Getting what you Want: A Cautionary Tale

My two-word summary of the custom color matching process for powder coating: IT’S DIFFICULT.

I blogged about this a while ago, but recent events at Kaser have reminded me that custom color matching is a loaded issue, fraught with opportunities for frustration, and there’s really only one cure.

Communication.

So buckle up, because I’m about to share everything I want Kaser customers (and customers of Kaser’s customers) to know about what the custom color matching process means for them.

We receive brochures from our powder manufacturers, and these brochures are available to our customers to peruse as they’re making choices about what color they want for their parts. The literature reflects what the manufacturers have in stock – the colors you see are sitting on a shelf somewhere, waiting for us to order them. They’ll typically arrive at Kaser within 2-5 business days, depending on the manufacturer’s location.

In addition to a wide range of color options, the brochures will present you with a plethora of finishes (high gloss, low gloss, satin, etc), and a range of textures (sand, hammered, veined, smooth, etc). The options appear endless. And technically, they ARE endless…at a price.

As customers flip through the brochures, it’s easy to think “I want the fine texture I see on page 2, but I want it in this specific color that I see on page 4.” It sounds like a low-maintenance request, but it’s not. Even just changing a powder coating color from gloss to satin is, unfortunately, not so simple. There’s an added layer of complexity if the part is going outdoors: maybe the color and texture you want is available, but only for indoors.

If there isn’t a swatch with the exact color, finish, texture, AND indoor/outdoor application you want, that means it’s not in stock. And if that specific color/finish/texture/application combo is not in stock, then producing it will require the manufacturer to go through the custom color matching process I outlined in a previous blog.

Can you get your Grandma’s favorite shade of candy apple green in semi-gloss with a hammered texture for your patio furniture? Sure. But I want you to be prepared for the timeline: in addition to the weeks it takes for the manufacturer to produce the right color, we have to order a sample panel – after all, if you’re spending the time and the money on this process, it’s important to us that you approve the color sample before we apply it to your part.

The process of having a sample panel made takes 10-15 business days.

Once you approve the sample panel, we order the powder, and that’s another 10-15 business days.

All things considered, that’s 4-6 weeks before we even receive the powder at Kaser.

After that, we add our normal lead time of 2-3 weeks to blast, pretreat, and powder coat your part.

That’s a lot of math, amounting to 2+ months of total lead time.

Since time is money, custom color matching often results in 2 to 3 times the cost of using a stock powder.

All of this is particularly complicated when there’s a layer of separation between Kaser and the end customer: if we’re powder coating something for a fabricator, and the fabricator is communicating with their customer, there’s no shortage of opportunity for something to get missed. Often, the fabricator has not let the end customer know that custom color matching will require significant extra lead time. The end customer has already been waiting for the fabricator to weld the part, and is now looking at an additional two months to get the color they want – this is a common point of frustration. Or the end customer was not made aware that custom color matching would add so significantly to the price, and they’re understandably angry when they see the final invoice.

Communication is the only remedy, and now you know.

If time and money is a concern, we recommend sticking to what you see in the brochure. If you’re willing to wait for the right color, come talk to us – we’ll get this process started for you.

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