Products Finishing’s 40 Under 40 award program is designed to recognize emerging leaders in the surface finishing industry. Every year, PF editors comb through a long list of nominees with a wide range of skill sets. The recipients are chosen based on leadership and industry involvement.
This year’s finalists include engineers, chemists, lab managers, plant managers, operations managers, general managers, sales professionals and entrepreneurs. Some focus on the business aspects of their respective companies. Others bring their talents and leadership to the shop floor. Each of them are innovators in their own right and represent the next generation of leaders in coating and finishing.
Photo Credit: Miller Plating
Adam Anderson, president, Miller Plating
Prior to becoming president of Miller Plating (Medina, Ohio), Adam Anderson had 15 years of metal finishing experience including 13 years at specialty chemical suppliers to the industry including such companies as Atotech and Columbia Chemical. Since joining Miller Plating, he has had a hand in everything from recruiting employees, to selecting an ERP/operating system, making sales calls, starting plating lines, and ensuring compliance within the industry. In addition, Anderson is a five-year Board Member of the Ohio Association of Metal Finishers and is involved in local charities including Ronald McDonald House and The Helping Hands Project.
Photo Credit: Electroplating & Surface Engineering Sa De
Valeria Bautista, quality manager, Electroplating & Surface Engineering Sa De Cv
Valeria Bautista is a chemical engineer, having started with electroplating as an internship student. She has held numerous positions including plating line operator, chemical lab technician, quality inspector prior to her current position as Quality Manager. She is trained in AIAG Core Tools and has completed process documentation PPAP books for many automotive components for T1 and T2 customers. Bautista took charge in the company’s ISO 9001:2015 certification process, helping the company become certified three years after its start up. Three years later she led its IATF certification process, achieving it at the first attempt.
Photo Credit: LinkedIn
Dominic Bennett, senior account representative, Americo Chemical
Dominic Bennett got his start with Americo (Elgin, Ill.) working as a summer intern while getting an engineering degree from Perdue University. He joined Americo full time as an account representative in 2012. Today, as senior account manager, he is responsible for servicing customers in Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio.
Photo Credit: Georgia Powder Coating
Chewy Berrun, bidding and estimating specialist, Georgia Powder Coating
Chewy Berrun started at Georgia Powder Coating (Gainesville, Ga.) a little over 7 years ago in the sandblasting department and quickly accepted an increasing number of responsibilities from driving a forklift to helping customers. Today Berrun is the company’s bidding and estimating specialist responsible for millions in sales.
Photo Credit: LinkedIn
Jason Boyce, lab manager, Dipsol of America
Jason Boyce began his career following graduation from the University of Michigan Dearborn, working for an environmental engineering company prior to joining Dipsol of America (Livonia, Mich.) in 2014 as a lab chemist. Boyce was promoted in 2018 to Assistant Lab Manager, a position in which he managed a major expansion of the laboratory with the implementation of new analytical equipment, such as ICP-OES and Ion Chromatography, as well as making upgrades to the pilot plating line used for the testing and trials of plating processes and customer products. After managing another addition to the lab in 2021 to expand both its square footage and analytical capabilities by installing SEM-EDS instrumentation, Boyce was promoted to lab manager, assuming full responsibilities for the training and daily assignments for five lab chemists and technical lab support for customers throughout North America.
Photo Credit: Steelville Manufactring Co.
Sheena Bratcher, processing coordinator, Steelville Manufacturing Co.
Sheena Bratcher joined Steelville Manufacturing (Steelville, Mo.) in 2015 during a time when the company expanded into the world of chemical processing and coatings. Despite no prior experience in the industry, Bratcher quickly learned how to complete every function of aerospace painting within months. Today she is the company’s processing coordinator, responsible for schedule work and managing workloads. Under Bratcher’s leadership, the company’s average on-time percentage is 103% with average rework of less than 1% over a seven year period.
Photo Credit: M.L. Campbell
Carter T Burns, regional account manager, M.L. Campbell
As regional account manager for M.L. Campbell, a division of Sherwin-Williams, Carter Burns’ duties consist of working alongside regional points of distribution, aiding in the training of sales reps/lacquer specialists, providing technical field assistance, developing sales plans to grow market share, as well as working directly with end-users assisting with their day-to-day finish operations. Burns defines success as follows: “When a customer’s finish department is running efficiently, my distributor is therefore providing accurate service, and by default, my success is the product of their success.”
Photo Credit: AeroDynamics
Anya Burzynski, director of operations, AeroDynamics
As director of operations for AeroDynamics (Seabrook, N.H.), Anya Burzynski is focused on hiring the most talented and dedicated staff, and is committed to continuous improvement and education. Burzynski works closely with local community colleges and the MEP to bring educational seminars in- house for the staff at AeroDynamics. She played a key role in launching a digital work order system, a digital training program and streamlining the quality management system for the company. Burzynski regularly attends NASF events as well as local events for the industry.
Photo Credit: Steelville Manufacturing Co.
Lucas Callahan, paint department manager, Steelville Manufacturing Co.
Lucas Callahan started painting in the aerospace industry over 20 years ago and has been with Steelville Manufacturing Co. (Steelville, Mo.) since the company started processing in 2015. The company credits Callahan’s knowledge and technique as contributing to its ability to achieve superior results for exacting work. In addition, Callahan works to pass on his knowledge and expertise to ensure that the painters of tomorrow have a place in the aerospace industry.
Photo Credit: Pneu-Mech
Nick Dawson, regional sales manager, Pneu-Mech Systems
Nick Dawson is a regional sales manager at Pneu-Mech (Statesville, N.C.) responsible for the development of a new product line rolled out for Pneu-Mech. He has been a speaker at CCAI events on oven/washer/conveyor systems. Dawson is an authorized speaker for PCI and a teacher for the PCI 101 Workshop. He is an active member of the PCI Education Committee, as well as an active member of PCI Scholarship subcommittee, pursuing colleges to participate by bringing in candidates for a future in the manufacturing and finishing industries. In addition, Dawson is a member of the PCI Young Professionals group which meets to promote the manufacturing and coating industries to people under 40.
Photo Credit: Atotech
Kenny Deaton, GMF Deco/POP plating manager, Atotech
As Atotech’s (Rock Hill, S.C.) Deco/POP plating manager, Kenny Deaton empowers employees to learn next-generation finishes and processes and enables them to take part in new projects that utilize cutting-edge technologies such as hexavalent chromium-free etching processes, PFOS/PFAS-free fume suppressants, and tinted paint over chrome. Atotech says Deaton’s leadership in the development and support of these technologies is helping work toward a sustainable future for decorative coatings and that his efforts are helping train the current, and next, generation of professionals to better be prepared for the future trends and needs of the finishing industry.
Photo Credit: LinkedIn
Anthony Donoho, manager of logistics & anodizing, Signature Plating Ltd.
Anthony Donoho was hired in March of 2016 to lead the Signature Plating (Cibolo, Texas) shipping and receiving department and take on the role of logistics manager. With a business management degree from Texas State, Donoho quickly rose to the challenge. The company recognized his potential and added its anodizing products (Mil-A-8625 Type II Class 1&2) to his responsibilities. Donoho jumped at the opportunity, learning the process himself with the various types of alloys so he could better lead his team and take full ownership of the product line. His work on aviation projects has led Signature Plating to expand its volume and size capabilities by more than three times.
Photo Credit: MetaChem
Blake Ford, lab technician, Metal Chem
Blake Ford was hired at Metal Chem (Greenville, S.C.) as a research chemist, but has jumped at the chance to fill the shoes of anything that has been needed. His most recent accomplishment involved reviewing and improving the company’s production process after moving to a new building in preparation for increased production demand. Ford is currently tasked with improving efficiency within the quality control department.
Photo Credit: Global Metal Finishing
Geovanni Garcia, plant manager, Global Metal Finishing, Inc.
Geovanni “Geo” Garcia has grown up in the business while growing in his professional career. Hired by Global Metal Finishing (Roanoke, Va.) in February of 2010, Garcia developed his expertise by spending time in masking, racking, quality, and chemical-line processing. During his career, he has demonstrated mastery of the most complex aspects of anodizing. Garcia was promoted to plant manager of GMF in December of 2020.
Photo Credit: Axalta Coating Systems
Geresa Gonsalves, marketing specialist, Axalta Coating Systems
Geresa Gonsalves is a 2012 graduate from the University of Houston, earning her B.S. in Biotechnology. Upon completion of her MBA in 2019, she joined Axalta Coatings Systems (Houston, Texas) that June with no experience in the finishing industry. She quickly learned her way around, coordinating her first tradeshow within five months of joining the company. Within the last two years, she’s been responsible for Axalta powder coatings social media content creation, advertising, tradeshows, brand awareness, and cross-functional collaborations between marketing, supply chain and sales. Just this last year, she initiated the chip board program, Houston Plant Color Studio, and flash sale powder website; providing a unique yet modern approach to Axalta’s customer outreach.
Photo Credit: TDF Metal Finishing
Jessica Gonzalez, quality administrator, TDF Metal Finishing
TDF Metal Finishing (Danvers, Mass.) describes Jessica Gonzalez as “the classic example of somebody who wasn’t given a job, she stole it like only the best ones do.” Self-driven and always learning, Gonzalez worked hard to step into a key management role at TDF, filling the role of QC manager. TDF recently completed its annual ISO 9000 : 15 audit and passed with flying colors, which it says is due in no small part to Gonzalez maintaining the system. Utilizing new tools and technology, Gonzalez is also modernizing the department and moving much of the record-keeping to electronic versions. Taking on job planning, Gonzalez has utilized the company’s new software system to become a key part of job planning and process selection. As TDF pursues Nadcap accreditation, her role in the finishing process planning and the creation of Nadcap compliant process sheets will only grow.
Photo Credit: Tecnochimica S.p.A.
Emanuele Grillo, technical director, Tecnochimica S.P.A.
Emanuele Grillo is technical manager for Tecnochimica S.P.A. in Italy, a company dealing with processes for galvanic metal treatment. Projects carried out by Grillo and his group include the EVO processes (high corrosion resistance passivation without cobalt) and the innovative TECNOLOR technology, capable of changing the color of passivations with completely eco-friendly additives.
Photo Credit: LinkedIn
Estefany Hernandez, key account manager, PPG
Estefany Hernandez started her career at a German automotive parts manufacturing company gaining experience in the quality area prior to becoming production coordinator in the painting area. With more than 10 years shop experience and looking for new challenges, she joined PPG as a KAM (key account manager).
Photo Credit: LinkedIn
Jackson Horne, application specialist sales manager, Nordson Corporation
Jackson Horne was recently promoted to Application Specialist Sales Manager after several successful years as an Application Specialist with Nordson (Amherst, Ohio). He leads a team of five technical sales representatives and leverages superior organization skills and industry knowledge to support both customers and colleagues. He is passionate about finishing systems and dedicated to delivering value to his customers, whether he is on-site with them or using technology to stay in touch and address their challenges.
Nordson says Horne is well-known among customers for identifying and anticipating potential issues before they become problems, saving costly downtime.
Horne has created custom training classes for customers and colleagues alike, allowing teams throughout the industry to better optimize finishing systems. In recent years, he’s taken on more of a leadership role at industry events and provided expertise through speaking roles at Fabtech and local CCAI and PCI events in the Southeast.
Photo Credit: Avtec Finishing Systems
Travis Johnson, lab manager, Avtec Finishing Systems
Travis Johnson, lab manager for Avtec Finishing (New Hope, Minn.), has led many internal improvement initiatives in spite of all the challenges that COVID has created for surface finishers. His contributions to the success of the company include: implementation of a shop wide fully automatic bath control plan for the electroless nickel department, addition of automatic pH control for critical process steps in the plating department, approval for the addition of new XRF equipment, maintaining laboratory control records in accordance with international standards, and training new chemical staff. Johnson manages a four-member team that includes two chemical maintenance staff and two lab techs. While not overseeing daily lab operations, he pursues R&D projects focused on improving the process cycle or optimization of the various process chemistries in the shop.
Photo Credit: KCH Surface Finishing
Jonathan Leonardi, senior project engineer, KCH Surface Finishing
Jonathan Leonardi recently joined KCH Surface Finishing (Forest City, N.C.), a designer and builder of plating and anodizing lines, as a senior project engineer. Leonardi helps lead the company’s production facility in support, sales, design of lines and startup.
Leonardi holds numerous certifications, including Electroplater-Finisher, NASF Certified (CEF), Fundamentals of Metallographic Techniques, National Incident Management System Introduction, Incident Command System Introduction, OSHA 40-Hour Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response, Safety in the Chemical Process Industry, Risk Assessment, Chemical Reactivity Hazards, Inherently Safer Design & Process Safety.
Photo Credit: AaCron Anodizing
Arianna Maus, operations manager, AaCron Anodizing
Arianna Maus started at AaCron (Plymouth, Minn.) as a human resources manager before moving up to a leadership role as an operations manager over a year ago. At her company, Maus is known for breaking down complex issues into actionable steps that the manufacturing team can execute successfully. Maus also leads coaching sessions with team members to keep them on track so that they can be successful.
Photo Credit: Signature Plating
Matthew McKnight, vice president of operations, Signature Plating
Matthew McKnight started at Signature Plating (Cibolo, Texas) in 2011 in the shipping and receiving department before moving up the ranks to his current leadership position as vice president of operations. In recent years, McKnight has been an integral part of expanding the company’s operational capabilities to meet customer demand and volume, including staffing increases, lean initiatives, expansion of custom color finishes and implementation of quality and system metrics. McKnight is said to be a confident leader who uses precise communication and planning skills while managing production fluctuations and challenging tasks.
Photo Credit: Process Technology
Greg McMahon, electrical engineer, Process Technology
Greg McMahon is one of Process Technology’s (Willoughby, Ohio) top designers of power supplies. Using advanced and often small components to achieve high efficiencies, McMahon engineered one of the highest performing power supplies in the company’s history, a technological leap that became the blueprint for recently released products and those yet to be launched. In addition, McMahon is used frequently as the lead technical expert for customer-specific solutions, and he is highly valued for his ability to troubleshoot.
McMahon mentors young engineers and drives high-end precision solutions for the precious metal plating and semiconductor industries. He is also a member of the IEEE and Power Electronics Society (PELS).
Photo Credit: TTX
Elias Mejia, service manager, TTX Mexico
Elias Mejia works as a service manager for TTX Mexico, where he has been essential to the successful expansion of TTX into Mexico. Mejia offers services and development solutions to multiple customers directly by leading hands-on projects, as well indirectly by assessing small engineering companies to develop solutions and execute projects. Mejia is currently leading a team of service engineers across Mexico to help optimize customers’ maintenance of their systems and training of their personnel.
Photo Credit: Kyzen
Ethan Mueller, regional manager – Midwest, Kyzen
Since being hired about three years ago, Ethan Mueller has managed Kyzen’s (Nashville, Tenn.) sales and customer support functions of the Midwest territory. With his background in chemical engineering, Mueller works with clients to develop new cleaning methods that produce their desired quality and production rates while meeting environmental, health, safety and cost concerns. Many critical clean manufacturers in medical, aerospace and electronics depend on Mueller’s expertise to support them, and he is known for his ability to win the confidence and loyalty of his clients.
Photo Credit: LinkedIn
David Najera, quality & engineering manager, Nicro Group
David Najera has worked in the plating industry for over 10 years, starting as an auditor in incoming inspection and advancing to his current position as a quality and engineering manager. Najera has developed skills in negotiation, data analysis, problem-solving, customer service, core tools and more. Since starting at Nicro (Querétaro, Mexico), Najera’s performance has driven the group toward its organizational objectives, and the company says Najera is an incredibly valuable asset to the team.
Photo Credit: Dynapower
Matthew Paul, director of sales – power systems, Dynapower Company
Matthew Paul grew up working in an auto repair shop near his home and started doing bodywork at the age of 14. He ran his own custom auto and motorcycle shop prior to taking a role in final assembly at Dynapower (South Burlington, Vt.). In this position, Paul built the products that support critical businesses across the world. From there, Paul’s career at Dynapower has grown from building, to supporting, to helping customers find the best cost-effective solutions for their facilities. With each promotion through the company, Paul influences a greater team to help the metal finishing industry thrive. Paul has brought new products from concept to reality, raised the largest rectifier service team in the industry and fostered a training-rich, customer-focused service department at Dynapower.
As of February 2022, Paul’s team has brought over 2,600 rectifiers back online from field repairs in a customer facility. In addition, the team has performed over 4,000 hours of technical support via phone and email, helping over 3,400 rectifiers resume quality performance. Paul has reportedly saved his customer base over $28 million in replacement rectifiers or preventive maintenance, impacting the bottom-line and maintaining the success for hundreds of companies across the world.
Photo Credit: Plateco
Cody Powell, quality supervisor, Plateco Inc.
Cody Powell joined Plateco Inc. (Reedsburg, Wisc.) as a product engineer in the spring of 2017. Since then, Powell has helped create many internal efficiencies, earning him the title of quality supervisor. He is seen as a dedicated, punctual, innovative employee who also portrays great leadership qualities.
In addition to his role in supervising Plateco’s quality department, Powell has assumed the lead role in Plateco’s daily continual improvement meeting. In this meeting, a group of team members reviews any product that has been caught in Plateco’s internal quality control system and conducts a root cause analysis for the non-conformity. The goal of this meeting is to determine the underlying reason for the non-conformity and implement a change within the system to prevent it from occurring again in the future. In addition to the continual improvement meeting, Powell is also the lead in Plateco’s monthly key performance indicators meeting, covering internal metrics such as downtime, throughput and customer returns. The objective of the meeting is to ensure that the organization has the right practices in place to exceed the goals set forth.
According to Tom Schweich, the company’s operations management perfectionist, “Cody has risen to the top of a lot of roles in a fairly short period of time. He has a strong work ethic and is extremely eager and outgoing. More significantly, he is willing to take on additional responsibilities and work long hours in order to go above and beyond for the company.”
Powell’s contributions play a key role in Plateco’s success and led the company to be named a Products Finishing Top Shop in 2021.
Photo Credit: Imagineering Finishing Technologies
Michael Seiler, CFO/EVP strategy, Imagineering Finishing Technologies
As CFO/EVP of strategy for Imagineering Finishing Technologies (IFT), Mike Seiler provides leadership to the team of over 150 employees at Imagineering’s 3 plant locations and is an effective business partner for the C-level executives.
Photo Credit: Fischer Technology
Devarsh Shah, applications & technical product engineer, Fischer Technology Inc.
Devarsh Shah joined Fischer Technology (Windsor, Conn.) in January 2019, where he has excelled as an integral part of the company’s applications team. Shah supports customers in areas including electric vehicles, solar cells, flex circuits and semiconductors. He is known for continuously presenting fresh,ambitious ideas to the Fischer team, and he is an ambassador for Fischer’s extensive product offerings using his knowledge of the company’s coating and plating thickness measurements, material testing, scratch testing and material analysis instruments. Shah is invaluable in helping Fischer’s customers determine how to measure and analyze their coatings, as well as how to streamline their processes and improve their overall operations.
Photo Credit: Hohman Plating
Zack Sholl, process engineer, Hohman Plating
Zack Sholl works in Hohman Plating’s (Dayton, Ohio) conversion coatings department, where he brings a detailed approach to taking on new jobs and making sure long-running jobs continue through the shop. Hohman Plating says it has seen a measurable increase in its first-pass yield quality numbers, and those numbers can be directly attributed to the work Sholl has done in the anodizing department.
Photo Credit: National Aerospace Processing
Kevin Street, process and production engineer, National Aerospace Processing
Kevin Street has been with National Aerospace Processing (NAP, Stow, Ohio) since it started in 2020 during the beginning of the pandemic. At NAP, Street has been involved in the installation of aerospace painting, passivation, anodizing and shot peening. He has worn many hats throughout this process, including maintenance technician, design engineer, production manager, quality manager, process engineer, operator, painter and even janitor. Street is said to work tirelessly to finish implementation and production kickoff, learning the intricacies of metal finishing along the way. Street has become an expert in each of the processes that NAP has implemented.
Photo Credit: Gema
Andrew Ukhov, ServiceNet technician, Gema USA Inc.
Since starting at Gema (Indianapolis, Ind.) five years ago, Andrew Ukhov has specialized in the use of fusion bond epoxy (FBE) coatings applied on pipe and valves for the oil, gas and water industries. Ukhov is driven by overseeing his projects and work assignments from start to completion, and he enjoys sharing his input, experiences and advice to colleagues and industry partners. Ukhov takes pride in furthering the powder coating industry as a green solution that positively impacts the global emissions footprint, and he is currently supervising the installation and start-up of Gema’s complex automated powder coating systems.
Photo Credit: Quakerr Houghton
James Vo, sales consultant, Quaker Houghton
James Vo joined Coral Chemical (Zion, Ill.) five years ago, prior to its acquisition by Quaker Houghton (Conshohocken, Pa.). Vo provides hands-on support to ensure his customers’ production lines have minimal downtime and that the employees fully understand the chemical processes and how to manage them. Vo is also a member of the Chemical Coaters Association, and formerboard member and treasurer for the Puget Sound chapter in Seattle, which he helped start. Vo studied business and marketing at Cal Poly Pomona, and he was a production supervisor at a packaging company prior to joining Coral Chemical.
Photo Credit: DRW Consulting
Danielle Walkiewicz, DRW Consulting
Danielle Walkiewicz is a metal finishing and surface technology subject matter expert. Her consulting practice, DRW Consulting (Carson City, Nev.), provides business and technical services for manufacturers, finishing shops, small- to mid-sized chemical companies and research groups. With a focus on revenue growth, Walkiewicz provides an analytical and gated approach to pairing internal strengths with market opportunity analysis.
Prior to launching DRW Consulting, Walkiewicz held managerial and directorship roles in manufacturing, including wet process engineering, product development, research and development, quality assurance and environmental health and safety. She has also served as a technical advisor on the strategy team of a global aerospace fastener manufacturing company.
Walkiewicz serves as chairman of her local SAMPE chapter (Society for the Advancement of Materials and Process Engineering), as well as professional development chair for her local SWE chapter (Society of Women Engineers).
Photo Credit: Columbia Chemical
Jacob Weingart, research chemist, Columbia Chemical Corporation
Jacob Weingart joined Columbia Chemical (Brunswick, Ohio) two years ago as a research chemist, a role in which he designs and formulates new products to enhance the corrosion protection and performance of surface finishing chemistry. Two of his major accomplishments include the development of a new clear, high-performing, trivalent passivate for aluminum alloys and the formulation of a deeper black trivalent chrome chemistry. Weingart is an active member of the American Chemical Society, the Society of Plastic Engineers and the National Association for Surface Finishing. He is driven by the goal of further expanding the innovative chemistry and capabilities of Columbia for continued organizational growth and taking on advanced leadership roles internally and within the industry.
Photo Credit: Wall Control
Stephanie Weisensale, materials and coating manager, Wall Control
In her role at Wall Conrtol (Tucker, Ga.), Stephanie Weisensale has been a strategic leader during the design and implementation of a new in-house powder coating system and process. Taking time to learn all the products in detail, Weisensale has worked very closely with Patriot Finishing Systems on optimizing pretreatment chemicals and powder coatings. She is also in charge of organizing chemical storage and supplies for titration tests, as well as management of all pretreatment chemicals. After learning all the needed application and quality tests, as well as learning how to effectively operate and maintain the new powder coating system, Weisensale now trains new employees on how to run the system and is the lead for an all-female team of coaters.
Photo Credit: Pavco
Heather Wright, senior research chemist/safety director, Pavco Inc.
Heather Wright has been a senior research chemist at Pavco (Charlotte, N.C.) for eight years. Her development of new products has been widespread; she has been a lead developer of chloride zinc chemistries, alkaline zinc chemistries, nickel additives, passivates and more. Wright is committed to maintaining a safe work environment in an inherently complex operation involving hazardous chemical handling, testing and storage. In addition to these main roles, Wright trains and develops new employees, and she is well versed in complex instrumentation operations such as Microwave Plasma, HPLC and others.
Photo Credit: Doerken Coatings
Gabriel Yurko, technical manager, Doerken Coatings North America
Prior to joining the Doerken Coatings (Grass Lake, Mich.) team as a technical specialist in 2019, Gabriel Yurko earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering at Wayne State University. Yurko was promoted to the role of technical manager within one year, and his role now includes leading project management and supervising laboratory and research studies. Doerken’s team relies on Yurko’s knowledge to better understand the effectiveness of its technology and to ensure it meets and exceeds international and customer standards. Yurko is quick to provide solutions to issues that customers may bring forth and works closely with the company’s global colleagues to continuously provide support.