DC 50 – Advanced Training Makes a Difference in Career

Recently, District Council 50 (Hawaii) member Richmond “Richie” Keliikoa, Jr. had one of those life-changing events that will forever help him, his company and this union. He was selected by IUPAT General President Kenneth Rigmaiden to attend two elite National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE) courses for the Coating Inspector Program.
Brother Keliikoa twice travelled the 15 hours to Baltimore to attend the week-long NACE Coating Inspector Program (CIP) Level I and Level II certification courses. No complaints from Richie, though. He saw it as an incredible opportunity to learn more about his passion – industrial coatings – and to earn the notable certifications.

Richie Keliikoa Jr.
Richie Keliikoa Jr.

The NACE CIP Courses are high-level, intense instruction, and cover corrosion, coatings, and the inspection of coating systems. District Council 50 is proud of Brother Keliikoa for not only passing these courses, but for performing as well as he did on the testing as well. Richie’s name was one of the names recommended to the Finishing Trades Institute (FTI) by District Council 50. Previously, he had acquired the Coating Application Specialist (CAS) certification through the Society for Protective Coatings (SSPC) and FTI CAS program, where he also scored very highly in the testing.

The Interview
We had a chance to talk to Richie after he returned from FTI and here’s what he told us.

The Finisher: Tell us about Metropolitan Painting & Environmental Systems, Inc.
Richie: Metro is a family company – Mom and Dad run the company and my sister Tammy works in the office. We do mostly industrial abrasive blasting and coating, and specialize in refinery work at Oahu’s two refineries in Campbell Industrial Park. I am a general foreman in charge of Metropolitan’s work at the Chevron Refinery, and run their jobs from planning to completion.
The Finisher: What is your history with the company?
Richie: I graduated high school in 1994 on a Saturday, and on Monday my Dad brought me to the union office to become an apprentice. I’ve been a union painter ever since.

Richie inspects blasted steel with Instructor Mike Bush at the CAS Prep Course in 2013.
Richie inspects blasted steel with Instructor Mike Bush at the CAS Prep Course in 2013.

The Finisher: We heard you did very well at the classes and scored very well. For you, what was the most difficult part of the certification process?
Richie: I had no problem with the hands-on portion because it’s what I do every day on the job site. The bookwork was definitely the most difficult. The first day of the course we were given a six inch binder full of information with assignments to cover a chapter each day, which meant studying at night in my room. After so much intense study, my brain wouldn’t stop, so I almost couldn’t sleep. I got it done, but it wasn’t easy.
The Finisher: What was the total process like? The travel, the FTI and IUPAT facilities, etc.
Richie: I have a whole new way about looking at our union. I can’t speak highly enough about the IUPAT and the FTI. The first time I saw the training center I was blown away. When the airport shuttle driver turned into the driveway at the residence hall, I said, “Wow!” General President Ken Rigmaiden, FTI Director Dan Penski, and all of their staff treated me with utmost respect. I kept thinking how generous the union is to spend this amount of money on my education. The training center, the residence hall, the food-were all great. I can’t believe how well I was treated.
The Finisher: How has your NACE Certification helped you and the company?
Richie: I’ve already been able to use my certification on the job. Also, I find that I look at what I do differently since I’ve taken the course. I can really see how corrosion works, where it starts, and how important it is to perform my work well. I love learning, so this was a great thing for me.
The Finisher: What do you want to tell the other members of District Council 50 about this experience?
Richie: If other members have an opportunity to better themselves with training and certification, they should go for it. You’d be a fool not to.