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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Introducing the DuPont™ Teflon® Pioneer Series featuring Bruce Nesbitt

Never underestimate the knowledge of a seasoned coater.  They can offer insight into the numerous challenges faced by those in the industry.  Their invaluable experiences and stories about the coating industry offer a view into the coating world and how it has changed over the years.  We want to give these prestigious Teflon® coaters an opportunity to share their successes, challenges and views on the future of the industrial coating industry. Through a series of interview questions we will highlight the long standing careers of devoted Teflon® coaters and their accomplishments in the field.  These pioneers in the Teflon® coating industry are early adopters of the coating and have helped to shape the way Teflon® has grown and evolved as a reputable industrial fluoropolymer. With the pioneers' vision and ingenuity, Teflon® coating continues to be regarded as the elite fluoropolymer of choice.

Bruce Nesbitt
"The endless possibilities of product improvement using Teflon® coating excites me"

Bruce Nesbitt is a leader in the industrial coating field.  His experiences over the years help to give perspective on the coating industry and how it has grown and evolved. In an effort to highlight some enduring coaters in the industry, we are presenting a series of interviews conducted with these highly regarded professionals. Our first Pioneer Series interview spotlight is on Bruce Nesbitt, of Orion Industries.  Please read on to learn about Bruce's story in the coating industry. 
Q:  When was your company founded?
A:  It was in 1964, in my parents’ basement.

QWho founded the company and why?
A:  I did.  While I was in the hospital recovering from a broken ankle, a friend brought me a magazine that had an article about LeMans racecars. The article discussed how Porsche used a special coating on its engine parts, helping to win the 24-hour LeMans race. Intrigued by what I read I sent away for some samples of the special coating, Molykote, and learned how to spray it on racecar parts.  That was the “primordial goo of Orion.”   I used my mother’s oven in the basement to cure the coating, and although those initial coatings did not involve Teflon®, I began my relationship with DuPont™ Teflon® shortly thereafter in 1966.

Q:  What was the first significant piece of equipment you purchased?
AAn air compressor and an electric oven. Both got worn out.

Q:  How would you describe the changes in the company now from when it was first started?
AFar more documentation now.  NO more collegial transfer of tribal knowledge.  We now document everything and bar code all labor and materials.  However, never have I found a way to lose money on a job and prosper, so we avoid losing jobs, or as the late Pedro Diaz of Boyd Coatings so eloquently said years ago, “Avoid dog customers.”

QWhat would you consider significant milestones in your company?
AMoving from the sixth floor of a building to a ground floor location in 1969.  In addition to a larger working space, I also made changes to expand the business.  I purchased two DuPont™ Teflon® LIA businesses, Fluorocarbon Company and Ekco Industrial Coatings. Ironically, Ekco had offered me a job in 1969 and by 1982 I was buying them.  In addition to these events, several staff members have added to the company’s growth, too numerous to mention.  This is a really unusual industry, so creative and clever staff have made all difference.

QHow has the coating industry itself changed over time?
AWow, much more regulation, especially government regulations. Heightened government regulations have made for fewer marginal coaters but have also increased overseas competition (especially for large housewares jobs).  The industry is more efficient, with tighter controls, allowing for more automation and electrostatics. 

QWhen did you get your LIA license from DuPont?
A: 1973 or so.

QHow has being an LIA affected your company?
AThe LIA status initially provided plenty of leads and assistance from the DuPont sales force.  Today, the LIA offers more technical assistance from DuPont when needed.  The LIA network is really much smaller but with many more good firms. 

QWhat is your favorite DuPont coating? 
A958G-303, 420G-104, and the 851 acid primer series, which we use on a consistent basis

QWhat excites you about the future of the coating industry?
AThe endless possibilities of product improvement using Teflon® coatings excites me.  I also look forward to the next phone call or e-mail with a very unique question about “how will Teflon® coating help my product do this or that.” After 50 years, I still get amped up over the new and next opportunity.  I meet the brightest folks imaginable with imagination and that’s great!
Left to right: Bruce Nesbitt, Mike Patterson, and George Osterhout of Orion Industries at the 2013 DuPont Plunkett Awards

We appreciate the time Bruce took to help us launch this interview series.  To learn more about becoming a member of the LIA network Bruce spoke of in the interview or are interested in telling your Teflon story, email

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