Focusing on the "Yes," Achieving Success

Posted on Friday, July 8, 2016

By: Sharon Spielman

A focus on customers and its employees’ abilities to respond to new opportunities has allowed this Indiana-based custom powder coater to thrive. The addition of a fourth powder coating line will allow them to continue to offer industry leading quality and delivery levels.

With a company mission of being dedicated to providing customers with products of the highest quality and quickest turnaround at the best value, it is no wonder that Indiana-based Winona Powder Coating decided it was time to add another powder coating line to its business. To what does Winona attribute its success?

“We are successful because of our employees’ abilities and how we respond to new opportunities,” says Brian Bailey, president at Winona Powder Coating. “We have changed our focus to say ‘yes’ to every opportunity with a fair and valued price. By making the customer the focus of our organization, we have been able to continue our long tradition of industry leading quality and delivery levels while earning a reasonable profit.”

With end users such as Caterpillar, Hubbell, John Deere and Navistar, Winona does a high volume of heavy industrial parts and components between its two locations—one in Elkhart, Ind., and its newest in Etna Green, Ind., (see sidebar about Winona’s history on page 35). “We have grown the business significantly in the past several years with foundries, machine shops and heavy equipment manufacturers,” Bailey says.

So it is no surprise that the time has come for Winona to install a fourth powder line to its business. “We currently have two lines in our Elkhart facility and are adding a second line to our facility in Etna Green. Moving to the new facility in August 2013 allowed us to grow our footprint from 50,000 sq.-ft. to 167,000 sq.-ft. We are currently in the middle of the installation with an anticipated line start-up in Q3 or Q4 of 2016,” Bailey explains.

The line is built around the premise of doing greater volumes of heavy industrial parts and components, according to Bailey. “Having the new line will also free up capacity on Etna Green’s existing line to do more aluminum extrusions and components up to 23 ft. in length.”

The additional large capacity production line will feature a heavy duty I-beam conveyor, a five-stage wash system and an automatic powder booth. Once completed, the line will be able to accommodate parts up to 200 pounds per trolley, with the ability to handle extremely heavy components across several trolleys.

“At Winona, we are always expanding our service offerings in order to surpass customer needs,” says Bailey. “This additional fourth line allows us to deal with the challenges of castings and heavy parts throughout the coating, curing and packing processes. We will also be able to reduce lead times and offer quicker customer response.”

Winona can coat steel parts, gray iron castings, aluminum castings and aluminum extrusions, as well as many other surfaces.

How Do They Do It?

Due to the size and capabilities of its facilities, Winona possesses great operational efficiency, which they can pass on to its customers. They are capable of applying diverse materials, such as, epoxy, polyester, hybrids, vinyl, nylon, and plastisol. The custom coater stocks more than 50 different powders and can color match to meet specific color and environmental requirements. Winona started out as a fabricator in 1974 and transitioned to custom coating by 1979. When asked, “Why powder?” Bailey said that the durability of the coating, combined with Winona’s quality and service created a great business opportunity in the 1970s.

“Eighty percent of our powder purchases are concentrated with Axalta, TCI, PPG and American Powder. Axalta provides key technical resources, and PPG was instrumental in Winona obtaining John Deere’s JDM F17 certifications for steel, aluminum and castings,” Bailey explains.

Each of Winona’s automated lines has five-stage wash systems and auto-booths. Bailey says that the existing washer in Etna Green will soon transition from iron phosphate to zirconium. “We have a strategic relationship with our chemical supplier Americo and value them as a true business partner.”

He adds, “Our auto-booths are manufactured by Nordson and Gema. We added a state-of-theart Gema cylindrical booth to the Elkhart facility in December 2014 that has tremendously improved our labor efficiency.”

The heavy duty batch line will accommodate part profiles of 30' x 8' x 8'. It can facilitate extremely heavy parts with the use of the I-beam conveyor or with carts.

Bailey says they also offer small batch coating capabilities at each facility.

When it comes to masking, Winona is able to do all kinds. “We have one part from a large agricultural manufacturer that utilizes greater than 10 masks. We lean on EPSI and Echo for our masking needs.”

Winona also offers a range of other services. Both locations offer wheelabrating services. “A ‘white metal’ surface is great for accepting many paint types and promotes durability and strength in your final product.” The Etna Green plant offers abrasive blasting services for smoothing and cleaning a hard surface by forcing abrasive materials such as black oxide across it at high speeds. Also, fluid bed dipping is an option at Winona. This is a possible solution to coating difficult parts. It offers a heavy, uniform coating. The process is ideal for parts that need to be coated in tight corners and traditionally tough areas to get coating. Laser scale removal is also available.

Winona also offers other ancillary services. In addition to cleaning and coating, they also provide assembly operations as well as drilling, tapping, and packaging services. “We can also provide warehousing services and value added distribution.”

What's Next?

Bailey says their goal is to double the powder business from 2013 to 2018. “We will do this with the addition of new customers and valued certifications (JDM F17 and UL). We are anticipating an AAMA 2604 certification in Q3 of 2016.”

He continues, “We are also forming strategic partnerships with fabricators and retail customers to provide end-use solutions to consumers that will begin to take hold in the second half of 2016. We also have our own in-house pick-up and delivery service with drivers, trucks and trailers situated at each facility. We offer a drop-trailer program to high volume customers or to those with limited floor space situations in their own facilities. We are one of a limited few custom coaters that have the UL certification.”

It looks like the second half of 2016 is just the beginning of continued success for Winona.

Sharon Spielman is editor of Powder Coated Tough magazine. She can be reached at 847-302-2648 or via email at sspielman@powdercoating.org.