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Pro-Tech Powder Coating

by Eric Peterson on February 19, 2019, 11:36 am MST

www.protechpowdercoat.com

Lakewood, Colorado

Founded: 2004

Privately owned

Employees: 30

Industry: Contract Manufacturing

Products: Powder coating, liquid coating, and screen printing

General Manager Mark Trawinski has guided the industrial coating shop to consistent growth for more than a decade.

Trawinski draws on more than 30 years of experience running Pro-Tech. "I've been in the industry since 1983," he says.

He got his start in contract coating after graduating from college in 1982, when Trawinski moved from Durango to Broomfield to set up an industrial painting shop with his stepfather and stepbrothers. "He figured between the three kids, he could put a business together," says Trawinski. "That business just snowballed from three kids to about 30 people."

In 2000, Industrialex offered to buy that business, Broomfield Industrial Painting, with a half-stock deal pegged to an IPO at $1 a share. "Within, 24 hours, it was worth a nickel," says Trawinski. "We basically gave away our company."

But he was undeterred and put together a deal of his own. He worked as plant manager until the IPO, then approached Mark Allen, then owner of Precision Metal Manufacturing in Northglenn, with an idea in 2008. Allen also owned a small powder-coating business in Englewood with about a half-dozen employees, Pro-Tech Powder Coating.

"Quality Metals, one of the oldest sheet metal shops in town, was closing and they had a paint shop," says Trawinski, who engineered the shop's acquisition with Allen's support. "I saw an opportunity and pulled the trigger."

He says his old customer base "jumped ship" and moved their business to Pro-Tech. After the Quality Metals deal, revenue immediately more than doubled.

The growth was partially based on more services. "We now do MIL spec [military specification] chromate conversion for aluminum and we do liquid coatings as well," says Trawinski. "Everything we'd have to do as a MIL-STD-810 company, we're doing, we're just not certified."

Along the way, Pro-Tech expanded its footprint in the old Quality Metals facility to 38,000 square feet, added a second shift, and streamlined processes and paperwork. The operation now includes three coating booths, an integrated rail system, and pretreatment and curing capabilities. Trawinski says the company also offers "a little bit of sub-assembly but nothing crazy."

He adds, "We do anything from 100,000 pieces to a guy walking through the door with a motorcycle frame or bicycle frame."

Pro-Tech took a big hit in 2014 when a key customer, ammunition magazine manufacturer Magpul Industries, moved production from Colorado to Wyoming. "We were doing $1 million with that account alone," says Trawinski. "We had to fill that gap with other work."

A diverse customer base spanning medical, aerospace/defense, and technology companies helped Pro-Tech weather the blow. Customers include Terumo BCT, Sparton, PS Audio, Melco, and BSI Designs. Pro-Tech also does a lot of work for sister company Precision Metal Manufacturing. (Texas-based Imperial Private Equity acquired both companies from Allen in 2018. "Great people," Trawinski says of Imperial. "It's almost too good to be true.")

Pro-Tech's 2018 revenue hit $2.15 million, and Trawinski says the 2019 target is $2.45 million.

"I haven't had to do sales but a handful of times since I've been here," says Trawinski. "Word of mouth and my historical customer base keeps it flowing."

Challenges: "Labor," says Trawinski. "The labor market sucks." A higher minimum wage in Colorado has made it even tougher for Pro-Tech to hire. "You tell employees $12 an hour and they hang up," he says.

Opportunities: Trawinski highlights a large project with Precision Metal Manufacturing making printer parts for Nidec-Valmark. "It's actually going to make me hire people because of the volume," he says.

Pro-Tech typically focuses its efforts on customers on the Front Range, and Trawinski sees room for growth with local medical manufacturers. "The medical industry looks like it's one that's going to be gearing up for me," he notes. He also sees defense as a growth driver.

Needs: Besides more employees, Trawinski says Pro-Tech needs a specialized oven and additional equipment. "We'll be getting another powder rig," he says.

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