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Coated Coil
Wednesday | 13 September, 2017 | 12:54 pm

Mutual support

By Corinna Petry

Paint manufacturer helps key distributor and fabricator to showcase visually pleasing, long-lasting finishes

September 2017 - A manufacturer of paints and resins suited for metal coating applications is so involved with key customers in different regions that it gladly co-hosts a grand opening and helps clad the new facility about which that celebration takes place. The customer is so certain of the quality of the coating that it wraps its building in the product as timeless advertising.

This mutual admiration society is formed by Duracoat Products Inc. of Riverside, California, and Flatiron Steel, with locations in Greeley and Colorado Springs, Colorado.

“We are a family owned and operated metal roofing manufacturer. We produce panels in house—with roll forming, CNC press brakes and shears—for the agricultural sector and for commercial and residential architecture,” Flatiron President Lee Smith says.

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Flatiron Steel, in its expanded space, roll forms metal panels into building roofing, siding and other architectural features.

Although this company has been in Colorado for 11 years, there are affiliated companies across the West owned by Smith’s siblings.

“Colorado is a popular state to move to,” says Smith. “The oil industry is growing, [general] industry is growing. We have experienced double-digit [sales] growth nearly every year.”

Until 2017, Flatiron Steel produced coated building panels and roofing from a 20,000-square-foot plant. “In our last facility, we were at 90 to 100 percent production capacity. There was no room for movement,” he says.

So the company built a 37,000-square-foot production plant and showroom, purchased three additional pieces of equipment and expanded the workforce.

“We don’t have outside salespeople,” says Smith. Business activity is “primarily attributed to word of mouth.” Flatiron is part of a group of companies with four locations. “I own the two in Colorado, I am part owner of one in east Idaho and my sister owns one in Montana. As a roll former, we service a 150- to 200-mile radius.”

The affiliated companies have worked with Duracoat for 20 years. “Their support along the way with product availability, the engineering to support us, plus marketing, have helped us grow our business and they are a crucial partner,” Smith says.

All of the metal on the exterior of the new shop “has Duracoat paint on it. It shows what can be done with metal. We put all the products outside [the building]. A lot of people think that metal can only be used in agricultural or commercial buildings. But [coated products] add value and are aesthetically pleasing in any residential and light commercial applications.”

People, Smith continues, “are visual by nature. The new building went up last August and September. When they walk through front door, people say, ‘Wow!’ I think the use of Duracoat-painted features has helped a lot. It makes presence more known within our community.” It helps that the new location is along a major highway yet, “within the architectural community especially, our facility shows them what can be used for roofing, for siding and even for interiors.”

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The new facility features a showroom with a kiosk that itself has Duracoat painted features.

He credits Duracoat with being “a great partner and we’re lucky with their team.” The coatings supplier even helped to underwrite a portion of the grand opening expenses.

“We are here for the long haul,” says Smith. “Our company is young, our employees are relatively young. We are part of the community—we are here to educate people about the product, develop trade for the future and provide service.”

Cool pigments

Kevin Ebert, vice president and general manager for Duracoat, calls Flatiron Steel “a very cherished customer.” As for the coatings in use throughout the new plant, “They chose to use our silicon modified polyester (SMP) and XT 40-S (Ceranamel). As a specified supplier, we have an obligation to deliver quality product on time to the coil coater, as well as supporting Flatiron with technical information and data as they need it,” he says.

“We believe our resin system for coating is a superior product. From a physical standpoint, it is harder and more flexible than standard SMP in the market, differentiating it from the competition.

“We are in tune with the green movement,” Ebert continues. “The EnergyStar program has requirements for cool pigmentation. We incorporate cool pigments into the colors. We try to help partners like Flatiron Steel and their customers meet EnergyStar standards.”

All the chemistries that Duracoat sells have been engineered in its research and development center in Riverside. Dr. Mike Hong, founder and owner of Duracoat, “was a purist of paint chemistry,” says Ebert. “He was looking to guide internal chemists for coil coating that ensures long life, color and gloss in performance.”

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The new facility features a wide and long production plant for different stages of forming, cutting, packaging and order fulfillment.

Team marketing

Typically, when a customer specifies paint grades, “they use their own sales and marketing team, and are backed by the performance and warranty we issue. They are quoting on jobs today that may not hit until next spring.” When Duracoat initially communicated with Flatiron Steel, “we talked about sales, marketing and technical support. After they opened the new facility in Colorado, they extended an open house to their customers and we picked up their tab for the luncheon.”

According to Ebert, “This has been a fantastic relationship, great from Day One. We expect to work hard in maintaining it for many years to come. Flatiron’s people are great to work with, and they are our friends.”

Duracoat has similar relationships nationwide and in Canada with customers that specify its brands of paint and resins.

“When we are introducing ourselves to a customer and let them know about our company and product, it doesn’t end there,” says Ebert. “The support and partnership is ongoing. It shows in forms of customer appreciation and in technical and quality assurances. We do a lot of testing and we share the results with the customer so they can use that as a tool to help them with their business.” MM

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