Helps Craftmasters Achieve Caterpillar Certification

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New powder coating equipment allows Waco business to receive important benchmark, increase overall business.

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We thought the new oven and booth would allow us to double our capacity, but it looks like from what we’ve seen so far that our capacity will be much greater than we thought.

A new, larger powder coating oven and spray enclosure purchased through has given Waco’s Craftmasters Powder Coating a solid boost in business.

“We started up the new oven and booth in June and business is already up over 28 percent,” said Steve Cheek, Craftmasters’ owner. “We picked up one new large customer right away, and it was directly because of the new equipment.”

Cheek installed a new gas powder curing oven with inside dimensions of 10 feet high, 10 feet wide and 25 feet long and a powder spray enclosure that has the same dimensions, except it is two feet wider. The equipment was manufactured by Reliant Finishing Systems of Somerville, AL and purchased through

Before adding the new equipment, Craftmasters had operated two ovens (6’x8’x10’ and 6’x6’x20’) and one similarly sized spray booth.

“We were seeing a real increase in demand to coat big and heavy parts, and having the larger equipment allows us to be able to handle them now,” Cheek explained. “So, in addition to higher through-put by getting more pieces in the oven at one time, we can now handle much larger pieces.

“We thought the new oven and booth would allow us to double our capacity, but it looks like from what we’ve seen so far that our capacity will be much greater than we thought,” Cheek added.

And Cheek noted that his gas bill has not increased anywhere near the pace of his business.

“This Reliant equipment is very efficient,” he said. “We went from ovens with 350,000 and 500,000 btu burners to adding one that produces 1,500,000 btus and we thought our gas bill would at least double. That just hasn’t been the case. I’m very pleasantly surprised at the relatively small increase in our gas bill.”

The Reliant oven features six inches of six-pound mineral wool insulation in the walls and ceiling and has a Power Flame FD forced-induction, direct-fired burner.

Another advantage of Reliant’s equipment in Cheek’s view is that there are few proprietary parts.

“So many of these manufacturers today want to make all the parts proprietary so they can keep you coming back,” Cheek said. “The really big advantage with Reliant equipment is that almost all of the parts are available through local industrial supply dealers like Grainger. My ovens and booths make money for me every day. I can’t afford to be down for three or four days waiting on an expensive part. Everything is going to need parts sooner or later, and when that happens with my Reliant equipment I can run down to Grainger and be back in operation in an hour or two rather than waiting days to get proprietary parts in.”

“I come from a mechanical background,” Cheek explained. “I like the simplicity of design and solid construction of the Reliant equipment. We assembled the oven and booth ourselves and the process went pretty smoothly. The booth is easier to assemble than the oven, and we did the booth first, so that got us started off right.”

When they had questions, they called J.R. Stewart, Reliant’s national service manager. “J.R. has been great at talking us through issues, both while we were assembling the equipment and since we’ve been operating it,” commented Cheek. “We haven’t run into anything we couldn’t handle over the phone.”

Cheek started Craftmasters Powder Coating in Buffalo, TX in 1995. He had a manufacturing background and had been working in a plant that produced large metal tanks. He ran their powder coating operation before branching out on his own. Eventually, most of his customer base developed in the Waco area, about 70 miles away, so he moved the business there in 2005.

In addition to powder coating, Cheek and his 11 employees do sandblasting. Their coating business includes powder coating that is both functional and decorative. About 90 percent of his business is from O.E.M. companies.

“They are our bread and butter,” Cheek said. “They are the ones that will call you back month after month, and it is in that important area that the new equipment has allowed us to grow.”

Craftmasters is about to reach an important milestone by becoming certified by Caterpillar as a supplier of powder coating services for parts it buys from its suppliers. With Caterpillar having several major manufacturing facilities in Texas, including Waco, there are numerous suppliers who serve them, and having that certification will be big for Craftmasters.

“The Reliant equipment is helping us get the certification,” said Cheek. “We are required to run a Datapaq on the oven every six months and we must have the ability to meet very precise temperature requirements. We have seen that we can hold the temperatures we need throughout the Reliant oven.”

Reliant builds powder spray enclosures, powder curing ovens and media blast enclosures at its plant in Somerville, AL. is a marketing arm of Reliant whose web site allows easy shopping for its products, with pictures, complete product descriptions, pricing and special package deals. Cheek worked with Luke Slaton of in purchasing his Reliant equipment. can be accessed on the Internet, or directly by calling toll-free (877) 647-1089.

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Mr. Luke Slaton