A Conversation With Jeffrey Bell, Precision Finishing
Jeffrey Bell is a technical process engineer for Precision Finishing in Quakertown, Pennsylvania, and a member of the Products Finishing 40-Under-40 class for 2019. He helped lead the recent opening of a new 40,000-square-foot facility for subcontract finishing and secondary services, as well as supplying finishing materials for the company’s Chemtrol Industrial Compounds product line.
PF: What was the secret to having an expansion project go smoothly?
JB: I'm not sure any expansion ever goes smoothly, but staying 100% operational was paramount. We were committed to not disrupting the supply chain that was in place, so we moved assets one-by-one from the old facility to the new facility overseen through the IQ/OQ/PQ methodology. Once an asset was in, we would re-PAPP and officially relocate the project to the new facility and continue production. I would be remiss not to mention the dedication of the team and key leads who worked countless extra hours to get it done. We couldn't have done it without everyone's commitment to the company.
PF: How have you all handled the steady growth, from workforce development to new customers?
JB: There is a multitude of facets that make up this question and first is production excellence. Process flow and productivity were our main goals with the new facility. The floor plan was designed to improve turn time and movement, which has had a positive impact on our capacity to process. Beneath that umbrella sits our quality management programs, morning team huddles and weekly production meetings to make sure we are consistently and effectively delivering high-quality results. Secondly, we implemented our fundamentals program, which was formed out of the exemplary characteristics of our employees. We compiled them and created 12 key fundamentals that make Precision Finishing who we are. We get the entire company together once a month to make some food and talk about what the month's fundamental means to us personally and the company as a whole. Thirdly is our communication directive to our customers and community. We have committed to upgrading our databases and platforms to cloud-based computing (CRM, ERP) for faster and more accurate responses; our social media presence for easier access to our team; and creating spaces on our website for our customers and partners to learn more about finishing and why we love what we do.
PF: What’s the best piece of advice you were given, either personally or professionally, and who gave it to you?
JB: “If you are not excited every morning to wake up and go to work, then this isn't for you.” My uncle told me that and it might be the most insightful thing he has ever said. I'm kidding, but it is a pretty powerful statement when adapted to personal life too.
PF: What was your first job, and what did you learn from it?
JB: My first job was a big deal for me. The Cub Scouts had a summer program in need of counselors, so I took the job. Three short years later I was co-running an entirely separate program we designed specifically for older Cub Scouts to engage and encourage them to crossover into Boy Scouts. My friends and I quickly realized that older cubs were losing interest in activities that are supposed to incorporate all age groups, so we designed an advanced program to ignite some newfound interest. The entire experience there taught us accountability, creative thinking, personal management and a serious amount of relationship building as we are still in touch with some of those scouts all these years later.
PF: If you had $100,000 to give to a charity, which one would it be?
JB: Really tough question. I've never had $100,000 to give, so a donation of that amount would take some serious thought! There is an inconceivable amount of charities to donate to, but I think I can narrow in on an environmentally focused group. I can think of a multitude of mission statements that I could get on board with, but I would need to make sure that program expenses are well in the 90% range.
PF: What was your first car, and what is your dream car?
JB: A 1970 two-door, Dodge Dart Swinger, 225 hp leaning tower of power. Not much love with the true muscle car enthusiasts or many other people for that matter, but still my favorite car I've ever owned and still own today. The dream car can change day-to-day, but I have to admit I've been on a bit of a vintage GT kick, so somewhere in the Aston Martin DB-5 to Ferrari 250 GTO world.
PF: What leadership traits have helped you along the way?
JB: That's hard to say actually because I’ve never really centered on “you need to be a leader” mindset. Luckily, I have been involved in so many organizations with great role models, so I try my best to emulate the way they interacted with people and internalize that behavior.
PF: When you were 10, what did you want to be when you grew up?
JB: Not a clue.
PF: Night owl or early bird?
JB: Definitely a night owl.
PF: Favorite place you’ve ever lived?
JB: I lived in Hungary for a summer and it remains my favorite country I've ever spent time in.
PF: If you could trade jobs with anyone for a day, who would it be?
JB: Do I inherit their talents too? If so, I would probably take Lewis Hamilton’s job. I'd love to know what it feels like to win a Grand Prix, given Ferrari or Redbull have an off day.
PF: Where would we find you on a typical Saturday?
JB: My wife and I stay busy visiting family, traveling or out with friends.
PF: Best way to keep a competitive edge?
JB: I think performing at your best has a big health component, so staying somewhat fit is important to me, and a passion to learn new things. Diversifying your knowledge base opens doors for innovative thinking and alternative solutions that may be outside your immediate sphere of influence.
PF: What’s your secret talent that no one knows about?
JB: I sang opera abroad for a time.
PF: How do you motivate people?
JB: I jump in the trenches and work shoulder-to-shoulder with the team on any project I'm involved in. Getting our hands dirty is what we do and I think the best way to intrinsically motivate people is to show them how dedicated you are to the same endgame.
PF: How do you motivate yourself?
JB: You really don't have to motivate yourself when you love what you do, but when the struggles arise, having a clear goal path laid out in front of you with tangible checkpoints is my way of chipping away.
PF: Three greatest passions?
JB: Photography, motorsports and travel.
PF: If you could pick up a new skill in an instant what would it be?
JB: Writing computer code.
PF: Most unique office décor?
JB: Lego Millennium Falcon.
PF: Do you collect anything?
JB: My wife would say "too many things."
PF: What advice would you give to yourself 10 years ago?
JB: Do more homework.
PF: Word that best describes you:
JB: A lot of people would probably agree with ‘exhausting.’
An alternative product for passivation...
Masking is employed in most any metal finishing operation where only a specifically defined area of the surface of a part must be exposed to a process. Conversely, masking may be employed on a surface where treatment is either not required or must be avoided. This article covers the many aspects of masking for metal finishing, including applications, methods and the various types of masking employed.
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