Client Success Story: Overcoming Challenges through Quality and Dependability
Every project presents different challenges, but in the powder coating industry, there is no room for error if you want to keep the customer! Advanced Finishing (AFUSA) has been able to solve problems that others in the industry could not, and as a result, it has earned them continual business with a large commercial fan manufacturer.
A large commercial and residential fan manufacturer
The company has a very high-end product with very exacting quality requirements that is sold to customers at a steep price tag leaving no room for error—simply put, the product must be perfect. Five years ago, the client came to AFUSA after going to several other companies that had been unable to provide defect-free finishes and challenged us with figuring out how to do it. Due to the geometry of the parts AFUSA receives from the manufacturer, the process that AFUSA executed with the woodgrain dye-sublimation finish took ingenuity, and trial and error, as it was very difficult to achieve the required defect-free finish.
What AFUSA did is utilize their expertise in finishing, coupled with our knowledge of engineering mixed with our creative abilities to come up with solutions. AFUSA developed a process with tooling, fixturing, and materials that enabled them to provide the level of quality the client was looking for. Since then, they have expanded their relationship with AFUSA to include standard powder coating, solid colors, and a broader product line beyond just the woodgrain.
There were stumbling blocks AFUSA President, Greg Yahn shared, “The physics of the process made it very difficult. Without getting into the details, the woodgrains printed on a two-dimensional film, and you are trying to put a two-dimensional film over a three-dimensional product. And there is just no way of doing it without getting wrinkles, and wrinkles are defects. So that’s kind of where the rubber meets the road.”
Despite those challenges, AFUSA was able to deliver a defect-free solution when others could not, which has not only solidified the relationship with the client, but AFUSA has grown them as a client over the past five years. AFUSA continually gets perfect scores on their scorecards for quality, delivery, and zero defects which has helped them maintain their trust. “We’re very responsive, we’re very proactive. And that has helped keep the company happy with us and working with us to deliver on their pinnacle product.” Yahn says.
AFUSA is “Finishing” One Project at a Time
Advanced Finishing USA (AFUSA) offers full-service custom powder coating and finishing to customers all over the globe. We coordinate all aspects of production from cleaning, pre-treating, and finishing to assembly, packaging, and drop shipping. Our purpose-designed 80,000 sq. ft. plant is equipped to efficiently handle applications of almost any weight, size, configuration, or quantity.
Our customers rely on us to get their product finished and right the first time at a competitive price. From finishing rubber cones to finishing telephone wires, we can do it all.
Finishing is applying the final coating surface onto a product. Although there are more parts to finishing like adding components, adding a label sticker, or a barcode. Our base may be applying the finish, but other core functions include labeling, stenciling, assembling packaging, and shipping.
There are two types of finishes — functional and static finishes. Functional finishes improve performance and static improves the appearance of the product. While there are many subscripts, AFUSA communicates and works with what’s best for a customer’s product.
We work with our clients to communicate and better their product and make it more efficient. “At AFUSA, we see ourselves as an extension of someone’s business. We want to help businesses reach their maximum product potential” AFUSA President Greg Yahn shares.
Advanced Finishing USA Celebrates 50 Years in the Erie Community
50 years ago this month, family-owned Advanced Finishing USA (AFUSA) was founded by then Penn State Engineer and Erie native, Walter J. Yahn. Walter foresaw the growth of the powder coatings industry and its potential contribution to manufacturing in the region. He established Advanced Finishing U.S.A. to develop a full array of powder coating technologies and capabilities.
In 1970, AFUSA became an official business in the Erie community; originally as Plastic Coating and Molding- with just a used pizza oven and a used powder coating gun. From these humble beginnings, AFUSA started doing business for local companies, with a few friends and high school students as employees.
Walter was an early student of Deming and the other pioneers of the Total Quality Management movement. He understood immediately the importance of customer focus, quality, and service. With these principles firmly rooted, Walter built his company into a leading powder coating specialty business, creating a reputation for quick response, customer focus, and uncompromised attention to quality. Today, the family-owned 80,000 square foot facility has served customers such as General Electric, Alstom, Mitsubishi, Komatsu, Westinghouse, Kawasaki, Disney, Bombardier and the US Military to name a few.
Remaining a family-owned business (almost all of the Yahn family has worked at AFUSA over the decades, grandchildren included), today the company is a full-service custom powder coating and finishing company. They coordinate all aspects of production from cleaning, pre-treating, and finishing to assembly, packaging, and drop shipping. Their purpose-designed 80,000 sq. ft. plant located in Fairview, PA, is equipped to efficiently handle applications of almost any weight, size, configuration, or quantity.
Throughout their history, they have always put the community’s interests first. Walter’s son, Greg Yahn, the current President of Sales at Advanced Finishing USA, passionately states “You have to support your community. Places like Fairview High School, Penn State Behrend, Presque Isle State Park, the Erie Zoo, and Hamot Hospital are local jewels. These are the important places that make the community worthwhile to live in, and they deserve our support. We were supported by the Erie community from the start, and we return that support to the community today. We support them by writing checks, providing services, working with the schools and students in the community to provide a better future, and supporting the environment we live in. The company would not be what it is today without the support and dedication from our community, and it is an honor to give back to that community.”
Community and Family Make AFUSA Tick
Advanced Finishing USA (AFUSA) has been a part of the Erie community for 50 years. Started as a family business by Walter Yahn, almost all of the Yahn family has worked at AFUSA over the decades, grandchildren included. In 1970, AFUSA became an official business in the Erie community; originally as Plastic Coating and Molding- with just a used pizza oven and a used powder coating gun. From these humble beginnings, AFUSA started doing business for local companies, with a few friends and high school students as employees, and eventually developed into the large-scale, international company we are today.
Throughout our history, we have always put our community’s interests first. Walter’s son, Greg Yahn, President of Sales at Advanced Finishing USA, shares that “You have to support your community. Places like Fairview High School, Presque Isle State Park, the Erie Zoo and Hamot Hospital. These are the important places that make the community worthwhile to live in, and they deserve our support. We were supported by the Erie community from the start, and we return that support to the community today. We support them by writing checks, providing services, working with the schools in the community to better the future, and supporting the environment we live in. The company would not be what it is today without the support and dedication from our community and it is an honor to give back to it.”
AFUSA has employed families from the community for decades. Greg proudly boasts, “As you see in our value statement, our community is listed in importance ahead of the business owners because, without community, there is no business.” AFUSA employees are a collection of families and are treated as such. Greg shared that “We understand that this is your job, and your family is your family. You can always find a new job, but you can’t find a new family.” To be accommodating to the lives of the people in the community allows for the growth and blossoming of the community itself. We look forward to continuing to serve our employees as well as our community.
Opportunities in Sublimation-Disperse Dye Printing
A-Tex Featured in Recent Resource Paper from the SGIA
Transfer dye-sublimation (dye-sub) and direct disperse dye printing continue to grow both in market share and new application opportunities. Smithers’ 2018 report, “The Future of Dye-Sublimation Printing to 2023,” projected the worldwide market for dye-sublimation printing would grow from $7.83 billion in 2017 to $8.54 billion in 2018, and continue at a 10.2% compound annual growth rate to a market value of $13.9 billion in 2023. The report identified five dye-sub application categories for end-users with garments constituting the largest market category by far, followed by visual communications, household, rigids, and technical textiles.1 A-Tex is excited to be included as a licensee of the Decoral System.
“Another area where dye-sub is growing is heat transfer decoration of powder-coated metal surfaces for architectural building skins and trim, signs, public art, awards, and promotional product installations. Italy-based Decoral Systems developed and patented its system for transferring dye-sub to powder-coated surfaces. Its Quality Decoral Gold ink and transfer system have survived three-year outdoor/sun exposure testing in south Florida, thus expanding the durability of dye-sub. One of its licensees is Archi-Texture Finishing (A-Tex) of Fairview, Pa. ALTO of the SH Group produces dye-sub transfer-printed coated aluminum panels for colorful architectural installations. “
To read this article in its entirety, visit the SGIA website HERE.
To learn more about A-Tex Finishing, click HERE.
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.
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
**This content can be viewed in its original form at https://www.eriereader.com/article/the-bloom-of-local-business