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AFUSA Featured in the Erie Reader

A diverse local economy begins with a diversity of local businesses. In order to be competitive in the future, Erie must present itself as a city where anything can happen for anyone — a place where the seeds of enterprise can germinate and grow. Spring is in the air as our annual Industry, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship issue drops, and with it we showcase the impressive array of business varietals that have sprouted up within our community. As their roots spread and take hold, it is our hope that they make Erie perennially a place to work, live, and stay.

Advanced Finishing

Disney. General Electric. Mitsubishi. Westinghouse. Kawasaki. Target.

These are just a few of the companies that Advanced Finishing U.S.A., located in Fairview, PA, has served as customers. The business was founded by an engineer named Walter J. Yahn in 1970 when he anticipated that there would be significant growth in powder coating and finishing throughout the region and beyond.

Walt started the company on West 12th Street with little more than a pizza oven and used equipment. Before long, this side project became a flourishing enterprise and he was able to upgrade from the pizza oven to, eventually, an 80,000 square foot plant with over 40 employees. He was an early adopter of the total quality management model — emphasizing not merely production, but continual improvement — and always stressed “customer focus, quality, and service.”

The unique powder coating process, which coats materials with a non-toxic and fireproof plastic powder, is thicker and sturdier than paint — and widely sought-after due the customizability of designs as well as its durability.

Today, the company is still family-owned, with Greg Yahn serving as president and Jeff Swanson as general manager. Advanced Finishing is also now the parent company of another, Archi-Tecture Finishing, which was founded in 2005 by Greg and Heather Yahn. It concentrates on a slightly different process that allows for the transfer of high-resolution images onto its finishes or even utilizing realistic patterns such as various woods, marbles, and granites.

From picnic tables and doors to lacrosse sticks and murals, powder coating gets more advanced and impressive with each passing decade and we continue to have one of its industry’s leaders right here in Erie County — something which would certainly make Walt Yahn proud.
— Jonathan Burdick

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