Neenah Company Helps Others Run Smoothly
by Brian Neuberger
Serving the aircraft, automotive, over the road, industrial and motor sport industries, among others, on an international level, US Ceramic Coatings offers customers more than 50 standard coatings to improve performance, efficiency and, according to company director Tim Frater, simply to solve problems. On occasion, to derive at the best solution for a specific application, custom blends are also formulated.
"We are problem solvers," said Frater, a Wisconsin native. "With what we have from a coating standpoint and where we have positioned ourselves in the industry with our products, few companies, if any, can match the services we provide."
Headquartered at 1730 Dixie Road in Neenah, each state-of-the-art coating (which has been applied to manifolds, piping systems, valve bodies and internal parts for power generation facilities, ships, locomotive and stationary diesel/gas engines and chemical plants, to name a few) that US Ceramic Coatings produces, according to Frater, has been engineered to do something specific based on one's needs and demands. Most of the solutions address a performance issue; however, extending the usable life of a valuable asset frequently is an added bonus.
All told, the company has five basic families of coatings: heat barrier coatings (preventing heat migration through a substrate material with working temperatures to 2000?F), heat dispersants (reducing surface temperature by changing how the air film flows and keeping the surface free of oil, dirt and corrosion), dry film lubricants (a baked on permanent coating that also attracts and holds oil preventing dry starts), PEEK (a super plastic which works well when machined for valve seats), PEEK blends and specialty coatings (designed for applications that have special and unique needs).
"We service the business and individual alike," said Frater, a service disabled Vietnam veteran, who adds that US Ceramic Coatings was the first company worldwide to offer PEEK blends as a coating, "and we do not take a backseat to anyone with the products that we offer. Standard tests show we can significantly outperform any conventional coatings.
In addition to the benefits provide by the aforementioned coating families, US Ceramic Coatings' products are specifically designed for abrasion, chemical, corrosion and impact resistance, as well as flexibility and friction reduction.
With one over-the-road trucking company's own published figures, according to sales director Terry Schuelke, validated the ability for them to save over $92,000.00 per day with only a few common components being coated across their entire fleet with the company's proprietary coatings!
The overall success of US Ceramics Coatings should come as little surprise, however, for Frater, who built the facility where US Ceramic Coatings currently operates, is the epitome of the entrepreneurial spirit.
Upon graduating from UW-Milwaukee with a Bachelor's Degree in Architectural Studies, completing his apprenticeship, Frater then began his post-collegiate career in Prairie du Chien area as a registered architect.
After economic hardships in the area, Frater transitioned to the role of business owner. Founding LEW, Inc. (www.lewinc.org) over 25 years ago to provide specialty equipment (namely pressure, temperature and level control technology) for industries and municipalities, the company is one of the few distributors in the United States that stock tubing/hose support systems.
While still overseeing operations of LEW, Inc. to this day, Frater became involved with George Tarbutton ie Team Synergy Coatings (which was originally founded in Florida by Bill Hayward in 1993 as HyperCoat to bring Aerospace technology to the automotive, military, energy, rail and marine industries, among others) in 2004 as a technical sales specialist and applicator.
Five years later, Frater stands at the forefront of US Ceramic Coatings (Team Synergy Coatings was officially renamed to US Ceramic Coatings on Oct. 1, 2009).
"Company wide, we currently have six independent applicators [segmented throughout the United States] that, basically, have made the commitment to learn the products that we have," said Frater. "The education, and the process involved in learning the product and coatings, of our people is invaluable. Each coating has its own personality; each one is a little bit different and some are unbelievably touchy. And if not applied right, the coating is worthless because it will not perform." The coatings are the science, while the application process is the art of making them work.
The ability of the coatings to perform has certainly not been an issue for Frater and his associates to lose sleep over.
While the continued evolution of the company's Web site (www.usceramiccoatings.com) under web manager Jay Frater, has helped increase public awareness, the stream of area of positive word of mouth has made US Ceramic Coatings a viable and well-known player within the coating industry. Initial planning is already underway to scale up the operation for higher volume production runs.
Perhaps the company's biggest cheerleader, Tim Frater has traveled nationwide to demonstrate the durability, quality and overall superiority of the US Ceramic Coatings brand. Or, put another way, to personify the corporate slogan of: "Get the best…or…just be like the rest!"
"In most meetings the client simply does not believe that our coatings can sustain certain heats or perform at the levels we say that they can," said Frater, our coatings have endured ASTM B-11(scratch and hot salt spray) for over 6,000 hours of testing (namely from a corrosion, weather ability standpoint) on the coatings. "It usually only takes a few simple tests to demonstrate the durability and quality of a US Ceramic Coatings product."
While still getting his feet relatively wet within the coatings industry, Frater, not one to look in the rearview mirror, understands the necessary steps that need to be taken for US Ceramic Coatings to continue to grow and reach its full potential. "We continue to develop coatings to meet needs of customers. In fact, most of our current coatings were formulated as a result of someone requesting something that they needed or simply could not find anyplace else. Again, it all comes down to the problem solving aspect of our business and we will keep on providing quality, cost effective solutions."