When she’s not racing motorcycles or perilously climbing the sides of steep mountains for fun and excitement, LaVaughn Daniels is the environmental and safety manager for Danco Metal Surfacing in Arcadia, Calif., as well as president of the Metal Finishing Association of Southern California (MFASC). Danco also has California operations in Ontario and Santa Ana, as well as in Warsaw, Ind., where it specializes in medical coatings. Besides metal coatings, the company also performs powder coating. We caught up with LaVaughn while she was standing still and picked her brain on a few topics.
As the environmental director for Danco, tell us about keeping on top of all the regulatory issues in the plating industry, especially since you are located in California, which has its own stringent standards.
LD: Once the initial compliance programs are put into place and people are trained, things run pretty smoothly; it’s then a matter of being thorough and keeping current. It helps that I have strong support from owner Dave Tatge and GM Ross Tiamson. And our people are top-notch. My philosophy is to do what is right and keep the regulators happy, but not let them take advantage of us. The MFASC does a great job keeping me informed of changes in regulations. I take care of compliance for our Indiana operation, and the differences are not as great as they used to be.
You were recently named to the NASF Government Relations Committee. What are your main goals in the coming year working with that group? What lies ahead in regulatory matters?
LD: My goal is to bring a different perspective to the committee, not as an owner, but as one who deals with compliance on a daily basis. Currently, we are battling with EPA over the new lower chrome emissions limit; Nickel will be an issue very soon. With Lisa Jackson stepping down, it will be interesting to see who takes over and what his or her focus will be going forward. With this administration in its second term, we are likely to see more activity regarding environmental regulations.
The three California plating associations make up about 20 percent of the overall industry. What type of clout does that bring to the table when working with the national association and environmental regulators?
LD: It certainly gives us a stronger voice here in California. We are very active in developing relationships with agencies and legislators, and we have seen that pay off time and again. I see our associations as a support function to NASF and we will continue to assist Christian (Richter) and Jeff (Hannapel) in their efforts with regulators on the national level.
How did you get into the coatings industry?
LD: After obtaining my civil engineering degree from Virginia Tech and a brief hiatus where I pursued a possible career racing motorcycles, the “real” career hunt began. My goal was to land a job with one of the big environmental engineering firms, Fluor or CH2M Hill, but at that time, Danco was looking for an environmental and safety manager. I met with Ross and Danco, and 15 years later here I am. Honestly, I didn’t even know what anodizing was, and now I love this industry and Danco. It’s something different every day.
Your company also does other coating processes besides plating, so you see all kinds of operations. What do you see coming as hot topics in surface coatings in the next few years, and what concerns do you have?
LD: There are some daunting regulations coming out of Europe related to product safety. Manufacturers will be re-evaluating the materials and coatings they use, which could have a significant impact on our industry. We have to be ready to make changes to our processes and the way we do business. Danco has an active R&D lab ready to turn out the next best thing, like our proprietary coatings for the medical industry. Stay tuned!
Family: Married, no kids, 2 dogs, 1 cat and a chicken.
Favorite hobby: Riding off-road motorcycles
Favorite movie: Dirty Harry
Favorite book: “One Second After” by William Forstchen.
Best advice you were given, and by whom?: “It’s only an issue if you make it an issue.”-Mom
What’s playing in your car CD/radio: Jamie Cullum
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