Volume 46, Issue 1 - January/February 2007
Just Scraping By
The Trowels of the Window Business
Yes, my spell check works. No, this is not a re-run column. A little over a year ago, I wrote a column entitled, “The Trials of the Window Business,” based on construction defects (see the July/August 2004 issue on page 18). This entry would be considered a second cousin to the previous column because it relates to defects, but in a whole different way. A little “Hawaii Five-O” music please.
CSI: Las Vegas
Whenever Kelly, my service manager, stands in front of my desk with a phone message in her hand, along with “the look,” I know it means there is someone I will have to talk to and solve his or her problem.
I was right.
“The look” means she has talked until she has run out of words, or the service guys can’t come up with a solution. I was right on all accounts the day she handed me a message reading, “Your windows have defective paint; you need to see the rep.” The way some of these superintendents get excited, you would think we just shipped a batch of bad spinach.
Over the next two days, I gathered up pertinent information, like date of purchase, the manufacturer, and most importantly, what other products came in with the same truck load. My crime lab produced the necessary invoices and back-up purchase orders to set the stage for a full-blown Broderick-Crawford investigation (“Leave your blood at the Red Cross, not on the Highway”).
I arrived at the scene just like any other investigator (with his sunglasses), and made my truck skid to a stop. It even made that tire “chirp” noise in the dirt. As I stepped from my truck and slowly pulled the sunglasses from my face, like David Caruso, I got this urge to wrap the entire project in yellow police tape to make sure nothing more was disturbed.
Pink Panther Strikes Again
In the spirit of Peter Sellers, my first inclination was to go to the building that was near completion and check out the substandard paint finish. Low and behold, the window paint looked like it was either hit with a cat-of-nine-tails, a belt sander, or possibly a weed-eater on steroids. The finish was dull and scarred, with large patches of raw metal exposed. Wow, the only problem I could see was that this was not happening on the interior side of the windows. I really wished Cheech Marin was next to me to show him how smart I was. These discoveries were prevalent throughout the project.
Now it was time to talk to the super. He was nowhere to be found, so I called Kelly in my office for his cell phone number. While she was in the middle of reading the number to me, I made a 180-degree turn towards a building that was being worked on and said “Gotta go; I’ll call you back.” I literally ran to my truck to get my digital camera, unlike Robert Stack as Elliot Ness, who always had a photographer with him.
Stucco on Stupid
I was as excited as Dennis Franz of NYPD Blue when catching a criminal red handed. I literally stood under a scaffold and clicked away 12 pictures of a worker taking a trowel and scraping the overage of stucco off the frames and the glass. Further investigation took me around the corner to find no less than 2 to 3 inches of stucco piled in the corners of the window frames. This was a brutal crime scene, and catching the act in progress, it was not for the faint of heart.
Fast forward: the super arranges for a meeting at the jobsite with the stucco contractor. I brought my Peter Falk trench coat, laptop computer and was ready to rumble. The first words from the stucco guy were that these were cheap windows with defective paint. I let him ramble on, and he repeated several times that they had done nothing wrong and what was I going to do about it?
Who Loves Ya Baby?
With a red lollipop in my mouth, I just sat back and said, “Let’s take a look at this little program I put together for your viewing pleasure.”
We got as far as the first picture and the stucco contractor yelled, “He’s not touching the frames, he’s going around them. Besides we spray the frames with ‘pig fat’ and that protects them.”
The vice president of construction said, “Let’s look at the rest of the pictures.”
Telly Savalas never had so much evidence in his corner as I did. After my Emmy award-winning docudrama, the next words out of the stucco contractor were, “Well, I’ll split the back-charges with you!”
“Huh?” I thought. Not known for a shortage of words, I said, “No, No, No and No!”
“I have done nothing wrong here, but I will provide two cases of paint for you at no charge, and after that, you can purchase them.”
The vice president of construction backed me up, and I was so excited I realized that I had forgotten to wear socks. Then again, Don Johnson never wore socks.
With the smell of bacon in the air, I said to the Stucco contractor, “I’m not trying to tell you how to run your business, but I think that spraying pig fat on the windows, scraping the overage by hand and then taking a high-pressure washer to clean them is far more work than just taping them off with Duct tape and plastic sheeting.”
Now, do I drive off in a Ferrari Daytona Spyder or a 1960 Peugeot 403? “Book ‘Em, Dan-O.”
by R. Mark Reasbeck
Owner of Coyote Springs Window and Door of Las Vegas.
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