June 2, 2008 | by Thomas J. Finan, Publisher
St. Louis' generations-old national and international reputation as a hub for training in decorative painting has resulted in St. Louis union trainers playing a key role in a nationwide training effort.
The Midwest, particularly St. Louis and Chicago, are helping to spread the craft of decorative painting nationwide. On June 9 the Finishing Trades Institute (FTI) of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) is hosting the launch of a program designed to teach traditional craft painters new and innovative techniques and materials in decorative finishes.
St. Louisan Richard Swaringen, formerly an instructor with Painters District Council #2 and now with Koch Brothers Painting, helped Chicago IUPAT District Council #14 Instructor Mike Krawiec plan a curriculum to teach Decorative Finishes to painters nationwide through the FTI, said Tim Klotz, apprenticeship coordinator for District Council #2. “St. Louis has always won top places in decorative finishing contests in the union,” Klotz said. “For the last five years, apprentices from St. Louis and Chicago have demonstrated decorative finishes at the IUPAT both at PACE, the annual painting industry trade show,” he said. “Swaringen and Krawiec talked a lot about creating a national training program and Krawiec ran with the ball,” he added.
Dan Penski, director of the FTI, said, “The IUPAT is the clear leader in putting skilled commercial and industrial painters on jobs throughout the United States and Canada. Now our goal is to be just as successful at putting the high-end finishing touches on home and commercial space with that same workforce.”
On June 9, the FTI will kick-off the Decorative Finishes program with a one-week course to train local apprenticeship instructors at the FTI training facility in Hanover, MD. The session will be attended by over a dozen IUPAT trainers from throughout the United States and Canada, who will receive instruction on how to teach the Decorative Finishing craft to their local members in a course curriculum jointly designed by the FTI, the IUPAT District Council 14 Apprenticeship Program, Faux Design Studio and Faux Effects International.
“FTI trains the trainers of our union and this is the first step in teaching the Decorative Finishing craft at our training centers throughout the U.S. and Canada ,” said Penski. “We expect to offer this course several times a year in the near future and we fully expect a great deal of interest from more and more of our local affiliates and contractors to attend this course.”
“Decorative Finishing is the art of transforming a space from a single to a multi-dimensional space providing unparalleled depth and drama,” said Sheri Zeman, owner of Faux Design Studio in Addison, IL. Zeman has been a part of training IUPAT crafts men and women in the Chicago area for over five years now and is one of the primary decorative painting industry partners with the IUPAT. “Innovations in the industry give the painter unlimited boundaries to produce effects not possible in the past,” she said.
“This endeavor between my company, the IUPAT and Faux Effects International, Inc. has the potential to drastically change the look of the home and commercial painting industry,” said Zeman. “Through this training, we are breaking preconceived notions of Decorative Finishing and creating finishes that serve as stunning backdrops to luxurious furniture and décor. I know first hand that the demand for decorative finishing is high in the market and that one of the main things holding contractors back from doing more of it is a limited qualified workforce. Together, we’re going to change that.”
The IUPAT Finishing Trades Institute (FTI) http://www.finishingtradesinstitute.org develops curriculum and hands-on training programs for union instructors throughout the United States and Canada for the over 140,000 members of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades.