Top Shops and the Chase for Excellence

Electroplating survey runs through December at pfonline.com.
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The pursuit of excellence is everyone’s dream goal, be it personal or professional.

We want to be the best person we can be, the best parent to our kids, the best friend to someone in need. The same goes for those in the professional world: we want to do our best and be our best, whether it is selling widgets, curing diseases or coating a part.

Very few reach excellence in our lives, but it’s the reason we get out of bed at 4:30 a.m., especially if you are John Cutchin at Palmetto Plating (I should know, I slept once in his spare bedroom above his garage and felt the shake of the garage doors lifting as John hurried off to work in the wee hours of the morning).

Those in the finishing industry are nothing but chasers of excellence. They test, they inspect, they grind, they polish, they try any way they can to get a better finish for their customers, who often don’t realize the demand that finishers put on themselves or their teams.

Excellence, therefore, should be rewarded. It should be honored and appreciated. It should be hoisted up on everyone’s shoulders and carried around the town square to the town bar for drinks, like a winning coach of a championship team.

We think so, too. That’s why last year we undertook a grueling assessment of determining which finishing shops across North America were the closest in their pursuit of excellence with the Products Finishing Top Shops Benchmarking Survey. We received several hundred responses to our 40-some-question survey that delved into all the particulars of finishing technology, performance, business strategies and HR/training. We asked questions some people in the industry had not even thought of, asked for percentages and tabulations that took some by surprise and we culled it all down into a statistical formula that gave us a comparative look at what the Top Shops in the industry were doing, and how they were doing it.

We kick it all off for 2016 as we again launch the Products Finishing Top Shops Electroplating Benchmarking Survey, which gets underway December 1 at pfonline.com and carries until the end of the month.

Last year we selected the top 20 percent of the plating operations and called them the Products Finishing Top Shops. Most were job shops, but some were captive shops that made the list, too.

We are looking for traits that exemplified how just good a well-run shop can be. We will delve deep into the numbers, pulled out the ones that industry folks said separated the good from the great, and we award points based on certain criteria. We then tabulate everything and run the numbers to get the top 20 percent—the Top Shops—as well as a mean and averages for everyone to compare themselves.

While only a few could claim the title of being a Products Finishing Top Shop, the benefit to all in the industry is still enormous. Anyone who completes a full online survey and helps us by providing information that will remain strictly anonymous will receive a thorough summary of the statistical analysis of the benchmarking survey, complete with breakdowns on all the questions and two additional reports broken down by plant size and plant type. Each of the three large summaries will show any shop manager or supervisor where their own shop stands in relation to their pursuit of excellence. They can compare their own set if statistics with that of the Products Finishing Top Shops in the top 20 percent to see where they are in relation to the mean and average.

When the survey is complete, we will highlight the Products Finishing Top Shops in an upcoming issue and present each with an award of excellence to share with their employees and management team.

Some will say excellence can never be attained, only chased. For those like John Cutchin, we know full well the chase usually starts before sun comes up. To honor those who come the closest to excellence is something that the Products Finishing Top Shops Benchmarking Survey is proud to serve. 

For more information, visit pfonline.com/zones/top-shops


Originally published in the December 2015 issue.