Clayton Emons joined Oshkosh Plating in March of 2018. He is currently the plant manager.
Products Finishing’s 40 Under 40 award program is designed to recognize leadership and potential leadership in the surface finishing industry. Each year, PF
editors comb through a long list of nominees with a wide range of skill sets. The recipients are chosen based on leadership and industry involvement.
This year's finalists include engineers, operations managers, chemists, general managers, sales professionals and entrepreneurs. Some focus on the business aspects of their respective companies. Others bring their talents and leadership to the shop floor. Each of them are innovators in their own right and represent the next generation of leaders in coating and finishing.
Thomas Bennett, senior project engineer, Kohler Co.
Thomas Bennett has been working on plating processes for close to four years, first at Hohman Plating & Mfg. LLC and currently at Kohler Co. He has a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering, Masters in Bio-Engineering and has earned his CEF from the NASF. Kohler says Bennett is a main driver on the continuous improvement and modernization of the finishing business and its controls, implementing control software utilizing SPC, utilizing analytical processes to set process parameters correlating to higher yields.
Adam Blakeley, technical director, eastern region, MacDermid Enthone Industrial Solutions
Adam Blakeley is the director of technical services for the eastern region with MacDermid Enthone and has received CEF and MSF certifications through the NASF. He is the Technical Education Director for the NASF Palmetto Branch and is a member of the Technical Advisory Committee, which is involved in choosing the presentations given during SURFIN. He is also a board member with the AESF Trustee Foundation.
Blakeley is involved extensively with developing and updating courses given through MacDermid Enthone’s Plating Academy. He recently became a certified NASF instructor and has taught classes independently and alongside Frank Altmayer.
Jeff Chabot, process engineer, JMD Industries, Inc.
Jeff Chabot is a process engineer at JMD Industries. From early 2019 into the summer of 2020, he led a team of 12 employees to achieve NADCAP accreditation for the company. That leadership entailed endless hours of development from process control, lab procedures, and training modules, to the full design and execution of rebuilding production lines, training employees and managing the accreditation audit.
Beyond his involvement in the NADCAP process, Jeff is involved in many other aspects of the day-to-day operation of the company. Digital platforms designed by Jeff for quoting and customer service have enabled JMD to communicate in-the-moment to meet customer demands for knowledge and strategic data for order planning. Jeff also oversees the programming division of JMD, providing custom engineering-based options in the areas of laser engraving, part marking and masking.
Neil Chrisman IV, president, Spectrum Metal Finishing Inc.
Neil Chrisman IV stepped into the role of president of Spectrum Metal Finishing, Inc. effective January 1, 2021. Chrisman has spent the last 7 years as Vice President of Operations overseeing all stages of production on both the powder and liquid segment of the business, managing over 60 employees. Chrisman also serves on the Finishing Committee of the AAMA organization as well as the AEC Aluminum Extruders Council as a respected member of the Glass Association BEC, Building Envelope Conference.
Ryan Craddock, director of quality/operations, Craddock Finishing Corp.
Ryan Craddock has worked in the finishing industry for around 10 years and graduated with a degree in business administration in 2012. Since taking the position of Director of Quality/Operations, not only has production and quality improved at Craddock Finishing Corp., but also the overall well-being of the employees and the company culture.
Keaton Curran, technical specialist, Deco/POP, MacDermid Enthone
Keaton Curran joined MacDermid Enthone after earning his Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry from Oakland University in 2016. During his time with MacDermid, he has become an expert on several of the industry’s innovative technologies, including chrome-free etch and paint on chrome. In addition, Curran has become a great resource for the automotive OEM community for whom he has developed and negotiated several color and technology approvals. He has also been instrumental in the successful implementation and operation of those systems for automotive Tier 1s. Keaton is committed to the surface finishing industry and participates in industry activities such as the NASF Bright Design Challenge.
Courtney Jungjohann Deemer, global business director, powder/industrial coatings, PPG
In her role as global business director, powder, Deemer continues to develop deep customer insights that translate to innovations that are changing the coatings industry for the better. In addition, she is a distinguished member of the women’s leadership council at PPG and has created a positive impact on the culture of the coatings industry by mentoring and encouraging other women in the industry, helping to attract and retain more women in a traditionally male-dominated field. She sits on the PPG Women’s Leadership Council steering committee and PPG's Generational Diversity Council.
Derek DeGeest, president, DeGeest Corporation
As the 3rd generation President of DeGeest Corporation, Derek DeGeest’s vision pushes the conventional boundaries of what’s possible in manufacturing. His company forged a partnership with automation company Lesta (Milan, Italy) to bring self learning robotic finishing technology to the North American market under the name LestaUSA. He is active in the community and is a vocal advocate for his industry, partnering with area technical colleges, high schools and middle schools to encourage students to choose rewarding careers in manufacturing. In 2019, DeGeest was named Small Business Administration (SBA) Small Business Person of the Year for South Dakota.
Clayton Emons, plant manager, Oshkosh Plating
Clayton Emons came to Oshkosh Plating in March 2018 with a talent for standardizing processes. While relatively new to plating, he quickly learned the business, working with employees and vendors. Oshkosh Plating says he has improved testing and addition processes, improving consistency of quality. Emons says, “As a relative newcomer to the industry I have much to learn. I look forward to the opportunities to build on my current knowledge and experiences to continue to push Oshkosh Plating and the industry forward.”
Hector J. Flores, innovation center/service sales manager, Wagner
Hector J. Flores got his start in finishing as Coatings Application Engineering for Acme Finishing Company and moved to Wagner as Application Laboratory Manager in 2017. He is now serving as Wagner’s Innovation Center as Service/Sales Manager with accountability for the service and installation team within the America’s region for powder coating engineered systems. Flores has a passion for the finishing industry and implementing solutions using the latest technology. He loves to teach and offered presentations on automation and new technologies at the 2020 PCI Technical Conference.
Micah Fulton, engineering supervisor, Plateco Inc.
Micah Fulton is a member of the Schweich family’s third generation that works for zinc plating company Plateco Inc. He first joined the family business in the spring of 2017 as the Estimating Engineer and since then has grown tremendously with the organization and helped create many internal efficiencies, earning him the title of Engineering Supervisor.
Ross Henry, production manager, ChromeTech
Ross Henry has been with his family’s business, ChromeTech, for more than three years, having graduated from Western Michigan University with a degree in engineering and an interest in metal castings. He has worked at every job step at the company including plating parts, polishing parts, transferring solution, testing chemicals, waste treatment, cleaning tanks, and writing and invoicing orders. He was promoted to production manager, as his brother Zach moved into the VP of Operations. Today, the two brothers are charged with the progress and growth of the company.
Joseph A. Hubbert, senior technical sales engineer, CRW Finishing
Joseph A. Hubbert started in the field of metal finishing more than 10 years ago. Throughout his career he has come up with different methods on how to finish metal, plastics and perform surface preparation and has a vast knowledge of manufacturing and its processes as a whole. Hubbert is highly organized and takes a meticulous approach to all aspects of his life from business to volunteer work. He has dedicated his life to the finishing industry, takes pride in his craft and cares for his community.
Tim Jancigar, mechanical engineering manager, Process Technology
Starting as an hourly assembly worker in the Process Technology HX department in 2003, Tim Jancigar quickly stood out as smart and a natural problem-solver. In 2011, Tim earned his undergraduate degree in engineering from Cleveland State University, graduating Summa Cum Laude. Since obtaining his degree, Tim has advanced to his current leadership role of Mechanical Engineering Manager at Process Technology.
Aaron Johnson, president, Oshkosh Plating Technologies Inc.
Aaron Johnson has been the owner of Oshkosh Plating Technologies Inc. since 2012. During that time, he has driven the business to become more environmentally and employee friendly. He has put a focus on quality over quantity and has pushed the business to be a Products Finishing Top Shop in 2016, 2018 and 2019. Over the past year, he has introduced new finishing solutions to the business including Cerakote ceramic paint and hydro graphics capabilities.
Jase Kaser, general manager, Kaser Blasting & Coatings
Jase Kaser was fresh out of college when he took over as General Manager of Kaser Blasting & Coatings in 2014. In six short years, he has amassed a national and international clientele, turning his parents' small business into a well-respected fixture in the Midwestern blasting and coating landscape. Not content to simply provide high-quality finishing services, Kaser actively seeks to demystify technical processes through social media in the form of blogs, vlogs, infographics, advice and encouragement, shared on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok.
Derek Kilgore, engineering manager, SIFCO ASC
As the Engineering Manager, Derek Kilgore guides his employees and works closely with his co-workers to ensure all aspects of a customer's request are met to their satisfaction. He is regularly involved in in-house and customer equipment designs and innovations. Derek is involved in almost every aspect of each project he designs, from an in-house robot designed to plate nickel on turbine casings destined for pre-brazing to a dual spindled machine for plating stationary parts with off-center locations to replacing an entire aging tank line with an automated brush plating cell.
James Logan, controller, Saporito Finishing Company
James (Jim) Logan is a graduate of Northern Illinois University where, in 2008, he earned his B.S. in Finance and his MBA in 2018. He came to Saporito Finishing from a large, national, agricultural distribution corporation in April of 2011 to work as the 2nd shift supervisor in the Anodizing Division. He learned quickly and was instrumental in leading sales and profit growth for the company through productivity improvement and waste elimination. In June of 2016, Jim became controller at Saporito Finishing where he excels utilizing his strong accounting skills along with his management and finishing experience.
Shelley Lusas, marketing director, Hubbard-Hall
Shelley Lusas started at Hubbard-Hall as a marketing manager. Within two years she was responsible for managing content creation, advertising, webinars/tradeshows, administering the marketing automation platform and steering the efforts on collaboration between marketing and sales through lead scoring and lead flow. She was promoted to Director of Marketing in May of 2020, shifting her focus to corporate marketing strategy. She has helped shift the company’s marketing efforts from a traditional approach to a more modern, digital and fully integrated approach.
Janessa Marlee, director of quality, Apex Anodizing Inc.
Janessa Marlee has been a quality manager for years, bringing Boeing, NADCAP and AS certifications to every shop she’s worked. Upon joining Apex in April of 2020, she led the company through a NADCAP audit the following week.
Juan Carlos Mejia-Trujillo, technical service rep/auto OEM, AkzoNobel Coatings NA
Juan Carlos is a quad-lingual, graduated Industrial Engineer with more than 12 years experience in surface treatment and coatings. In Mexico, Juan Carlos worked for two different paint manufacturing companies (DuPont Performance Coatings and PPG Industries) and in May 2016, he migrated to the U.S. and began work for AkzoNobel Coatings NA as a site manager at Navistar Tulsa Bus Facility and now is facing new challenges in the OEM and industrial market segments.
David Melo, chrome leader, Estañadora S.A. de C.V.
David Melo is a CEF certified chemical engineer, graduated from one of the best schools in Mexico. He has grown his career with Estañadora from an internship to laboratory worker, to process analyzer, to production line manager and now he oversees one full product line. He has also served on the education committee for AMAS (Mexican Surface Finishing Association).
Justin Mick, account manager, Carlisle Fluid Technologies
Justin Mick has been working in the finishing industry for about 16 years with both Myers Brothers and Carlisle Fluid Technologies. His practical work within the automotive and aerospace industries has earned him valued respect from both customers and vendors alike.
Doan Nguyen, chemical quality control, Surface Technology Inc.
Doan Nguyen is responsible for the chemical quality control and a leader in the research and development activities at Surface Technology Inc. In his four years at STI, Doan has become a specialist in electroless nickel and composite plating with the newest versions of PTFE and diamond coatings, accomplished through continual study of educational resources and NASF coursework. His accomplishments include improvements to STI’s innovative single component electroless nickel systems, as well as work to make a number of metal finishing products more environmentally sustainable.
Aric Nordwig, project engineer, Gema USA Inc.
Aric Nordwig is a graduate of the University of Dayton, with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and minors in Engineering Management and Aerospace. Prior to working at Gema, Nordwig’s employers included an engineering company, specializing in custom robotic packaging solutions for assembly line operations, as well as a foundry, specializing in airfoil products used in the aerospace industry.
At Gema, Nordwig has been instrumental in working directly with customers who have purchased complex automated powder coating systems. Leveraging his work experience and project management knowledge, he has become a key contributor providing new ideas and solutions to support customers.
Erik Olson, engineer, Giant Finishing
Hired as an engineer, Erik Olson has shown leadership skills at Giant Finishing by taking control of the process of building machines and has been able to implement documented procedures to ensure consistent quality and help raise the bar for the company’s standards for its equipment.
Steve Phillips, operations manager, Master Finish Co.
Steve Phillips has led production efforts at Master Finish Co. for more than three years with a mindset for continuous improvement. His efforts have helped the company to eliminate around 40 hours of lead time for its customers, track quality metrics in real time, has contributed to a better team atmosphere with all three shifts coordinating together on the same goals.
Christopher Pletcher, president and CEO, Allegheny Coatings
Chris Pletcher has been with Allegheny Coatings for over 6 years and recently was named President and CEO after serving as the Vice President of Sales and Marketing. He had previously spent 5 years at The Dow Chemical Company and earned an MBA from Cornell University. Chris is leading Allegheny Coatings to think outside the current box and offer customers new finishes (zinc nickel, black oxide , zinc phosphate and other zinc flake coatings), and processes (rack dip spin, rack zinc nickel and rack zinc phosphate).
Headquartered in Ridgway, PA, Allegheny Coatings is a metal protection applicator specializing in the application of zinc-flake/zinc-aluminum coating systems. The company employs 200+ associates across 3 locations, offering both rack spray and dip-spin coating options at each facility.
Jarrett Priller, manufacturing engineer, Quality Metal Finishing Co.
Jarrett Priller constructs and programs Quality Metal Finishing Co.’s automation systems. He completed two robots in 2020 and will be finishing a third in 2021. He has also been working on a new electrocleaning system. Quality Metal Finishing Co. says Jarrett’s contributions have increased sales, productivity and focused goals for the company.
Carlos Ruvalcaba, production supervisor, Pioneer Metal Finishing
A 14-year Pioneer veteran, Carlos Ruvalcaba has advanced through various positions, tackling more responsibility in each role. He is currently the third-shift supervisor and under his leadership, the 30+ member team has posted a 23% productivity increase since 2015, in both loads and parts per person, while keeping safety paramount.
Andrew Senecal, senior process engineer, Synergy PSM
Andrew Senecal was hired as a process technician nearly five years ago with an education in physics, chemistry and forensic science. Today, as senior process engineer, Senecal travels around the U.S. to various tier 1 and OEM automotive painting facilities for commissioning of new paint lines, defect analysis, system air balance and filtration optimization. When not traveling on projects, he works to train the next in line process technicians for his company.
Ryan Strasser, lead lab technician, McGard
Ryan Strasser, CEF, started in the finishing industry in 2013 as an assistant line operator. He worked his way to lead line operator, and then into the lab as a technician, eventually becoming the lead lab technician overseeing all of McGard’s finishing operations. He also coordinates and leads many of McGard’s finishing R&D projects.
Anthony Valerio, business development, Frank Lowe
In his Business Development role with Frank Lowe, Anthony Valerio saw an opportunity to expand into the metal finishing industry with the company’s WOW Pads solution for separating powder coated, painted or raw metal components throughout storage and transportation. He is the architect of a robust digital optimization strategy that launched WOW Pads in the finishing industry and also positions Frank Lowe for success in the finishing industry years to come.
Dat Vo, vice president, Temcula Quality Plating
In the past 10 years, Dat Vo has learned not only how to plate gold, silver, electroless nickel, anodize TY III and II, chemfilm, and passivated, he also trained and supervised over 30 team members. His dedication and leadership helped Temcula Quality Plating grow from $500K a year to $2.5M in sales.
John Watkins, senior scientist, LumiShield Technologies
Dr. John Watkins received his Ph.D. from the University of Bath in the U.K. before coming to the U.S. for a postdoctoral position at Princeton. Today he is a co-founder of LumiShield and helped to invent the Lumidize technology and leads all technical efforts for the company.
Dustin Wendegatz, master scheduler, Kettle Moraine Coatings
As Master Scheduler of Kettle Moraine Coatings, Dustin Wendegatz, is responsible for not only managing the scheduling of six production lines, but overseeing the company’s line supervisors to ensure those production lines are running to the specification of every job. He regularly interfaces with customers to answer technical questions and skillfully adjusts production schedules to meet their needs.
Matthew Wojcik, senior research chemist, Coventya
Matthew Wojcik started with Coventya in 2011 as a Research Chemist after graduating with a B.S. in Chemistry from Syracuse University. He has done extensive research on electroless nickel technology over his career with Coventya and has recently been promoted to Senior Research Chemist. He holds multiple patents in the technology and has presented at industry events on the subject.