The Intech Insider is designed to help readers stay in touch with the latest information & developments in the industrial coating industry. Stay connected with the Intech Insider!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Teflon™ Pioneer Interview Series: Steven Schwartz

QWhen was your company founded?
Plastics Consulting and Manufacturing Company was founded in February 1962.

QWho founded the company and why?
A: Sol Schwartz, my father, originally created the company as Plastics Consulting Company in 1962. Sol was a plant manager with DuPont in the first plant that produced Teflon™. He decided to start a company consulting for industrial businesses using plastics as a potential solution. Over time, as he couldn’t find people to manufacture the solutions that he developed, he figured he would start doing it himself. Thus, the company transitioned into “Plastics Consulting and Manufacturing Company”, or PCM for short. Since the beginning, and even to this day, our mantra is “solutions for the customer”. If we’re not doing that, if we’re strictly putting a coating on a part, we’re not doing our job. Our job is to provide a value added solution for the customer. That’s how the company was started and how it continues to this day.

Q: What was the first significant piece of equipment you purchased?
A: There were two significant equipment purchases. When Sol could not find solutions for his customers, he decided to provide them. He spent $300 in 1964 for a 12-inch cube oven and a $50 spray gun. He built his own spray booth from scrap metal, and that’s how he began spraying coatings. More recently, in 2014, we built a completely new plant, and, with the help of Intech, we purchased a 10’x10’x16’ 850° Precision Quincy oven. As far as airflow and uniformity, it’s as good or better than anything I have ever seen.

Q: How would you describe the changes in the company now from when it was first started?
A: Today, we are 100% focused on coatings-based solutions for our customers. A vast majority of those are fluoropolymer solutions. That transition to coated parts really took hold in the mid 70s. Prior to that, we did linings, injection molding, and machine fluoropolymer parts as well. Every day, the constant is that somebody comes to us with a problem or question or looking for a cost saving in his or her process, and we look to do it in a way that adds value.

Q: What would you consider significant milestones in your company?
A: In the late 90s, we narrowed our focus to the food processing industry. This was a very purposeful move because we saw food processing from a regulatory standpoint and the increased focus on food safety as a good match with our product line. It was a big turning point for us. Of course, the building of the new plant in 2014 was another milestone. We had a fire in part of our old plant, so we decided to level the facility and build a new facility from scratch. The opportunity to build this new facility and the focus on food processing opened up all kinds of efficiencies for us. It increased our capacity, we went to state of the art equipment, and we were able to design a better workflow that allowed us to be more flexible and more competitive.

Q: How has the coating industry itself changed over time?
A: From 1,000 feet up, the most significant change is the deep focus on sustainability. I think we have an obligation to use materials and processes in our business that support responsible environmental practices. I think that our customers are far more attuned to those issues today than they were 10-20 years ago. At the same time, with that in the background, our partners, such as Chemours, are coming up with new materials that perform even better in this environment, and not even just in the materials but also in the process technology. There’s a history of coaters, like me, isolating companies like Chemours. Those days are over in the U.S. We now work together as partners, which is advantageous in terms of protecting customers and delivering superior products and solutions that adhere to regulations. There are real implications and it’s not something we do to just pass paper on.

Q: When did you get your LIA license?
A: In the late 60s, a customer came to us who was an injection molder down south. They were having issues with sticking, build-up, and the process. We showed them that if they got a Teflon™ coating on the processing parts, they could run substantially quicker with lower pressures and less waste. Back then, DuPont liked that we were proactively going out to find problems in the industry. They offered us the opportunity to become an LIA, and of course we accepted.

Q: How has being an LIA affected your company?
A: It lends a certain level of credibility when we communicate with our customer base. The name speaks for itself. Perhaps the biggest impact is the closeness that it allows us to work with the Intech and Chemours teams. Whether it’s lead generation, technical support, sales support, or inventory management, it’s really one of those few truly symbiotic, vertical relationships that we see as a strong value-add. It also gives us a freedom to develop new markets and opportunities. The net result of that, which goes back to the original company’s DNA, is a very closely tailored solution for our customers’ needs.

Q: What is your favorite Teflon coating?
A: My favorite coating is the coating that works the best and provides the maximum value for my customers’ needs. You’re kind of asking me which of my children I love the most. I don’t have a favorite. Much like my children, there are some coatings that I like on some days more than others. We’re a big fan of the ETFE line. It’s extremely user friendly and provides strong value for many of our customers. The 421 coating line is also a workhorse for us. Finally, we’ve been impressed with some of the new water-based technology. For us, reducing or eliminating VOCs is a big focus.

Q: What excites you about the future of the coating industry?
A: It’s never ceased to amaze me, every day, a phone call or e-mail is initiated, where somebody has a problem that we can solve. Often, it’s the case that the customer doesn’t even know that this solution exists, even with as mature of a product as Teflon™ coatings. Mostly, it is just about educating them on the proper coating and the proper application. So, every day there’s a new opportunity that could be seismic in terms of the potential impact on our business. There aren’t a lot of industries that can say that. I’ve been doing this for 22 years now, and I remember when I started, that was one of my big takeaways.To this day, 22 years later, it’s still true.

Q: Is there anything else that you’d like to include that we haven’t covered?
A: Everything that PCM does is truly a team effort, from the guys on the shop floor, who in some cases are truly artists, to quality control, to the office staff, to the sales team, to the management team; it truly is a team effort that I am really proud of.

No comments:

Post a Comment