When AAdvantage Panels and Fence CEO Robert Webb started his Whitney, Texas-based company in 2012 to make and powder coat decorative fence panels for the commercial,
residential and livestock markets, he knew he was up against heavy foreign competition, but also an unfulfilled need.
“We first started looking at livestock fencing panels,” Webb says. “Much of the fencing on the market was just plain junk, made of rough stock with sloppy welds and a finish that wouldn’t hold up to the elements.”
On the other end of the market was a high-quality fencing that many ranchers couldn’t afford.
“We saw a niche in the middle for well-built fencing at a reasonable cost,” Webb says.
Compete With Pacific Rim
So when Webb started his company and wanted to install a new powder coating system, he worked with Reliant Finishing Systems in Alabama to help him compete with Pacific Rim companies that have historically dominated the decorative fencing market.
Reliant—which makes powder coating ovens and powder spray booths, and offers Wagner and Gema powder spray guns—installed media blasting and powder coating equipment that has helped AAdvantage capture some sales in a market niche that had been dominated by overseas suppliers.
“A lot of decorative fencing has been supplied by Asian vendors,” Webb says. “Our goal is to be price competitive and supply a better product, and our location is a big part of that strategy.”
AAdvantage purchased a 25-ft-long media blast enclosure, and similarly sized powder spray enclosure and powder curing oven from Reliant, which will be exhibiting in Booth 425 at the Powder Coating Show Oct. 8-10 in St. Louis.
“One of the keys to our business is making sure our customers are getting the right system for what they need,” says Josh Strickland, Reliant’s executive director of marketing and brand management. “The big thing is we want them to increase efficiency and improve their bottom line, but also we want them to be putting out the best product they can so that they will stay in business and compete.”
Webb said he chose a linear configuration with the appliances positioned end-to-end because it gives him many of the benefits of an automated coating line at a fraction of the cost. He purchased the system through Allied Finishing Solutions, a national-level distributor of Reliant equipment that runs the BoothsandOvens.com website, and Webb worked directly with Allied President Franklin Slaton on the coating system.
“AAdvantage is a perfect example of a manufacturer that knew that they wanted to bring their coating process in-house so they could control as much as they could of the entire manufacturing process,” Strickland says. “It just makes them much more profitable in the long run.”
Founded in 1995, Reliant Finishing Systems says it is the fastest growing powder coating equipment manufacturer in the U.S. The company initially was headquartered in Huntsville, Ala., with manufacturing facilities in Tuscaloosa. After it was able to introduce modular designs to make its products more affordable to the average coater and manufacturer, the company experienced rapid growth, resulting in relocation of its headquarters in 2006 and expansion to an additional facility in early 2008. Through a cooperative manufacturing arrangement, Reliant added an additional 40,000-sq-ft manufacturing facility in 2011. Primary sales, manufacturing and warehousing operations are now carried out at facilities in Decatur, Linden, Somerville and Tuscaloosa, Ala.
“We have grown over 300 percent since 2005 because of the exceptional quality of our powder coating equipment and our unparalleled business ethics,” Strickland says. “We maintain a friendly, cooperative relationship with equipment resellers, installation contractors and powder coating suppliers, including those who don’t sell our products. And we don’t bad-mouth our competition.”
Webb is also developing a network of distributors for his agricultural products throughout Texas and Oklahoma, which is one of the reasons he chose to locate the plant in Whitney, between the Dallas-Fort Worth area and Austin, both centers of economic growth.
“Our products aren’t the cheapest in the market, but they surely aren’t the most expensive either,” Webb says. “We want to give developers and homeowners the best combination of quality and price.”
Although AAdvantage Panels and Fence just started in 2012, Webb spent more than 20 years manufacturing outdoor furniture before producing fence panels. During that time he gained experience powder coating his products, so he was comfortable with putting in a new coating line at AAdvantage.
“The Reliant oven gets up to operating temperature anywhere from 30- to 50-percent faster than our old oven,” he says.
AAdvantage ordered its new system in October of 2012 and it was operational before the end of the year.
“It arrived when they said it would and the installation process went very smoothly,” Webb recalls. “They trained us in the morning, and by the end of the day we were going full speed. The installation crew barely got out of our way before we were producing on the equipment.”
The system has continued to meet Webb’s expectations. More importantly, Webb says that his company is gaining ground against overseas products because of the ability to provide a better product and a smoother purchase process while maintaining affordable pricing.
“No news is good news,” he says. “We haven’t had to call about a thing. We turn the equipment on, set it and run it.”
For more information on Reliant Finishing Systems, please call 888-770-0021, or visit reliantfinishingsystems.com.