It is said baseball is a game of inches; in the electroplating industry, it is a game of percentage points.
While the difference between victory and defeat on the diamond could be the width of the ball or foul line, the span between being a Products Finishing Top Shop and others comes down to fractions of numbers.
For example, the plating companies that made the Top Shops list had some significant statistical advantages over the rest of the plating field:
- Order lead time was just 5.0 days for Top Shops, and 8.6 days for all other shops.
- Scrap rates are 2.0 percent for Top Shops; 3.8 percent for others.
- Active customers is 412 for Top Shops; the average is 349 for all others.
- Capacity utilization is 83.4 percent for Top Shops; the average of other shops is 59.0 percent.
After weeks of examining survey results from several hundred electroplating operations in North America, the Products Finishing Top Shops Benchmarking Survey is complete and being shipped to those shops that took part in the program.
The three reports will give shop owners and managers a unique look at how their plating shops perform compared with the rest of the industry. The information—and an additional executive summary that compiles all the data—is divided into three separate reports:
- Comparison by shop type; i.e. captive, contract and job shop.
- Plant size, broken into five separate categories to give a clearer perspective.
- Comparison to the Products Finishing Top Shops so plating operations can see where they need to be in order to be considered among the best in the industry.
“We are very focused here on getting better, and as such are always working on what we need to get better at,” says Matt Lindstedt, technical sales manager at Advanced Plating Technologies in Milwaukee. “It’s great to stop every once in a while and realize that we do a few things right, too.”
Actually, those that were named a Products Finishing Top Shop did a lot of things right, including being profitable in a business environment that doesn’t always lean toward being in the black.
Those earning the Top Shops distinction averaged about $2.7 million in gross sales off each finishing line, compared to the average of $1.5 million for all others.
More importantly, the Products Finishing Top Shops saw an average of 21 percent growth in their business from 2013, while the average of the survey was 8 percent.
The Products Finishing Top Shop Benchmarking Survey is nothing new; years ago, Products Finishing annually surveyed the largest finishing shops in the U.S. to gather general data on the status of the industry.
But this time around, we went looking to determine the best shops in the country. The comprehensive benchmarking survey is broken into four categories:
- Current Finishing Technology: We looked at which shops have the most up-to-date equipment and technology to make them efficient and consistent in their plating operations.
- Finishing Practices and Performances: We examined shops that have substantial “best practices” in areas such as testing, quality control, environmental stewardship and shop management.
- Business Strategies and Performances: The survey looked at shops that have unique and profitable operation plans and business strategies that attract and keep customers.
- Training and Human Resources: Plating lines do not run themselves, and we looked at how shops hire and train employees, as well as how those employees are compensated and recognized for outstanding contributions.
The Products Finishing Top Shops Benchmarking Survey included more than 40 questions, which often required shops to dig up their records and supply statistics they may not have otherwise maintained on a regular basis.
But the reward is be well worth it since the overall data has been compressed into an Executive Summary and three additional reports that will let shops compare apples-to-apples with other shops, including those who made the Top Shops list.
When the statistics and data were compiled in our database, we scored companies on their responses to certain questions in the four critical areas. We relied heavily on questions pertaining to testing and evaluation, as well as overall certifications and approvals.
The result was that we took the top 50 shops that scored best overall and made them the recipients of the Products Finishing Top Shops honors. When we notified the shop owners, most were extremely excited—and rightly so—while others were a little taken aback that their operation made the cut.
“When I got through completing the survey, I actually felt like we suck,” says Gary Rehnberg, who along with Tim Lamb owns East Side Plating in Portland, Oregon. “So I am honestly wondering if you are messing with me.”
Nope, we’re not messing with you, Gary. Welcome to the Products Finishing Top Shops club.