Chuck Zinke’s passion for coatings started many moons ago as a teenager, when he would rebuild cars and trucks in his hometown of Tucson, Arizona. He utilized the only liquid and powder coating facility in the area, but wasn’t always happy with the results.
As his hobby grew into a business for Zinke, he realized he wanted a better process for his finished parts, as well as cutting down on delivery delays and costs. In 1991, Zinke opened his first paint shop in his garage to coat his parts, as well as that of a few friends. When word spread quickly about his small-time operation, Zinke decided to take a leap of faith a few months later and go full bore into opening a liquid and powder coating operation in Tucson, and later one in Phoenix.
Some 30 years later and Zinke is again taking another leap of faith, this time with expanding his Perfection Industrial Finishing (PIF) location in Phoenix and moving from 8,000 square feet into a 30,000 square feet space that will expand their powder coating capabilities and adding a 20’ x20’ x 60’ liquid coating booth for military coatings
“We have a 5-year opportunity with a Prime military provider,” Zinke says. “We are expanding in phases, but this is something that we have always wanted to do, and that is to grow the business.”
Steady and Fast Growth
PIF has grown its business over the years, but the growth of the company has been stagnate for the same reason that many manufacturing operations are having trouble growing: not being able to a find suitable workforce that could expand when business grew.
“It’s always been a struggle to find enough qualified people, especially out here in the southwest,” Zinke says. “I could have expanded many times over the years and gone after new business, but I needed a lot more people to help me do the work.”
PIF has expanded from powder and wet coating applications over the years to offer chemical processing such as anodizing that is compliant to MIL-A-8625, a chromate conversion coating for MIL-DTL-5541, passivation for the AMS-2700E spec, an iron phosphate conversion coating for TT-C-490 requirements, and many other Mill Spec. Finishes. The shop has also added ceramic coatings for firearms, exhaust systems and engine components.
The Tucson headquarters is 18,000 square feet in the main facility, with an adjoining 5,000 square feet in another, which includes all administration and order receiving. PIF in 2019 received its Nadcap certification, a global cooperative accreditation program for aerospace engineering, defense and related industries, which would allow the shop to go after additional industries and grow the shop even larger.
“We knew this expansion was coming someday,” Zinke says. “It was now all about putting a plan in place to pull it off. There were a lot of pieces that needed to happen.”
Giving Second Chances
Part of what was needed for the plan walked through door in 2012, when Toni Gauna came into PIF to apply for a job. One thing that was holding Zinke’s expansion plans back was hiring a qualified workforce that would help him run the equipment, and by his guess PIF needed 40-50 additional employees, a daunting task in an economy where the unemployment was already very low.
“There was virtually no one wanting a job,” he says. “We couldn’t grow if we couldn’t find people to work for us.”
Now the company’s director of operations, Gauna came in the door to see if PIF was hiring, and she was caring as much baggage as anyone probably could be. She had just been released from prison after serving six years, and was determined to get her life back together, but was having trouble finding a company who would hire someone with a felony on their record.
“I applied at more than 300 jobs in my six months out, and I was turned down at all of them,” Gauna says. When she applied at PIF, Zinke told her he would give her a shot, and put her in the masking department to start out.
Soon, she was doing more for PIF, and Zinke spied her one day work with a customer who came in the door and was impressed. After a few months, Gauna was moved to the production line to work with liquid coatings, a position that she eventually turned into becoming the line manager. Zinke sent her to school to get certified as an auditor for AS9100 and for OSHA 10, and at the same time she also completed several other leadership training courses. Gauna even earned her associate degree in applied science from a local college.
“I just wanted a chance, and Chuck and his company gave it to me,” she says. “I am indebted to them.”
Building the Phoenix Location
But with a quality workforce development plan lacking, Zinke wasn’t sure how he would activate his expansion plans in Phoenix, where already had a location but knew there was more coating work to be had. That is when Gauna suggested that PIF hire more people like her, those who needed second chances, specifically those who were getting ready to leave incarceration and needed a steady job to meet release guidelines.
During an 18-month period, Perfection Industrial Finishing grew from 35 to over 105 employees, with more than half of those employees coming from the Second Chance coalition, which Gauna now sits on its board of directors. She says the shop has a less than 12% turnover rate.
“These are really good people we are bringing in,” she says. “They are hard workers. They want to work hard for us, and to show that our investment with them was well worth it.”
With employees on the job and a new location in Phoenix, Zinke says PIF is primed to grow at a steady pace. His dream of building the business and see it expand had finally come to fruition, and he is excited at what will occur over the next few years.
“This is something we’ve always thought about and even dreamed about, so to see it finally happen is so great,” Zinke says. “This wasn’t easy, and nothing ever is. It’s a lot of work and spending a lot of money, but at the end of day, I am so proud how all of this came together.”
Editor in Chief