Top Shops: Innovation makes Lincoln Industries a 2016 Top Shop
Nebraska finisher grows with help of an innovation team to identify new technologies to solve customer problems.
The U.S. map that Marc LeBaron saw in 1992 did not lie. The map showed his company, Lincoln Industries, smack in the middle of the country, and not anywhere near the customers he needed to be close to in order to grow his finishing business.
“You could draw a 200-mile circle around us without seeing much manufacturing located close,” LeBaron says. “It was clear we needed to have something extra special to offer people to come to us.”
It was in the early 1990s that LeBaron was coming off the chairmanship of the National Association of Metal Finishers (NAMF). He had spent the past year visiting over 100 plants in the U.S. as part of his NAMF responsibilities, and what he saw was many good electroplating shops, but not many that were a major player in the plating world.
“There weren’t that many shops that broke through that ‘small company’ level and really grew as an entity,” he says. “And with us being in Nebraska, it would make it even tougher to grow as much as we wanted to. If we didn’t change our thinking, we would be just another electroplater and another job shop.”
In 1952, his father, Dale LeBaron, started Lincoln Plating in Nebraska as a small custom shop for local manufacturers, specializing in made-to-order solutions for a relatively few number of customers, but steadily grew the shop as a regional business that was doing fairly well.
After Marc took his whirlwind tour more than 25 years ago and saw an opportunity to become a national player by offering more services and expertise to large OEMs, Lincoln began to drastically change.