Case Studies

Allen Blasting and Coating Inc.

Competent solutions for complex applications

With its headquarters in southeast Iowa, Allen Blasting and Coating Inc. (ABC) works throughout the Midwest as a heavy industrial contractor specializing in abrasive blasting, structural steel painting and protective coatings for industrial customers. ABC repeatedly works in power plants, wet corn milling facilities, manufacturing plants, chemical plants and food processing plants. Additionally, ABC has two climate-controlled painting facilities.

The company was founded by current owners Charlie and Ruth Allen in 2003. ABC has since become well-known across the region for its successfully completed projects. What started as a handful of people has grown into a premier company with more than 100 employees in seven locations and $12 million in annual revenue.

With a comprehensive plan for managed growth in place, revenue is projected to grow by 25 percent within the next two or three years. According to Allen, the entire operation is set to double in size another decade from now.

Many capabilities, familiar customers

As a full-service company, ABC’s many capabilities include: exterior and interior tank coating/lining, structural steel painting, roof coatings, metalizing, pipe cleaning, floor topping, ceramic insulations, fire proofing, plant surveys, UHP water blasting, equipment rentals, cleaning and sanitation. The company walks industrial customers through every phase of a project – from planning, material selection and scheduling to installation.

ABC finds solutions that are logical and affordable for its customers and with a wide scope, self-performs all of its services using state-of-the-art equipment. As an SSPC QP-1 certified coating contractor, ABC provides high-quality workmanship with a professional and experienced team. ABC garners a majority of its business from repeat clientele and word-of-mouth referrals. Furthermore, the company’s financial strength results in a high bonding capacity.

ABC provides consummate service, coming up with innovative ideas for long-term asset protection, which put the company on the map in its early years. “We had the opportunity to line the interior of hundreds of railcars,” says Allen.

Allen explains that the job ended up lasting several years. ABC lined more than 700 railroad freight cars, converting coal-carrying cars to feed-carrying for the food industry by coating the interior with a food-grade epoxy, which prevented the feed from eating into the aluminum.

ABC’s protective coatings are in high demand in many industries; chemically resistant coatings are applied to secondary containments, bins, tanks and floors, as well as railcars. ABC offers a wide range of coating application techniques and completes work for a wide range of customers, including titanium dioxide producers, yet 50 percent of the work it completes is for the food and beverage industry.

Multiyear projects in agriculture

Much of the work ABC completes for the food industry is for large agricultural companies. According to Allen, customers have enough facilities to keep ABC working year-round. These projects, referred to as nested sites, keep employees busy all year. Currently, ABC is working at six nested sites performing routine coatings maintenance work.

ABC also works on siphon tubes used in irrigation that transfer water from a source over rough terrain to an end point. In 2012, ABC completed a large project in central Nebraska on a siphon tube 7-foot diameter and a mile long.

The company grew quickly in order to accommodate some of the industry’s larger customers. “We are bursting at the seams again,” explains Allen. “We have plans to expand our 15,000-square-foot headquarters and open additional satellite offices in 2014.”

Allen goes on to note that the company’s primary focus is to meet and exceed customers’ expectations. Larger customers can inundate ABC with work and the company keeps customers happy by keeping employees happy.

Happy employees, happy customers

“People want to be part of something special,” says Allen. “We try to create that for them. I’m focused on our internal environment. If I take care of my employees, they take care of the external environment, which is our customers.”

ABC takes care of its employees by offering highly competitive wages and a tremendous benefits package: paid vacation, health insurance, dental insurance, prescription drugs, life insurance, short and long term disability insurance and a 401(k) program with a generous employer match.

Allen believes that everyone has a right to be heard and has an open door policy at ABC. The company operates within a team-oriented environment, with an emphasis on communication and solidarity. More than 100 employees strong, ABC is comprised of many talented professionals, including office personnel, field technicians, foremen, superintendents, project managers, as well as a quality assurance director and a safety director who leads the company’s safety initiatives.

Safety is of the utmost importance at ABC, a company with higher standards than its competition. ABC has never had a lost workday case and has logged more than 213,000 man hours without incident in 2013. Work that could normally be hazardous, such as painting million-bushel steel corn storage bins, has been made safe by ABC.

The ABC team is trained on how to do the respective jobs safely and correctly by teaming new hires with seasoned veterans in the field and providing hands-on, specialized equipment training in the shop. Foremen and field personnel are OSHA trained (30- and 10-hour, respectively). ABC coating professionals are trained using the NACE International standard systems.

Smart and consistent growth

ABC has core values that determine its behavior. “We do the right thing when nobody is looking,” explains Allen. “This includes environmentally minded practices such as proper containment and disposal of waste.”

In the same vein, Allen doesn’t have to prod his employees to do the right thing. “Everyone is motivated,” he continues. “They come in and like what they do. Not only does this facilitate a smooth operation, but it also creates a positive work environment.”

For a relatively young company, ABC shows depth beyond its 10 years in the industry thanks to the expertise that its leading executive brings to the table and the experience he drew on when founding the company. Allen seized the opportunity to design and build something good from scratch.

As ABC prepares to continue to grow by approximately 10 percent annually over the next decade, Allen focuses on managing the expansion in order to preserve excellence across diverse capabilities as the company broadens its customer base.

On many jobs, ABC completes aggressive schedules and works through extreme weather elements in order to complete work on time. If needed, ABC crews work 10- to 12-hour days in staggered shifts, seven days a week, partnering in the process with owners, suppliers, contractors and inspectors. Allen Blasting and Coating Inc. goes above and beyond for each customer on every project and strives to exceed all expectations.

Published on: July 9, 2014

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