it.

Sounds like you need to hire some Hondurans. This is the big bad world nowadays. Nice guys finish last, ymmv.
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Old 02-11-2016, 06:09 PM   #19
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Mike beat me to it.

Sounds like you need to hire some Hondurans. This is the big bad world nowadays. Nice guys finish last, ymmv.
A profound and astute observation. Unless you are a paint retailer. Then you are supposed to shut your mouth and just let the big guys rule the world.
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Old 02-12-2016, 12:08 PM   #20
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All valid remarks - thank you. There is no question that illegal labor has driven the prices down instead of up, but the organizations we are loosing these jobs to are not small bucket and brush guys that swing into 7-11 with a pick up truck and fill the back with day laborers. No. They are very large painting contractors here in the greater DC region that do 10,20,30 million in sales each year. I have a hard time believing they would be willing to risk their ability to function by loading up a job with illegal labor. Our work force consists of about 40 payroll painters and 4 subs (most of which used to work for me). Where these guys get their papers I have no idea but I *will not* hire someone that cannot complete the I9 form. I know it's frowned on in here but I'm willing to share that for GWB walls (rolled) we are bidding $ .20 p/sf - PVA primer & $ .24-26 p/sf eggshell and loosing jobs left and right. That just doesn't make sense to me. The only answer I can think of is short cuts, short cuts, short cuts.
What is the name of your company? We, too, operate in the DC area and dabble in the Baltimore market.
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