GREEN BAY, Wis.—For 75 years, Pioneer Metal Finishing quite literally has had the metal and plastics industries covered, through its unique rubber and polyurethane finishing, coating, plating and anodizing expertise across a range of markets.
The company began in 1945 in Minneapolis with a focus on functional applications, just as it continues today, according to Troy Oscar, automotive market leader for Pioneer. Through various acquisitions over the years and the addition of rubber-to-metal bonding capabilities in 2012, Pioneer has grown into a global company with nine manufacturing locations and more than 1,000 employees.
"Our company DNA has been strongly centered around applications that require a high degree of precision and quality control," Oscar said. These are precisely the qualities that are needed in the medical and aerospace fields for surgical instrument coatings and optical and navigation equipment.
But Pioneer's services have proved equally important in the automotive, agriculture, housewares, industrial, outdoor recreation, paper, print and packaging industries, according to Pioneer.
Now privately owned by New York-based Aterian Investment Partners, the global company with manufacturing facilities in the Midwest, West Coast and Mexico has 1 million square feet of total production space across those locations. Pioneer can place its coatings and adhesives onto aluminum alloys, aluminum casting, aluminum forging, copper, plastic, rubber, stainless steel, steel and zinc die casting.
"Over our 75-year history, Pioneer has grown through strong organic expansion of business as well as strategically acquired new businesses that provide additional value to our portfolio," Oscar said.
The company's growth is focused on three areas: geographic coverage, technology expansion and industry offerings. Pioneer supports each manufacturing location through a "strong but nimble" corporate structure that Oscar said is focused on engineering, quality and corporate shared services.
"The ability to leverage our locations, along with a central engineering group, has made us a leader in the industry," Oscar said. "Pioneer would like to be known as a thought leader and solution provider. Our goal is for our customers to come to us to help them solve the most challenging surface engineering problems."
Perhaps despite the coronavirus outbreak, Pioneer's strongest material markets continue to be in anodizing (a conversion coating process used to achieve an oxidized surface finish on metals for corrosion and wear resistance), industrial plating and coatings operations.
Pioneer said its coatings and finishings also allow for improved lubricity, or friction reduction; conductivity; dielectric insulation; solder ability; heat dissipation; infrared signature reduction; and either high or low reflectivity.
And the technologies that have come with the onset of autonomous and electric automobiles has not gone ignored by Pioneer, either.
"As the automotive industry continues to expand on the use of lightweight materials, aluminum finishing is in high demand," Oscar said. "Additionally, our coatings business continues to be in high demand."
In the rubber-to-metal realm, Pioneer can apply adhesives, which help bond rubber to metal for suspension and mount customers. Pioneer has noted "quite a lot of movement in the automotive space" because of the evolving technology needs, Oscar said.
"The need for lighter weight, longer life and non-internal combustion engine vehicles is driving our customers to push the boundaries of traditional surface engineering applications," he said.