powder coating

D&K Powder Coating offers a one-stop-shop powder coating service from intake of the product all the way through racking, media blasting, cleaning, drying, powder coating, baking, quality assurance, processing and packaging.
Photo Credit: All photos by Monte Consulting

Located in Mankato, Minnesota, D&K Powder Coating is the embodiment of what hard work and perseverance can achieve. The company was started in 2013 by Dana Schnepf who knows a thing or two about growing small businesses. Schnepf got his start in the construction industry as an electrician, he later owned a carwash and also developed and managed a storage business. Nine years ago, he turned his attention toward powder coating.

D&K Powder Coating was established in 2013. The company offers powder coating and media blasting services for various manufacturing markets, including agriculture and power generation. While the premise of the company is rather straightforward, the work that Schnepf and his team have put into growing the company is considerable. Today, the company has a team of 50 employees and coats an array of parts of all sizes from paperclips to oversize trailers.

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Recently the company undertook the task of finding areas of opportunity for streamlining operations and improving productivity.

“We built a business on quality and customer service, and we’ve recently implemented a material resource planning program powered by Steelhead Technologies. That’s helped us to identify areas where we were profitable and those where we weren't as profitable and enabled us to realign our business accordingly,” Schnepf says.

Steelhead Technologies describes its software as a “plant operating system.” The platform modernizes and streamlines production environments through digitization, automation and optimization, while revealing data manufacturers can begin to leverage for more efficient processes and improved profitability.

“Today, manufacturers are under myriad pressures. From labor turnover, pressure on margins, traceability requirements, and customer service expectations,” says Jeff Halonen, co-founder and CEO of Steelhead Technologies. “From tracking production cost and quality, to training operators, digitizing workflow and paperwork, to automated custom plant reports, Steelhead Technologies provides a digital foundation to unlock decades of growth in an ever more digital world with a platform that is flat out easy to use.”

According to Schnepf, Steelhead helped him improve efficiency and productivity across the entire workflow at D&K.

He explains, “We have many different processes here, from intake of the product all the way through hanging it, media blasting, washing, drying, powder coating, baking, quality assurance, processing and packaging. Steelhead has helped us track all of it, figure out our profitability and follow parts through the entire process.”

powder coating, ERP software

Steelhead Technologies builds custom solutions based on its ERP software designed to streamline production environments through digitization, automation and optimization, while revealing data manufacturers can begin to leverage for more efficient processes and improved profitability.

Tools for transformation

Through hard work and perseverance, D&K Powder Coating has built a solid business, but the company saw an opportunity for streamlining its processes and sought an ERP solution to help them gain more insight into ways it could improve productivity and profitability. That’s where Steelhead Technologies came in.

Dean Halonen, head of sales for Steelhead, describes his first impression of D&K’s operation. “One thing we were initially struck by is how large of a team D&K has. There are hundreds of jobs on that shop floor. D&K was looking to track that activity, really distill the numbers from their business and figure out what it’s going to take to grow.”  

Every shop tracks things differently and has different requirements for an ERP system. Steelhead Technologies builds custom solutions based on its platform for each facility.

“What we actually built in the platform was a racking module,” Halonen explains.  “Unlike most ERPs, we’re built for metal finishing — when an operator racks a part in real life, they rack a part in Steelhead.”

Halonen says that in the early stages, the Steelhead team meets with the key leadership structure of each work center — blasting, coating, quality, packing, shipping, hanging, shipping and receiving.

From there, Steelhead builds out all the functionality around each work center and links them together accounting for all the possible combinations of potential process flows throughout the facility.

Schnepf says that implementing its new ERP system has allowed the company to instantly see improvements in profitability and credits Steelhead Technologies with helping to facilitate the recent meteoric growth at D&K Powder Coating.

powder coating, racking

D&K Powder Coating is team-oriented and sought a software partner who could provide optimal training and support through implementation of the new system and beyond.

A team approach

D&K Powder Coating puts its team first and foremost. So, when the company decided to invest in a new ERP solution, one of the things it was very serious about was making sure its staff received the proper training and felt comfortable with the new system.

“We consider our team here to be family — we’re very tight and work well together,” Schnepf says.

Steelhead Technologies immediately rose to the occasion with onsite training and support. And while D&K is a tight-knit team, Steelhead fit right in.

“Steelhead’s staff have felt like they are on our team — like they’re one of us,” Schnepf says. “It’s been a great relationship. Whenever we’ve had any issues, problems or changes, they usually work on it overnight and we have a solution within 24 hours.  It’s a great partnership.”

powder coating

Schnepf is optimistic about D&K’s future as the company pursues continuous improvement and explores new growth opportunities.

Growing for the future

D&K’s growth shows no signs of stopping and the company is looking ahead toward new opportunities. With the capability for oversize parts, the company is open to taking on pretty much anything that comes its way. Schnepf says the company isn’t currently doing a lot of government or military work but it has the capabilities and is looking toward those markets as possible areas of growth.

“We have a large part capacity. We can do items 12 feet by 16 feet by 50 feet and up to 40,000 pounds,” Schnepf says. “If you can put it on a semi and move it down the highway, we can powder coat it.”

Landscape Photo Credit: Monte Consulting


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