News and Views from the Coatings Community

Most of us in the finishing industry have been "cautiously optimistic" for so long now, the words have lost much of their meaning. But after white-knuckling it for the past few years, there seems to be reason we can finally ease our grip. Something different is going on this year: People are believing in their optimism and making it work.

While no one is suggesting 2004 will sparkle like a firework, the news is encouraging. End users and suppliers alike predict a slow but steady pickup in business this year. Even board and committee members who in recent years have rightly kept our expectations in check are issuing reports of good news.

At the end of 2003, one Electrocoat Association member company predicted a 2004 first-quarter growth rate of 30% in electrocoat customers in the industrial market. I am happy to report that their forecast has been realized. Furthermore, approximately 50% are new tank fills, not "take-over" (existing) lines from other suppliers! Now that's good news!

Delivering results is the name of the game. And that's exactly what The Electrocoat Association intends to help its members do. First on the agenda is Electrocoat 2004, an educational conference designed to enhance attendees' performance as a coatings provider or supplier.

Participants will learn techniques and strategies to attain their goals by attending nearly 30 technical presentations that make up the conference program. No one will want to miss the session on crunching the numbers and saving money within an E-coat system. New technology and applications are always a hot topic. And of course, the speakers-all authorities in their subject areas-will be happy to answer any questions. If you're thinking about adding E-coat to an existing finishing line, this is the place to find out if it's right for you and how to make it happen.

Hospitality suites are open on the first two evenings of the conference to allow participants to meet with suppliers, talk with other attendees and network in a comfortable atmosphere. The hospitality suite venue provides an exceptional way for suppliers of equipment, chemicals, paint, ancillary equipment and finishing applications to showcase the newest applications, innovations and supplies for the industry.

The education sessions are designed to stretch participants' thinking to include new possibilities and horizons. Electrocoat 2004 will help attendees focus on their specific needs by providing technical information on the latest developments, market trends, tactics to tackle organizational challenges, and new ways to think about the future of their businesses.

If you're still not convinced it's important to attend, note that this conference is held only once every two years to provide the very best information and resources available in the industry. For a complete conference agenda and registration information, visit

In addition to the conference, The Electrocoat Association has growth and expansion at the top of its agenda. Marketing plans consist of programs aimed at existing E-coat markets, expansion into developing markets and the exploration of completely new markets.

Although we are still a small percentage of the total overall coatings market, many potential marriages for E-coat with other technologies need to be explored for growth potential. Of particular interest is the seemingly unbeatable combination of electrocoating and powder coating. This developing trend shows signs of continued advancement, spurred by increasing environmental regulations and the desire to provide longer-lasting, tougher finishes.

Strategic plans also include development of a regional E-coat seminar co-sponsored by the Electrocoat Association and the Chemical Coaters Association International, continued distribution of Electrocoating: A Guidebook For Finishers, promotion and expansion of the E-coat mark program and advertising aimed at vertical end-use markets and consumers.