Medina Plating Corporation


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February 16, 2015 Issue

The Most Powerful Name In Corporate News and Information


Zinc Plating and Coating for the Auto and Truck Industry


Shawn Ritchie


Medina Plating Corporation


Interview conducted by:

Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine, Published – February 16, 2015


CEOCFO: Mr. Ritchie, there is a long history at Medina. What is the focus today?

Mr. Ritchie: We are focused on supplying quality products to the auto and truck industry. We do zinc plating, zinc alloy coatings and powder coating for the auto and truck industry.


CEOCFO: What types of products does that include?
Mr. Ritchie:
Most of the coating that we do for automobile, you basically do not see it. That is the unfortunate part of our industry. If you look under the hood of a car or truck, you’ll see a lot of tubing in there. Tubing is usually coated with zinc, zinc nickel type coating. If you look at the wheels, all the wheels are being lightened up. They have holes on the side of your rims. You see the calibers on your cars, so break calibers are done in zinc nickel or zinc. Under the bodies of the cars, there are brackets and different parts of the cars that are actually powder coated or eCoated. They are plated and those are the three main coatings that we have in the auto and truck industry.


CEOCFO: Are there different types of coatings and formulations? What sets one company apart from the other for this industry?

Mr. Ritchie: When we bought this business in 2000, it was a small company focused on zinc plating. What separates us from 90% of our competitors out there is that we have invested a lot of money in technologies, meaning the zinc alloy type products and the product that is harder to do. Not just an ordinary company can do zinc, zinc nickel or zinc iron. In our facilities, we have three x-rays that x-ray parts and solution that we run. We have an AA, which is atomic absorption, in our lab. That is a $75,000 piece of testing equipment. There are normal plating shops out there that do mom and pop type operations. They do not want to invest in that type of capital just to do coatings. We have about half a million dollars in just testing equipment alone that we have purchased in the last ten years. That sets us apart from most of the industry.


CEOCFO: Are you testing new formulations or how they work? Why do we want zinc/iron or zinc/nickel instead of zinc?

Mr. Ritchie: When they did away with hexavalent chrome in cars, everyone went to trivalent coatings. Which is zinc with a chromate layer. What happened with the new coatings are that they are not as protective as the old coatings. What the auto industry had to do was figure different formulations to get a better product to keep it from rusting. They found that alloys are better than just a zinc product. There are different types of coatings you can utilize to keep parts from rusting.


CEOCFO: Are you creating the formulations? Is the end customer telling you this is what they want and you now have the capability of putting it together? Where does Medina Plating fit in?

Mr. Ritchie: We look at a lot of different chemistries. The zinc processes themselves, we do not formulate. We purchase from our German supplier, Atotech, which is one of the leading suppliers for our chemistry. They have a great research and development facility and they work in combination with us on different products through out the world. What we have done on the passivate side is develop our own chemistry. Mr. Tait Krejci will research it and try to improve upon it. We are not in the chemical business – we just try to test all the products out there and figure out what product is the best that we can run. If there is a way to improve upon it, we do. Mr. Krejci has developed two different types of chemistry in house that we use to sole source for our own needs – we do not sell the products or sell them out to the industry.


CEOCFO: What gave you the confidence to make the investment to know that the industry would follow through and want what you are doing?

Mr. Ritchie: I did not come from the plating realm; I come from the government contracting side. When I purchased this business, there were seven employees here. I looked around and saw how most of the companies operated and I said I wanted to take a different approach to. I wanted to take an approach of quality first, not cost. What we have done in a twelve-year period is grow a market for us. We currently have over 75 employees and about 150 thousand square feet, soon to be close to 200 thousand square feet after the first of the year. That allowed us to sell a quality driven product instead of a cost driven product. That how we have grown our business. It is quality driven.


CEOCFO: Will quality always win?

Mr. Ritchie: I just kept looking at all the auto and truck recalls in the headlines and I said sooner or later, the folks in the auto industry have to step up and say listen; we definitely have a quality issue. We cannot get the cheapest product out there to make it work. That was my belief from day one and to this day. If you give them a quality product, it’s still a cheaper product in the end because by the time they recall the product back in house and redo the product it is going to cost less in the long run. When I sold it, or tried to sell it, to the auto industry and oil and gas industry, I always stressed that we are not going to be the cheapest game around. Test our products against everyone else’s and see if it compares. That is the focus we still have.


CEOCFO: Would you tell us about the expansion that you mentioned earlier?

Mr. Ritchie: In the last two years, we have actually expanded three times. Last year we purchased a 60 thousand square foot building that joins us on the back of our properties. We installed a $2.2 million zinc alloy line. Six and a half months after we got that one in, we started our $5.5 million e-coat and powder coating line that is being installed right. That will be up and operational in March of 2015. That is going to create another thirty to forty new jobs in this region just for these new lines. In the meantime, we are acquiring another 40,000 square foot building that is close to our properties. That will create another ten jobs in our facilities.


CEOCFO: What is the powder coating and why is the time to start that now?

Mr. Ritchie: I took the same approach I did for the plating side – I looked around to see what shops were doing e-coating and powder coating. I saw what the needs are. One of the biggest challenges coming up is the NTSB is going to requite that frames on cars and engine cradles are going to have a fifteen-year requirement for rust. They are really concerned with rust applications. My thinking has always been if you stay out in front of the market and stay in front of the things, you are going to succeed in whatever it is that you do. That’s the approach that we did for the $5.5 million line. We didn’t take one loan out to start this line. The equipment is paid for, so we just have to cover our operating cost. This puts us in a very competitive situation.


CEOCFO: Is it difficult to find qualified people for your staff?

Mr. Ritchie: In Medina, it is considered an upper middle class city and we do have manufacturing here in Medina. This day and age with everyone getting involved in computers, I have seen it make younger folks lazy. We have people that come into the facility and the first thing they ask is how much do I get paid and where can I sit down to do it. They do not want to touch things unless it is computer related. It has really made it difficult here and some of the other manufacturers around the area. To the south of here, you can make over a hundred grand if you are a skilled machinist. There is just not the young people getting into this market and that is why we are going to continue to move stuff out of the country unless we get young people back into manufacturing. It is a dying industry.


CEOCFO: How do you find people?

Mr. Ritchie: My wife, Tait (VP) and I, constructed what we call the Fun Factory. It is a 12,000 square foot area for our employees. We have an indoor basketball arena, party area and arcade room. We try to do stuff for the folks that work for us. We are all family here and we try to take care of everybody. That facility is set up for parties. My philosophy is if you can give someone a thousand dollars, they are going spend it and not even remember where it came from but if you send them on trips, they are going to remember that for life.


CEOCFO: What is the key to evaluating new equipment and manufacturing techniques?

Mr. Ritchie: It is my gut that is usually telling me what to do. I try to stay up on the markets by reading papers, articles, following the news and seeing the problems that people are having around the world. My thing is if there is a problem, I do not like to hear people complain about it. I tell our folks if there is problem, come with a solution to fix it. Do not complain about the problem, it is not going to change it. That is my approach to business. If I see a problem out there, like I mentioned with recalls on the cars, I look at that problem and see what I can do to make a change. I could just jump in line and say a company is doing things wrong and not changing it, but if I can find a way to fix their problem, that is what I try to do and that is when I look at new equipment. We have tested probably four different products outside of the plating arena this year with my other companies, looking to solve problems for other people. When I see a problem, I look at it as an opportunity instead of a problem. That is probably where I get most of my ideas. I try to fix someone else’s problem and if it is a piece of equipment or technology that we do not have or something we can invent to help that problem, that is what we do.


CEOCFO: Put it all together, why choose Medina Plating?

Mr. Ritchie: The biggest thing for Medina Plating is you come to meet our facility and folks and we are going to tell you from the get go if we can do it or not. We are not going to BS people into getting jobs in here and then fall down on the job. We are going to look a product. We are going to say here are the things we see good about it, here are the things we see bad. We tell our customers from the get go, we are not the cheapest, we might be able to do it, we might not, let us take a look at it and if we can do it, we will give you a quality product every time. Are there going to be problems? Sure, but every time we tell our customers we are going to do something, we do it. We tell all of our employees that if you are going to do something, do it and make sure you make your deadlines. We have clean work areas and when we bring a customer in, we say to them, please come visit our facilities. Compared to any other shop out there, we really take pride in our facilities. We have floor cleaners here and you are not going to see that in a normal plating shop. We strive to make a perfect product.


“When I sold it, or tried to sell it, to the auto industry and oil and gas industry, I always stressed that we are not going to be the cheapest game around. Test our products against everyone else’s and see if it compares. That is the focus we still have.” - Shawn Ritchie


Medina Plating Corporation


Shawn Ritchie







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