Minding Your Own Business
One shop powder coats aluminum extrusions, another anodizes parts for an electronics component and a third shop plates zinc-nickel onto brake parts. An electrocoater runs hundreds of automotive parts through its tanks daily, and yet another polishes decorative components to a brilliant shine.
In addition to being all connected to the finishing industry, there is another common thread that holds all of these shops and their owners and managers together — they are all running a business.
The bottom line is that you need to make a profit, take in more than you spend and, hopefully, the margins work in your favor. Keep the roof over your head, keep the lines running and keep the employees coming back every day. Simple process, yet utterly complex and devoid of any standard playbook.
That’s one thing I learned when we started running the Products Finishing Top Shops Benchmarking Survey program almost six years ago. No matter the finish — liquid or powder, plating or anodizing — these were business owners who were cutting payroll checks each week and, hopefully, they got one, too.
In addition to giving survey participants detailed data on how other shops similar to theirs were performing each year so that they could compare their own efficiencies and processes, the benchmarking survey also opened my eyes to the necessity of having a follow-up to the annual surveys. It’s one that allows shop owners and managers the ability to converge and share insight into what made the best finishing operations in North America hum like well-oiled machines.
The thought was this: what if we brought together the best finishing operators into one room and let them learn from each other how to best run their facilities, bidding process, HR and hiring practices, marketing and sales efforts, customer relations programs and more?
What if we brought them all together and peer spoke to peer on best practices and best ideas on running a finishing operation? What if a shop from Massachusetts met a shop from Southern California and they formed a friendship and mentorship that was mutually beneficial?
That was the thought process behind the formation of the Products Finishing Top Shops Executive Summit, which will debut Oct. 20-22 in Indianapolis, Indiana, next year. We had heard for years that shop owners and managers wanted a place to exchange ideas and meet others in the finishing industry, so we have spent considerable time planning an event that we think will be well worth the admission price.
The Products Finishing Top Shops Executive Summit will invite platers, anodizers, liquid and powder coaters, ecoaters, polishers and anyone else who finishes a part in the North American manufacturing process. The speakers will be shop owners and managers who have agreed to share their best practices with the industry. We will have panel discussions led by these same owners and managers, and roundtable breakouts where specific topics will be discussed and shared, such as job bidding, workforce development, technology and financial forecasting.
And, oh yes, we’ll take the time to honor the Products Finishing Top Shops from the 2020 survey, as well. Imagine Oscar night for the plating industry. Picture in your mind holding the Top Shops medallion on a stage in front of your peers, getting the recognition you so richly deserve after spending the last six months battling nitpicking customers and pulling your hair out dealing with small fires every day. It will be a time to honor the best of the anodizing, plating and liquid and powder coating industry, all under one roof, and all under one feeling of cooperation.
And, as if sharing best practices and networking wasn’t enough, we are also planning a unique program to run simultaneous to the peer-to-peer education programs. We are inviting the top OEMs in North America to attend the Products Finishing Top Shops Executive Summit and letting them invite certain finishing operations to meet with them during the conference to discuss possible business arrangements.
Imagine speed dating for the finishing operation. Well, not exactly, but OEMs will have access to a database of all of the finishing operations attending the Products Finishing Top Shops Executive Summit. A few weeks before the conference, we’ll allow the OEMs to peruse the list of attending shops and read about each of those shop’s capabilities and processes. From there, the OEM can use our registration system to select which finishing operation they would like to meet with at the conference for a sit-down discussion of each other’s wants and needs. We’ll provide the meeting space. The shops and OEMs will provide the handshake agreements.
We hope that you will feel as excited about the Products Finishing Top Shops Executive Summit as we are. One way to get a jump on attending the event is to take the Products Finishing Top Shops Benchmarking Survey for both the anodizing/plating and the liquid/powder sector when it opens Dec. 1. By taking the survey, you will get a huge discount on the conference registration fee. If your operation is selected as a Products Finishing Top Shop, you’ll get an even larger discount.
The goal is to help North American shops get better at what they do and become more profitable. If that is important to you, then take the survey and plan to be in Indianapolis next October because I say this in the most respectful way possible — you need to mind your own business.
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