A Conversation with Rick Gehman, Keystone Koating
Rick Gehman is president of Keystone Koating in Lititz, Pennsylvania, which has been a Products Finishing Top Shop numerous times.
Rick Gehman is president of Keystone Koating in Lititz, Pennsylvania, which has been a Products Finishing Top Shop numerous times. He is also president of parent company PBZ LLC, a metal manufacturing business. He started in the company as a powder coating production line worker and advanced until he was managing the production lines, batch systems and a blast room, and finally became president.
PF: How did you get your start in the finishing industry?
RG: I started on the coating line 11 years ago when I lost my job in construction right before the housing bubble burst. Working on the powder coating line was one of the few jobs I could find that paid close to what I was getting. I became addicted to the daily challenges and found a home at Keystone.
PF: How challenging is it to run such a large operation?
RG: Because we have a great team to lead our organization, the challenges are exciting and the possibilities are many. I enjoy working with many personalities and strengths to accomplish common goals. Working with a strong, trusting team eliminates the daily stress and pressures.
PF: Yours has been a PF Top Shop for several years. What is the key to running a great finishing operation?
RG: Putting others first. It is important to invest in the employees; if they can succeed, the business will succeed.
PF: What’s the best piece of advice you have been given?
RG: My father told me from a very young age to always receive correction. I have made a lifelong commitment to always be learning something new, and always willing to receive advice or counsel from anyone.
PF: What was your first job, and what did you learn from it?
RG: I started working on my grandfather’s dairy farm when I was 9. I learned the importance of hard work and getting dirty.
PF: What leadership traits have helped you along the way?
RG: Be coachable, always receive correction, be tenaciously curious, put others first (servant leadership).
PF: What did you want to be when you grew up?
RG: A farmer; it is all I knew at the time.
PF: Favorite place you’ve ever lived?
RG: Where I live now, because our back porch has a view of farmlands in hills.
PF: Who would you trade jobs with for a day?
RG: An air traffic controller or airline pilot
PF: Where would we find you on a typical Saturday?
RG: Riding a bicycle, hiking or walking.
PF: Best way to keep a competitive edge?
RG: Learn something new every day.
PF: Personal heroes?
RG: My father and brother, because their personalities are opposite to mine and provide a welcomed perspective.
PF: How do you motivate people?
RG: By trusting them.
PF: How do you motivate yourself?
RG: Wake up. I am naturally motivated. I am inspired by simple things in everyday life to make the world a better place.
PF: Best business decision?
RG: Hiring the general manager for our Lititz facility.
PF: Worst business decision?
RG: Waiting too long to address a difficult employee.
PF: Biggest management myth?
RG: Management by numbers gets great results.
PF: What advice would you have given yourself 10 years ago?
RG: Identify and enhance the strengths in others.
PF: Word that best describes you?
The sixth annual Top Shops Benchmarking Survey measured shops based on more than 50 operational metrics including lead time, on-time delivery, first-pass quality yield and finishing equipment usage, among others.
RMF’s more than 50 years of experience in the metal finishing industry that earned the shop its ranking at the head of the Products Finishing Top Shops benchmarking program.
Data from the Benchmarking Survey is used to name 50 Top Shops, which are listed along with their top official.