Celebrating the First 80 Years

Oak is the traditional gift for someone turning 80 years old, as it symbolizes longevity and strength, two hallmarks of what we feel our magazine has been with the surface finishing industry since its debut in 1936.


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We are told that oak is the traditional gift for someone turning 80 years old, as is the case of Products Finishing magazine this past year. Oak symbolizes longevity and strength, two hallmarks of what we feel our magazine has been with the surface finishing industry since its debut in 1936.

Our readers have also told us that Products Finishing has withstood the test of time, delivering relevant content about the world of electroplating, liquid and powder coating, anodizing, mechanical finishing and just about everything else needed to finish an industrial product before it goes out the door.

This issue celebrates some of what we have brought to the industry over eight decades, ever since founder Donald Gardner published the first issue as a compliment to his other industrial manufacturing magazine, Modern Machine Shop.

“Developments in the field of metal finishing are coming with increasing rapidity, and those who are responsible for results in this field will be interested in keeping abreast of events concerned with development and application,” Gardner wrote in the inaugural issue in 1936. “To this service, Products Finishing is dedicated.”

The first plating organizations had just started meeting and hosting annual conferences when Gardner launched Products Finishing. The industry was ripe for a monthly publication that focused on finishers’ needs and information from suppliers.

“With this, the first number, Products Finishing assumes the task of searching out and disseminating the newest and best information available concerning metal finishing methods in all of its various ramifications, including cleaning, polishing, buffing, plating, lacquering, and so on, and neither effort nor expense will be spared in the performance of this task,” Gardner said. “Service to the industry will be the foundation of our policies, and we bespeak the support and cooperation of the industry.”

That has been the calling card of Products Finishing for the last 80 years: service to the industry, and—more importantly—to our readers. Rare is the time I walk through a shop during a visit and not have someone come up to me and explain how they sharpened their teeth when they joined the industry by reading Products Finishing each month, almost as if the monthly articles and columns were training ground for many shops and new employees who knew little about the industry.

In fact, this month we highlight a few readers who have expressed to us how much Products Finishing meant to them in their career. A few started off as journeymen, hired off the street into a job running a line or racking parts, eventually moving into management positions and some even ownership.

It was a recurring theme we heard—how before the internet, there was a dearth of information on technical issues related to finishing—and also how Products Finishing did the job month after month, bringing quality information, case studies, new products and industry news to the tens of thousands who read the magazine.

Even now—in a world filled with websites and emails and a sort of “info-lanche” of data and information—we still hear from a lot of readers on how their only true source of finishing industry news came through our pages.

We have not taken that responsibility lightly. It is a challenge each month to bring our readers only the best information and crucial technological advances in finishing, but it is only because there is still so much out there to write about. From the shop in Brooklyn plating gold, to the powder coating facility in Compton utilizing a new finishing approach, there are endless stories and breakthroughs that we sort through each month to bring you the most relevant content we can find.

We are reminded, too, how oak has a spiritual significance. The wood is mentioned in the Bible more than 20 times. The oak is a living, breathing thing that many find comfort near or under—getting shade and relaxing—or simply watching its leaves dance in the wind.

At Products Finishing, we feel a spiritual connection to our readers, too. We know you depend on us for industry information, so we strive to provide the best content possible, knowing that your reading time is sparse.

“Time passes, conditions change, the world progresses—and those who are found keeping pace with the new order of things are those who are young enough in mind and spirit to recognize the value of the new and to make themselves a part of it.”

Gardner wrote that in 1928. Time passes, indeed, but some things stay the same, each month and every year. We appreciate our readers, and pledge to stand tall as an oak for the next eight decades.  

Originally published in the December 2016 issue.