This months’ Customer Spotlight features Automated AG out of Lake Moses, WA. Family-owned and operated by Kelly and JJ Dagorret, Automated AG specializes in unique and innovative harvesting solutions for the agricultural industry. Automated AG’s decision to bring powder coating in-house has been so successful it launched a new division of the company, Bandit Coatings, which offers powder coating services and is operated by Kelly and JJ’s son, JP Dagorret. We got a chance to speak with Kelly and ask her how Reliant has helped improve her company’s offerings.
Q: Hi, Kelly! First off, can you tell me a little bit about your business and what you do?
A: We’re an OEM equipment manufacturer for the ag industry. We build harvester platforms, various harvest products, watermelon harvesters, bin carriers and trailers – anything really for ag.
Q: How did you guys get started powder coating?
A: Well, we had a vendor who was our powder coat source and we were taking everything to him. In the beginning it was convenient, it was right across the street from our shop. Then we changed location, bought a facility and logistics got in the way, timing got in the way. We thought that it would be huge cost savings to go ahead and purchase our own system, and so we did.
Q: What’s your day to day powder coating process like? What do you do on a daily basis with your products?
A: Everything gets 100% sandblasted and then we rack it, put it in our first oven for our preheat. We have everything on a rail, and once it preheats to the temperature we want it preheated to, we put it in our spray booth, shoot it and then we can roll it back into our preheat oven or roll it forward into our other oven to cook it and cure it, depending on how much product we’re trying to get through the oven in any given day.
Q: So what made you decide to choose Reliant as your powder coating equipment vendor?
A: That would be my husband JJ, he was the one that was doing a lot of the research and looking at different options. Reliant was the best fit for us as far as being able to accommodate oven size. If we needed to go bigger, we can always add-on pieces to make our oven and our system bigger as needed. Everybody we worked with was just amazing. JJ looked into it, I want to say a couple of years ago, and Reliant was who he remembered dealing with.
Q: You guys had originally looked at this a couple years ago and dealing with Reliant was something that you remembered and was one of the factors that brought you back?
A: Yes. I think Kevin was who we dealt with on designing our system and getting everything priced out, getting our estimated delivery date, and then Aaron took over. Everybody that we’ve dealt at Reliant was super friendly, super helpful. Even the guys when they came to install the ovens, it was just a good experience all the way around. And it’s a quality product. JJ did his research, making sure what he was looking at and what we were looking at investing into this to make sure we were getting a good quality product.
Excellent, that’s what we like to hear!
Q: So I think this is going to be a pretty positive question for you: How has Reliant’s equipment and support staff helped your business grow?
A: We are now doing outside [powder coating] work. We originally just purchased this to do our own equipment. We’ve since gotten everything down to where we’re very efficient and so we had time slots available to do outside work. We paid for our system by doing the powder coating 100% ourselves. The system is paid for. [Automated AG installed their powder coating system a little more than 12 months prior to this Customer Spotlight interview.]
Q: So you’ve seen a significant ROI then?
A: Oh yeah. Just the time savings alone and the logistics of transporting all of our product over to a powder coat shop, being able to pick and choose what we wanted to do. If our guys in the shop needed something sooner, we are able to accommodate them and get everything coated whenever they need it. Huge time savings, huge cost savings.
We were spending about twenty four hundred dollars per machine to get it powder coated and now we’re able to do it around three hundred dollars per machine, so huge cost savings. Big numbers when you put out over 100 machines per year.
Q: What advice would you give someone who is looking at powder coating to do their business?
A: Do your homework, make sure you get the oven size that you need and make sure you have room for growth because there’s always an opportunity for expansion for any business.
Q: What’s your biggest success story with your business?
A: Our biggest success story is we’re able to put out quality products in a timely manner. Being able to get a quality control on our own powder coating has helped immensely. We can do a reshoot if we need to, we can do a color change if we need to.
Q: Let me follow up on that – When you talk about your own quality control, how long was it taking you when you had to send it out to someone else versus how much time you’re saving now in-house?
A: We were having turnaround time anywhere from one week to a month. If there was an issue with the coating, by the time we got the product we needed it. It would either be shipping issues, or there were light spots, or there were missed spots – but by the time we got it, we needed it on our assembly line and we had to send the product out.
Now we can catch it. If it comes out of the oven and we see a light spot, we reshoot, throw it back in the oven for a little bit and we’re good to go. If the guys missed a weld, we can tape it off and go ahead and reshoot that area and get the same quality coating as the rest of the machine.
So it’s a huge, huge savings in us being able to do that quality control. Same thing when we do products for other customers. We can make sure that the product we’re sending out is a quality that we stand behind, because everything we do is top quality.
Q: And you were having these quality control and delivery issues even though you said your source was originally just across the street?
A: Yes. He would do a chassis, but there’s wheels, top bars, extensions, various different components included in that chassis. So he would shoot them whenever he had the time or we would call him and say “hey can you run a couple of these for us because we need to start throwing them on a machine.” So we were always chasing components, always chasing parts. Now, we shoot everything in a large batch. And so we’re able to, even with our manufacturing process, create more of the same item, powder coat it, have it sitting on the shelf and ready for our assembly team whenever they need it. We’re not chasing anything anymore.
Q: That’s it from me, is there anything you’d like to add?
A: I will tell you this, any time we do shop tours – we have a lot of visitors from all over the world that come through: local people, growers, producers, what have you for the fruit industry – we always make sure to bring them into our powder coat shop. This is something that we’re very proud of. We always make sure to show people our powder coating.
Thanks again to Kelly Dagorret from Automated AG for taking the time to talk to us. For even more examples of their high-quality work, be sure to check them out on Facebook, on Instagram and at their site, Automatedag.com. If you are looking for powder coating services in and around the Lake Moses, WA are, please contact JP Dagorret at Bandit Coatings.