All that traffic in and out of the RV/MH Hall of Fame on Wednesday (May 6) was due to a new-to-the-Elkhart-market “Partners in Profit” trade show hosted by Industrial Finishes & Systems Inc., a Eugene, Ore.-based distributor of paint and related equipment and supplies. The event brought together 35 exhibiting suppliers specializing in paint/body/finish products in the RV, marine, automotive, military, aerospace and industrial/panel markets.
Even though its mainstay business is the automotive industry, 57-year-old Industrial Finishes, which currently operates 25 distribution centers, has deep roots in the RV business dating back to the 1980’s, according to Mike Duncan, director of marketing, industrial finishes and systems.
“A big part of our portfolio is support for the RV industry, and that obviously started in Lane County, Ore., back when the industry there was still really going strong,” said Duncan, an Elkhart native who migrated years ago to the West Coast where he worked in marketing for the former Monaco Coach Corp. “We had a presence in Eugene, obviously that being our headquarters, and our first big RV customer that we worked with was Safari Motor Coach back in the ‘80’s, which is when (Industrial Finishes founder) Stuart Barr first went out and pitched (Safari founder) Matt Perlot on some product and we started a relationship with them. And that relationship continued.
“Stuart also worked with Monaco, Holiday Rambler and that group as well as Country Coach,” noted Duncan, adding that Barr is still active in the company, which maintains a Midwest office on Verdant Drive in Elkhart. “And we still currently sell some products to Marathon Coach.”
The “Partners in Profit” event in Elkhart was actually the fourth trade show that Industrial Finishes has sponsored over the past four years, with previous expos in Portland, Ore., and Salt Lake City, Utah.
Duncan, whose 250-employee company does the majority of its business with collision centers, said the Portland event in particular has garnered a considerable regional reputation among the paint and body crowd.
“All of these shows had been very successful and our RV Group here in Elkhart wanted to bring something like that to Elkhart County for paint professionals in the RV industry to come through and see a bunch of different products, tools, equipment, coatings and associated materials all in one place at one time,” noted Duncan. “And that’s what we’re here for. We have about 35 vendors representing about 46 different product lines.”
The exhibitors included companies like SATA and BASF Corp., which conducted a color clinic during with the show. Among the other suppliers with whom RVBusiness touched base:
• Geoff Mead, a Minnesota regional manager for Cary, N.C.-based Lord Fusor, a division of Lord Corp. specializing in aftermarket repair adhesives for aftermarket applications, RVs and cars. “We’re very highly tied to the automotive OEM world,” said Mead. “We have adhesives in basically every car that’s on the market today, and our line spans everything from epoxies and acrylics for panel bonding applications, metal-to-metal and fiberglass. We have repair products for everything from a cosmetic scratch to a hole in your bumper. Now, we’re expanding into RVs and the heavy-duty truck market.”
• Jack Vandervelde, vice president of sales and marketing for Pro-Tek, a 33-year-old, Longueuil, Quebec-based supplier of paint guns and related products in the paint and body arena who was “exploring to see what’s there in the RV sector that can overlap with our product line.”
• Mike Gumz, a Milford, Ind.-based senior account representative for Minnesota-based 3M who services the RV, marine, specialty vehicle, cargo trailer and the truck and bus markets. “We’re here to support our distributor, Industrial Finishes, as they promote our products throughout the Elkhart County area,” said Gumz, who was showing VHB (Very High Bond) bonding tapes, new masking tapes for paint shops for RVs and polyurethane adhesive sealants used in the marine and RV arena. “Business this year is extremely good,” added Gumz. “There has been such an increase in the amount of RV’s being made now. A rising tide lifts a lot of ships, and we are the recipients of not only increased market share that we are acquiring but also the increased volume that is being produced.”