So many events… so little time

NASF Palmetto Chapter 2022 Conference in Myrtle Beach, SC
Photo credit: Finishing products

Your business trips have exploded? Call it a COVID rebound if you like or maybe just a return to something close to normal – but you can’t deny that in-person business has made a comeback this fall. Now, there are people who are road warriors, and there are people who are more adept at working quietly from their desks, going through their to-do lists and checking off all the boxes. My natural disposition is posterior persuasion. Whenever I travel, I tend to show up at the airport very early. I double and triple check hotel reservations; I usually lose sleep the night before the trip, the first night of any trip, and then I finally start to feel like myself on the third day of any given trip. But, I find myself getting back into the groove. And since COVID has improved everyone’s comfort level with remote work, I find myself a little more comfortable when my office is the airport, hotel room, coffee shop – wherever I can. allow myself a few quiet minutes to write.

For a while there, we all wondered if the COVID quarantine with its forced uptick in Zoom meetings and remote business transactions would prove to everyone how much more we can do remotely – and to some extent, c is the case. Yet while some people have said the need for in-person travel will disappear, it seems our need for face-to-face interaction persists. There are so many things that can only be conveyed in person.

For the past 4 weeks I’ve been on a trip every week and each has given some sort of opportunity. Also, the relationships I’ve had with people over the phone and email have become so much more real and personal now that we’ve had time to talk in person.

My recent travels have taken me to the West Coast for the Metal Finishers Association of California events, to the East Coast for the National Association for Surface Finishing Palmetto Chapter Conference in Myrtle Beach, and several places in between.

In August, PF took a whirlwind tour of Indiana for some stories you’ll find in this issue:

  • The latest episode of our Top Shops Insider Column offers a behind-the-scenes look at Winona Powder Coating (Etna Green, Ind.), one of the Midwest’s leading suppliers of industrial powder coatings.
  • You will also find a report on the beginnings of Hoosier Coatings as a small batch operation and grew into a fully equipped 40 square foot facility in Nappanee, Ind.

A recent tour of D&K powder coating (Mankato, Minnesota) is the basis for an article about how the company grew its business from the ground up and gleaned recent increases in productivity and profitability from adopting a new ERP system from Steelhead Technologies (Brighton, Michigan).

electroless nickel, metal plating

Technical Director Brad Durkin welcomes attendees to the 2022 Electroless Nickel Conference in Indianapolis.
Photo credit: Finishing products

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the number of educational and networking events this fall that helped energize the industry. A good example is the recent electroless nickel conference held in Indianapolis in October. Hosted by industry alum Brad Durkin, Products Finish and Gardner Business Media, the event exceeded attendance expectations and the energy of the conference was palpable. It was a welcome return to a conference last held around 10 years ago and provided a deep and inspiring dive into how the finishing industry is changing and evolving.

“They’re the youngest band I’ve seen at one of these events,” Bill Fields, owner of commodity distributor Nickelman, said during the conference’s opening session. “The whole industry is changing and there is a new momentum.”

The event offered insight into all aspects of the EN industry, from material shortages and supply chain challenges to technology benefits and opportunities presented by emerging applications and trends in manufacturing. The event profiled a technology that has much to offer to evolving markets such as automotive, communications and electronics. Douglas Hughes of MacDermid Enthone Industrial Solutions summed it up nicely in his talk on “The Rise of Electric Vehicles, Implications and Applications for Electroless Nickel” saying, “If you’re not pursuing these opportunities, start now. It is better to arrive early than to be outside later to look inside.

All that to say, tons of exciting things are happening. It’s easy to get caught up in the negativity of the global 24-hour news cycle. And yes, while there are many challenges, there are also brilliant people who work every day to meet those challenges and help drive manufacturing forward as a whole. Stay positive, stay engaged, and may all your journeys be fruitful and inspiring. Good speed.


Landscape photo credit: Finishing products

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