HAWAII AT WORK
FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Byron Alop has been a painter for 17 years, ever since he got out of high school. These days he supervises a crew for Shiroma Painting, which is working on the restoration of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki. Above, Byron geared up last week with a respirator to start spraying a stripping solution.
Painter applies his professional touch
Byron Alop leads a crew of 10 workers for Shiroma Painting
Byron Alop says one of the best things about his job is getting it done. He's a commercial painter for M. Shiroma Painting Co. and he especially likes it when a completed project is "on time and passable."
Job: Supervises a crew of painters for Shiroma Painting
If corrections need to be made, he'll do them, but he takes pride in his work and at this stage in his career -- 17 years as a member of Painters Union Local 1791 -- he needs little direction as to what comprises a good job.
A bonus for Alop is that his two brothers also work for Shiroma Painting: his younger brother, Shannon Alop, 34, who is actually his supervisor; and his older brother, Rob Man, 38, who, like Byron, is a foreman/ supervisor in charge of his own painting crew of about 10 workers, depending on the size of the job.
At the moment, Byron's crew is working on the Royal Hawaiian Hotel renovation in Waikiki, and Rob's crew just finished repainting the exterior of the city's Blaisdell Concert Hall.
Shannon is based mostly out of the company's offices in Waipahu, where he helps manage the company's many projects and helps rustle up new ones.
Byron Alop, 36, is a graduate of Mililani High School.
He is married to the former Shonte Reis, with whom he has three children: sons Bryson, 14, and Branson, 8, and daughter Shamberlynn, 12. They reside in Kapolei.
Do you have a formal job title, other than "painter"? Like some kind of a union designation?
Byron Alop: Foreman/supervisor.
Q: I heard two of your brothers also work for Shiroma Painting.
A: Yeah, I got Shannon (Alop); that's my supervisor. And I got Robert (Man); He's a foreman/supervisor, too. Rob and I are more in the field and Shannon is more doing the office work, setting the jobs up.
Q: And Shannon reports to Glenn Shiroma, owner of the company?
Q: How long have you been a professional painter?
A: Seventeen years now.
Q: Have you always worked as a painter for Shiroma Painting?
A: No. I've been with a couple of other companies.
Q: How long have you been with Shiroma?
A: This is going to be my second year with Shiroma.
Q: Who were you with before that?
A: Before this was Oahu Painting, for about seven years.
Q: How did the three of you brothers get into painting?
A: The oldest one, Rob, was working for a painting company, Babylon's Painting, so he got us all in at that one company.
Q: How long have you been members of the Painters Union Local 1791?
A: About 17 years.
Q: Did you have to join to become painter?
A: Actually, Babylon brought me into the union. I was a helper at Babylon's.
FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Byron Alop is a painter and a crew leader for M. Shiroma Painting Co., of Waipahu, which among other projects has been working on restoration of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki. Above, Alop paused last week before entering one of the hotel rooms as some of his crew worked in the hall.
What project are you working on right now?
A: I'm at the Royal Hawaiian (Hotel) right now.
Q: What's going on there?
A: It's demo (demolition) right now. Not too much of painting. Wallpaper removal and patching.
Q: What's the end result going to be?
A: We're going to be doing the whole unit -- painting.
Q: The whole unit?
A: The whole building. I don't know if you heard, they shut this whole place down.
But I just got off of Frear Hall at UH (University of Hawaii). It's a dorm.
Q: What did that involve?
A: Full painting. It's a brand new building.
Q: How many people are working on the job you're on now?
A: I got 10 guys out here right now.
Q: What are your usual working hours?
A: We start at 6:30 (a.m.); we end at 3:30 (p.m.). Let's us beat the traffic home.
Q: What other kinds of buildings do you work on?
A: We do everything -- commercial, federal work, housing.
A: Is the whole company 10 guys?
Q: No. We're kind of big right now -- 40 to 45 guys. The company I work for, there's a construction side, there's a sheetmetal side, and there's a bronze glow.
A: Bronze glow?
Q: That's for big commercial AC (air conditioner) coatings, on the coils, as well as residential.
Q: What's your favorite part of painting something?
A: Getting the job done -- on time and passable.
Q: Passable's a key word. Who inspects when you're done?
A: Usually the owners, the owners of the hotel.
Q: Do they ever say more needs to be done?
A: Yeah, on their punch list, they check it and we go back.
Q: What's a punch list?
A: Corrections from the architect and the owner.
What's your least favorite part of a painting job?
A: Prepping -- preparation -- getting it ready for paint. That would be the longest part of the job. Painting is the easiest part.
Q: And prepping involves what?
A: What we're doing in the Royal Hawaiian is removal of wallpaper -- that and patching after you remove
Q: Is there any problem with dust and stuff like that?
A: Yeah, every job site's going to have that.
Q: Do you run into that lead-in-the-paint problem much?
A: Yeah, but they tested the building (the Royal Hawaiian). It's clean.
Q: What's the most common way painters get hurt on the job?
A: Falling from a ladder.
Q: How do you deal with that?
A: Fall protection -- putting on a harness, hooking up to a safety line.
Q: Do you ever have to do carpentry or whatever?
A: No, not at all. We would turn that over to the carpenters on the job.
Q: Would they be with your company?
A: No. That would be with the general contractor, whoever they got on site.
Q: Who is the general contractor on the Royal Hawaiian job?
A: Swinerton Builders.
Are all your tools supplied by the company, or do you have any tools of your own that you like to use -- like maybe a special paint brush or something?
A: It's all supplied by the company.
Q: Do you have a preference between water-based and oil-based paints?
A: Water base is easier to work with. It's more user friendly. Easier for the homeowners and, I guess, the hotels for touch up. Because with the oil-based you gotta clean it out with thinner, as opposed to the water-based, you can just clean it out in the sink.
Q: Is one of them superior generally to the other -- water versus oil?
A: Both of them are equal. The formulas nowadays are getting better.
Q: What do you look for in a good brush?
A: We use Purdy brushes.
A: It holds a lot of paint in the brush. They're nylon bristles.
Q: Do you use a wide variety of brushes?
A: There's from 3-inch to 4-inch brushes.
Q: Can you "ride the bead" pretty well or do you prefer to use the blue tape to make sure your edges are straight?
A: We cut everything in. We don't use blue tape. We're trained for that. That's why we get schooling.
Q: What kind of schooling is that?
A: We have apprenticeship school. When you come into the union, they send you to apprenticeship school for about a year and a half.
Q: Where would that take place?
A: HCC (Honolulu Community College).
Q: When you go to the store, or visit friends' homes, do you ever notice how the places were painted and perhaps say to yourself that you could have done it better?
A: Most of the time.
Q: Are you and your brother (Rob) both working on the Royal Hawaiian job?
A: No, we both run our own jobs.
Q: And what's he working on?
A: He just got through with Blaisdell Concert Hall.
Q: What did that involve?
A: Just a repaint.
Q: Do you three brothers share work stories after work?
A: Oh, yeah. They got a lot of stories.