GARDEN GROVE, Calif.—This city of 175,000, located in the heart of Orange County, isn’t exactly known for its tourist attractions, but that’s due to change within the next year, as the city becomes home to a new waterpark and hotel complex.
The under-construction Great Wolf Lodge is the latest in a chain of such resorts that’s owned by Great Wolf Resorts Inc. The new location’s being built along Harbor Boulevard between Garden Grove Boulevard and Lampson.
Pomona-based Plasterers Local 200 has been on the job about eight months and is expected to stay on another five months, said Local 200 agent Carlos Ponce. About 35 members are working on the project on any given day, Ponce said, and that will taper down to 15 to 20 as the project nears completion.
“This has been a welcome boost to employment for Local 200 members who are still patiently recovering from five years of economic hell,” said Local 200 Business Manager Tom Castleman.
“Plastering can obviously be a less than glamorous profession,” Castleman added. “It’s messy, it’s rigorous, it’s extremely dangerous and occasionally one might break a ‘nail.’ At the end of the day, through all those challenges, our members are still able to portray the overall project personality envisioned by the architect.”
Good Feedback from the Contractor
When “Building Trades News” visited the site in mid-September, Plasterers were working on the nine-story hotel, with EIFS (Exterior Installation & Finish System) for exterior wall insulation; Outsulation Plus MD for the wall finishes, as well as waterproofing and base-coat finishing.
Casey McLean, superintendent with one of the project’s subcontractors, Orange-based Raymond-Southern California, said that he’s gotten positive feedback from Turner Construction, the general contractor, about his workers.
“It’s been going very well; Turner was very happy. They called the foremen in individually to thank them for the nice product they’re leaving.”Ground broke in May 2014, and the facilities are scheduled to open during the first quarter of 2016.
This will be the first California location for Great Wolf Lodge. The $250 million Garden Grove location will include the hotel with 603 rooms and a 130,000 square foot indoor/outdoor waterpark.
Ponce said that as the economy improves, more construction jobs are being generated.
“The main thing is we have our guys working. A year ago, we didn’t have this kind of work, so most of the guys were sitting home. So it benefits our members and they have food on the table for the kids.”
‘It’s Better to Be Union
Local 200 members on the job spoke about their motivation and dedication.
“This is not just a job, it’s a career,” said Felipe Siordia, 26, a 1st stage apprentice. “I’ve been here three months and I’ve learned a lot and I’m still willing to learn more and one day become a foreman. I just want to know everything about this trade, about plastering.”
Foreman Francisco Ramirez, 51, has been a Local 200 member for 22 years.
“I joined the union because I saw an opportunity to improve my knowledge,” Ramirez said. “This job is a good thing for us. The contractor called our boss to the office and said, ‘You’ve got the best guys.’”
Victor Aguilar, 44, is a foreman and a Local 200 member for 17 years.
“I joined the union because it’s a good opportunity for me and for my family to have insurance benefits,” Aguilar said. “This is a big project and I’m happy for the opportunity.”
Journeyman Juan Ramirez, 54, joined Local 200 in 1996. He left the union but returned, and is glad he did.
“I joined the union because of the benefits and the retirement plan. It helps with the insurance for the kids. It’s better to be union. You get to enjoy your life.”