All posts by Associated Finishing

Quality Manager – Rachel Holt

AFI would like to introduce Rachel Holt
as our new quality manager as of April 2022.

She has been developing into her
role since January of 2021 working as a
quality technician throughout our facilities.
Rachel was referred to AFI by a
friend and intrigued to become a part of
our team because of our family culture.
Rachel has shown excellent motivation
to grow and learn in her career leading
her to develop strong relationships with
both customers and colleagues.
Rachel is a native to Mankato, MN. She
graduated from Minnesota Valley Lutheran
High School in Courtland, MN.
After high school, Rachel attended college
at Bethany Lutheran College where
she obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in
Business Administration. Her previous
jobs have included managing teams and
processes in customer service.
Rachel’s aspirations with Associated Finishing
Inc. mirror the top qualities we
were looking for in a Quality Manager.
Her attention to detail has been a staple
to our production team. Rachel will
oversee all quality issues that may arise,
determine the root cause, complete corrective
action cases, and also document
and manage the data collection on any
given issue.
Rachel will play a pivotal role in
continuing our ISO 9001certification
and continually improving
our quality management system.
She was very involved in improving
our quality system in the
months leading up to the most
recent ISO audit and through
this process she got a in-depth
look at the strengths and opportunities
our quality system.
While she admits she has much
yet to learn, we are excited
about her willingness to push for
success into the future.
Rachel’s goals within her position
as Quality Manager are to develop
new processes that will help
the company as a whole improve
customer quality and satisfaction.
She believes Quality Managers
need to be able to act on their
observations and make strategic
suggestions about how to uphold
quality standards and improve
the accuracy of outgoing shipments.
They’re strong leaders who can
motivate and train their team with relevant
feedback and helpful suggestions.
Overall, Rachel believes that quality is
one of the most important aspects of
the industry and she is very committed
to helping this department grow!
Outside of being a Quality Manager,
Rachel’s favorite activities include exploring
nature and hiking with her dog.
She also loves kayaking down the Blue
Earth river and spending time with family
and friends.

Continuing the Legacy — Extreme Custom Powder Coating

Extreme Custom Powder Coating has been servicing the industry since December 2000. Located in Blooming Prairie, MN, the original owner, Greg Peterson (and wife Linda Peterson), had a vision to serve southern Minnesota with quality affordable and dependable coatings. Greg, being a national go-kart racing champion, had enthusiasm and drive for everything he did. In the mid ‘80s Greg traveled to California to purchase a new kart motor. During that trip, he was introduced to powder coating firsthand. Greg thought the concept and durability of the coating was extraordinary. It was something that stuck with him and later developed into his entrepreneurial dream.

For many years Greg worked factory positions and although he was fulfilled, he desired to do more. It was then that he and childhood best friend and kart racing companion Jim, designed a business plan for Greg to achieve his powder coating dream. Greg’s plan was to primarily service the dirt track racing community and area fabricators. The dream soon took off, like high octane racing fuel. He was coating for Shryock Racing Components out of Joice, IA. His relationships paved a foundation to network and promote the capabilities of his ever-growing business. Greg owned a dirt modified car, driven by the legend and best friend Mark Noble of Blooming Prairie. Soon after, he got into Elko Speedway, owning a thunder car for champion Conrad Jorgenson.

All the while he was mixing business with pleasure at the racetrack and area fabrication companies were taking notice as well. With spending more time in the office, he found himself running much more than race car chassis. His mother, Barbara Peterson, stepped in as his secretary which became an integral role in the business. With all this activity, Greg was quickly outgrowing his small beginner shop. This led him to building a new facility on the north end of town in 2007.

With stable ground to stand on industrially, Greg was drawn into custom coatings and building hot rods. He had a vision, the shop, and resources to promote powder coating to high-end consumer in the street rod world. Greg was a part of the Minnesota Street Rod Association, Gopher State Timing Association, and Goodguy’s Rod and Custom Association. His builds were featured in Hot Rod Magazine, Car Craft Magazine, Super Rod Magazine, Street Trucks Magazine and Gauge Magazine. His work and creativity were recognized and awarded Builder’s Choice through Goodguy’s and he eventually became a judge at their events. Greg was right where he wanted to be personally and professionally.

It was early summer 2013 when Greg was suddenly diagnosed with Leukemia. He pressed on determined to beat the disease. Ultimately, Greg passed away 6 months and many treatments later. He had been in remission from Leukemia, but side effects of the treatment caused trouble. Greg left behind his family, friends, and his business.

The Peterson family had no choice but to step up and carry on Greg’s legacy. They knew they still had a great staff to employ, and many customers to service. With immeasurable strength, Barbara, Greg’s mother took control of the finances. Tiffany, Greg’s daughter, was dedicated and had worked side by side with her dad for six years prior to his passing. She learned quoting techniques bed side in LaCrosse where Greg was treated for cancer. Greg’s wife Linda stepped in as President and CEO supporting Greg’s vision. The staff of 8, were incredible, and forged ahead without their leader.

Eight years as well as a 20-year anniversary milestone had passed and the team decided it was time for change. Linda and Barbara desired retirement and Tiffany desired more for the company, but after eight years, did not want to pursue that alone. At this time, Tiffany met Ted and John at AFI through mutual contacts. After many meetings and keeping in touch with Ted, the Peterson family felt that the culture of AFI really matched the core values of Extreme’s. Extreme wanted their employees to be in good hands and to continue to grow through AFI’s support and resources. It was a sign from heaven, on October 1st, Greg’s Birthday, that the owner of Extreme Custom Powder Coating Inc. and Associated Finishing Inc. came together to close on the sale of the business. The Peterson family celebrated looking forward to retirement and a fresh start on career opportunities for the whole team.

Extreme Powder Coating is situated in a 16,000 square foot facility. They host a manual trolley system that glides parts through a two-stage iron phosphate wash system. With an IonTech spray booth and batch oven up to 42’ in length, they can handle a wide variety of products. The site also offers a 35’ self-reclaiming blast system installed in 2016. Extreme handles large jobs, custom high end jobs, and small projects for anyone off the street.

AFI and Extreme Powder Coating plan to keep Greg’s legacy alive and well for many years to come!

A New Venture in North Carolina

 Associated Finishing has officially expanded beyond the borders of Minnesota for the first time in our history. AFI Carolina, is located in Statesville, NC about forty-five minutes north of Charlotte. The opportunity to start a production facility popped up in North Carolina and it was attractive because of its growing industrial market, existing customer base, and close support of some business partners. Starting a facility outside of a day’s drive from Mankato is new to us and comes with its challenges, but it is a step in the future of our growth.

AFIC was officially started January 1st of this year. The original jobs in the door were painting screw heads, off-road truck equipment, and miscellaneous parts for a local OEM. The current equipment is set up best to cater to metal fabricators and OEM’s needing a durable industrial finish that flashes at their customers. The knowledge of over 60 years in the finishing industry in the Midwest will ensure that the Statesville area will have proven system for high performance coatings for years to come.

Housed in a 10,000 sq ft building in the Statesville’s industrial park, the facility is outfitted with two paint booths, a 20’ blast room,  two 12’ ovens, and a  16’ spray-bay. The building is set up to both powder coat and liquid paint staying consistent the company’s vision to always remain as flexible as possible in our production capabilities. Starting small, the production team had three employees that were working parts through the process. The production throughput has been ramping up all year and AFIC has now grown to six full time production employees. AFI’s QC manager Collin Schreyer relocated to the area to lead the team while maintaining Quality Coordinator responsibilities for all plants.  The plan is to keep growing steadily, adding capacity in both equiment and employees, as stronger relationships are built within the area.

Congratulations! John Kapsner Retires from AFI

The year 2021 ushered in a brand new chapter in Associated Finishing’s family history. John Kapsner, our long-time   financial manager and ownership partner decided it was time to sell his interest in AFI and spend more time fishing, enjoying grandchildren, and traveling. We congratulate John on his retirement, wish him well on his endeavors, and thank him for his years of service.

We are excited to announce that John’s retirement created the opportunity for long-time AFI leaders to purchase shares and enjoy the benefits and responsibilities of business ownership. Our leadership team of Jammey Harroun, Mick Rykhus, Matt Miller, and Ryan Kapsner were able to purchase John’s shares along with present owner/president Ted Schreyer. Schreyer comments, ”I’m so glad we were able to keep the company closely held rather than selling to private equity which is so common now days. This team has helped make AFI what it is today and they deserve the opportunity to own it. It’s a credit to the team that we were able to pull this off.  We’re still the same company with the same commitment to our customers, now more of us have skin in the game.”

Ted went on to comment, “John Kapsner has done a great service to this company and we’ll miss working with him. He was our banker in the 1980’s and joined us to manage our administrative functions in 1988. We’ve had a great run with him running administration while I ran operations. We bought out Chuck Klammer in 2009 and he’s been a perfect partner. It’s bittersweet that I won’t be tending to AFI on a daily basis with John anymore, but I’m excited to have this team with me as partners. While they’re young and energetic, they bring a wealth of experience and knowledge of the finishing industry.  Congratulations John, we hope that you enjoy a long and exciting retirement!“

Pretreatment Application & Controls

AFI is always trying to evolve to become a better company and the pretreatment process before painting is no exception. Metal parts are pretreated by using a chemical bath that etches the surface and applies a performance boosting coating. The application equipment and controls of this process are the keys to a consistent, high performing final coating. AFI is continuing to upgrade the process with new technology and relationships with vendors. How are your parts pretreated? That depends on the size and quantity of your order to determine the most efficient way to complete the pretreatment.

Tunnel Multi-Stage In-Line Washer

AFI uses the PEM Spraylean system to clean and pretreat smaller, high volumes of parts. The system’s modular design and flooded pumps make it more efficient than the traditional washer systems and it is placed along the conveyor to automatically wash parts as they pass through. The stages are easier to maintain and can be physically moved and adjusted as needed. The parts pass through these stages with high pressure nozzles applying cleaner and pretreatment solutions followed by rinses to prep for coating. The keys to keeping the baths maintained are the temperature, cleanliness, and concentration of the chemical in the bath. To maintain these parameters, AFI uses a combination of manual checks, electronic monitoring and automatic pumps. The concentration is monitored electronically and automatic pumps add cleaning chemi-cal as needed to always stay within the optimal range. We also manually check the titrations of the baths once a shift to ensure that the monitors and pumps are working properly.

SprayWand System

AFI uses the PEM SprayWand system to clean and pretreat larger or lower volume runs of parts. This sys-tem is a manual operation with a pressure washer type wand to apply the water and chemicals needed to pretreat the part. This system can be utilized to apply as many stages of cleaning and pretreatment as nec-essary to finish the job. It gives the operator the freedom to move around the part and fully pretreat the hard to reach areas. In this setup, the chemical is pumped out of the drum and added to the high pressure water to create the correct solution. The concentration of the chemical is controlled using patented orific-es that inject the chemical downstream from the pump. To verify this concentration, the solution is sprayed into a bucket and then titrated to check that the orifice is still allowing the correct amount of chemical through the wand.
If you would like to read more about pretreatment application check out Ted Schreyer’s fea-ture in Powder Coated Tough Magazine January/February 2019 Edition

AFI in the Community

Over the years, AFI has had the opportunity to work with local leaders on projects for the community. One recent project that we powder coated was the “Unity Totem” created by artist Julie Dempster. It is a change of pace to go from industrial finishing to powder coating one-of-a-kind pieces, but it is fun to see the results of these incredible projects!

The Unity Totem is located in multiple locations across the cities of Mankato & North Mankato including Sibley Park. As described by Julie “It acknowledges the first Greater Mankato inhabitants with “Welcome” in Dakota at the top. Throughout the piece, the word “Welcome” is inscribed in the majority of the 40+ languages spoken in Mankato. The Unity Totem is meant to educate and remind park visitors that the neighborhood is home to diverse cultures. It also gives neighborhood residents validation that their culture is integral to Mankato’s past, present, and future.”

Officially Retired!

Alan Baer has officially retired from AFI and has moved on to the next stages in life. He has worked at AFI for the past 28 years as the quality manager and process engineer. Alan has been a dedicated manager that played a large role in the company that AFI has become over the years. Alan planned to retire on June 4th, but decided to retire early when the COVID-19 pandemic started up. Since retiring, Alan has been busy working on projects around the house and spending time with family.

 

Alan enriched many lives around AFI throughout the years and he will be greatly missed! Congratulations Alan!

 

We Are Open!!

AFI is still up and running through the COVID-19 pandemic. We are continually decreasing lead times while holding to our tight quality standards. We are taking all necessary precautions to keep our employees and customers safe through new social distancing practices, increased cleaning, and updating our sick policies.

Contact us right for any new or existing projects you would like to have quoted!

New RollSeal Door

 

The latest update to the Litchfield equipment is a RollSeal door that has been installed on the large batch oven.  We replaced the old metal double-door with this “garage” type RollSeal door and have been impressed with the improvements.

This is a unique improvement that AFI hasn’t tried in the past, but has a few advantages. The first advantage is that this door seals the oven much better than the conventional doors. The pliable fabric of the RollSeal is pushed against the oven door frame by the pressure inside of the oven. This covers all of the small cracks in the frame creating a better seal.  The improved seal not only saves us money on the gas bill, but also helps keep the temperature more even throughout the oven.  This allows us to feel confident that especially long parts are being baked evenly. The second big advantage is that the door can be opened and closed remotely, just like a garage door.  This advantage allows the operator to stay on the fork lift and moving the load around while the door is opening.  It also reduces the amount of time that the door is open letting heat escape because the operator isn’t spending time jumping on and off the forklift.

We will continue to look for opportunities in the future, big or small, to improve our process and equipment!

 

Improving Our Reliability

EOS—Entrepreneurial Operating System— is a business managerial system that gives a company the framework to create a clear vision, simplify processes, increase accountability and uncover issues. AFI was first introduced this system in early 2018 and started to implement it’s principles through-out the rest of that year. Implementer Joe Paulsen, led us through the first full year of the program and guided us through streamlining our departments and processes. He challenged us to set new types of goals and to fight the temptation to go back to our “norm”. The ground level of the system is based on weekly “perfect” meetings in which there is no time allotted to tangents or story-time. The meeting is focused on finding issues in the company, solving them, and holding someone accountable to the solution.

 

The result has been a contagious culture of improvement. 2019 was the first calendar year for AFI to use the system to drive towards our goals. While we didn’t hit all of our goals, we can see that the collection of new data, putting people in the right seats, and continually improving the company culture will drive us into an improved future. EOS has pushed us to spread responsibility throughout the company and take on challenges that face each department with more focus. That focus will improve the product that AFI puts out on a daily basis and increase our reliability to our customers.