View our recent news and press releases highlighting our achievements and advancements in the coatings industry. We have completed projects relating to fuel cell coatings and thermal barrier coatings for corporate clients and unique challenges.
- DECC hand: Coating company's perseverance in diversification efforts, culture starting to pay off 8/291/2011
- Coater Banks on Non-Sticktoitness - Products Finishing Magazine 8/1/2011
- The DECC Company aids in the prevention of 500 tons of metal being sent to a landfill 7/15/2011
- DECC Company Diversifies With Proven FDA Acceptable Coating Application 6/21/2011
- DECC Company Implements Plex Online System to Improve Efficiency and Production Cost Effectiveness
- Hope Floats in Michigan Coatings Plant
- DECC Co. has been selected for the 2008 Best of Grand Rapids Award in the Metal Finishers category by the U.S. Local Business Association (USLBA) (PDF)
- DECC Co. has been recognized by Grand Rapids Business Journal as one of their Top 50 Automotive Related Manufacturers!
- DECC Co. voted Best in Class by Caterpillar.
- DECC Co. breaks ground with John Deere.
- DECC Co. running trials for heat resistant/heat deflective coatings.
- Fuel Cells are the wave of the future. Fuel cell coatings by DECC.
- Survival of the Innovative (PDF)
- Find out how DECC Company is keeping employees fit and controlling Health Care costs, 5/01/06.
- On DECC G.R. manufacturer dons a coat of innovation. Western Michigan Business Review, 7/26/07. (PDF)
- DECC Company becomes one of the fastest growing private companies per the Inc.com 5000 list., 8/20/07. (PDF)
- DECC Company does it again! Second year in a row, the only coating applicator to be listed on the INC. 5000 for 2008 (PDF)
- DECC Company receives honors from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation as one of 147 Michigan companies on the Inc.com 5000 list, 9/24/07. (PDF)
Click here to find out more about our environmental impact.
DECC HAND: COATING COMPANY'S PERSEVERANCE IN DIVERSIFICATION EFFORTS, CULTURE STARTING TO PAY OFF
By: Joe Boomgaard
When coating operation The DECC Company lost a major contract because a customer pulled out of an entire market segment in 2008, the company certainly felt the pain of a difficult economy. But by diligently working to stay top of mind with the customer, it demonstrated that persistence can indeed pay off.
Grand Rapids, MI - When the company completed a major expansion in 2007, it was in response to a contract with a major global manufacturer in the truck and heavy equipment market. The contract was supposed to put new equipment and new lines to use and provide a stable, long-term business for DECC, which was providing a specialized corrosion protective application for aluminum parts in diesel truck engines, said Fred Mellema, CEO of DECC.
A year into the program, the OEM decided to quit making diesel engines altogether. But rather than burn any bridges, DECC continued to work with the OEM as it wound down production of the engines. Mellema said his people kept in touch with the manufacturer in case new projects might come about — and they did this year.
Since 2010, DECC started a new line of business with the same OEM, only this time in their remanufacturing business and using an application developed by the OEM. Mellema said about 30 percent of DECC's business can be attributed to the new application.
"Now, we're looking at making a transfer of this technology from the diesel side to the automotive side. If we can look at some of the auto OEMs, that would be a fit for us," Mellema said.
The first two quarters of sales in 2011 have been the best the company has seen since 2007. Mellema said there's still no way to make any sort of long-term predictions in what's become a month-to-month reality. At the same time, costs for chemicals and coatings continue to rise. Still, the company added three new employees in the last two months despite the uncertainty.
After a "quiet" and "very difficult" 2009, the company has bounced back thanks to the company's use of whole systems software that eases the traceability of parts and processes, a broad push for market diversification and a ramping up of the company's marketing efforts, Mellema said.
When Mellema bought the company outright in 2006, DECC worked entirely with the automotive sector. The original diesel project was an initial step toward diversification. Today, only about 30 percent of the company's business is in automotive with the majority — about 60 percent — now coming from the diesel segment. The remaining 10 percent comes from a mix of industries, including food processing equipment, office furniture and medical devices.
The timing of the diversification efforts was fortuitous as the recession hit the automotive industry in 2008 and 2009. "Everything just came to a standstill. We knew automotive just dried up," he said. Key to the effort was building a team of engineers and focusing on becoming a better company from the shop floor to the executive offices, especially as it related to company culture. As the culture evolved, he said the employees were better able to use their talents and help the company develop and get into new things.
"Our VP of operations was instrumental in implementing this (culture shift)," Mellema said. "He said we needed to treat adults like they should be treated. They did not come to work to be told what they need to do. We wanted people who wanted to be here and want to do a quality job and put quality product out the door."
To continue that effort, DECC is beginning to seek work with the military. Many of the technologies in coatings and applications the company uses in the automotive and diesel sectors have applications that would fit for military vehicles and other areas, he said, noting the goal is to have the sector account for about 10-15 percent of the company's business. Rather than pursue the procurement side, DECC is working on promoting its specialized capabilities and identifying niches within the military.
Like many manufacturers, DECC also had to start selling itself and marketing its capabilities much more than in the past. The company developed a stronger website with a focus on search engine optimization, as well as did some direct communication with potential customers for the first time in the company's history.
"We've got the young guns in charge of this program," Mellema said of the website and other social media, noting that if Facebook and Youtube are where new purchasing people are searching for information, "then that's what we're going to do."
For example, the company has started marketing the remanufacturing side of the business by focusing on the amount of material that can be saved from the landfill. In the last year and a half, DECC's remanufacturing business has led to the prevention of 500 tons of material from ending up in the landfill, the company estimates. It has also started to talk about its own investments in a regenerative thermal oxidizer, which resulted in a 90-percent reduction in its VOC emissions, as well as its partnership with Hope Network to provide employment opportunities for disadvantaged persons.
Again, the marketing effort goes back to the company's culture. DECC's shipping coordinator had an interest and an expertise in marketing and a desire to grow within the company, so the management has him focus a portion of his time on that versus strictly focusing on shipping.
"We've got younger guys that are very hungry to do different things," Mellema said.
COATER BANKS ON NON-STICKTOITNESS
By: Tim Pennington, Editor
Publication: Products Finishing
When the DECC Co. (Grand Rapids, Mich.) went looking for a commercial-grade coating approved by the Food and Drug Administration to help garner a larger piece of the food processing, cooking and bakeware sector, it got more than it bargained for.
Grand Rapids, MI - DECC turned to Whitford Corp. (Elverson, Pa.), a company that has a four-decade reputation for its non-stick houseware products and large line of fluoropolymer industrial coatings, including Eclipse, Eterna, Excalibur, Fusion and HALO.
But while DECC took care of its commercial food processing and cookware needs with Whitford's Eclipse product, the company is also serving some of its more industrial clients with the same non-stick applications.
DECC Sales Manager Randy Schroeder says one of the company's industrial clients was not getting desired results from a rubber and metal mould until DECC decided to use the Eclipse coating on the material.
"The proof is in the performance," Schroeder says. "Although we knew it was for food products, its release properties are also great for industrial applications, too. That was very big for us and our clients."
The DECC Co. serves a variety of industries including automotive, diesel, aerospace, furniture, alternative energy, commercial food processing, medical and military. DECC's capabilities include electrostatic and robotic spray applications, surface preparation, rack coating design and fabrication, as well as assembly and packaging.
Eclipse is a three-coat, internally reinforced nonstick system developed several years ago. The ground coat contains blended resins and unusually hard materials, which the company says permit a far higher percentage of special reinforcing elements. The midcoat, which is a primer used in other Whitford reinforced systems, also contains the special reinforcing elements. The topcoat is rich in fluoropolymers, and is dedicated entirely to release, which gives it the nonstick characteristic.
Schroeder says the Eclipse brand puts out good numbers in Whitford's "Reciprocating Abrasion Test," which the company says is demanding because it duplicates the harshest conditions to which a pan can be subjected in the kitchen: scouring with a Scotch-Brite pad.
Whitford stops the test every 10,000 cycles and performs what it calls the "Dry-Egg Test" to see if a fried egg sticks to the pan with no additional release coating added.
Here's how it works: A fresh raw egg is carefully broken into the center of a nonstick pan preheated to 350°F, and cooked for 2.5 minutes. Then a spatula is inserted under one edge of the egg, and the effort to lift the egg is rated on a scale of 5 - 1 (5 = easy to remove, 1 = sticks to the pan). The test is repeated until the eggs no longer lift off with ease, at which point the nonstick is considered to have begun to wear off.
The company says that most internally reinforced coatings reached 20,000 cycles before showing signs that the egg was sticking.
Schroeder says the data provided by Whitford shows the first version of Eclipse went beyond 200,000 cycles, or 10 times the usual durability. Newer Eclipse data shows the test now exceeds 700,000 cycles while retaining its release effectiveness.
And as long as the substrate can handle a 700° bake cycle, the coating will work on virtually any substrate.
"Although this coating system has only been available for a short amount of time in relation to other coatings on the market, it is proven to be one of the best in the industry," Schroeder says. "As we work toward being a first option for potential customers when a quality, commercial grade FDA acceptable coating application is needed, we believe the Eclipse system makes the choice that much easier. It also helps that we are now one of only about 20 companies in the world that apply this coating system."
Not only is DECC on the short list of Eclipse coaters, they are on Whitford's short list of recognized premier applicators in regards to the quality application of all their products, as well. Recently awarded a plaque for maintaining consistently high standards in the application of Whitford products, DECC was one of only 25 coating applicators to receive the honor.
Whitford bills itself as the "makers of the world's largest, most complete line of fluoropolymer coatings," which are high-performance plastic materials used in extremely harsh chemical and high-temperature applications, such as in defense, automotive, aerospace, electronics and telecommunications industries.
Several years ago fluoropolymer coatings came under fire from environmental groups who claimed that perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) used to manufacture the coatings was turning up in blood samples in people, and also in some wildlife.
That prompted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to investigate the use of PFOA in fluoropolymer coatings, but it found no danger in the product being used in cookwares.
"The information that EPA has available does not indicate that the routine use of consumer products poses a concern," an EPA statement says. "At present, there are no steps that EPA recommends that consumers take to reduce exposures to PFOA."
Whitford officials say that "what little PFOA may have been in the dispersions used to make the coating is removed by the curing (baking) process through which all nonsticks pass—to the point at which it is undetectable in the toughest migration tests."
Whitford also manufactures its Xylan industrial powder coatings designed to provide a highly decorative finish to pieces exposed up to 575°F. They come in a wide range of colors and finishes, and pretreatment is a degreasing, zinc phosphating or grit blasting. It has a dry film thickness of 40 - 60 microns, and a curing temperature of 390 - 600°F minimum with options to cure at higher temperatures. Decorative uses include electrical appliances, boilers, stoves, fireplaces and halogen lamps.
Schroeder says using the Whitford Eclipse system will open DECC up to new sectors it didn't previously have.
"We've locked in with this product because it offers our customers the best performance," he says.
For more information, contact DECC at 616-588-2850, or at DECC.com. Whitford Corp. can be reached at 610-286-3500, or at Whitfordww.com.
THE DECC COMPANY AIDS IN THE PREVENTION OF 500 TONS OF METAL BEING SENT TO A LANDFILL
With over 30% of their business derived from remanufacturing, DECC contributes significantly to the green cause
Grand Rapids, MI - The DECC Company, a custom coater based in West Michigan, has reached a significant milestone in terms of their green business goals: in partnership with a major diesel OEM, over the course of 2010 and into 2011, the prevention of 500 tons of remanufactured material ultimately ending up in a landfill.
With over 30% of DECC's business derived from the remanufacturing sector, president and owner Fred Mellema is proud of his company's commitment to not only a sustainable business model, but an environmentally friendly and socially responsible one in particular.
"In terms of how we do business at DECC, relationships are key to our success," says Mellema. "But those relationships aren't always just business to business or people to people," he continues. "In order be successful and grow as a company, they need to be environmental and societal, as well."
While they have not laid out a specific "green plan," how DECC impacts the environment and community is a key driver of business decisions because, as Mellema puts it, "it's just the right thing to do." Reaching 500 tons of reclaimed/saved material was not a targeted number, but garnering a larger market share of the remanufacturing sector and contributing to the green cause was. "I had no idea our impact could be this measurable, so reaching the 500 ton milestone was pretty significant for us," says Mellema.
DECC's desire to have a positive impact on the environment and community can be seen in other ways, as well. Understanding the very nature of the industrial coatings industry in that many coatings contain high amounts of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC's), DECC has invested in equipment to reduce their emissions significantly. Purchasing a Regenerative Thermal Oxidizer (RTO) to destroy VOC's generated by their mass production processes, plant wide emissions were reduced from a potential of almost 46 tons to actual emissions of fewer than 4 tons - more than a 90% reduction.
Incoming review of coatings is another way DECC protects the environment and their employees. If for any reason it is determined that the coating is noncompliant with safety or environmental regulations, it will not be allowed into the facility despite the fact it could mean passing on a new opportunity for additional business.
In regards to their commitment to the community, DECC still provides the same employment opportunities to the people of Hope Network, a local non-profit organization that empowers people with mental and physical disadvantages, that they have been for the past 40 years.
The path followed so far has been advantageous for DECC as they have had the best first two quarters of sales since 2007. "The future is bright at DECC," says Mellema, "which only reaffirms that by doing the right thing, sales and success will follow."
The Whitford Eclipse® Three-Coat System Offers a Variety of Quality and Commercial Grade Options as DECC Looks to Expand Their Customer Base
Grand Rapids, MI - Never complacent with the status quo, the DECC Company has added Whitford's proven three-coat Eclipse® system to their coating arsenal in an effort to garner a larger market share of those in need of commercial grade, FDA acceptable coating solutions.
"Although this coating system has only been available for a relatively short amount of time, it is proven to be one of the best in the industry," says Randy Schroeder, DECC's sales manager. "As DECC works towards being a first option for potential customers when a quality, commercial grade FDA acceptable coating application is needed, we believe the Eclipse® system makes the choice that much easier," Schroeder continues. "It also helps that we are now one of only about 20 companies in the world that apply this coating system."
DECC is currently an applicator of FDA acceptable coatings and has been for some time. However, the Eclipse® system provides customers with the best possible coating option on the market. As a result, the addition of the new coating system will aid in targeting a broader swath of a customer base DECC has had trouble reaching.
The Eclipse® system is comprised of a primer, midcoat and topcoat. The primer and midcoat are dedicated to durability and abrasion resistance and contain special, reinforced elements, while the topcoat is focused solely on release (the nonstick characteristic). A two-coat option is also available with the elimination of the midcoat, providing alternatives for the customer depending on their specific need.
However, when all three are combined, it results in durability and release unsurpassed by any other coating available. On standard abrasion tests, the best conventional and reinforced release coatings reach 20,000 to 400,000 cycles. Eclipse® reaches 700,000 cycles and still exhibits superb release. As long as the substrate can handle a 700 degree bake cycle, this coating will work on virtually any substrate.
"If I had one critique of this coating system, it would be that it's too good," says Schroeder, "but I suppose that's a good problem to have when talking to potential customers."
The DECC Company has upgraded its facilities with the purchase of Plex Online software and hardware. The Plex system allows DECC to achieve better overall efficiency and greater cost effectiveness of production.
DECC is a leading industrial coating applicator based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, specializing in custom coating services and made-to-order coating applications. DECC now uses the Plex Online system to seamlessly integrate every department in their facility, from accounting to engineering to production to shipping and receiving. By automatically delivering pre-formatted paperwork, updating inventory files, and creating cost entries for accounting, in addition to many other time- and work-saving processes, Plex eliminates the room for human error. The Plex system delivers automation in nearly every conceivable step of DECC’s production, letting the company operate at ideal capacity and with supreme efficiency.
By utilizing the superior capabilities of the Plex Online system, the DECC Company has turned its already-industry-leading coating complex into a truly state-of-the-art facility. Plex allows them to trace every step of their production process, eliminating any recurring errors, regardless of their cause. Using Plex Online to accurately update and manage its inventory in real time significantly decreases supply chain issues, and assures that DECC’s factory is always ideally stocked with all necessary materials. And, because Plex is accessible through an internet-based system, DECC can monitor all its processes from company offices, off-site, or anywhere in the world.
The Plex Online system is another step forward for the DECC Company’s innovative production processes. “Plex is our system for defining our process requirements and documenting our conformance to those requirements,” states Kathy Johnson, DECC’s head quality engineer. Plex’s automated system ensures that DECC conforms to all customer and ISO requirements, and can deliver customers’ orders by faster, more efficient, and more cost-effective means. DECC is ready to lead the way with a world of coating solutions.
By Pennington, Tim
Publication: Products Finishing
Date: Friday, October 1 2010
Even on the worst of days, Fred Mellema can still walk through the staging area in his Grand Rapids finishing shop and get a smile on his face. That's where he can usually spot a worker named Jimmy, who has just racked another 100 or so items to be coated. Born with a cognitive impairment, Jimmy gives Mellema a high-five and tells him all about his day, right down to the last detail of how he racked each item carefully to ensure a perfect finish down the line.
"Jimmy's a rock star," Mellema says. "Always a smile on his face. Always so proud of the work he does. Always with a great attitude. How can you beat that?"
The answer is you can't, which is why the scenery at Mellema's DECC Co. Inc. hasn't changed in 40 years, ever since Mellema's dad and uncle started working with the Hope Network to place people with intellectual and physical disabilities in the plant to give them jobs and a sense of self of worth.
The Hope Network is a non-profit Christian organization founded in 1963 to help empower people with disabilities—or disadvantages—to achieve their highest level of independence. The organization works with 180 locations and serves 20,000-plus people in Michigan, but probably none are more happy than those at DECC.
Mellema is happy, too. He doesn't directly employ the Hope Network crews, but pays a fee when they bring the 40 or so people in to work alongside DECC's regular staff of 30.
"It really is a great program, and we enjoy having the Hope Network people here because they all do very good quality work," Mellema says. "We used to have college kids come in and rack things, but they got bored with it pretty quickly."
DECC started bringing in employees with intellectual disabilities long before the Hope program. A neighbor of Mellema's Uncle Everett had a son who needed a job, and couldn't find one because of his disability. The young man's father offered to pay Everett if he could work in the shop one day. "But he did a good job," Mellema says, "so we hired him. It's grown from there."
The DECC staff work around any scheduling problems that arise when there is extra work and the Hope Network clients have to leave to catch a bus home. And Mellema and his supervisors watch carefully to make sure racking is done to specification.
"They know that if it needs 100 items racked, 99 won't do," he says. "But that's never really been a problem. The clients take great pride in what they do, and they do it very well."
Things have gone well for Mellema and DECC since he took over operation five years ago. The company has invested heavily in new equipment and in people, boasting four staff engineers, which is unusually high, but has helped them win some big contracts, including one from Caterpillar. The company saw sales jump 53% to $6 million a year from 2006 to 2007, with expectations that it will hit $10 million this year, despite the slumping economy.
Still, Mellema is most happy about what his company brings to the nearby community, helping it place workers who might not normally have the opportunity to get up in the morning and go to work.
Recently, a movie company rented out a nearby lot that Mellema owns to shoot a film starring actor Ben Stiller and others. They paid Mellema $250 a day to use the empty lot, but he didn't pocket the extra change.
Instead, DECC threw a pizza party for its Hope Network employees and the other company staff. Everyone had a great time, enjoying the food and drinks, laughing and cutting up.
But then it was promptly back to work. Jimmy, after all, had work to do, with a smile on his face, of course.
Just 6 years ago, DECC Company’s product mix was over 90 percent Automotive, but in these ever changing times we have spent a great deal of effort diversifying our company and our product mix in an effort to sustain our company for the decades to come. “There will always be automotive manufacturing, just reduced volumes and players” says DECC’s Sales Manager Victor Stacey. “You need to find the right mix of business for your company so that a glitch in the manufacturing world doesn’t spell the end of your income stream”.
In 2008, with a little less than 40 percent of our business mix remaining in the Automotive realm, DECC was recognized by Grand Rapids Business Journal as one of their Top 50 Automotive Related Manufacturers.
During a nationwide search (based on capabilities and systems), several coating applicators were researched and visited by a team of engineers from Caterpillar. DECC was the coating applicator selected for developing a new process needed to solve a current design issue, for the upcoming product launch.
DECC’s on-site Engineering staff worked hand in hand with Caterpillar and Holley’s engineering teams to fast track and implement a solution to a corrosive byproduct of the new EPA regulations for On Road diesel engines.
This fast paced challenge saw a room at DECC converted to handle visiting engineers, allowing them to stay in touch with their plants via wireless access and on line meetings during all the stages of the development process.
DECC use of Continuous Improvement methods, allow us to work closely with Caterpillar to improve the coating process, and even find and implement a better coating option.
DECC was able to switch to a new interim coating process with this new coating option in a 2 month time frame.
DECC specified and purchased a highly automated coating application line for the CGI project to continue the improvement process (5 months from spec to launch).
Through rigorous testing performed at CAT the coating has proved to perform better than any metals tested including 300 series stainless and titanium. The success of the coating has allowed much more economical materials to be used in building the CGI components (aluminum), resulting in cost savings for Caterpillar (Estimated to be $10,000,000 over the 3 year production period).
DECC uses Continuous Improvement methods to meet customer objectives on quality and cost reductions.
DECC has an on-site R&D team that can take a project from the first customer meeting to successful launch in the shortest time frame possible.
It is these traits that helped DECC to be selected as Best in Class by Caterpillar.
As our engineering efforts (programs, procedures, quality, and production) continue to grow, other major manufactures are starting to take notice, and challenging DECC to help solve their production issues.
DECC’s Engineering and R&D staff where able to step up to the challenge thrown our way by John Deere, regarding a unique corrosion issue. This is the first opportunity that we have had from John Deere, and we were going to do whatever it took to make this program successful.
There was a field failure on a current program, due to a supplier’s negligence, and John Deere wanted to restore customer confidence. This fast paced challenge not only allowed a new opportunity to one of John Deere’s suppliers; it also allowed DECC a chance to break ground with a major target account. We understood the sense of urgency to solve the issue and to get quality parts into production, so DECC pulled out all the stops and had the problem solved, and production parts ready in one week’s time frame.
Once again, DECC’s on-site Engineering and R&D team were able to take a project from the first customer meeting to successful launch in the shortest time frame possible.
DECC Co. begins trials to resolve these issues.
DECC has begun developing a new process needed to solve current and future design issues, caused by high temperature environments common in such industries as diesel engines.
DECC’s engineering and R&D teams are fast tracking test in an effort to implement a thermal barrier coatings solution to high heat applications with thermal barrier coatings for environments up to 2000°F. We are also experimenting with temperature reductive coatings that can reduce surface temperatures by as much as 50% depending on part geometry and application.
DECC Co. has been working with alternative energy manufacturers to try to resolve issues that are part of the process of generating and regenerating electricity.
DECC has been asked to help develop fuel cell coatings that will help protect materials from the corrosive byproducts of this environment as well as the high temperatures generated during this process.
Presently DECC is working with two types of fuel cell coatings systems, hydrogen and methanol with much success shielding the base materials from corrosion and heat, allowing extended life of the units.
DECC would be happy to work with your team to help develop a coating application that is right for your challenge. Contact us about our achievements with fuel cell coatings, thermal barrier coatings and other specialized coatings.