We recently had the opportunity to talk with Eric Beutler, the owner of Innovative Fabricators, Inc. about how the company has utilized powder coating to expand their business. Innovative Fabricators is located in Watertown, South Dakota, and has customers across the United States. If you’re a barbecue fan, you’ll recognize the Memphis in May trophies their company produced.
Please give us a brief history of your company and explain how it has grown
The company was founded by my grandfather and my mother. They primarily supplied metal art products to the home decor market. Over the years, they increased their offerings and the business evolved into a handful of different specialty areas. We’re still doing a lot of fabrication and metalwork products.
I got involved after I graduated college in 2007 and I’ve been at the company ever since. We’ve recently built a new shop and expanded into powder coating.
What was the reason for bringing powder coating in-house?
We needed to reduce production lead times and have more control over our business to keep it viable. Initially, we were forced to bounce between various vendors for powder coating. There were constant concerns about being able to get products finished on time. Nearly everything we make is powder coated, so it became evident that we needed to find a way to get control over that aspect of our production process and secure our lead times. Bringing powder coating in-house made the most sense. We were also looking at expanding our business and considering other sources of revenue we could capture. So, adding powder coating helped in two ways: we now powder coat our own items, and we also have the capacity to bring in outside work and take on new contracts.
Would you say bringing powder coating in-house has given you an edge over your competitors?
I would say it’s brought us up to speed with what they were already doing. Most of our competitors were doing powder coating, so it was a necessary move for us to stay competitive in this market. We do a lot of E-commerce, so keeping products in stock, reducing lead times, it’s all critical to our success. We couldn’t have done those things if we hadn’t started powder coating our own products. Now we’re equipped to improve and expand our business.
What made you decide to choose Reliant Finishing Systems?
I had been doing research on different powder coating equipment suppliers and I was looking on forums. I talked to some coaters who had Reliant equipment and had good experiences, so I got in touch. The pricing was competitive versus other systems I received quotes on, so I decided to go with your company.
If you were to offer advice for someone getting into powder coating, what would it be?
There are so many things that have come up and we’re still new to operating a powder coating shop. I would say if you’re going to have to perform building modifications or deal with utilities upgrades for gas or electrical services, make sure you have those handled prior to the purchase of the equipment. Making an assumption about how quickly you can get those things done doesn’t always work out. In our case, we ended up waiting six additional months for electrical components that were delayed due to supply chain issues. Looking back, I would have gotten the electrical work done first, so the equipment could be installed and ready to run right away. Once you know the utilities requirements for the equipment you plan to purchase, make sure your facility is ready to be operational before you move forward. Don’t assume you can get everything accomplished before the equipment arrives.
What are the future plans for Innovative Fabricators?
We plan on expanding our existing product lines. We’ll also be promoting our powder coating services to the local region. We hope to bring in the right kinds of projects to expand our business.
Our coating operation is relatively new, so it may take time to fine tune the way we sell powder coating services. Fortunately, we’re already getting some interest. We’re looking forward to serving other businesses in the area with professional quality powder coating. Since we produce and powder coat our own line of products, we understand the concerns they may have when contracting for coating services.
Eric, thank you for choosing to get your new powder coating system from Reliant and for taking time to chat with us about your business. Although you’ve had delays, we’re happy to hear that your powder coating operation is up and running. We wish you great success with your business!
Visit Innovative Fabricators at https://www.innovativefab.com/ or give them a call at (805) 886-7717 to contact them about their unique products and powder coating services.
Interested in adding powder coating capabilities or bringing them in-house? Contact a Reliant specialist at (256) 355-9000 or click here to discuss your powder coating equipment needs.