A Converation with ... Bruce Bryan

President, CCAI and general manager of Acme Finishing Co


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Bruce Bryan, general manager of Acme Finishing Co., in Chicago, is current president of the Chemical Coaters Association. He has been treasurer of the Northern Illinois chapter for 10 years, and has served on the CCAI National Board since 2002. This year, for the first time, CCAI has partnered with Fabtech to host a Finishing Technologies Pavilion and Conference at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Nov. 2–4. We caught up with Bryan to get the details.


What is your involvement with CCAI?
CCAI has actually had a rather significant impact on my career in the finishing industry. It was as a result of CCAI trade shows in the early 1980’s that  I joined Volstatic and became a part of the powder coating industry. It was also at a CCAI dinner meeting at the West Michigan chapter that I had my first public speaking opportunity. As a result, I have been involved with both the local chapter and National board for many years. I have been the treasurer of the Northern Illinois chapter for about 10 years and have served on the National board for about 8 years, including my current position as the CCAI National President.

Tell us about CCAI’s new partnership with FABTECH.
In the past, FABTECH has hosted the largest trade show and conference focusing on the forming, fabrication and welding of metal products in North America. It is held every year, alternating between Chicago, Las Vegas and Atlanta, with Chicago the location in all odd years. They have traditionally drawn between 20,000 – 30,000 attendees from around the world and have more than 1,000 exhibitors. The only component that has been missing from the FABTECH event was how to properly finish the manufactured product after it was formed, fabricated and/or welded. In fact, at the 2009 FABTECH event in Chicago, 19% of the attendees came to the event looking for information on finishing even though there was not a finishing component as a part of that show. Several CCAI corporate members have benefited over the years by exhibiting at the FABTECH event to offer prospects a finishing solution. Now, CCAI is bringing a complete finishing solution to the FABTECH event. Starting in 2010 in Atlanta there will be a finishing pavilion for exhibitors involved with every aspect of the finishing process. This will include pretreatment chemicals & systems, application equipment, paint and powder booths, dry-off and curing ovens, conveyors, coating materials, testing equipment and other ancillary products. In addition, CCAI will be providing the technical content for the Finishing Technologies (FINTECH) conference, including more than 48 hours of technical programming. Imagine, there will now be a single event that provides technical solutions for manufacturers, starting with a raw piece of steel and ending with a finished product.

How did the partnership come about?
FABTECH has been looking for a finishing partner for several years. CCAI has historically been involved with finishing trade shows and conferences, but has not had the opportunity to partner with an organization like FABTECH. This is a very logical partnership that will benefit end users, custom coaters and suppliers to the finishing industry. The CCAI National Board felt that a partnership with FABTECH goes directly to the heart of our mission of providing education and training on finishing technologies.  FABTECH allows us to both continue to serve our current CCAI members and expand our reach to educate an even broader manufacturing audience about all finishing technologies.  This partnership is a perfect fit for CCAI, our members and the current FABTECH sponsors and audience.

What aspect of the partnership or show are you personally most proud of?
During these difficult economic times this event will definitely benefit attendees. Due to consolidation within manufacturing plants, an engineer is now responsible for multiple areas of the plant…maybe fabrication and finishing. Previously, that engineer would have to visit multiple events in order to gain the information they need to be more productive. That can now be accomplished at one venue. CCAI has always focused on education; we are not interested in promoting any single finishing technology, but rather want individuals to have the information they need to make the right decision on finishing for their manufacturing operation. Now, an individual can gather the information he or she needs at a single show and conference, whether it is about forming, fabricating, welding and/or finishing!  This is a partnership that truly serves the best interest of all those involved in the finishing industry.

How is a Finishing Pavilion and Conference at FABTECH going to benefit the finishing industry?
Over the past ten years, more manufacturing has moved overseas and significant loss in the U.S. finishing market was felt by the entire industry.  Coating-only shows in the U.S. have seen a steady decline in attendance and over the years exhibitors continued to say that they want to see more manufacturing attendees on the show floor.  That is exactly what FABTECH will deliver.  CCAI believes that this partnership will give a much larger audience opportunities to learn about every aspect of finishing than a finishing only event.  For our OEM and custom coater members in the finishing industry, FABTECH delivers both the quality finishing education CCAI has always provided at shows along with providing a much broader conference and show floor that directly impacts the many manufacturing operations our members have in their plants.  This is a win-win situation for both the users of industrial coatings and the suppliers to the industry.

We hear CCAI has several new chapters in development. Can you tell us about them?
This is also one of our proudest accomplishments in recent years.  CCAI has started new chapters in Las Vegas, Portland, and Southern California in the past six months. There is also a new chapter developing in Seattle and perhaps several other west coast locations.  When you consider the economy and how many associations are struggling today, the fact that CCAI is successfully launching new chapters is remarkable.  It shows that the industry is still hungry for knowledge and information.  The local chapters within CCAI are a unique and vital aspect to the success of CCAI; they are our foundation. The chapters allow for the educational benefits of CCAI to be shared at the local level. Our chapters typically sponsor between 4 and 10 educational functions each year. These functions include presentations by industry speakers, plant tours and technical symposiums.  Social networking events are also a vital part of our chapters.  We are excited to seeing the growing interest in both our local and national education opportunities.  .

What other services is CCAI developing to serve its members and the finishing industry?
The CCAI National Board is currently reviewing several new services related to education and training for the industry.  The information super-highway is so fast these days that we are looking at ways to provide information to members faster, easier and more efficiently.  However, our main focus will remain on providing quality educational content for the industry and supporting our local chapters and their programs. 

What do you see as the future role of associations like CCAI?
I have always believed that CCAI is a unique association. We have been serving the finishing industry for 40 years now (2010 is our 40th Anniversary).  We do not promote nor sell any specific technology or solution, but rather educate end users and suppliers on current and new finishing technologies. Our goal is to provide unbiased information to the membership that allows them to produce and manufacture better products.  I believe that it will be important for CCAI to continue to grow and enhance our partnership with other associations that complement our mission. The new incoming CCAI National President, Sherrill Stoenner (Pneu-Mech Systems) will continue to look for creative ways for CCAI to bring additional benefits to our corporate, custom coater and individual members.  I believe an association like CCAI is more relevant and needed now than in the past to help members manage the overwhelming amount of information available today while providing the education and training our members need.