Celebrating with a Purpose

National Surface Finishing Day resonated with many shops and OEMs who celebrated the industry.


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Oscar Wilde told us, “Be yourself; everyone else is taken.” That’s a pretty strong philosophy, and one that I had in mind many months ago when I was brainstorming new ways to promote the finishing industry.

I’ve always thought there should be at least one day a year where folks in the finishing industry stepped back from their daily work and touted to their communities—and even to their coworkers—how important process surface finishing is to the manufacturing industry and life as we know it.

If finishing industry folks don’t do it, who will? And knowing how much criticism the industry often gets from environmentalists and regulators, it would be much-needed breath of fresh air for those who ply their trade in the coating sector.

So, I set out to make National Surface Finishing Day a reality, and spent several months planning ways that shops, OEMs and suppliers could inform their community, fellow business owners, the media and their own employees how vital the industry is to manufacturing and the U.S. economy.

Of course, I knew there could be some criticism from those who might view this as another National Hot Dog Day or some other obscure celebration picked from a hat to honor some far-fetched idea.

But, what the heck, Columbus set sail without a true idea of where he was headed, and look where he ended up. So Products Finishing put together a toolbox for anyone who wanted to celebrate the day on March 6, and almost 100 companies downloaded the tool kit, which included an event planner and checklist; ideas for attracting media attention; and talking points to share with internal and outside stakeholders.

Then, we stepped back and watched as many of those who decided to take part in National Surface Finishing Day celebrated better than we ever imagined.

F3 Metalworx, in Pennsylvania, held an open house for the public. They had about 50 students and 12 customers attend. The event included a tour of their facility that focused on their powder coating line and a new dustless blasting system for surface preparation.

Stylemark, in Minnesota, honored its employees with breakfast and took team photos of its finishing departments.

Aircraft X-Ray, in California, sent out flyers to their customers, city council and assembly representatives. Justin Guzman, president, said they had a fantastic turnout with banners and shirts for employees, tours and many great giveaways.

E.M.E., in California, invited their top 30 customers in for lunch and a tour of their facility. They also served lunch for their 90 first-shift employees as a celebration for all they do.

Arlington Plating Company, in Chicago, celebrated with its first shift anodizing team, gathering for an appreciation luncheon to mark the day.

MacDermid Enthone, in Michigan, opened their doors to students and the community as part of an effort to educate and inform them about surface finishing, and highlight the outstanding opportunities that a career in finishing can provide. Guests were treated to lunch and were able to mingle with the company’s chemical engineers to discuss the evolution of surface finishing.

There were also many stories I heard from shops and suppliers who felt that National Surface Finishing Day made a connection between their staff and the industry they serve.

Bryan Thrasher, controller at Coventya, says they hosted events with employees at facilities in Cleveland and New York. They served lunches and gave company presentations that showed where some of their processes are used, both in applications and major brands.

“We have been trying to connect our employees to a ‘purpose,’” Thrasher says. “We wanted them to understand that we are manufacturing more than just chemicals, and the importance of what they do for the surface-finishing supply chain.”

Maine finishing shop Silvex held a breakfast for their employees, and passed out National Surface Finishing Day shirts to everyone, while company officials spoke about the importance of what their company does for the manufacturing industry.

“The speech ended as ‘this company is my entire life, and you are part of my family,” says Dan Atkinson, a Silvex owner. “Be proud when you see those TV antennas our silver plate is on. Be proud when you fly and know our coatings are on those jet engines. Be proud when you know the White House has our silver on their silverware. Be proud that our coatings are on the best firearms. Be proud our coating was on a J-Dam missile that took out a major Al Qaeda leader. I taught my crew a little about the industry, and explained why we are good citizens, and why we are so important to the economy, and that pumped them up.”

Reading the dozens of responses I got from owners and managers about how they celebrated National Surface Finishing Day made it clear that the surface finishing industry has much to be proud of and more work to do. Every day that someone walks into a finishing facility should be a day of celebration for what they do because their work is extremely important to the manufacturing industry and the lives of citizens around the corner and around the globe.

The next year National Surface Finishing Day is March 4, 2020. Buy your donuts early.


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