Growing your business often hinges on expanding your offerings. Perhaps no one knows that better than Midlake Products & Mfg. Co. Inc. Based in Louisville, Ohio, the company got its start as an industrial and custom hinge manufacturer in 1987. What started as a small family operation run out of a garage has grown into a 65,000 square foot facility that produces more than 650,000 hinges per year. Over the years, Midlake has expanded its offerings to provide its customers with a variety of metal fabricated components and machine parts. The company offers laser cutting, CNC bending, welding, hardware insertion and finishing, and continues to investigate capabilities to add to its roster. After several years of consideration, Midlake recently added a powder coating line.

“We didn’t necessarily aspire to be a powder coater,” says Jeff Rich, president of Midlake. “But over the years, we kind of continued to look back and say, ‘powdercoating is something that we’re probably going to need to have in our shop.’”

According to Rich, the company had been outsourcing powder coating for approximately 30 years. Midlake had set the stage for further expansion, but was torn between adding more capacity for existing capabilities and adding something new.

“We had added onto our facility in 2012 with a 20,000 square foot addition,” Rich explains. “At the time we only needed 10,000, but were keeping this other 10,000 square feet available for some new capability. At the time, we weren’t quite sure it was going to be powder — but everything just kept leading back to powder coating.”

powder coating, pretreatment, non-reactive cleaner
Midlake was searching for a cleaning process that was simple and environmentally friendly.

Cleaning first
Rich says that the tipping point in the decision happened in 2018 at the metal forming, fabricating, welding and finishing expo FABTECH. Much of his time at the show was spent investigating powder coating and talking to equipment and chemical suppliers. Rich was determined to glean some details to help make an informed decision and recalls that one of the factors that convinced Midlake to move forward with a powder coating line was a pretreatment chemistry that he learned about at the show.

“As we were exploring the potential of bringing powder coating in-house, the cleaning seemed like the first step of that process,” he says.

Read more: Non-reactive Cleaning for Powder Coating