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A Conversation with Josh Paisley of Lincoln Chrome

Lincoln Chrome manager talks to Products Finishing about what a good finish means for the trucking industry, the importance of listening to your customer base and the traits of a good company culture. 
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Josh Paisley, manager, Lincoln Chrome

Josh Paisley has been with Lincoln Chrome, manufacturer of stainless steel, chrome-plated heavy-duty stacks and trucking accessories, since the day the business launched as a division of Lincoln Industries in 2008. He is a technical leader in chrome products and, as Lincoln Chrome’s manager, is responsible for the company’s day-to day-business operations. He attends countless events in the trucking industry and sees himself as a partner to the driver community.

PF: Give us some background about Lincoln Chrome’s plating operations.

JP: Lincoln Chrome is a division of Lincoln Industries. In 2008, we decided to bring this concept of Lincoln Chrome forward. Around that time, we had gotten an OEM job with PACCAR — which is Peterbilt and Kenworth ­— and we had all the bend tooling and everything wrapped around that job. And we had been polishing and plating exhaust for 30 years at that point. We had this belief and concept that “Well, now that we have the equipment to be able to manufacture it, we can be vertically integrated and create Lincoln Chrome.” In the industry, we are the only manufacturer that develops exhausts that is vertically integrated — meaning, we fabricate, polish and plate all the products right here in Lincoln, Nebraska.

PF: Is that work done solely for Lincoln Industries business, or do you do any outside finishing for other customers?

JP: Similar to the automotive industry, where show cars have all the custom parts  …  same thing on the trucking side. If somebody wants something done that’s unique and doesn’t exist in the market — something that’s kind of a one-off type thing — we’ll bring those [parts] in, depending on the material and the type of finish, and process them.

One thing that's helped our brand drastically is that we listen to the customer base to get an understanding of what they think is cool, and then we work with them to build unique, different products.

A couple of trucks that I worked on a few years ago had a black chrome finish. Those are out there, running up and down the roads. They’re true work trucks; they’re not just sitting in the garage collecting dust to only get cleaned up a couple times a year. But it’s a unique finish that isn’t typically done on a large stack.

Some are done for different causes. We did an autism awareness truck. We blasted puzzle pieces within the stainless steel bumpers, visors and exhaust, and plated it so that the puzzle pieces kind of sit hidden within the chrome at different angles. The driver’s daughter has autism and he shows the truck at different events to raise awareness for the cause.

PF: From your point of view, are the qualities of a good finish?

JP: First off, I always preach to the team that we aren’t just plating product that’s going to simply look good out of the box. Some manufacturers will go out there and throw a bunch of semi-bright nickel on an item to make it look beautiful, but they’re just covering up polishing flaws. But then, there’s no ductility within the plating —  you’re gonna get a rock chip and then it’s going to cause the whole item to peel.

So, the quality of a good finish is in overall appearance, but you also have to consider the longevity of the product running year after year, down the road, putting on a ton of interstate miles and seeing some abuse.

PF: What would you say are Lincoln Chrome’s core values?
JP: We have our beliefs and drivers. They’ve been the same since I started working at Lincoln Industries — I think I’m getting close to my 15th year here. When I first started as an intern, they gave me a card with the beliefs and drivers and said, “put this in your wallet … remember that this is what we believe in and base decisions on.”

Some of the beliefs are that innovation creates continuous improvement, and positive relationships build loyalty. Honesty is essential in all transactions … that's helped us drastically throughout the years in growing a business.

PF: This year has been like no other. How has the pandemic affected your business?

JP: On one hand, people are holding onto their trucks, which means they are fixing them up, so for the Lincoln Chrome side of the business, that's excellent to see.
On the OEM side of the businesses, even while plants were closed, we never truly shut down. We worked to build up a little product in the warehouse, which has helped to go out there and sell things as things are picking back up.

So, throughout many hours and many tough decisions, we as a company have set ourselves in a pretty good position to continue to be successful moving forward.

PF: How did you get your start with Lincoln Chrome?

JP: Before the launch of Lincoln Chrome, I was an account rep with Lincoln Industries on the OEM side of the business, handling all of the truck accounts. I originally came to Lincoln Industries because the beliefs and drivers mindset was similar to the family company culture my dad had worked in. Once I did my first tour with Lincoln, I knew I wanted to work here. It’s a great place, family owned, that takes care of and respects its people. It’s huge to come into work every single day and enjoy what you do.

PF: Have you always been this line of work or have you had other aspirations? 

JP: I grew up in a plant called IAMS. My dad was a director of operations for manufacturing in Aurora, Nebraska for almost 40 years. So I grew up in manufacturing operations and it has always kind of been built into my mindset and the way that I think.

PF: Are there things that you've learned along the way that still apply?

JP: I mean, if I look all the way back to being a kid? I’ve done every sport you possibly can think of and was always pushed by every coach: “Do not lose your drive. Do not lose your passion.” If you have the drive and passion, you can be successful in everything you do throughout your life.

PF: How do you inspire your team?

JP: I think it’s important to highlight people’s successes and their wins. When you highlight the positive side of things, you’ll have a better team dynamic. And when you do that, when there is a mistake, you’ll have team members who are not afraid to step up and say, “Hey, that was mine. I messed up.”

PF: What would you say is the most important thing for staying competitive in this industry?

JP: Continue to go to the events, continue to listen to the customer base and design your products around what they are saying. For us, to continue to be successful, we have to design our products around what the customer base likes. Continue to keep your ear to the ground and pivot your business directions on that.

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