Employees Take Ownership of Arlington Plating

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About 20 years ago, Arlington Plating was a typical Chicago-area plating operation, servicing its many customers in one of the nation’s largest cities with two delivery trucks and customers within driving distance.

By 2001, global market strategies forced long-time customers to send work overseas—including Dacor, Yale Security, Halo Lighting, Motorola and Federal Mogul—and the drop-off forced Arlington Plating to take a serious look at its business model.

“We looked north to Harley-Davidson in Milwaukee, which needed a wider base of decorative chrome platers and, over time, became one of their strategic platers of nickel-chrome for their accessories division,” says Rich Macary, president of Arlington Plating. “We also decided to specialize in plating on aluminum, zinc die castings and magnesium. Our new focus was away from job shop work to more contract manufacturing where we would run jobs weekly instead of occasionally.”

Today, Macary says less than 10 percent of their work comes from the Chicago area; they have customers as far away as California, New York and even Italy. They supply to General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Harley-Davidson and Indian Motorcycle, among others.

Arlington Plating is being recognized as a Products Finishing Top Shop not only for its rebirth as a major plating operation in the U.S., but also for its work in transforming its relationship with employees through an Employee Stock Ownership Program (ESOP) initiated in 2016.

Converting to ESOP

The Gollob family has owned Arlington Plating since the 1970s. Marvin Gollob led the company as president and then chairman before transitioning the senior executive role to his son, David, a few years ago. Marvin’s daughter, Lisa, has also served on the board and has been active in the company for many years.

“The family’s commitment to the business and its employees has never wavered,” Macary says. “They continued to invest in the business, both in good economic times and bad, helping the company to not only survive but thrive after the great recession.”

When it came time a few years ago for a transition in the business, several options were explored, but the ESOP plan was selected for several key factors: The company’s top management has been in place for over 20 years, employees’ average tenure is 10 years and the company is growing.

The ESOP purchased Arlington Plating stock in January 2016, and now all the employees share in the growth of the company.

“Each year employees gain more shares of stock,” says Ted Dobbels, the chief financial officer for Arlington Plating. “As the company continues to prosper, those shares grow in value. Working together as a team to provide customers with the highest level of satisfaction has always part of the company culture. Now employees can see directly the results of all of their hard work.”

New Anodizing Line

Part of that growth is a $2 million investment in a new anodizing line at its Palatine, Illinois, headquarters. The new line reflects the increased demand by customers for aluminum anodizing that reliably meets stringent OEM performance and design requirements.

The 5,000-square-foot, fully automated line has 44 process tanks and produces MIL-A-8625 Type II (sulfuric) anodizing with high pH sealants, die coloring and electro color capabilities. Macary says the line offers bright dip, satin and matte finishing capabilities along with lacquer/post-dip and seal technologies meeting the pH 13.0 requirement mandated by the automotive industry. The line is designed to process most automotive exterior trim applications and can process parts up to 100 inches in length.

“The growth in anodizing is most pronounced in the automotive, aerospace, and electronics industries, all of which desire longer lasting, more durable/abrasion resistant coatings with high corrosion and wear protection,” Macary says.

Arlington Plating has invested heavily in capital equipment for its lines that now include decorative nickel chrome on aluminum, zinc die castings and magnesium along with a large polishing shop with manual and automated polishing. Macary says they have also improved equipment on their water treatment system, air quality scrubbers and air make-ups, eliminated all below-grade sump pits and upgraded their electrical system, OSHA compliance and safety systems.

Macary says Arlington's top suppliers are Atotech, MacDermid Enthone and Viking Chemical. 

Arlington Plating | 847-359-1490 | arlingtonplating.com

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Originally published in the April 2017 issue.