When it comes to line density, powder usage and racking maintenance, Technicoat relies on Production Plus racks to work their "magic."
When brothers Phil and Larry McLaurin, who had been tobacco farmers in Durham, N.C., until the mid-1980s, realized their future in farming was dying, they knew they had to do something else. There was a need in Durham for a custom painter, and although the brothers both had a bit of experience painting cars, they were not as knowledgeable about powder coating. They did their homework, though, and "were very impressed" with the powder coating process, according to Phil. The two stumbled upon a used powder system for a fair price, moved the equipment from Atlanta to Durham, and in 1985, Technicoat Corp. opened for business.

During the very first few months of business, the McLaurins knew that pricing would have to be competitive and that line density was critical to meeting this challenge. They knew there was going to be a need for a versatile racking method to efficiently hang parts to be coated. After seeing an ad in a trade publication about Production Plus and their adjustable Magic Racks, they decided to call the company. Walter Davitz, then Production Plus Corp.'s owner, visited Technicoat's plant for a visit. Says Phil, "He was amazing in his ideas about hanging parts to maximize line density, minimize powder usage and promote a high quality finish. We were very impressed and promptly ordered a full set of 4-tier and 1-tier Magic Racks. We also ordered their patented snap-in hooks. They worked flawlessly. We have not found a better hanging system to this day." The brothers say that they have visited many other coating facilities and have not seen one that hangs parts nearly as efficiently as they do, unless they were using Magic Racks also.

Technicoat had seen products from other suppliers, but according to Phil, they did not seem to be as durable and reliable. "The Magic Rack was also more adjustable for different parts configurations."

Hooked on Service

Technicoat received its rack starter kit just a few days after ordering it. Shortly after that, they decided to add more racks and received all of that first major order within a week. Some of the conveyor attachments had to be custom made to work correctly with Technicoat's particular equipment, and Production Plus had the equipment to do the custom build in a very short amount of time, according to Phil. "All of the racking system fit perfectly and worked perfectly as well. We were thrilled at the quality and service we received. They were always available to answer our calls promptly if we needed any instructions. But the assembly and implementation was so simple, very few calls were required."

The McLaurins have contacted Production Plus numerous times for custom-designed snap hooks for unusual parts. "They are always excited about the challenge of finding the perfect design that will shield the contact/ground points from powder and secure the parts to avoid hitting together, while maximizing line density to ensure efficient powder usage. Some of their designs are truly amazing. I believe they have a real talent and love for their craft."

Technicoat has three conveyorized powder coating lines totaling about 1,500 ft. of conveyor. All have Magic Racks on them 99 percent of the time.

Hanging In There

Although Walter has stepped down from his position at Production Plus, he has turned over the business to his son Dan Davitz. Phil says that both men are extremely honest and fair. "I always am confident that they are selling their products to me as reasonably priced as possible ... I would definitely say their best asset is their integrity. Their expertise is a very close second. I trust them 100 percent," Phil says.

This honest business approach was shown most recently when a few of Technicoat's 36" wide racks bent because too much weight was put on the rack. Dan was visiting Technicoat shortly after the Powder Show in Charlotte, N.C., and he asked Phil if there were any problems. The McLaurins mentioned the racks that had bent. Dan replaced every rack with new racks that had reinforcement bars welded on to accommodate heavier parts. "And he did not charge me for the replacement," adds Phil. "I felt this was above and beyond the call of duty. The racks did what they were designed to do. We abused them, and he replaced them anyway. Production Plus definitely got a few good marks in my book for that customer service deed."

As for durability of the racks, Technicoat still uses many of the racks it purchased in 1985. They have been stripped or burned off occasionally, but according to the McLaurins, they still are in excellent condition - and they are used every day. Technicoat can remove and replace heavily coated hooks with clean ones very quickly so they save a lot of time by only stripping the actual racks after hundreds of passes through the coating process. Phil estimates that Technicoat has replaced about 100 racks out of the several thousand they have purchased in the past 20 years. "Most of those were damaged from improper handling. I don't think we have replaced a single rack that has simply worn out," says Phil.

Occasionally, Phil sends Production Plus sample parts to assist in hook/rack design. "They have always spent whatever time was necessary to come up with a good design. I have never been charged for hook design, nor asked for a blanket purchase order or anything to assure they get paid for their time. I have never had a complaint about the amount of work and expense involved in designing a hook or rack, even if they did not get an order (because we did not get the job)," says Phil. "I truly believe they have saved us tens of thousands of dollars in racking purchases, line density, powder usage and racking maintenance."

Today, Technicoat has three conveyorized powder coating lines totaling about 1,500 ft. of conveyor. All of them have Magic Racks on them 99 percent of the time.

For information about Magic Racks, call Production Plus at 614-492-8811 or visit www.magicrack.com. For more on Technicoat, call 919-596-1422 or visit www.technicoat.org.