WINSLOW — While the coronavirus pandemic has slowed or halted many businesses, Standard Waterproofing of Winslow has remained busy over the past five months.

The commercial waterproofing and fireproofing business has experienced steady growth over the past three years, and this trend has continued during the pandemic, according to Theresa Thompson, president and owner of the business.

We’re in construction so we’re considered essential,” Thompson said in a telephone interview Thursday. “So we literally never stopped working at all.”

Theresa Thompson, president of Standard Waterproofing, at her company’s offices in Winslow on Friday. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Standard Waterproofing has worked on projects statewide, including the STEM Building at Bates College, Maine Veterans’ Homes in Augusta, Scarborough Public Safety Building and Nokomis High School in Newport.

In Waterville, the company is working on the $26 million Lockwood Hotel and the sprawling, $200 million athletic complex at Colby College.

Thompson said Standard Waterproofing specializes in services that emphasize the “health” of buildings by protecting them from water intrusion, heat and air conditioning loss and fire damage.

Although the company has not had job losses or coronavirus outbreaks since the pandemic began, Thompson said the first few weeks of widespread shutdowns were a learning experience for her company.

“March 16 — I kind of refer to that as D-Day for us,” Thompson said. “That first three weeks that was by far the greatest challenge I’ve ever had to manage through. There’s just no playbook for it, so you’re kind of making it up as you go.” 

Thompson said the company and its employees worked together to figure out the best way to keep working while keeping office staff and those on job sites safe and healthy.

Standard Waterproofing employees Ted Berry, left, and Shaun Rodrigue work recently at one of the company’s jobsites on Commercial Street in Portland. Contributed photo

“The solutions we came up with, and the way we chose to navigate working through this pandemic, really came from listening to the team,” Thompson said, “and hearing from them what they were experiencing in the workplace. Talking to them and saying, ‘OK, guys, keep me in tune with what you’re seeing on the job sites.’

“If they felt like a general contractor maybe wasn’t supplying a hand-wash station or something along those lines, I would immediately call the contractor, figure out what they were doing and what the plan was.”

At the company’s 9,000-square-foot warehouse in Winslow, social distancing is easy to do; thus, face coverings are not mandatory. As a precaution, however, Thompson said her 45-person staff has been working staggered shifts to eliminate the possibility of crowding.

Protocols for the employees who work on construction sites have also been modified.

“We’ve limited to having two people in a vehicle at a time,” Thompson said. “And it’s the same two people. We’re not switching it up.”

She added: “At our job sites, we made our own hand-washing stations, which are 5-gallon buckets with a little water spigot on the bottom. They fill it in the morning and at any point in time they can wash their hands.

“We (also) rented porta johns and put a lock on them so only our people could use those. Those, I think, were really the game changers, too. Those additions really kept our guys a lot safer.”

Thompson said the company has provided its employees’ daily access to gloves, Lysol wipes, hand sanitizer and face masks.

As for the future of Standard Waterproofing, Thompson said she is optimistic.

“I see a really solid year ahead of us. I’m optimistic about going after that in 2021 and 2022,” she said. “I think people will rebound, and people want to move into Maine. Especially now, it feels like a safer state than some of the others when it comes to the pandemic, so I see that working in our favor as time goes on.”

The company moved into a new, $1.2 million building on Augusta Road in Winslow last September after experiencing a 25% growth in business in fiscal 2018.

Thompson attributed the growth to increased demand in the construction market and the addition of the company’s fireproofing services, fulfilling Thompson’s goal to add a service line every decade.

Standard Waterproofing at 1020 Augusta Road in Winslow. Contributed photo

The company pursued work that was available in its current lines and took on fireproofing projects selectively, according to Thompson.

“We positioned ourselves through employee retention and hiring additional staff to handle the increased workload,” she said, adding the company promoted three employees to management roles and increased its field staff.

Many of Standard Waterproofing’s employees were part of the crew when Thompson joined the company in 2005. She started as a project manager and learned the operations from the crew.

As president, she works with employees to establish retention initiatives — such as adding new benefits to the company’s benefits package — to maintain a high-quality workforce.

Standard Waterproofing was founded in 1984 by Fred Green, who specialized in masonry restoration and joint sealants.

In 1991, Tom and Marie Michaud bought the company. In 2005, Theresa Thompson, Tom’s daughter, began working and became vice president in 2007.

Thompson bought her father’s shares of the company in 2014 and Marie’s shares in 2016, the same year she became president of the company.

Standard Waterproofing was named the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce’s Business of the Year in 2019 for its “operational growth, high-quality and safe work environment and commitment to the community.”

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