How This Metro Atlanta Founder Established His Unique Place in the Market with Eco-Friendly Manufacturing Solutions

Many industry processes today rely on metal finishes, including aerospace, automobile, industrial appliances, and more. Today, many of these sectors are now looking for ways to become more environmentally friendly. On this week’s episode of The Playbook, host Mark Collier, business consultant for the UGA Small Business Development Center, is joined by Bill Cox, founder of Intense Powder Coating, LLC, located in Conyers, Ga. Cox is at the forefront of delivering environmentally friendly solutions to a wide variety of industries, and in this segment, he discusses his company’s solution for more environmentally friendly products from manufacturers everywhere.

Transcription: 

Mark Collier:
Welcome into The Playbook, Bill.

Bill Cox:
Thank you, sir.

Mark Collier:
Listen, I’m a big environmentalist. And when I saw your product, I was excited. I Did a little research, and I saw that the eco-friendly benefits of powder coating include kind of cleaner application process, unlike paints and other solvent-based coatings, powder coating is free from VOCs, which are volatile organic compounds, and also free of HAPs otherwise known as hazardous air pollutants. So I was excited about it. So in your words, you’re the expert, obviously, so kind of tell me what is powder coating and how is it different from a traditional paint job?

Bill Cox:
Powder coating, unlike paint goes on dry. You hear the name powder. It also unlike paint, if you have a issue with the powder such as a, we call fisheye, scales or any imperfections you can sit there and blow it off and start the process over again. Unlike paint, once it’s on, it’s on. So it’s then shot from a gun, the powder is shot from a gun and it is actually electric charge goes to the powder, which adheres to the metal, a grounded piece of metal. And then it goes into the oven and baked at a high temperature until cured.

Mark Collier:
Okay. So in terms of, we’ve already talked a little bit about the eco-friendly benefits of it. And so those benefits, as well as a more cured process, it’s a process that’s far superior to paint for a number of reasons.

Bill Cox:
Yes.

Mark Collier:
So that’s, I mean, so you’ve gotten a lot of traction then in terms of industries, in terms of getting them to possibly adopt this process, correct?

Bill Cox:
Yes, we have. To me it’s a very durable piece of … Powder is more durable than paint in my view. We it on wheels, suspension parts, stuff of that nature. So it’s just, and we’re getting a lot of businesses that are actually looking into powder than they are paint.

Mark Collier:
Okay. Yeah. I mean, I can see applications as I sit in my lead in aerospace, automobiles and any industry that uses metal parts.

Bill Cox:
Yes.

Mark Collier:
So also you’ve got some consumer applications for those products as well. And you’ve got a couple here that I just said, and this is obviously one of my favorites, University of Georgia, but I can see the actual finish on this. It’s much more durable, looks a much cleaner finish then you get from traditional paint.

Bill Cox:
Yes. And if you look at the emblems on it, them are not stickers.

Mark Collier:
Okay.

Bill Cox:
That’s actually a red powder that’s under the black.

Mark Collier:
Okay. So this red is actually part of the powder coating process?

Bill Cox:
Yes. That’s a two-stage process right there.

Mark Collier:
Fantastic. So some of the other you have here, you’ve got some water bottles that you’ve done and what are they? These

Bill Cox:
These are actually caps for my Jeep. They’re for the wheels. They’re the center caps that we do.

Mark Collier:
Ah, okay. So that’s interesting. So you’re probably getting a lot of traction with automobile dealers and manufacturers.

Bill Cox:
Jeep–

Mark Collier:
Okay. And things of that nature, because this is a kind of a far superior product to the paint job.

Bill Cox:
Yes, sir.

Mark Collier:
Okay. All right. And what do you have? What do you have there?

Bill Cox:
These are actually more Jeep, this goes over the headlights of the Jeep, excuse me. These are actually Jeep parts that go over the tail lights of a Jeep. We do a lot of aftermarket parts like that.

Mark Collier:
All right. Now I can see the applications for them. So, I mean, this is a fascinating business. So how did you get started in the powder coating business? What was kind of your impetus to get going?

Bill Cox:
It started off with my son, Paxton. He was actually getting a lot of powder work down on his Jeep. And he was not satisfied with the product that he was getting, the work he was getting. In a short period of time. The product was actually sitting there chipping and peeling and stuff like that and stuff that shouldn’t have happened. So he came to us and knowing that we’re very particular about what we do. He said, “I want to get into this business. And I think y’all would really enjoy it too.”

Bill Cox:
And I said, well, we’re not jumping into anything head first. So I said we’re going to do research. So we sat back and researched the whole thing, what it takes to get started, what it’s about, what we can do, how we can do it. So after that, me and my wife talked, we said this is very interesting, but we got back with Paxton, and said, look, not only do we need to do the research, we need to get hands on, we have to get hands on. I got to know what I’m doing. I can’t just go out there blindfolded and you just do it.

Mark Collier:
So how’d you do it? Did you go work for a powder coating company? Or what did you do to get your experience?

Bill Cox:
We found a school in Tennessee. And me and Paxton went to the school. Okay. And, Mark, it was just awesome. I did my first Yeti cup at the school. It was just great. It was so fun that I came back. I was just so happy. I was like, we got to do this. So we that’s how it got started.

Mark Collier:
And then you came in to see us at–. And I hope we have been kind of instrumental in kind of putting some framework around your business and kind of giving you some direction in terms of growing in scale.

Bill Cox:
Mark, I couldn’t have been happier with y’all. Especially you’ve been there for us. Every time I call you, you pick up the phone. If you can’t pick up the phone, you call me back.

Mark Collier:
I appreciate it.

Bill Cox:
The networking that we get from y’all, I mean, it’s great. It really is. We enjoyed it. The help, the answers to questions that I had probably pretty tough, but you always told me I’ll get back with you. Make sure it happens. And you did.

Mark Collier:
Well. I appreciate that.

Bill Cox:
Had no issues.

Mark Collier:
All right. So let’s talk a little bit more about the actual process. So do you take a piece of raw metal and then you have to have a color for it, or kind of walk me through the steps that it takes to go from a piece of raw metal to the finished product.

Bill Cox:
Gotcha. Well, what we do first is customer will bring us the product, whether it’s raw metal or not, most of the time, it’s not. With business, we get raw metal a lot of times. Most of the time it’s not raw metal. We get the product. A lot of times it’s heavy in grease. Really thick on there a lot of times, so we have a commercial steamer and we’ll use commercial degreaser. We have to, first of all, clean the product, see what see what they got for us. So we clean it, steam clean it and everything and get it clean.

Bill Cox:
Then we’ll take it and sandblast it. And, Mark, we do get product that we get like some wheels that may have spokes that are mounted onto, the wheel. So that’s over time and years of the wheel, you get that dirt and grime in between the wheel. When we have to outgas. The outgassing process is where you take that wheel and you put it in the oven and let the actual gas or the heat melt that grease and grime down. If we powdered it prior to doing that, it would just melt down on the powder and it would just be–

Mark Collier:
Okay. So that gassing process then is part of the cleaning process?

Bill Cox:
Yes, sir.

Mark Collier:
That gets the finish that you want. So you can then apply the powder.

Bill Cox:
Yes, sir, it is. So once we outgas it, and once we get it steam cleaned, we sandblast it. Once it’s sandblasted, we’ll steam clean it again and degrease it again. So we take the product and hang it, let it dry and blow it off with our–. Make sure there’s no dust or grime on it. Then we go ahead and powder it and then we bake it at a high temperature until cured.

Mark Collier:
Okay. All right. So what is, I guess, different things come to you for powder coating. So what are some of the ideal product candidates that are ideal for powder coating process?

Bill Cox:
For me?

Mark Collier:
Yes.

Bill Cox:
I enjoy doing the antique glider sets.

Mark Collier:
Okay. Now, explain to us what that is.

Bill Cox:
Antique glider said, sort of like the old grandma and grandpa love seat swing, and you got usually two chairs that go with it. And then you sit in a glider and it swings back and forth. It’s just real … Most of them come in damaged and we have to take them apart, separate everything out is what we do. It’s challenging because a lot of times they’re damaged. So I have to do a lot of welding, repairing and then, but they see this when they bring it in how bad it is, but when it leaves the shop, these people, their faces are just, it’s just amazing. And the product I wish I could bring one of them here to show you, but the people are just so happy with them.

Mark Collier:
Well, that’s great. So what that tells me is you’ve got both consumer applications for the product as well as commercial applications for the product.

Bill Cox:
Yes.

Mark Collier:
So that will just expand your potential pool of candidates for clients, which is a good thing. All right. So what’s your favorite thing to powder coat other than the antiques on the commercial side, what do you get the most traction from?

Bill Cox:
The most traction I think would be, I enjoyed, we got a customer that they do these lifts, dirt car lifts is what they are. They’re hydraulic lifts. Well, we do the X bars. And we didn’t know how we was going to grind them because they didn’t need part of it actually powdered. So we put these caps over them, which were PVC caps, put them over them. And we grinded it that way. And that to me is one of the …

Mark Collier:
The favorite commercial application?

Bill Cox:
Yes, sir.

Mark Collier:
All right. Well, good deal.

Bill Cox:
It’s easy. It’s fun. And we get to knock them out.

Mark Collier:
Yeah. Well, you know what, if you can build the volume, I mean, that’s going to make your revenue grow so I can see why that’s one of your favorite things to do.

Bill Cox:
Yes, sir.

Mark Collier:
All right. So we’re going to move from your favorite thing to do, to the hardest thing to powder coat. What’s the most difficult commercial application or consumer product for powder coating?

Bill Cox:
Probably going to be consumer. Some commercial, but would be the wheels.

Mark Collier:
Wheels?

Bill Cox:
Gloss black, that high gloss black. That’s what you see there on the cup. That is the hardest. Everything has to be perfect on it. It’s got to be clean if you see how shiny it is, how smooth it is. Well, any dust or dirt gets collected on that during the process, during the bake. It’s going to show.

Mark Collier:
And if that happens, if there’s some imperfections during the curing process, you have to start all over again or?

Bill Cox:
All over again.

Mark Collier:
All over again.

Bill Cox:
We got to sandblast. We start from the beginning if it happens. It has happened to us where we didn’t vacuum the oven properly, or some dust particles come up, got on it and it just didn’t look right. Our standards are high. We want to make sure that it’s done right.

Mark Collier:
All right, Bill Cox, Intense Powder Coating, LLC, right here in Conyers, Georgia. I want to thank you for coming into The Playbook on ASBN and kind of sharing a very unique business that you have. And one that I think has a lot of growth potential both on the commercial and the consumer side, and I wish you the best of luck.

Bill Cox:
Awesome. And for us, we got you something, Mark, and I hope you enjoy it.

Mark Collier:
Thank you so much, Bill. I appreciate it, man. Thank you very much.

Bill Cox:
Yes, sir.

Mark Collier:
All right.


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