Giving the Gift of Legacy

Brad Andreae, the late Dr. George Dubpernell, Jim Jones, the late Daniel Leonhardt, and Clifford Roy are 2020 Finishing Hall of Fame inductees.


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There are only a few days out of this year where I truly feel like it’s Christmas Day. One, of course, is Dec. 25, where I get to give those who are special to me gifts and joy. This year I bought my wife socks with my photo on them. Miraculously, she loved them. One of the other days is when I get to let those who have been chosen to be in the Finishing Hall of Fame know about their special honor.

Imagine working your entire career in an industry – which is not the norm these days with people hopping in and out so much – and then getting recognized for your accomplishments by that industry. This Products Finishing program may not be like the Oscars or the Nobel Prize, but it’s always an achievement to have tens of thousands in the industry where you have worked and labored for decades know that you are a true leader, pioneer and difference maker.

That was this case recently when I got to inform the five newest members or their families of the Finishing Hall of Fame: Brad Andreae, the late Dr. George Dubpernell, Jim Jones, the late Daniel Leonhardt, and Clifford Roy.

The reaction I get from letting someone know that the industry will honor them for their lifetime achievement is still something that gives me goosebumps.

“I feel very humbled, yet honored,” says Jones from Dixie Industrial Finishing in Georgia, who retired five years ago after a long career as one of the biggest advocates for the finishing industry. “I was not aware that I was nominated. What a surprise.”

Brad Andreae and his family have turned Therma-Tron-X (TTX) into one of the preeminent designers and builders of finishing systems, especially electrocoat. I would have to guess that half of all cars in the U.S. are made with ecoat systems put in by TTX, only because I see them everywhere. More than that, Andreae and his company have made ecoat and other systems so much better because of their vision and ingenuity.

Clifford Roy and his family grew the small plating shop they started in 1961 in Greenville, South Carolina, into a behemoth. His dad, Donald, started the company after leaving the textile machinery business, but it was Clifford who joined RMF in 1969 after graduating from the University of Kentucky with a bachelor’s degree in metallurgical engineering and set his sights on growing the footprint. In 2019, the company and its various locations plated more than 270 million parts.

Of course, two individuals have passed on, so their families will get the satisfaction of knowing their loved one accomplished what few in any career have done: earning Hall of Fame distinction for their lifetime of work.

Dr. Dubpernell started at United Chromium in 1931, and came up with the process of sulfate and low solubility silicofluoride catalyst systems that provided much improved coverage and throw without burning in the high density area. In his 60 years in the plating field, Dr. Dubpernell earned 10 patents and published numerous papers on plating.

When I reached out to Joe Leonhardt to let him know about his father’s award, he too was moved by the recognition for Dan.

“My family and I are celebrating with this news,” Joe says.

Just like most people who own their shops in the finishing industry, Dan joined his father, Earl, in the company, Leonhardt Plating Company, and never left for 40 years. When he started, the shop was small, but it grew to over 20,000 square feet and 25 employees.

I never knew Dan, but those who did tell me he wasn’t hung up on being a big shot at the national level. Instead, Dan had a belief that the national plating association should be strong everywhere on the local level, and that is what he set out to do for his Cincinnati shop. He wanted local chapters to be strong and vibrant, even if it meant that Dan would pound out the chapter’s newsletter on a typewriter so that everyone was informed of its events and activities. He wrote the articles, sold the advertisements and mailed the newsletter. He wouldn’t ask anyone to do a job he wouldn’t do himself.

Soon, Dan expanded from the chapter activities into promoting larger regional activities in the Midwest. He coordinated technical speakers and chaired the social programs, and then stepped into serving as the chairman of the branch and regional activities board for the national plating association for many years. Those on the national level appreciated his hard work, and soon he was drafted into becoming the AESF national president. Through the 1970s, 80s and 90s, Dan was on almost every finishing association board or committee there was, chairing technical sessions, organizing entire conferences, while at the same time holding down the fort at his own shop.

Dan passed away in 2011, but he was honored by the association with a fellowship and other honors over his long career. Even though he has been gone almost a decade now, it is still nice to know that his hard work for the plating industry will never be forgotten as he joins 44 others who have now been selected for the Finishing Hall of Fame.


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