Looking for Another 40

Products Finishing’s 40-Under-40 recognition program seeks nominations.


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Forty is the old age of youth, Victor Hugo once wrote, and 50 is the youth of old age. The famed French poet and novelist had it just about right when he observed that the end of the fourth decade of our lives is a transformative era, one that often leaves many of us a tad confused about where we are, and even more perplexed about where we are headed.

The age of 40 is a time where we are basically about halfway between the end of our college days and the beginning of our retirement years, if we can all be so lucky as to think of 60 and beyond as the winding down of our careers.

When Products Finishing set out a few years ago to find the best and brightest in the finishing industry younger than 40, and recognize them for their achievements and possible future endeavors, it turned out to be an interesting way to take stock of who could be leading the finishing world some day.

We are taking nominations for the 2018  Products Finishing 40-Under-40 program, in which we celebrate the up-and-comers in the industry. Go to PFonline.com to nominate someone before April 1.

What does being picked for the Products Finishing 40-Under-40 list mean to those who were selected? I asked a few who we have touted as the best and brightest in the past to see what the reaction was amongst their peers.

“I received many emails, both from colleagues and customers, about this achievement,” says Chrissy Pullara from MacDermid Enthone. “It has given me more credibility in my position in the industry.”

Chase Lightner at TCI Powder Coatings says that the achievement in 2017 resulted in immediate recognition. “I had several potential customers that knew me before I called on them,” he says. “They recognized me from the Products Finishing issue before I showed up.”

John Mulder is president of Master Finish in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and he says the honor of being recognized for his achievements helped as he transitioned to leading the company, succeeding his father. “It has helped raise awareness of our company, and it certainly adds to my credibility when speaking to others,” he says.

Ben Hill, an electrocoat specialist with Brose Alabama, says being named a Products Finishing 40-Under-40 recipient was helpful both internally and externally. “In some ways, it validated my expertise through the company,” he says. “My local plant knew what I was capable of, but as a part of a large organization, it helped me stand out a little bit.”

Fernando Carminholi of SurTec, says he did not realize how big the award was. “Working in the field visiting costumers, I was surprised by being recognized by people that I didn’t have a direct contact with,” he says. “One of them surprised me by shaking hands when I got in his office and said ‘Congrats. Now you are known nationwide.’”

The goal of the Products Finishing 40-Under-40 program is obviously to highlight what the youth of our industry is doing, but it also is a way to encourage those picked to take on more leadership roles in the finishing sector, whether it be at the local chapter level in trade associations or on a national stage.

Tony Van Wyk, the finishing supervisor at Co-Line Manufacturing, said he sought out some of the other recipients to do business with. “We are aligning ourselves with like-minded vendors, and this recognition has helped show who some of these venders are,” he says.

Mulder is president of the Michigan chapter of the National Association for Surface Finishing, and his advice to young leaders in the finishing industry is to network as much as they can. “It will further your career, and help you in finding the career path that best suits and fills your individual strengths,” he says. “It is in your individual strengths where you will find the greatest success and fulfillment.”

Lightner encourages anyone younger than 40 to seek out opportunities to become involved in the industry. “Get in now,” he says. “We are in a graying industry, and within the next few years there will be massive amounts of turnover. For young professionals, that spells opportunities.”

Eric Davis, KVF Quad’s general manager, says being a recipient enhanced his involvement in the finishing community. “Being involved is never a bad thing,” he says. “In fact, being around people from the same or similar industries has offered us some of the most important feedback about our business.”

James Galvan from Valley Chrome says getting involved through networking is what helps the industry thrive and will ultimately help it survive. “We have a great industry,” he says. “Networking is a great way to expand your knowledge of the industry and become better at what you do.”

Pullara says she was surprised to see all the talent in the industry younger than the age of 40. “Being included in an elite group such as this has made me realize how much young talent is out there,” she says. “We should use this to help recruit more talent into the plating industry.”

Carminholi has some succinct advice on becoming more involved in the industry: “Don’t be afraid to have hands dirty. Be curious, and go check out processes by yourself. In the finishing industry, you have to be updated, because this market is constantly changing.”