Dump Trailers and Growing Pains

 Some types of growth are eminently measurable. Financial growth? Check the statement. Physical growth? The tape measure will tell you what you need to know.

Other types of growth are open to interpretation. How do you tell, for instance, whether you’re more skilled in your trade than you were a year ago? And as a manager, how do you measure whether your team has leveled up its game?

I can’t tell you what KRAs to track, but I do know this: if you find yourself saying “yes” to projects you would’ve shied away from a year ago, you’re on your way.

Recently, Kaser Blasting & Coatings agreed to blast and liquid coat a dump trailer for Whitetail Farms. I would’ve turned this project down last year. Refinishing giant, complex machinery presents a set of challenges that didn’t fit well into our production schedule…until now.

Oddly, I credit the Nebraska State Capitol with our newfound confidence. Eighteen months into the gargantuan task of liquid painting its 1,000 antique windows, we’ve learned enough to increase our efficiency in the painting booth.

The dump trailer started off in the blasting booth, where Stan put his 14 years’ experience to good use preparing the surface. We then sprayed PPG’s Amerlock high-build epoxy primer. Because this product was new to us, I recruited Jay – and his 35 years of painting experience – to help us figure out spray settings and patterns. Jess then executed them perfectly, with Chauncey mixing paint and performing quality control alongside him. This project was the definition of a team effort, and Whitetail Farms showed tremendous patience throughout.

If you’re staring down the barrel of a project like this one, here’s what we learned – I hope it’s useful:

    • PPG’s Amerlock high-build epoxy primer has a short pot life; don’t mix a full kit right away.
    • If you’re tackling a project of this size, don’t leave your sprayer alone in the booth. Make sure that someone else is there with a flashlight, checking mil thickness and giving feedback in real time.
    • If you’re a powder coater who’s switching to liquid coating, spend time up front figuring out your spray settings. They’ll impact the end product much more dramatically than they would in the powder booth.

This project was hard and took longer than I would have liked. But I’m incredibly proud of the finished product, and I’ve never been more confident in my team’s abilities. Onward and upward.

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