A New Coatings ‘Champion’
Champion Painting Specialty Services is getting to work in Alaska
By Tasha Anderson

hampion Painting Specialty Services Corporation is a specialty coatings applicator; since its founding in 2006, the company has covered a range of projects and industries: terminals, power infrastructure, tanks, theme parks, cranes, cruise ships, and stadiums, as well as projects related to road and bridge construction, energy, pharmaceutical and chemical/petro chemical industries, water and wastewater, food and beverage, pulp and paper, the defense sector—and more.

Champion employees work inside a tank in Guam.


Champion employees work inside a tank in Guam.
Champion employees work inside a tank in Guam.


Entering Alaska
Approximately two years ago, at the outset of the pandemic, Champion established its first Alaska office. According to Military Programs Coordinator Zack Beehner, Alaska was the perfect next location (to add to its offices in Florida, New York, Indiana, Georgia, and Guam).

He explains: “There’s been a refocus by the Department of Defense on the Western Pacific and the Arctic in the last ten years, which has surged defense infrastructure support initiatives, in both new build, rehabilitation, and remediation.”

In early 2019 Champion focused on targeting that market and has found success with military projects in Guam and Hawaii. “This coincided with our footprint expansion into the Pacific Northwest, where we work primarily in the defense sector and state-level road and bridge,” Beehner says.

“We needed to find a centralized location to manage those projects, and with the opportunities here in municipal, state, and federal organizations; the private energy sectors; and with the Department of Defense, Alaska was the perfect choice.”

While the location was perfect, the pandemic made the timing challenging. At the time, “We had to focus on our existing and emerging initiatives,” Beehner says. “But now that things have stabilized, we want to get the word out that we are in-state and ready to partner on Alaska-based projects.”

Champion is seeking out what growth opportunities Alaska can offer, but Beehner says he sees three significant benefits for the state, as well.

  1. Champion’s work is conducted in strict accordance with environmental laws, policies and guidelines, and the company has a culture of respect for the environment.
  2. All of Champion’s branches seek out locally owned partners and vendors; it searches out new opportunities to develop working relationships with companies that provide quality options for procurement of materials, services, equipment, and manpower.
  3. Champion wants to provide opportunities to the people of Alaska, and as its work in Alaska grows, it will create a need for personnel at all levels of operation.

“We have a track record of developing skilled and certified coatings craftworkers at each of our regional hubs,” Beehner says.

“A person can start out as a craft worker, and they can continue to be a craft worker for the rest of their life… or they can take a different route. We’ve had people who started out as blasters who now are heavy hitters in our estimation team and others who are senior project managers. Our executive VP started out as a blaster at a different company and eventually grew to start Champion.”

And Champion isn’t necessarily looking to start with skilled workers. “We can take someone without experience and move them through the process: start out with the online courses all the way through to getting them to be a certified blaster. Once you get those certifications, the sky is the limit.”

Champion’s approach to finding the right people and training them up has benefited the company over the long term as it’s developed a team of experts that can handle the challenges and unique considerations of any job thrown at them. “In terms of experience in the industry, if you add up the number of years our team has, we’re going into the hundreds,” Beehner says.

Primarily, Beehner says, Champion is looking for motivated, focused personnel who are eligible for access to work at security facilities—and are looking to join a team for the long haul. “A career in the coatings industry for a certified craft worker can be a very rewarding profession and provide a lifetime of financial stability.”

Experience, Qualified, and Safe
It’s not just individual employees at Champion who are certified at all levels: the company itself has sought out and earned an impressive array. “Champion is certified as an SSPC [Society for Protective Coatings] QP 1, QP 2, and QS 1 lead abatement and coatings applicator, and an NQA1 certified nuclear specialty services provider. The QP and QS certifications are required for application of coatings on exterior steel as well as coating the interiors of fuel tanks for the Department of Defense,” Beehner explains.

The QP certifications mark the ability of applicators to apply coatings consistently in an approved manner, and the QS certification “attests to the level of diligence that we have within our quality control program,” Beehner says. “Only forty US companies that are registered with SSPC have the QS 1 qualification—and none of them have a physical location in Alaska.”

Champion’s care for the quality of their work extends beyond just the coatings and includes the quality and safety of the experience for the client, employees, and those in the immediate area of the project. “There’s a term, VOC, or volatile organic compounds—what you smell when you use spray paint,” Beehner says. “That’s what people think of when they think of a coating project.” Champion may erect physical barriers around a project to ensure that dust, debris, odors, and other nuisances or dangers are contained or mitigated—to everyone’s benefit. “We aim to have minimal to no impact wherever we are.”

Beehner emphasizes that Champion does not perform any sandblasting, only abrasive blasting. This is important because silica sand can cause silicosis, lung cancer, and breathing problems in workers who are exposed to it. “We always meet or exceed safety, performance, and specification requirements for every client and project,” he says, pointing to the company’s Experience Modification Rate of 0.53, significantly lower the 1.0 rating that may disqualify a company from bidding on government projects in certain circumstances.

Champion crew members on a Manhattan bridge in New York.


Champion crew members on a Manhattan bridge in New York
Champion crew members on a Manhattan bridge in New York.


The scope and scale of projects Champion takes on are as varied as the industries it works in and the clients it works for. Beehner describes a job coating 2,000 square feet of piping in Washington near Seattle as “small.” The scope of work includes blasting the surface back to “white steel,” followed by three coats: primer, intermediate, and a finish coat of zinc, epoxy, and urethane. “That will take a crew of four to five guys, and they’ll knock that out—I’m hoping—in three weeks.”

He describes another project that Champion worked on in Poland for the US Army Corps of Engineers: a large potable water tank. “The area there in Poland happened to be cold, wet, and rainy,” he says, describing less-than-ideal conditions for applying coatings. To complicate the project further, the area was rural, making the logistics of getting supplies and personnel to the project more difficult, though Champion successfully completed the task.

“That was one of the driving forces of the company to bring in some more people like me, who are used to dealing with remote logistics and remote team management,” he says.

Specifically in Alaska, Champion is currently working on proposals supporting petroleum and Department of Defense projects in Alaska, and it’s on the lookout for projects at the city and state level. Beehner is clearly enthusiastic about how Champion can partner with entities across the state to provide the quality work that Alaska’s projects need: “Our team brings innovative specialty services, international reach, and world class service to every project.”