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Unread 01-15-2013, 12:22 PM   #16
apcpowder
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Powder Coat Problems What You Can Do About It

Dear Jeep Forum:
The biggest problem that we face in the custom powder coating world is proper education. I personally understand this as I bought my business with nothing more for knowledge than that of being a customer of the business. I knew nothing. The reason that this happens is the relative price of entry into this business is seen as being fairly low compared to most businesses that are considered to be in the manufacturing field. This perception is also exacerbated by the thought that it is an easy process to do. Both of these misconceptions are just that, misconceptions. The ability to truly understand the nature of the business takes constant education in the powder coating, but also one should have an excellent understanding of metals and also plating processes. This experience I did have from my years in the architectural hardware business selling commercial doors and especially the hardware. My personal passion is also racing of all forms and this taught me an immense amount about metals. This was an excellent base of knowledge to enter the powder coating world. I then had to go to many classes and read everything on powder coating that I could to learn about the technical side of powder coating.

When you call or communicate with a powder coating facility judge the company by how the person on the other end responds. Do they have technical knowledge? Do they speak the language well and have a competent understanding of the language you are speaking or writing? While this may seem like it may be a racial statement it is not. I am simply stating that if the person representing a powder coating facility does not fully understand your needs then your needs will never be met, except by accident.

Unfortunately this is not the case with most business owners and their lack of proper understanding of the powder coating process causes them to make decision based upon economics and not science or fact. It is my job to ascertain from the client what the use of the part is and what the best coating is for that condition. This may include plating style immersion processes in advance of powder coating. It may require base coats, specialty masking considerations, temperature considerations, dwell time in the oven, proper powder choice for the environment in addition to many other variables. This all also must equate to what the clients budget is for the project. We have had many situations where we had to make large and bold type disclosure to a client who will choose price over durability. This is not the powder coaters fault when the coating fails but the powder coating applicator better have the ability to disclose this in advance to avoid an unhappy client and legal ramifications. This is rarely done and this is why clients are unhappy with many powder coaters’. The top of the class powder coater's charge for their experience and many are in the upper end of manufacturing and unfortunately do not do custom batch work.

We see this so many times and we feel that the disservice that powder coater's who run their business based on client expectations of an extremely low price for the service, leads to the myth that powder coatings are not effective. Quite the contrary, when applied correctly powder coating is the most durable of the coated or painted finishes bar none. Done incorrectly the powder coated surface will peel, corrode and chip like bad spray paint. The next part that is difficult, from a client’s perspective, is finding the proper powder coater for your application. Like any other service business there are varying degrees of powder coater's in this world. You may not have a good one in your geographic area, we know that there are several states that do not have good custom powder coater's due to the demand for these services and the experience of the clients who are purchasing that service. Larger geographic areas tend to have more manufacturing and thus a higher number of powder coater's who support those industries. You will likely not find a good custom powder coater in a small city, not impossible but unlikely. This is another misconception of those that look at powder coating as a business and say “I have lots of friends with blah blah blah". This ability to coat parts in your garage for your buddies will not result in a successful powder coating venture. If you do not have local manufacturing to assist in the business it will never succeed. This is why it is hard to find quality powder coaters in small cities.

When choosing your powder coater ask to see their operation. Go in back. Are the floors clean? If they are not do you think they can do good work that is not cross color contaminated from a previous job? Do the employees look like they take pride in their appearance and the work that they are doing? Is the lighting adequate to see what the work is that they are doing? Does there seem to be an organized way about the facility? Does the office look organized? If not they may not do a good job of keeping paperwork that may be critical if you need to do that type of work again someday. If you do not take the time to look beyond just the price then don't blame the powder coater when you do not get what you expected or you experience premature failure of the coating. You are to blame. You chose price or convenience over quality. If you do your job and research the powder coating facility first you will likely have a better chance of getting your expectations met. Again, just like any other service industry you can have the corner tax accountant or you can have Price-Waterhouse, powder coating is no different.

Yes I am blowing my own horn here, unabashedly. But the information that I am imparting to you is good across the country. Use it to find a good coater who really understands his/her trade and you will form a long relationship with them. We have clients from our earliest days of business and I thank those clients for keeping is in business for the past 23 years.

Good hunting.
Scott Andrews
President
Andrews Powder Coating, Inc.

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Unread 01-16-2013, 01:09 PM   #17
Fawkes
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Quote:
Originally Posted by apcpowder View Post
Dear Jeep Forum:
The biggest problem that we face in the custom powder coating world is proper education...

...If you do not take the time to look beyond just the price then don't blame the powder coater when you do not get what you expected or you experience premature failure of the coating. You are to blame. You chose price or convenience over quality.
With all due respect: No.

I agree that we (meaning the small fab shop vendors) likely need better education, and should better research the shops that are available, however;

If I pay for X coating, at Y price, delivered on Z date, I actually expect X coating, at Y price, on Z date... no matter who the vendor is.

Quote:
...If you do your job and research the powder coating facility first you will likely have a better chance of getting your expectations met.
No argument from me there, but...

Quote:
Again, just like any other service industry you can have the corner tax accountant or you can have Price-Waterhouse, powder coating is no different.
My "real" job - the one that pays the bills - is running a small, niche market service business. We thrive because we're small, lean, and can adapt and to exceed the customer's expectations where the big firms offer a one-size-fits all product that may or may not satisfy the customer.

This fab shop operation I've started as a hobby business is no different. The product we offer is in direct competition with Warn… probably THE biggest name in the off-road industry. They make an excellent product, but it's a one-size-fits all approach, where we've redesigned our line twice in the last year and a half in response to the customer's needs and wants. We're likely to streamline it again at least once over the next year.

To use your example, I used Clifton Gunderson for accounting when I first started my business 16 years ago. I ended up switching to a two man outfit that operates out of an old bodega. They provide a better product (save me more tax-wise) because they are the "corner tax accountant" and can view my returns as a specific and individual to my company rather than offering a a one-size-fits all solution.

Bigger is sometimes better, but it not an automatic indicator of a quality product or service.

Quote:
Yes I am blowing my own horn here, unabashedly. But the information that I am imparting to you is good across the country. Use it to find a good coater who really understands his/her trade and you will form a long relationship with them. We have clients from our earliest days of business and I thank those clients for keeping is in business for the past 23 years.
Scott, I do appreciate your taking the time to post here, and by no means am I trying to be adversarial in my response. Rather, this thread was started to express some of my frustration and to gauge whether that frustration was due to something I was doing, or if it was widespread. As you can see, most folks responding have had some sort of issue with their coater. It certainly may be because we are small shops that don’t have enough volume for the “big guys” to accommodate us, but I assure you, it’s not because we’re not paying enough, patient enough, or educated enough about the process.
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Unread 01-19-2013, 06:58 AM   #18
icrawltn
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I have a small powdercoating business that I am running and the number 1 KEY thing to getting a top quality/durable finish is the prep work to the part you are going to be coating. Aluminum is a lot harder to do because of the process in cleaning the part because alum is a lot softer metal so it absorbs oil and dirt so therefor you have to get the part HOT to clean all oils that has absorbed into the metal so you get a good clean surface for the powder to stick to. If its not cleaned good it will not last and will sometimes fish eye. It is somewhat like car paint it can orange pill and fish eye. I went to Powder X for schooling which is the number 1 powdercoating facility which is the home of spike TV ( extreme 4x4 hotrod TV etc ) I am by far a professional or a huge shop but I can turn out great quality work in fast times.

Last edited by icrawltn; 01-22-2013 at 06:43 PM..
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Unread 01-21-2013, 11:49 AM   #19
apcpowder
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Dear Kris and Board Thread Readers:
Thanks for the great comments and the thought provoking issues that clients and coater's face. This is not an easy business as we deal with peoples parts and finishing processes that are not always predictable. I hope that we have all learned a bit from this exchange and I welcome any further discussions.
Scott
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