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ChromeTech Keeps Employees Learning

Cross-training staff gives job shop more flexibility to accommodate customers and run the business more smoothly.
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ChromeTech of Wisconsin’s plating is hard, but its workers are flexible. And it’s that juxtaposition that makes the difference for this Top Shop.

“We try to keep employees learning by doing a lot of cross-training, so they are working hard-chrome, hoist line, cleaning and more,” says Alan Henry, president of ChromeTech. Henry, himself a second-generation plater, says learning the different duties and getting out of comfort zones can be “scary” for some workers, but it keeps the work fresh and interesting for everyone.

In return, the cross-trained staff allows more flexibility to accommodate customers and run the business more smoothly. That’s important because a robust economy has kept ChromeTech’s lines running, with built-in efficiencies allowing for an average of 3-5 days for order delivery.

ChromeTech of Wisconsin operates out of a 44,000-square-foot facility in Franklin, Wisconsin, a suburb of Milwaukee. This heartland location allows it to keep a stable of customers in agriculture, construction, railroad lines and other regional industries. However, they also have customers as far away as Mexico and Canada.

Hard chrome is the company’s specialty, with an Rc hardness of 70-72 guaranteed. Hard chrome gave the company its start and remains its mainstay. Still, ChromeTech has diversified its plating portfolio to include electroless nickel, mechanical finishing and more. The electroless nickel is increasing in popularity. Seven electroless nickel baths give ChromeTech the ability to plate various levels of phosphorous simultaneously, allowing for more efficient and precise product delivery.

ChromeTech has differentiated itself in this robust economy, with an automated plating line for doing hard chrome. The line can be programmed to formulate any one of over 3,000 different recipes to come up with the exact specifications for the customer and the ability to produce as many as 17 million units or as few as 20, according to Henry.

“The line is something that gives us a little bit of an edge and allows us to keep growing, be competitive, do a good job and be cost-effective,” Henry says.

ChromeTech’s technological tools are tops in the industry, but Henry brings ChromeTech’s success back to something beyond electroplating and anodizing — the company’s workforce. Some employees have been at ChromeTech for over 30 years, with most of his 28-member staff logging between 15 and 27 years.

“They are good people and they make a difference. We invest in equipment but it takes the people with us to make that work, and we have been lucky there,” Walter says, adding that the employees understand when the company succeeds, they succeed.

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