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First-Class Quality: Cadillac Plating Makes Top 5 Shop in 2020 North American Finishing Operations

One of Detroit’s Largest Electroplaters Just Keeps Getting Bigger, Better, Faster
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Cadillac Plating Corp. in Warren, Michigan, regularly places on the top 50 list of Products Finishing’s Top Shops Benchmarking Survey, with repeat mentions annually from 2016 through 2019. This year, they made the Top 5 list for the first time.

Managers at Cadillac Plating

Cadillac Plating management includes (left to right)  Nicola “Nick” Salvati Sr., president; Blair Borkowski, supervisor; Russ Conroy, supervisor; Mahmood Ahmed, vice president; and Craig Stevens, quality manager.

It’s one of Detroit’s — and, by extension, one of the North American automotive industry’s — largest zinc electroplaters, known for its zero defects, excellent turnaround times (24 hours or less) and high level of customer service. Although Cadillac normally runs three shifts per day, five days per week, with an occasional job on Saturdays on its seven automated plating lines, customers know that both staff and facility are available 365 days per year, if needed, for a last-minute job.

“I hear other platers say it’s all about quality,” explains Nick Salvati, Jr., Cadillac Plating director of operations. “But, for us, it goes beyond that. It’s attention to details for our customers. It’s getting the job right for them the first time and being a true partner.”

He adds that taking care of customers is how the company has made its name and how it’s grown from one plating line to the current seven. “My customers tell me that I’m the only plater they know who gives them 24-hour turnaround,” Salvati says. “I guess that’s why they’re my customers and not someone else’s.”

While it provided other types of finishing when it was founded in 1957, the company has come to specialize in zinc electroplating, owing to that technology’s ability to provide a highly protective, bright and burn-free deposit. Not only can it be applied even at very high current densities, but deposits are extremely low stress and blister free, giving zinc plating excellent covering power with high uniformity and distribution. Cadillac offers straight zinc plating, zinc trivalent, zinc-iron and zinc-iron trivalent options, and also offers customers packaging, sorting, labeling and 100% inspection services. Although the auto industry represents its largest group of customers, Cadillac also provides plating services for components for motorcycles, commercial trucks, medical fixtures, conveyor systems and hot-water heaters.

Attention to detail is key to the company’s high and consistent quality. “One of the things we do is run multiple checks on our solutions on every line throughout the day for each job to ensure our baths are correct and running at a high level of quality,” explains Craig Stevens, Cadillac Plating quality manager. “We also work with our suppliers to make sure we’re using the latest and best chemistries, and equipment to deliver the products our customers need.”

And the company can verify that quality onsite thanks to a fully staffed lab certified to ISO 17025 requirements. “We can check plating thickness and even show our customers results from salt-spray tests, which all builds confidence that we know what we’re doing and that they can count on our quality,” Stevens says.

Clearly, this approach has paid off for the company, which currently processes 70 million parts per year, up from 50 million in 2014, 43 million in 2013, and 33 million in 2012. Some growth came from picking up business from shops that closed, but much of it has been organic growth, owing to the combination of speed, quality and service that Cadillac promises all its customers — big and small. “We used to regularly see 250,000-piece jobs come through the door, but now we’re handling jobs that are for 1 million or 1.5 million pieces, so we’ve not only gotten more work, but much bigger jobs,” Salvati says. The company is staffed with 40 full-time employees and calls upon 100 temporary workers to meet the ups and downs of the auto industry.

Another important feature that has contributed to the company’s growth over the decades is the experience of its management team. “All of our line operators have been here for over 20 years, and our foremen have been here between 30 and 40 years each,” adds Salvati. “The better people you have working for you, the better quality product you can get out the door.”

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