“We love challenges,” says Mitch Egan, owner of Egan Painting in South Pasadena, Florida. That’s one of the reasons why painting the American Freedom Distillery in St. Petersburg was such a fulfilling project for this 40-year veteran of the construction trades. PPC editor Mike Starling sat down with Mitch to learn more about this high-profile job.
At almost 14,000 square feet of space, this was a huge interior painting project. What were the biggest challenges you faced?
In the beginning, it was working around the other trades, especially when spraying out the ceilings. We came in at night to get that work completed.
There were many changes made throughout this job with colors and the addition of trim work and the overall scope of work, so in many ways we didn’t know what to expect from day to day other than we had to be ready to shift gears and move from one space to another as the need popped up. I eventually had to switch my billing to a daily rate per painter – which the customer was happy to agree to after seeing our work ethic. Once that was done, we were able to relax and just paint.
Did the COVID-19 pandemic affect your work on this job?
Along with the other trades, we did have to pull out of the distillery for a few weeks or so at the request of the owners. Otherwise, the virus did not really affect us at all on this job.
How did your paint supplier help?
I have been with Sherwin-Williams since the beginning. I had my paint rep come in and write a paint spec for this job so that all parties would be on the same page. The owners of the distillery put their trust in me and Sherwin-Williams to select the proper products for the many surfaces we were going to paint.
My paint rep, Dan Drohan, did an excellent job in handling all of that. Even as long as I have been doing this, I still ask Dan a lot of questions because products are always getting better and we want to grow with those new products. Using the proper product and application makes our job easier.
Which products did you choose for this job?
We sprayed all the wood on this project with Emerald® Urethane Trim Enamel, a product we have grown to love. Because of this, we purchased a Graco® FinishPro II 595 PC Pro sprayer that has air assist capabilities. What a game changer! That Emerald laid down like glass. Our finish color was semi-gloss black and the look is truly stunning. The Emerald cured to a hard finish which was also important because of the patron traffic that the distillery will get.
We used SuperPaint® Interior Acrylic Latex Satin on all drywall. SuperPaint has been my go-to product for many years. It covers well and it’s easy to work with. Its price point also matched up well with our bid on this job.
The new cabinets in the bar areas look amazing. How did you achieve that finish?
We used Pro Industrial™ Pre-Catalyzed Waterbased Epoxy on all the new cabinets. We chose this product because it dries like a rock, quickly creating the kind of strong, hard shell that was needed in those heavy traffic areas. Again, semi-gloss black.
Pro Industrial™ Multi-Surface Acrylic was used on all metal ceilings and ductwork. We chose this mostly for its adhesion qualities. It was very easy to work with and we had a lot of sweeping up to do after spraying. We came in at night and by morning we were all cleaned up and out of the way of the other trades.
Did you need to prime any of the surfaces?
We used PVA Drywall Primer and Sealer on all new drywall. It’s my go-to primer on new drywall. We used High Build Primer on all areas with existing drywall and transition areas. This building has been remodeled many times over the years, so there were some rough areas. The High Build really did the trick in those places.
What kind of surface prep was needed?
To start, there was a lot of dust to blow off the ceilings and ductwork. All new wood had to be properly prepped and sanded between primer and coats of paint. All drywall had to be sanded between coats to achieve a level 5 finish. There was a tremendous amount of masking and taping during the spraying process. A lot of our finish coats on the wood were sprayed after the finish floors were installed, so everything had to be covered. The new Graco sprayer with the air assist feature kept the overspray to a minimum.
The distillery was started by a group of retired Green Berets who were part of the Special Forces sent into Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks. Did doing a project for them add any extra gratification for you and your crew?
It really was an honor because of the back story and the book Horse Soldiers and the movie Twelve Strong that came out about them.
I got to meet several of them, and it was quite a thrill. I had an uncle that fought in World War II, and my dad fought in Korea, so I have a lot of respect for these men.
We’ve done a lot of high-end projects in the St. Petersburg area but nothing quite like this. The pleasure we took in this job was working on a building that was built in the 1950s and giving it a new life, a look it never had before. From the outside it doesn’t look like much, but immediately on entering you can’t help but say “Wow!’”
I’ve been posting pictures on my social media platforms and I’ve done a few presentations at my networking meetings. I know that down the road we will always be able to look at this job and say, “This was the job that got us to the next level.”
Being a part of a project like this, we will always be able to look back and know that we left our mark here. That’s why a project like this is so very fulfilling and special.
This article was originally published in the Summer 2020 issue of PPC magazine. Story by Mike Starling, PPC Editor. Photography courtesy Egan Painting and American Freedom Distillery. Read about other successful, high-profile projects in the PPC Digital Archive.