Youth Served in 40-Under-40 Program

The idea came about at a conference I was at several years ago, when an industry veteran bemoaned the lack of what he called “new blood.”

Ben Minger was 26 when he bought Twin City Plating shop with hardly any experience in the finishing business.

“I had a lot of loans and an open mind, plus a willingness to work my tail off,” he says of his purchase three years ago.

He started with 15 people and quickly sank $300,000 into new equipment and operations. Today, that risk has been rewarded with a 20 percent growth and being named a 2016 Products Finishing Top Shop.

But Minger is adding another title to his resume in this month’s issue as a member of the Products Finishing 40 Under 40 group, a group of up-and-comers in the finishing industry on the verge of being tomorrow’s leaders.

The idea for the 40 Under 40 program, an annual program that will showcase the best and brightest in the finishing industry, came about at a conference I was at several years ago, when an industry veteran bemoaned the lack of what he called “new blood.” It made us think about tomorrow’s leaders in the surface finishing industry.

We spent several months talking to industry veterans both on the end user and supplier sides to get a feel for who might be the leaders of the industry going forward.

Surprisingly, it seemed everyone we asked had a person in mind who was showing expertise, knowledge, ingenuity and professionalism; the core people the finishing industry needs to be a vibrant part of the manufacturing pipeline.

So I started making a list, and just like old St. Nick, we checked it twice and started asking around about these names. It turned out to be a solid list of inaugural inductees into the Products Finishing 40 Under 40 group.

Next year, we will ask readers to nominate those whom they feel should be showcased as an “up-and-comer” in the industry. But this year, we wanted to set the tone by scouring for our initial class, and I think we have found some wonderful representatives, including the featured member, Apple’s Sean Novak, who heads the company’s surface finishing operation and got his start at Anoplate in New York. In doing the research for the inaugural 40 Under 40 group, we came across individuals who have a true love for the finishing industry, but who are also genuinely good people with great stories to tell. Here are just a few I came across:

Chad Andreae of Therma-Tron-X and his wife have four girls and two boys, including a child adopted from China last fall. Before taking over as president of KCH Engineered Systems, Kyle Hankinson served several tours of duty as an Apache helicopter pilot in Iraq and the Persian Gulf. Kerry Behnke started out as a part-time racker 18 years ago at Professional Plating before working her way up to managing a high-capacity zinc plating team.

At 27, Freedom Metal Finishing’s Keith Eidschun took over his family’s two finishing operations when his father died of cancer, and then set out for ISO 9001 and AS9100 accreditation, as well as Nadcap. Jeremy Davitz recently took over the family’s rack building business, Production Plus/Magic Rack, but is also an attorney with a law practice focusing on closely-held businesses.

Charissa Kobyluck is a quality manager at Arizona’s Coating Technologies, and her bosses commend her for being a Girl Scout leader, as well as a volunteer for other charities. Nicholas Capalbo is proud to be part of the third generation at New Method Plating, honoring what his grandfather created in 1931.

Charles Cecil was a financial consultant for a company before joining one of his clients, Col-Met, and is also an early response team member for his church’s committee on relief. Vicente Gomez has lived all over the U.S. and Mexico, and now leads Pavco’s efforts south of the border in sales and technical service of proprietary surface finishing chemicals.

Mark Burger spends most of his time visiting plating companies all across the U.S., China, Taiwan and Japan for KC Jones Plating at the ripe age of 25. Chase Churchill is the operations manager of his family’s plating shop, Jamestown Electro Plating, as well as the board chair of his local Red Cross.

Dallas Cooley is the vice president and a partner of Georgia Powder Coating, and has a personal website where he writes on leadership and other interests. Maria Joaquin moved from warm southern California where she used her scuba diving experience to volunteer to check reefs for a fish assessment organization, to the often-frigid temperatures of New Hampshire to pursue her dream job of running a quality and environmental standards division of Burndy’s plating operations.

“I never had to use a wood stove before; I neither knew what it was nor how it works,” she says. “But I learned how to use it very well. I survived.”

Thankfully, the future of the finishing industry will survive, too, with people like Maria and others leading it tomorrow and for years to come.