The painters at St. Louis-based Kennedy Painting enjoy working together, but for now they’ve got to keep their distance. “We’re only doing exteriors and unoccupied interiors, so that solves a lot of the issues with social distancing,” said company owner Sean Kennedy. “You can put four guys on a house, each on their own side.” Also, no “can I borrow your roller” for now, everyone is assigned tools and equipment and everyone uses what they’ve got. Plus, they’re all required to drive to work separately.
Kennedy is working to put together jobsite sanitation kits with wipes, towels, hand sanitizer and the like. Sometimes it’s hard; he’s running low on sanitizer and has had trouble finding more. Some PPE is hard to come by as well, as masks and even bandanas have a long wait, but thanks to his mother-in-law they’ve had some homemade masks to use when needed. “But again, I think working outside has really helped a lot of these issues that you have so people are not on top of each other,” he said.
The office is closed other than a few field supervisors who come by to pick up information, but with a crew of almost 30 painters at several locations, Kennedy makes the effort to keep in touch. “We’re doing company meetings with Zoom,” he said. “We’re putting together video training modules so we can still sort of consult and do training.”
From here, he reminds us, don’t get complacent, don’t forget the distancing, don’t forget hand washing, etc. Sure you’ve been doing it for a few weeks at least, and sure it’s getting old, but now isn’t the time to let up, he says. “If I have any insights into any of this, I think that the best advice is just keep communications open, keep reminding people so they don’t get lazy in their ways.”
Kennedy is looking to hire, and it’s harder to do it remotely – there’s a certain feeling you get from being across the desk with someone that you won’t over a screen. Then onboarding after that, again remotely, is going to be interesting. “It’s just been a bit of a challenge, but yeah, we’re still working on it.”