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Finishing Talk Walk

January - 2010
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It may sound a bit cliché, but it all started on face book…. It was my last morning attending the Surface World Show in Birmingham England when I received a message from Mo Bashir, the Operations Manager of Advanced Colour Coatings.  He asked if I wanted to “see a well-run powder coating shop”

How could I pass up an offer for a formal Finishing Talk walk through this local powder and paint shop, after my thoroughly informative expedition at Surface World.  Too bad Skelton couldn’t join me on this one.

I met Mo and Kevin Mann, the owner of Advanced Colour Coatings, on the show floor for a chat and a quick cup of coffee. One thing I couldn’t get out of my head was the fact that these guys contacted me. This doesn’t happen often, even for the bigger publications in our industry.  It didn’t take long to realize that  ACC operates differently than all of the other shops I’ve dealt with.

I tried to envision the situation reversed...imagine a British metal finishing publication showed up at Sur/Fin or a Powder Coating Institute show in Indy.  Do you think any of the job shops in the area would invite them for a tour of their facility?  I don’t think so.  It seems people in the US are usually not that open-minded and proactive in their efforts to tell their story.

ACC’s operation is the most impressive that I’ve ever visited in my career.  I’ve never seen such attention to detail in any of the thousands of job shops I’ve observed in the past ten years.  It is no surprise that Daimler calls ACC one of their best powder coaters.  First of all, these guys approached me and asked me to come take a walk through their facility, then rolled out the red carpet.  They went out of their way to explain how they were different, and then followed through with showing me firsthand how they were different.

There is documented processes and procedures for every task imaginable. Work flows are well documented, displayed for everyone to see, and discussed at regular weekly meetings.
The pretreatment line is manually indexed and offers both zinc and iron conversion coatings with a chromate sealer.  Mo explained that they have more control over their parts this way and any time lost is made up through less rejects by processing perfect parts every time.  Solid proof is the fact that ACC processed over 1 million Itronics handheld PC’s without a single unit returned. In spite of this slower pretreatment process, ACC is still capable of a 3-4 hour turnaround for their clients.

The day I walked their shop floor ACC was applying either powder or liquid paint to a vast array of parts for a multitude of customers including GKN, Toyota, Saab, Nissan, Honda, Jaguar, Land Rover, and ABB.  They were running items like automotive luggage racks that see some of the harshest environments and require the best coating performance. 
Occasionally they will take in a high end custom job, and Mo proudly showed me a pretty cool receptionist stand headed for a swanky restaurant in Greece that was painted with their special soft feel suede Nextel coating (you can see pics of this and more on our bulletin board posting of this article)

ACC has made a commitment to invest in its people by earmarking 1.5% of their annual revenue for training. They participate in a government sponsored training partnership and proudly display their “Investor in People” plaque in their lobby.

The average tenure of their employees is 10 years, with the longest being 35.  ACC also solicits open collaboration from their people through regular satisfaction surveys from all employees at all levels, at all times.
 
As you can see it is not by mistake that Advanced Colour Coatings runs like a well oiled machine.  They have implemented a well thought out plan, and all of their employees know exactly what is expected, and they go out of their way to make sure it is up to date and relevant.  The end result is everyone moving together towards the common goal of superior quality in everything they do.

I would have never had the opportunity to observe such an efficient operation or befriend such hospitable folks hadn’t I kept connected to our industry with the social networking power of Face Book.  Cliché or not, I’m staying connected.