stan mcclenton: â€œI like the fact that I can take something so bad and make it look so nice.â€
When Stan McClenton started his job, â€œI wasnâ€™t going in as a painter. I was going in to sweep floors. One day they said, â€˜Why donâ€™t you try this? See if you can paint.â€™ I wound up being better than I thought I would be and I kind of took it from there.
â€œBefore I got into painting I played a lot of sports, and then I got into dee-jayinâ€™,â€ he said. He worked under the name â€œDJ Hitman.â€ He recalled, â€œIâ€™ve done a lot of parties and a lot of clubs. I miss being in a crowd, people hollering and screaming. But I feel like Iâ€™m doing something so much more promising.â€
As a journeyman commercial painter, McClenton can still attract a crowd when heâ€™s working 50 feet in the air. â€œI didnâ€™t do that until I got in the union,â€ he said. â€œI thought I would be nervous but it turned out I actually liked it. Iâ€™m the center of attention â€” â€˜Oh, look at that guy!â€™ Everyone wants to stop and watch you paint.â€
McClenton said his career hit new heights in many ways once he joined the union eight years ago. â€œAll the stuff that I should have been getting taught, I wasnâ€™t getting taught,â€ he said. â€œThey were skipping over a lot of stuff. When I finally got into the union, and they were showing the safety videos, I was saying, â€˜Hey, I was doing that wrong!â€™â€
McClenton appreciates the ongoing training opportunities the union provides. These days, heâ€™s still taking training â€” most recently, a class in scaffolding. Heâ€™s also providing it at the Finishing Trades Institute in Little Canada. â€Itâ€™s pretty cool if you think about it,â€ he said. â€œIf someone says, â€˜I donâ€™t think I can do it,â€™ theyâ€™re telling a person who was sitting in the same seat theyâ€™re sitting in. I never thought I could be a teacher, but the union saw something in me to say, â€˜Hey, this guy is a good guy.â€™â€
What does a commercial painter do?
When you paint a room in your house, it is easy. But what if thereâ€™s a hole in the wall? A painter has to know how to fix it. Iâ€™ve learned fine finishing â€” itâ€™s like a material that goes on the wall, but itâ€™s not paint. You can use something as simple as tissue paper, and that will turn into a fine finish. Iâ€™ve learned all the different materials to use. We even do floor work. A lot of people would never know that a painter does that kind of stuff.
Whatâ€™s the best thing about your job?
I like the fact that I can take something so bad and make it look so nice. Going into a commercial building, when you walk in, it looks so terrible. When you walk out, it looks so immaculate.
What is the most important factor in a successful paint job?
Preparation is one of the biggest parts of painting. Painting is the easiest part of the job. Itâ€™s the prep thatâ€™s usually the hardest part.
Are there jobs available for commercial painters?
There are jobs â€” quite a few of them. There are 700 union painters who went back to work in the last 3 months. That tells you the work is picking up. With two stadiums and redoing the Mall of America, there will be so much work for many, many years.
Photo Credit: Tom Witta