It’s not too difficult to find Andrews Powder Coating (APC), even if you aren’t trying that hard.
Type ‘powdercoater’ into your search engine and up pops the Chatsworth, California, coating shop, which has the unique and simplistic powdercoater.com as their web address.
“Somehow I was ahead of the curve when websites first started popping up,” says owner Scott Andrews. “I was that early in the process that I was able to just buy it. I originally wanted APC.com, but that was taken, so when I saw powdercoater.com I grabbed it.”
That was back when Andrews bought the company almost 30 years ago, and he and his unique url have come a long way in that time. In 2018, after 10 years in their previous location, Andrews moved his operation into a 13,000-square-feet facility and installed new lines and systems that will help him grow his aluminum extrusion business.
“Well over half of the equipment was replaced,” Andrews says. “It was a major investment and a major change for us, but we feel very confident that this is a smart move for us to grow and serve the customers we have and the new ones we plan to get.”
APC serves industries such as aerospace and military, automotive, architectural, art, general industrial and medical. For aerospace and military operations, the shop has certification in MIL-C-24712A, chemical agent-resistant coating, MIL-A-8625 F, MIL-A-63576A, QQ-P-36c, MIL-C-5541E and MIL-DTL-81706B. In medical coatings, they can meet ISO 13485:2003 and ISO 10993-1 standards, the latter for less than 24 hours of implantation for medical devices into the human body or contact with body fluids.
In the art world, APC has coated numerous stand-alone pieces in the southern California and San Fernando Valley areas, working with celebrated large- and small-format metal sculpture artists for their works that appear on sides of buildings and inside airports, hotels, town centers and parks.
New Coating System
The new equipment and systems are mainly for APC to expand into the architectural and extrusion coating market, which is growing every year. The shop is certified to apply the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) specifications for 2603, 2604 and 2605 coatings, which are mainly used in curtain walls, extrusions, facades, storefronts, windows and doors. APC has approvals to apply AAMA 2605 coatings from suppliers AkzoNobel, Sherwin-Williams and PPG, which gives them the ability to finish just about any part that may come their way.
In addition, APC is also applying IGP and IFS architectural grade coatings for its customers.
“We’ve almost doubled our size,” says Andrews, who owns the company with his wife, Sandee. “We had basically been operating as a batch facility, but the new extrusion line is mainly serving the window and door industries, but also a lot of facades too. We see a lot of potential.”
Andrews calls the new line a hybrid system because it is not fully automated. It’s a mixture of immersion pretreatment that is done in baskets that are 25 feet long, which are then hung overhead on a tube-style conveyor line that takes the parts to an automated spray booth.
A lift takes the parts from the dual spray booth and sets the hanger rack onto a rolling rack, which they manually push into the oven.
“We are using our new oven as a large batch oven and an extrusion oven,” Andrews says. “It really is a commitment to the architectural market.”
The idea to make the move to a larger facility and to take on more architectural work has been brewing with Andrews for a long time, and estimates he that is has been in his head “for well over 20 years.”
The dream finally came to fruition a year ago when Andrews was designing a new immersion pretreatment system that would fit in his previous location. When the maker of those tanks kept delaying the delivery, Andrews found himself having issues with the landlord of his previous location, so he started searching for a new location.
“In designing the tanks, we knew we were already going to be locating them in a fairly confined space,” Andrews says. “So, I started looking at what we were doing, and just decided it was time to look at something larger and leave the situation we were in.”
APC could sublease the space they were in because of favorable rates and, after 20 years of thinking he wanted to be more into extrusions and architectural coatings, Andrews pulled the trigger on a new location and almost entirely new equipment in just under six months.
“That’s rapid fast, at least for me,” he says.
The new facility also allowed Andrews to increase the immersion tanks from 2-feet to 3-feet wide, and the additional space presented a very nice flow to the new coating systems they were about to install.
Most of the components were installed by June 2018, and the ovens and spray booths soon followed. Andrews says he had several customers lined up who wanted to give him architectural work, and a steady flow of business has kept the additional employees he added busy since everything was installed over the summer.
Big Demand For Extrusion Coating
“There were several manufacturers who were chomping at the bit for us to get this installed and running,” he says. “One thing we realized very quickly was that the West Coast has a big demand for long-extrusion powder coatings.”
Extrusions aren’t a new game for APC. For the past six years, they have worked with a client in southern California on coating their extrusions. The customer is APC’s biggest customer and they talk almost daily about projects.
“Our expansion has helped make their lead times come down substantially,” Andrews says. The move has helped his shop double their capacity, and he hopes they will soon be able to triple capacity.
“Yes, it’s conjecture, but it’s based on a fair amount of experience,” he says. “We’re very optimistic.”
With the installation of the zirconium pretreatment, Andrews is also hoping to qualify the line to perform some Type II chemfilm for customers who need it.
Not only has the new equipment gone in and APC has added more employees, but Andrews and his team have had to adopt new procedures and practices for running a larger, more efficient operation with higher throughput and larger pieces."
“We are in a chrysalis state of metamorphosis because we are changing so much and adding a lot,” Andrews says. “Instead of just bringing new people in, we moved a lot of our more experienced people up and that made for probably the best crew we’ve ever had. The chemistry among them is amazing.”
For information, visit powdercoater.com
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