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"Interested in starting a small plating shop"


I am interested in starting out small and build a plating house from the ground up. I have been working in the plating business for not quite five years but my technical expertise is fairly well developed. I am thinking of starting out with a small anodize operation. Eventually moving into NDT (my core expertise) and moving into hard anodize and eventually paint ( in 5 to 10 years). My question is in today's market is there really a need. It seems to me that there is but I would like to hear from others.


John S. Mars
- Arkansas City, Kansas

First of two simultaneous responses -- 2005

Is there a need for another metal finishing shop? The answer is - it depends.

It depends on how many shops and how much work is in your local area, say within a 200 mile radius.

It depends on the quality of your work. There is always more need for good quality work than for poor.

It depends whether you will produce when your customers want and need you to. There is always more demand for shops which deliver on time.

It depends on whether you are price competitive.

It depends whether you give your customers the "warm fuzzies", that they believe you know what you are doing, that you are adequately equipped, and that you are responsive to their needs.

Many plating shops have closed over the past twenty years; some have lost work to overseas manufacturers, some were mismanaged. New shops have opened too. Our shop opened 15 months ago, and we have been profitable from the first month. The owner had many years of experience, went out on a limb to borrow enough money, and worked like a dog to make that happen.

Can you succeed in a new shop? Depends entirely on you. You're going to have to invest more than you now think, learn more than you now know, work harder than you ever imagined, comply with complex environmental and safety regulations, do the work right the first time, and on time, and sell your work at a price your customers think is reasonable.

jeffrey holmes
Jeffrey Holmes, CEF
Spartanburg, South Carolina

Second of two simultaneous responses -- 2005

I'd say it all depends on how you define a "need". Obviously, a lot of us are still in business, so is there a market that you could try to compete in - yes. On the flip side, a lot of us regularly complain about finishing work moving overseas, so the market may not be one that has a lot of spare room on the industrial end.

That being said, I regularly get calls for high-end and custom stuff; splash anodizing, multi-color, electropolish (not exactly "high-end", I just don't do it). So, the best advice I've seen yet regarding starting a new shop would be to set yourself up so that you have the capability to do custom type or super-fast turn-around work. More and more often, individuals want (and are willing to pay for) the trickier stuff, so if you're going to start new you may as well set yourself up to be able to handle it.

Also, check with the Small Business Administration; they have a lot of very helpful programs for new small companies.

Good luck!

Jim Gorsich
Accurate Anodizing Inc.
supporting advertiser
Compton, California, USA
accurate anodizing banner


I would tend to agree with pretty much what everyone said. But since I have such a favoring towards #'s and financials I'm going to present the scenario differently than the others.

Can you reasonably justify the start-up necessary to do such a thing? How well have to gauged the market potential in your area? Are you planning local / regional, or national services (niche market sort of things mind you).
Have you spoke with the city / state dept EPA? Have you determined the bottom line setup costs you're going to need? Doing something for yourself as a hobbyist is one thing, when you do it commercially, and render services in exchange for money, there's way more to consider, such as permitting, and discharging. The waste treatment even on a small setup can be pretty daunting.

I realize you have background, we all do since we're answering you. I think if it was me, today, and I didn't sit where I do, and I was wondering if I wanted to do this all over again, I'd opt for a liquor store over a metal finishing company. Maybe thats just the industry and its constant changes weighing on my decision and my energy levels lately, but regardless.

Now with all that said, ask yourself what you plan to do. Have you by chance had a "commercial" metal finisher quote the same process for you thats in your locale? Perhaps you'd find yourself better handling the management and communication of the work, and outsourcing the actual finishing to a 3rd party. This would take all the regulatory requirements off your shoulders, and you can easily mark up someone else's work for the time you put into it. If you shopped something around enough, you'd probably find a good blend of quality and price (they are directly related, don't believe what anyone tells you otherwise) and a supplier that fits your needs, while not killing your wallet and not requiring huge start up costs, and huge mental anguish going into something so daringly.

I know its a late response to the game, but I haven't been around as much lately.

Matthew Stiltner
plating company - Toledo, Ohio


Thanks for the responses. I will use your responses as I evaluate the next step!

John S. Mars
- Arkansas City, Kansas

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