Powder coating, pad printing, and silk screening
All Powder Coat & Screen got its start as Garner Paint in 1974. The founder's son, Marc Garner, sold the business -- a longtime vendor to the Thrailkill family's All Metals Fabricating -- in 2002. The family consolidated the two companies into a single 86,000-square-foot facility in 2015 and changed the name in 2021.
"We have 10 employees for the powder coat business," says Thrailkill. "But they're All Metals employees as well. It's two different entities in terms of accounting books, but the benefits, payroll, and all that -- it functions as one business."
The original purchase made sense, Thrailkill says, as a value-add. "It was never making money," he explains. "It was always just losing a little bit. And then, a few years ago, we actually made money in that business. We realized that it's just a math equation of getting more product through the paint shop in order to be profitable."
Rather than reserve the company's powder coating resources for All Metals Fabricating's needs alone, Thrailkill began marketing the services to other shops and OEMs about a year ago.
"We noticed that anytime we've had to outsource stuff because our paint shop was behind, we would have to reject the product almost every time because of poor quality," Thrailkill explains. "That was when we were like, 'Man, we want other shops, other OEMs, to be able to benefit from the high quality that our particular facility offers.'"
The company added silk screening as a capability because their customers requested it. "And then, in order to improve that process, we added pad printing," Thrailkill says. "It's a more automated, consistent process. We include laser marking and sandblasting in the services offered by our powder coating side as well because they're finishing services."
While All Metals Fabricating continually invests in cutting-edge machinery and technology to increase quality and efficiency in its laser cutting, CNC punching, CNC machining, forming, and welding capabilities, Thrailkill notes that "there's not much you can do in the powder coating space other than invest in a line. We've looked at investing in an automated line, but we have a batch system now, and it's just difficult to justify the investment."
In addition to an ROI that is likely to be less than favorable, Thrailkill says that the company is limited in space. "We could invest in a line in the future, but acquiring another powder coating company that has one is a more likely scenario."
Challenges: Finding unskilled laborers to join the team. "It's an entry-level position and a dirty job," Thrailkill says. "It can be difficult to find people that want to do that work. And we take hiring very seriously. We don't just hire anybody. We want somebody that's committed to being here for the long term and who aligns with our core values, even if it's just an entry-level position."
Opportunities: Marketing All Powder Coat & Screen's services to OEMs and metal fabricators. "Just getting the word out that we're here and ready to serve a really high-quality product," says Thrailkill. "Whatever grows All Metals Fabricating grows the powder coating business as well." This means big opportunities in the alternative energy space, "because most of those parts get powder coated."
In 2022, the company's business increased 20 percent. "Going into a recession, and with all of the unknowns, especially big spikes in material costs, our goal is to do what we did last year," Thrailkill says of All Powder Coat & Screen's 2023 projections. "Hopefully, we'll beat that."
Needs: Simply put, more customers. "We've sent out a newsletter here and there," Thrailkill adds. "And we created different social media pages and whatnot to promote the business and raise awareness."