AFR’s story continues to grow
By Mike Mathes
Mike Mathes photos
American Finishing Resources, based in Chilton, has three locations to serve its roster of customers, including many Fortune 500 companies. The company has maintained a strong presence through recent economic challenges and is currently enjoying solid growth.

The American Finishing Resources story got its start in a small Chilton building.

American Finishing Resources was born a pioneer in the coatings removal industry back in 1983, when powder coating technology was in its infancy.

Today, American Finishing Resources continues to grow. Not only has AFR expanded several times in Chilton, the firm has added locations in Eldridge, Iowa and Shelbyville, Indiana. Additionally, AFR has linked directly to its manufacturing customers by creating an ongoing transportation network for moving product efficiently.

AFR continues to build its business model and reputation through relationships with a long list of world class OEMs, custom coaters, and contract manufacturers, many of which are Fortune 1000 companies. AFR services virtually all premier U. S. manufacturers in the transportation, agricultural, consumer products, appliance, telecommunications, lawn and garden, contract manufacturing and surface finishing industries.

Growth means employment

Even at a time when the economy was stumbling the past few years, AFR was able to maintain its production levels, because the business of coatings removal is spread across so many industries.

“Some of our markets were up while others were down,” said Joe Dyer, Director of Operations. “That’s how we have been able to grow as a stable, non-cyclical company.” AFR has shown about a 25% increase in top line growth in the past year, Dyer said.

For the Chilton community, that translates into employment opportunities— jobs.

“AFR is a good place to work for,” Dyer said. Among its many benefits are an employee wellness program, comprehensive benefits and ongoing training.

Dedicated to service

“We are proud to offer a hard-working fast-paced environment that’s dedicated to serving the customer,” Controller Doug Pietrowski said.

AFR continues to invest in its workforce through training opportunities. Ongoing programs are directed at safety, compliance, hazardous waste and continuous improvement.

“We are always looking to round out the skills and talents of our people to better serve our customers,” Dyer added.

He said the firm is always searching for the right people to fill positions on its team.

Coatings removal

American Finishing Resources specializes in coating removal. Re-usable hooks and hangers from paint line operations need to be stripped of paint to optimize the parts painting process in manufacturing.

Properly restored hanging utensils help manufacturers improve paint coverage

Stripping of the paints is done by either using thermal or chemical agents.

American Finishing Resources also uses similar process in production part recovery. If painted components don’t meet standards, the manufacturer doesn’t have to throw them away.

They can rely on AFR to remove the flawed paint or coating so they can repaint the part—whether it’s a fender, a hood panel or a component. This saves remanufacturing the entire part.

Using proprietary thermal and chemical processes, AFR is able to return customers’ paint line hooks, hangers, fixtures and production parts completely ash and resin free.

This coating removal process tied AFR so closely to its customers that another aspect of the business evolved.

More than a decade ago, American Finishing Resources saw the emerging need to assist its customers by providing new designs for their paint line fixtures.

AFR added engineered paint line rack and hook fabrication at that time. The company also added computer-aided design capabilities to its list of offerings.

Transportation network

Dealing with the needs of Fortune 1000 companies, AFR learned that one of the key service factors was timely delivery and turnaround of cleaned paint line fixtures.

To that end, AFR founded its own transportation company, AFR Transportation, LLC, which has grown to include 9 tractors and over 20 trailers.

The trucking network makes daily pickups and deliveries, putting on about 90,000 miles per truck each year.

Stewards of environment

AFR remains keenly aware of the need for environmental stewardship.

“We meet or exceed all municipal, state, and federal environmental standards and are nearing ISO 14001 registration,” Pietrowski said. “The companies we work for demand that, and that’s great because no one wants to be involved in harming the environment.”

Modern waste treatment systems and a rigorous regulatory compliance program assure AFR’s customers that their ethical and regulatory obligations to the environment are being met and exceeded. AFR has worked closely with the city of Chilton, including development of its own pre-wastewater treatment operation. The company has a quality and environmental coordinator on site to oversee all aspects of environmental compliance— air emissions, solid waste disposal and waste water treatment in all three of its home communities.

Today, AFR is owned by management and private equity firm, Brass Ring Capital.

“They continue to invest in the business, and have been able to help us with increased capacity and capabilities at virtually all our facilities,” Pietrowski said.

Led by CEO Matt Kirchner, Operations Vice President David Pozorski, Controller Doug Pietrowski, and a talented management team, AFR has focused on adding sophistication and repeatability to its business model.

AFR offers ISO 9001:2008-registered quality through its Coatings Removal, Fabrication and Transportation divisions.