How long have you been in the business at TCMF and what is your role?
As a family business, I have been around it my whole life, but I spent two years in public accounting right after college, then I joined TCMF in 2010. I took over as President of the company in 2018.
Can you provide a brief overview of your operation?
Triple Cities Metal Finishing
has been in business since 1945. We run three shifts, operating eight barrel lines and six rack lines as well as powder coat and e-coat within our 125,000 sq. foot facility. We can handle the smallest pieces to large parts over 30 feet long. We have a depth of expertise in a variety of industries; including: automotive, aerospace, heavy equipment, electronics, office, military, and quite a bit of medical - which has certainly increased these last few months. We are committed to providing the highest quality products, at a reasonable cost, and in less time than our competitors, and we accomplish this through strong relationships with our customers, business partners, and employees.
What are the biggest challenges facing customers today and how do you help them overcome these challenges?
It comes down to staffing. Finding good people is not easy and we see talent acquisition as a major issue for our customers. There is a lot of competition for jobs because our area has witnessed expansion in business and industry but not an increase in population to accommodate the growth. In terms of helping our customers with this challenge, they can often fall behind in their production timeline due to these staffing and scheduling issues so we help them by offering added flexibility in our scheduling in order to keep them on track with the demands of their timelines.
You have made some significant investments in lab technology – tell us about those.
Lab testing is an important part of the process to ensure that we are providing coatings to meet or exceed our customer's needs. We take that seriously and have invested accordingly. We have a PhD chemist on staff, and we use high quality analytical equipment to leverage his expertise. We have invested in two X-ray fluorescence machines, an atomic absorption unit and most recently, an Ion Chromatograph.
The main reason for this investment is that we believe strongly that chemistry should never be a cause of failure.
There are a lot of variables in manufacturing and surface finishing that go into creating a high-quality end product. Many of those variables are harder to control for our customers, so if we can help them by controlling this one piece of it and deliver accurate analysis and a
they can depend on, that is a benefit we are more than willing to provide.
The other reason for the investment comes from our focus on being environmentally friendly. Many of the new greener products have had the stabilizers removed to make them better for the environment. As a result, they have much tighter operating parameters and it is important to be able to stay on top of that. Our investment in advanced technology lab equipment allows us to do just that.
Certainly cost is a factor, since Columbia has the
ability to manufacture products in house
with various reactions and reductions and then pass the savings along, but ultimately it comes down to the fact that
Columbia’s trivalent passivates
are superior products and offer consistent quality and corrosion resistance.
When we use them, they pass where others fail.
with yellow dye helps us gain opportunities. The salt spray hours are great, it’s easy to use and maintain, RoHS approved and always consistent.
What do you feel your customers can get by working with TCMF that they cannot get anywhere else?
Without a doubt, reliability and flexibility. We do whatever we can to help our customers and ensure their satisfaction. Every customer is important to us and we recognize their needs are unique, so if we need to develop a specific process just for them, we do it. If they need something expedited to meet a deadline, we will make it happen. They rely on us and we do whatever we can to help them meet their goals.
Where do you see the growth of TCMF in the next 3-5 years and how does the business partnership with Columbia Chemical connect to that?
At TCMF, we are currently seeing growth in multiple areas of our business. Moving forward, we will continue our strategic expansion into additional industries and will look to grow our business both organically and through acquisition (such as our previous purchase of C.H. Thompson Finishing). We will maintain our zinc lines to continue that service for our customers; but I see us differentiating more to meet industry demands. We have eliminated all chromates on the zinc side, and we will continue the use of Columbia Chemical’s trivalent passivates because they meet our RoHS requirements, deliver consistent results, look good and outperform in salt spray testing.
We discussed how COVID-19 has taken over the landscape. Though this has been an extreme situation, there is no shortage of ups and downs when operating a business in the surface finishing industry. What advice would you give to a manager?
Keep your head down, remain focused and the storms will pass. Be willing to adapt and look at decisions differently and don’t be afraid to make necessary changes.
Tell us a bit about your home life and what you do to keep a work-life balance.
Even though work is busy, family is important to me. I am married to my high school sweetheart, Becca, and we have four kids: Logan, 9; Lilyana, 7; Kennedy, 6; and Sloan, age 3. We are an extremely active family and we enjoy watersports - especially wake surfing. It is something the whole family can do together, even our youngest.