Finishing Spotlight: Precision Plating

12/30/2008

By Leah Green, Editor Finishing Talk

About 5 years ago, Precision Plating, a Chicago-based company originally specializing in decorative plating, celebrated its 100 year anniversary. Founded by Robert Zacharias in 1904, Precision Plating has withstood the test of time - but not without a fight. In its first twenty years, the building that housed the company, then known as the Robert Zacharias Company, and its operations was destroyed by a fire. Though uninsured, Zacharias still managed to regroup and centralize the business at a new location in Chicago.

Ten years later, the strength of the company was once again tested by another obstacle - the Great Depression. The resulting lull in business forced Zacharias to resort to selling religious pictures, which were made all the more appealing by their silver and gold plated frames. Even in the economic downturn, the company continued to fully guarantee its products in an effort to maintain its reputation of quality.

The subsequent demand for precious metal plating instigated by World War II allowed Zacharias to utilize some of the assets he already had: oblique open plating barrels and horizontal portable barrels which made it possible to plate small parts to exacting tolerances. In this way, the Robert Zacharias Company began focusing on precious metal plating for military application - becoming a leader in the industry, and inspiring the new company name - Precision Plating.

Over the next 80 years, Precision Plating moved twice, having outgrown two facilities, and finally settled in its present location at 4123 W. Peterson Ave. in Chicago, IL, in 1971. Even this building proved too small for the company's ambition, however, and an expansion project was underway two years later. The religious picture frame business fell to the wayside as the demand for Job shop plating rose dramatically. From here, Precision Plating established itself early on in Coil work, and with the hiring of Jim Belmonti as Plant Manager in the 1970's, the company moved into its current focus in electroplating.

Today, Jim (James) Belmonti's impact on the company lives on. Aside from purchasing the company in 1989 and becoming CEO, Belmonti has turned it into a family business - in more ways than one. His two sons, Gary and Jeff (now President and Vice President, respectively) are both strong contributors to the business, dedicated to continuing its legacy as it embarks on its second century. But extended family plays an even bigger part in the continued success of Precision Plating. A simple glance at the company's website, www.ppc1904.com, makes it apparent that the company places great value in its workers. Indeed, the company bases its good fortune not just on its "strong focus on 100% customer satisfaction" and the "importance of quality from the very beginning", but also on its employees, who are shown continuous appreciation through company sponsored family picnics, employee of the month awards, and the support of a strong, workplace community.

Precision Plating will be turning a robust and respectable 105 years old this year. So, what's it's secret? Throughout the years, the company has maintained its values and placed them as the top priority. While they have evolved to fit the times, the fundamentals are still the same: a set of core values based on its responsibility to its customers, employees, suppliers and the environment.

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