The Electrocoat Association Hosts the ECOAT14 Conference

While each afternoon offered a variety of workshop choices for attendees, evening activities provided a forum for networking.

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The Electrocoat Association's ECOAT14 conference was held April 22-24 at the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando, Florida. The event hosted attendees in the electrocoating industry, offering keynote presentations, seminars, workshops and networking opportunities.

Maureen Midgley, of the Henkel Corporation, launched the event Wednesday morning with her keynote address about the chemical industry's response to trends in the transportation industry. Following this, Matt Kirchner, of American Finishing Resources, gave a keynote speech titled, "Marketing for E-Coaters," which was said to be both entertaining and provocative. Ending the morning session was a panel discussion led by coating experts concerning advances in the industry.

Thursday saw more keynote addresses, the first by Joy Forsmark, of Ford Motor Company. Forsmark surveyed recent USAMP programs that have addressed corrosion challenges, such as the Magnesium-Intensive Front End Development Project. Axel Linneworth, of PPG Industrial Coatings, discussed the EU's REACH legislation regarding chemical hazard protection and assessment. Another panel discussion concluded the morning's activities, discussing advances in pretreatment.

While each afternoon offered a variety of workshop choices for attendees, evening activities provided a forum for networking. Industry suppliers hosted the evening venue to talk shop, respond to attendee issues and have some fun with caricature artists, magicians, a casino party and racing simulators. The Coatings and Cocktails session enabled casual and open attendee access to industry experts in the pretreatment, paint, equipment and filtration fields.

At the Industry Awards Banquet, several people were formally recognized for their contributions to the electrocoating industry and the conference. Jesse Taylor, of F&P America, received the Best End-User Paper Award. The award, which began in 1990, is given to electrocoaters who devote time and company resources to producing and presenting technical papers at the conference.

Three Brewer Awards were given at the banquet, recognizing standout individuals in the areas of paint and process technology, application of technology and market promotion of technology. Also having begun in 1990, the award takes its name from Dr. George E. F. Brewer, generally credited with the idea of electrodeposition of paint during the late 1950s while working for Ford Motor Company. Brewer championed paint technology, chemistry, engineering and market expansion during both his career and retirement.

Henry Austin, of PPG, received the Brewer Award for Paint and Process Technology. Austin has served 45 years in the industry, and was part of the team that originally conceived, formulated and commercialized cathodic electrodeposition coatings. In 1971, he formulated the resin and paint system for the first cathodic electrocoat tank. He developed and launched the first cathodic acrylic product for use on automotive wheels and parts in 1983. In 2001, he was a member of the team awarded for developing a substitute for lead as a corrosion inhibitor. These and other accomplishments combined with Austin's continued consultation with PPG's product development projects to result in his recognition at the conference banquet.

Jim Blankemeyer, of the MetoKote Corporation, received the Brewer Award for Application of Technology. During the mid-1980s, as electrocoating was becoming the preferred technology for corrosion protection in the automotive industry, Blankemeyer led his company's growth and globalization by designing, building, installing and operating new electrocoat lines.

Terry Giles, of the Henkel Corporation, received the final Brewer Award of the evening for Market Promotion of Technology. Holding various positions in the company for the past 33 years, Giles is currently the Global Business Development Manager and introduces new technology to the global marketplace, particularly next-generation conversion coatings. A 15-year member of The Electrocoat Association, Giles was the Committee Chairman for the ECOAT14 conference. In addition, he developed the pretreatment sections of the electrocoating seminar and the association's book, Electrocoat: A Guidebook for Finishers.