Texas Fabricator Uses U.S.-Built Powder Coating Equipment to Compete Against Foreign Imports

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AAdvantage Panels and Fence, a fabrication company based in Whitney, Texas, recently acquired a new powder coating system built by Reliant Finishing Systems in Alabama. The U.S.-made equipment has enabled AAdvantage to compete with Asian companies that have historically dominated the decorative fencing market.

We saw a niche in the middle for well-built fencing at a reasonable cost.

A new Texas-based company, AAdvantage Panels and Fence, recently installed media blasting and powder coating equipment from Reliant Finishing Systems to help produce high-quality fencing products with a rugged powder coated finish. Thanks to the company’s focus on quality, AAdvantage is capturing sales in a market niche that had been dominated by foreign suppliers. The company provides decorative fence panels for the commercial and residential markets, as well as livestock fencing. Company CEO Robert Webb said his primary goal is to produce premium products at reasonable prices.

A major part of Webb’s strategy relies on the use of Reliant equipment to get durable, attractive finishes on his company’s products. AAdvantage purchased a twenty five foot-long media blast enclosure, and similarly sized powder spray enclosure and powder curing oven. Webb said he chose a linear configuration with the appliances positioned end-to-end because it gives him many of the benefits of an automated coating line at a fraction of the cost. Webb purchased the system from Allied Finishing Solutions through their BoothsAndOvens.com web site. Allied is a national-level distributor of equipment from Reliant Finishing Systems. Webb worked with Allied’s president, veteran powder-coating specialist Franklin Slaton, while designing and ordering his coating system.

AAdvantage is using their location, as well as their products, to help gain new customers. “A lot of decorative fencing has been supplied by Asian vendors,” Webb said. “Our goal is to be price competitive and supply a better product, and our location is a big part of that strategy.” Webb is developing a network of distributors for his agricultural products throughout Texas and Oklahoma. His company is taking the same approach with decorative fencing products for the commercial and residential markets. That’s one of the reasons Webb chose to locate the plant in Whitney, Texas, between the Dallas-Fort Worth area and Austin, both centers of economic growth. “Our products aren’t the cheapest in the market, but they surely aren’t the most expensive either,” Webb said. “We want to give developers and home owners the best combination of quality and price.”

Although AAdvantage Panels and Fence is a new company, Webb spent over 20 years manufacturing outdoor furniture before producing fence panels. During that time he gained experience powder coating his products, so he was comfortable with putting in a new coating line at AAdvantage. “The Reliant oven gets up to operating temperature anywhere from 30% to 50% faster than our old oven,” he said. AAdvantage ordered their new system in October of 2012 and it was operational before the end of the year. “It arrived when they said it would and the installation process went very smoothly,” Webb recalled. “They trained us in the morning and by the end of the day we were going full speed. The installation crew barely got out of our way before we were producing on the equipment.” The system has continued to meet Webb’s expectations. “No news is good news,” he said. “We haven’t had to call about a thing. We turn the equipment on, set it and run it.”

Webb concluded that his company is gaining ground against imported products because of the ability to provide a better product and a smoother purchase process while maintaining affordable pricing. After identifying an unfulfilled need, Webb took action. “We first started looking at livestock fencing panels,” Webb said. “Much of the fencing on the market was just plain junk, made of rough stock with sloppy welds and a finish that wouldn’t hold up to the elements. On the other end of the market was very high quality fencing that many ranchers couldn’t afford. We saw a niche in the middle for well-built fencing at a reasonable cost.”

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Mr. Franklin Slaton

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