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Why It Is – and Isn’t – ‘Just Paint’

Thursday, September 13, 2012

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People don’t get what Gail Warner does. And she doesn’t get why they don’t get it.

As a Material Process Engineer for Newport News Shipbuilding, Warner spends day and night, year after year, working with military and civilian engineers, facility owners, health and safety experts, subcontractors, fabricators, vendors, specifiers, purchasers, painting crews, finance officers, supervisors and a hillion-jillion other professionals to facilitate the proper coating of the “million widgets” on each and every new U.S. aircraft carrier built by her employer.

Gail Warner

But when she tries to explain her career to “the average person,” she gets a blank stare and this response:

“Oh. You work in paint. But it’s just paint and it’s all gray, so what do you do all day?”

‘You Can Never Learn Everything.’

As coatings professionals understand, Warner does a lot.

“I still am amazed every day at how complex this industry is,” she told JPCL Editor-in-Chief Karen Kapsanis in a recent video interview. “You can never learn everything there is to know about coatings.”

Still, Warner has learned a great deal. And after years in her unsung (and widely misunderstood) field, she has some pointed suggestions—for SSPC, suppliers and others—on ways to improve the industry.

“Sometimes, things don’t go quite as planned,” says the master of understatement.

Learn what occasionally goes wrong, what usually goes right, and why Warner may not be your first choice for a movie or cruise date.

View the video.


Tagged categories: Marine Coatings; Paint and coatings removal; Specifiers

Comment from Regina Montgomery, (9/14/2012, 10:34 AM)

A nice interview and a cute ending. Being in the field, we can all relate to the juxtaposition of the simplicity and the complexity of paint coupling into one entity.

Comment from Ghodsieh Tehrani, (9/14/2012, 1:30 PM)

Wish it was just average people; it is alarming to see how little most engineers and professionals know about coating and corrosion, in particular. May be engineering curriculums with some courses on corrosion would help.

Comment from Mike McCloud, (9/19/2012, 8:05 AM)

Coatings are usually the last component of a project and it is the first to get cut as the project runs out of money. Most spec. writers don't know a thing about paint. It is scary.

Comment from Car F., (9/19/2012, 3:25 PM)

A fellow tradesman - not a Painter - told me once that if you can urinate, you can paint...I laughed, but it probably [and sadly] reflects the opinion of many uninformed people out there, there is so much to learn and experiment, specially with the ever changing coating technologies. I'm now using a water borne polyurethane coating to paint gasoline dispensing pumps...incredible!!!I understand that the Santa Fe Railway pioneered this product on their bright yellow locomotives...any comments???

Comment from Mike McCloud, (9/20/2012, 9:10 AM)

I always heard, said, was, "A drunk painter is a good painter".

Comment from jason bray, (9/22/2012, 1:31 AM)

HAHA I love what Car F. said about the urinating.We used to have this old engineer who would inevitably show up at the paint shop on a Friday afternoon and he would say "can't you just slobber some paint on it..." As the lead coating guy for GM Delco in Goleta for 7 years coatings are fun and challenging to work with, to be presice in your labor is a noble thing. We got to work on the first LAV's and the Shuttle, but like she said parts... Part of the issue with adapting to new technologies is the manufacturers of coatings have a dubious history with consistency, so you have to learn to get the job done with what you have.

Comment from jason bray, (9/22/2012, 1:34 AM)

Mike McCloud, I had a guy on my crew in the 80's who functioned much better if I brought him a 16oz at 7am....but man he could paint...

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