Diversification is Key for Powder Coater
Link to Article April 2021 Digital Issue of FinishingAndCoating.com
Dewain Diacono always seems to sell himself short, whether it’s his academics or the expectations of his business career. But never in persistence. “I am a high school graduate with a grade point average of 1.9,” says Diacono, president of Great Lakes Powder Coating and Fabrication in Walled Lake, Michigan. “But the one thing my mentor taught me was keep pushing forward on anything I can do.”
In 2008 when the economy was crashing, Diacono owned a successful body shop in Livonia for 23 years. He was a liquid painter for 32 years, providing class “A” finishes. He discovered how easy it was to powder coat and invested some money in a small 8×8 oven and a used booth, thinking he could make $300 to $500 a week extra in hard times.
“It ended up being $1,500 to $3,000 per week in sales,” says Diacono, who surmised he was onto something.
Experience as a Fabricator
Prior to his body shop career, he has experience in fabrication as a metal model maker, someone who would proto-type seat tracks, recliners, convertible tops, rocker panels, and other parts for major automotive companies in the metro Detroit area.
A year after dabbling in powder coating, he split his company up and started Great Lakes Powder Coating in Livonia with a lease of a 10,200 sq. ft. building, thinking it would be more than he needed to run the company.
“Little did I know my customers started to ask me if I can make the parts that we were coating,” Diacono says. “A light turned on in my brain and said ‘no problem.’ This came second nature to me.”
Along with Ben Jamrog, his Director of Operations, they were soon buying more fabricating equipment, from band saws, turret punch, and press brakes to welders. Soon the building was too small; after two years in Livonia, they moved to Walled Lake into a 55,000 sq. ft. building.
“Next thing I know, another oven and manual paint line, more paint booths, CO2 lasers, CNC routers, more welders, media blast booth, overhead crane, and much more,” Diacono says.
Name Change to GLPC Fab
In 2018 he changed the name from Great Lakes Powder Coating to GLPC Fab, and they now have in place a fully automated LS5 fiber sheet laser (BLM), LT7 fiber tube laser (BLM), and two electric press brakes (BLM) with the bulk gas system.
GLPC does batch coating but only has two ovens; a large oven 12’x10’x25’ they designed and installed manually has “the oval racetrack,” which Diacono says is a signal line that enters into the 30-foot long spray booth, then, in turn, two divides into nine tracks that can be used to cure the powder. The parts come out to cool down back into a single track.
He says doing this gives GLPC the ability to run very large parts to many small parts in one oven. “Powder coating is our bread and butter of the company,” Diacono says. “But also is the fabrication, laser, forming, welding, and assembling.”
3D Design, Manufacturing, and Powder Coating
GLPC Fab does 3D design, manufacturing, and powder coating for many industries, including the energy grid, LED fixtures, car washes, transportation systems, robotics, production lines, and non-automotive parts.
“One thing I do not is put all my eggs in one basket,” Diacono says.
GLPC Fab has 16 employees but can staff six more with no problem if they could find them. In fact, Diacono says their “only competition now is UIA (aka unemployment).”
“We do not have too much competition that can compete with a company that has a one-stop shop,” he says.
Diacono says GLPC Fab is a very strong company because they are not afraid to purchase the newest technology for fabrication and powder coating. He says doing so has brought in large companies and customers.
BY TIM PENNINGTON
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF | Finishing & Coating