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Finishing Spotlight: Southern Metal Finishing Conference

August - 2008
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This month, we have decided to shine the spotlight on a yearly conference that has been developing a pretty devoted following of metal finishers over the last 5 years. Held annually in the late summer/early fall in the iconic and historical town of Charleston, SC, the Southern Metal Finishing Conference is a must attend, particularly for plating and powder coating job shop owners, sales personnel, purchasing supervisors, plant/line management and key operators in the South Eastern region of the U.S.

Though the title suggests an atmosphere catered strictly to southern Platers, there are in fact exhibitors and attendees from all across the country. The Conference prides itself on being a casual event, where attendees are free to mingle and meet with exhibitors on a one on one basis - and it is just the right size that this is actually possible! A combination of professional events and the ‘just for fun' element provide a variety of entertaining and educational opportunities for everyone in attendance. Whether you choose to go for the great line up of workshops (including concentrations in Powder Coating, Electroplating, and Surface Cleaning, all taught by respected and experienced industry professionals) to exhibit, or to catch up with old friends and make new contacts, there is plenty to keep you interested.

Though the conference has been held consecutively in Charleston since its first year (2004), it has already been hosted in several different venues. The first annual Southern Metal Finishing Conference was held at the Doubletree Guest Suites, centered in Charleston' historic district. The subsequent three years were held at the Embassy Suites Hotel, a renovated historic landmark (it was once the original Citadel Military College). This year, keeping with it's theme of historically significant conference locations, Southern Metal Finishing's host hotel will be the Francis Marion, which was named for General Francis Marion (the "Swamp Fox") of the American Revolution. It was also the largest and grandest hotel in the Carolinas when it opened in 1924 (and it's still pretty grand today!).

Playing on the "Swamp Fox" theme, the conference holds an annual "Swamp Fox Scramble" golf tournament as part of its yearly line up of conference events. This tournament is held at the Patriot's Point Links golf course, which overlooks Charleston Harbor. Patriot's Point is yet another historical attraction in this endlessly intriguing city. Home to a Naval & Maritime Museum, you can find four decommissioned ships dating back to World War II, in addition to a nuclear merchant vessel and a variety of other fascinating exhibits. The best part is it's on the way to the golf course, so you could choose to make a pretty exceptional day for yourself if you so desired.

Another event that is very unique to the conference is the annual Pub Crawl Scavenger Hunt. This year will mark the 3rd pub crawl, spreading teams throughout downtown Charleston in search of various objects and answers to local history based questions, while stopping for drinks along the way. It has become one of the most anticipated social events of the conference, and continues to gain participants every year.

The Surface Finishing Academy is also proud to present their keynote speaker for the Monday afternoon luncheon, Mr. John Flatley, Executive Director of the NASF and Managing Principal of Association Management Strategies (AMS), a full-service association management company located in Washington, DC. He will be speaking on priority issues impacting the metal finishing industry and the role the NASF is taking to address them. He will also discuss the value and advantages that belonging to a trade association can provide for individual finishers.

Be sure to check out this gem of the south east if you have the chance. Registration is currently open on their website: You will find all the info you need about conference events, costs, hotel arrangements and more. See you in September!

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