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Platers/Painters Profile: No Order Is Too Tall for Paramount Metal Finishing


Reginald Tucker

Paramount Metal Finishing, a New Jersey-based finisher, leverages capabilities, expertise, flexibility, and problem solving to its advantage—and that of its customers.

Its finishing processes are thoroughly complex, and the depth of its services is surpassed only by its technical prowess. But the magic formula for repeatable success at Linden, N.J.–based Paramount Metal Finishing is comparatively straightforward: take on the most demanding and difficult jobs imaginable—projects that some finishing operations wouldn’t dare tackle.

“Bring in every job that nobody wants,” was the mandate that company vice president Michael Fuschetti relayed to his sales team back in 2000. It was during that time—in the throes of the infamous telecom bust—that Paramount Metal Finishing decided to aggressively expand its marketing efforts beyond electronics-dependent sectors. This strategy entailed aggressively pursuing the military sector and specialty industrial markets.

Among them: military, particularly medium- and large-caliber projectiles, mortar components, electronic components, and vehicle armor. “We have the staff and systems to handle the special requirements for working on these programs and dealing with governmental entities,” Fuschetti noted.

Medical (surgical) equipment is another example. These specialized instruments require a high degree of reliability and lot control. To that end, Fuschetti’s team has developed systems to handle many small lots with detailed documentation and control.

Then there’s Paramount Metal Finishing’s base of industrial customers—those OEM manufacturers who require high service requirements and difficult-to-finish components. For this group, the company is able to engineer solutions and build dedicated equipment for special customer requirements.

Rounding out the major markets served is computer/telecom—those providers of cable and cellular communication components, main frame computer parts, and connectivity devices. These industries typically utilize Paramount Metal Finishing’s single-source capabilities for plating, anodizing, painting, powder coating, and graphic (screen printing) capabilities.

At a Glance

Paramount Metal Finishing
1515 West Elizabeth Avenue
Linden, N.J. 07036
Tel: (908) 862-0772
Fax: (908) 862-9477
E-mail: finishing@paramountplating.com

Principals: Vincent, Michael, Richard, and Dean Fuschetti
Driving philosophy: Embracing change and continued improvement in all facets of the operation.

 

“What we look for are sophisticated customers that have very high requirements,” Fuschetti explained. “These customers do not necessarily prioritize price as much as they prioritize the ability of a finisher to meet their requirements and production specifications.”

All this plays to Paramount’s strengths. “It’s all about capabilities, customer focus, flexibility, and quick turnaround,” Fuschetti said. “Our single-source capabilities are a competitive advantage in this market.”

Playing at this high level, however, requires a well-disciplined mindset. Consistently and reliably meeting the needs of those quality-minded customers to which Fuschetti refers requires that Paramount Metal Finishing continually invest in its business. Among other things, this allows the company to further streamline operations, automate processes, and boost production efficiencies. In addition, increasingly demanding specifications from its customers are driving the company to develop more customized finishing solutions, which in turn presents opportunities to upgrade equipment and diversify its repertoire of services.

Case in point: In the last two years alone, Paramount Metal Finishing invested $2 million in an adjoining facility in Linden (Plant #3). The extension was upgraded with an overhead conveyor paint line and three chain on edge powder coating lines. The facility also includes four paint and powder coating booths as well as state-of-the-art robotic spraying equipment. Another example: Paramount Metal Finishing allocated $1 million in a paint and powder coating facility—Carolina Metal Finishing—in Bishopville, S.C.1 According to Fuschetti, the company’s investment strategies reinforce its belief that in order to succeed in today’s competitive environment, you must be nimble.

Expansion, plant re-engineering, and modification are tasks that come naturally to Paramount Metal Finishing, as the company handles much of the equipment design process internally. (Of course, it can’t hurt when you have in-house process and chemical engineers readily available.) “We design our own chain-on-edge paint lines and conveyors, and we have the ability to build specialized equipment,” Fuschetti said. “We also have an on-site wet chemistry lab for process controls, and we do our own analysis—something that has become a requirement from our customers.”

The capabilities don’t end there. Paramount Metal Finishing employs a fully equipped prototype plating room from which “all our big processes come out,” Fuschetti stated. The finisher’s 65,000-square-foot facility also boasts an in-house lab to handle various materials testing—such as salt spray, taber abrasion, adhesion, and thickness measurement—as well as general R&D efforts. For good measure, Paramount also provides statistical controls and lot traceability back to a specific barrel, shift, day, or time.

Paramount Metal Finishing’s overall service offering has likewise grown and evolved. Fuschetti reports that his company used to be 70% plating and 30% paint and powder coating. Today that ratio is almost reversed. “We’re probably 60% paint and powder, and 40% plating,” he added. The company is also conducting feasibility tests involving UV curing, vacuum coating, and vapor deposition.

Solving Real Problems

Having all these capabilities at its disposal not only benefits Paramount Metal Finishing. From a customer’s perspective, it means having access to a finisher with the technical know-how and imagination to provide solutions to tricky challenges. This ranges from handling a job spec that calls for multiple finishes to cleaning and preparation of hard-to-plate metals—all in one location. “We have the ability to provide solutions to complex problems because of our understanding of plating and painting,” Fuschetti explained. “We also have the ability to build lines to satisfy different industries.”

One recent challenging scenario involved a particular manufacturer’s need for detailed maskings for a slew of cast iron pump housings. The supplier was seeking an alternative to the traditional iron phosphate treatment typically used for cast iron parts, but it couldn’t get around the rust issue. Not only did Paramount Metal Finishing work with the customer on developing appropriate technical specifications for the part, but the finisher also devised a method that effectively pretreated the inside of the pump housing while powder coating the exterior, and it still met the necessary performance specifications.

In an e-mail to Paramount Metal Finishing, the client offered his appreciation:

I was advised today that Paramount dropped off all of our pump housings (second largest casting for Paramount). One week! Thank you—terrific work. This means a lot to our production folks. Please pass along to your production department that the ‘yellow’ customer is very pleased. Thanks again.  —Jim

Paramount’s customers aren’t the only ones benefiting from the finisher’s detail-oriented processes. The company’s closely measured methods have also resulted in significant internal improvements, particularly in the areas of energy savings and materials conservation. Citing increases of 20–30% in material and energy costs over the last 18 months alone—as well as some chemical prices that have gone up by triple digits—Fuschetti relies heavily on the European manufacturing model, which puts a strong emphasis on automation and a fierce focus on lean manufacturing. (He also advocates adherence to the 5S Continuous Improvement Principal.2)

“A focus on automation and efficiency can reduce those costs while increasing your productivity,” Fuschetti added. “To that end, a lot of our growth has been in automation and automated processes. That’s really the key right now.”

Of course, all this dovetails together with addressing the myriad environmental issues finishers face today. “When you use less wet paint, for example, you minimize VOCs per product,” Fuschetti noted. “That not only has a positive environmental impact, but it also reduces cost.”

Outlook

In light of the current global economic predicament, Fuschetti—who represents the company’s second generation of ownership3—is concerned about the slowdown in spending that he’s seeing on the industrial side. At the same time, he is encouraged by prospects in the energy sector, as well as a resurgence of computer and telecom activity. Similarly, he’s seeing signs that point to the stateside return of finishing projects that were previously outsourced overseas.

“The China experiment is kind of over now, which means we’re likely to see more ‘on-shoring,’” Fuschetti said. “OEMs, as they begin to rationalize their core business strategies, are starting to realize that the cost of going offshore was actually higher than they expected.”

That’s not to say that the domestic finishing industry won’t see a reduction in the number of overall plating and coating operations. Fuschetti theorizes that manufacturing is going to take the same course as agriculture—meaning there’s going to be a lot less people in the business, although those who remain will be more productive. “In the metal finishing industry I think there’s going to be attrition as to the number of shops; the ones that are left are going to be larger or more specialized.”

So, how does Paramount Metal Finishing figure in that scenario? Paramount’s track record in successfully navigating the rough economic seas of past downturns provides the company with the confidence that, moving forward, it will face future challenges in that rigorous spirit of preparedness. And the finisher has good reason to be optimistic. According to Fuschetti, Paramount Metal Finishing has grown about 15% each year for the last five years—well above the industry average. He attributes much of the company’s ongoing success to its dedicated workforce, particularly the management staff.

In the short term, Paramount Metal Finishing is looking toward the next challenge: achieving NADCAP certification within two years. The goal clearly reflects the company’s intent to garner more airline/aerospace finishing work, thereby boosting its existing stable of end-use markets served.

For Fuschetti and company, the path is clear. “We’re always focused on the next boom.”

Notes

  1. Carolina Metal Finishing, located at 547 South Main St., Bishopville, S.C., 29010.
  2. 5S (Japanese) is a method for organizing a workplace, especially a shared workplace—like a shop floor or an office space—and keeping it organized. The key targets of 5S, which advocate workplace morale and efficiency, are as follows: Phase 1—Seiri (Sorting): Going through all the tools, materials, etc., in the plant and work area and keeping only essential items. Everything else is stored or discarded. Phase 2—Seiton (Straighten or set in order): Focuses on efficiency and promotes work flow by setting processes in an order that maximizes efficiency. Phase 3—Seiso (Sweeping or shining): Systematic cleaning or the need to keep the workplace clean as well as neat. Phase 4—Seiketsu: Standardizing work practices or operating in a consistent fashion. Phase 5—Shitsuke (Sustaining): Refers to maintaining and reviewing standards.
  3. Paramount Metal Finishing, a family-run business, was started by brothers Vincent and Richard Fuschetti in Newark, N.J., in 1956. The business moved to Linden in 1983 to support the booming PC industry.  

 

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Aerospace  •  Defense & Military  •  Editorial  •  Electronics

 

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