Products Finishing Then, Now and Tomorrow

As 2020 comes to a close, Products Finishing editor-in-chief Scott Francis discusses upcoming initiatives for 2021.


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products finishing, surface finishing

Products Finishing has been reporting on the surface finishing industry since 1936.

I’m an unashamed science fiction fan. As a kid, my favorite television show was Doctor Who. The show only aired on public television and usually on Saturdays as part of fundraising marathons that always seemed to coincide with when my dad wanted me to mow the yard. He couldn’t understand my love of this show filled with rubber space monsters and terrible special effects. Admittedly, in many ways, it was hokey, but to my amazement, it returned in my adulthood and gained mass popularity. The premise, of course, is about a time-traveling alien who wanders the universe getting into trouble and trying to do the right thing against incredible odds. Whenever mortally wounded, the Doctor is able to regenerate his body, in effect preserving his life but becoming a new person. In 2017, the Doctor regenerated into a woman, sending a clear message about the show’s belief in equality, diversity and positive change. Doctor Who’s formula allows new actors to play the role and take the show into uncharted territory. (If you’re not into sci-fi, you can sub in getting a new James Bond every decade or so.) When the new actor steps into the role it takes some getting used to, both for the fans and for the actor. New hats — and scarves — are tried on.

The point is that reinventing something takes some time and exploration. This year, Products Finishing got a new editor-in-chief (hello) and a whole new editorial team. We’ve changed our website. We’ve changed our voice. We’ve changed a lot and we’ve learned a lot. The stories we’ve told this year have helped us grow as a team and find out where we want to go next.

A new year brings yet more change, and not a moment too soon. Looking ahead, PF has updated programs, new events, new stories to share and even more new territory to explore. In 2021, PF will launch two new columns. “On the Line” will feature conversations with people in the industry — from trailblazing leaders who are helping shape the future of finishing to those working in the trenches with firsthand experience. We’ll get a glimpse inside shops across the country and see the fantastic work that is being done with our new “Photo Finish” column, which will showcase images of real-world products, solutions and innovations captured by our readers. We’re launching a podcast that will allow you to hear the voices of our industry. Our Top Shops Benchmarking Program is going strong and beginning in 2021, the program will include a new sourcing platform that allows survey values to be compared to a larger, cumulative database of results, expanding the benefits of participation.

While we’ve been working to freshen things up a bit, rest assured, Products Finishing will continue to bring you the programs and coverage you’ve loved over the years. As we wrap up 2020, the December issue of PF takes a look at the agricultural, industrial and construction markets. We learn about ways that companies like Winona Powder Coating are working to expand their capabilities even in the face of what has been a challenging time for everyone (read about the company’s new heavy-duty powder coating line and ecoat line here). You’ll learn about a farm equipment manufacturer’s constant quest for improvement and their collaborative efforts with TIGER Drylac to achieve uniform coatings for their products. Read about Chemetall’s work to fine-tune chemistries on a pretreatment line for a lawnmower manufacturer.

Products Finishing has been reporting on the surface finishing industry since 1936. The mission statement from that very first issue was about “searching out and disseminating the newest and best information available concerning metal finishing methods … including cleaning, polishing, buffing, plating, [and] lacquering.” Today that mission hasn’t changed, only expanded. We cover electroplating, powder coating, liquid coating — as we always have. We also report on coating advanced materials, and emerging technologies, from new eco-friendly solutions to automation. From our Finishing Hall of Fame, which celebrates pioneers and those who have shaped this industry over the years, to our 40-Under-40 Program that recognizes emerging leaders, Products Finishing is a brand that builds upon its past and looks to the future. Like all of you, I’m eager to see what 2021 brings.

This year has been one that no one will likely forget anytime soon. As much as I am tired of writing about COVID-19, the virus is intertwined with every narrative that occurred in 2020. Everyone has been touched by this pandemic in one way or another. Many of us have lost someone. We’ve all had our routines disrupted and aspects of our lives overturned. But we’ve soldiered on and will continue to do so together. In the coming year, we must be understanding and empathetic, realizing there are ways to adjust our course and always strive to be better regardless of our successes or failures. One of my favorite episodes of Doctor Who is a Christmas special that aired in 2010. The Doctor explained that across the Universe, regardless of race or beliefs, life forms recognize the winter solstice as a time of hope. “On every world, in the deepest part of the winter, at the exact mid-point, everybody stops … as if to say well done,” says the Doctor. “We’re halfway out of the dark."


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    Productivity, efficiency and on-time deliveries are all hallmarks of a great finishing shop, but at the heart of it all is a commitment to employees and customers.

  • The Conflict of Resolutions

    We asked several finishers what their resolutions were for 2020, and did we ever get a variety of wishes and goals.

  • Living in Interesting Times

    How is the COVID-19 outbreak affecting your business? Stepping into the role of editor of Products Finishing in the middle of the coronavirus outbreak has been odd, to say the least. Here’s my story — tell us yours.