Metal Finishing Model Shop Program Successes

Valley Chrome Plating

Valley Chrome Plating of Clovis became successful in California by marketing its bold, stylish line of chrome truck bumpers and accessories to America’s big-rig truck drivers.

“Truckers love chrome,” says Ray Lucas, president of the firm run by four sons and two daughters of a steelworker dad who bought into it in 1961.

Now the family business is becoming a national industry leader by using safer chemicals in its manufacturing process with no loss in revenue.

Last year, with encouragement of the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, Valley Chrome became one of the first sizeable decorative plating firms in the U.S. to abandon carcinogenic hexavalent chrome in its manufacturing process and switch to less toxic trivalent chrome.

The shift is a key component of Green Chemistry. Replacing dangerous chemicals with safer alternatives protects workers, consumers and the environment while creating new business opportunities.

Valley Chrome, with 80 employees and $10 million in annual revenue, occupies the top 25 percent tier of U.S. metal plating firms.

“I think in 10 years the majority will do trivalent chrome,” says Lucas, who served in 2007 and 2008 as president of the National Association of Surface Finishing, a trade group for the $4 billion U.S. industry. “In my opinion, decorative platers will get more pressure about hexavalent chrome.”

The switch improved Valley Chrome’s bottom line, Lucas said. The substitution cost $170,000 up front, but saved $140,000 by avoiding cost of a hexavalent chrome fume scrubber required by the California Air Resources Board. Trivalent chrome, which doesn’t require buffing after the manufacturing process, eliminated the need for two employee positions. Trivalent chrome also coats metal surfaces more efficiently than hexavalent chrome. As a result, the company’s product reject rate has fallen to 2.6 percent, compared to an industry average of 7.5 percent.

 

 
Trucks Plated by Valley Chrome in Clovis
 
 

The K & L Anodizing Story

DTSC awarded K & L Anodizing in Burbank, Calif., the first Metal Finishing Model Shop recognition in September 2005. Besides pride in their accomplishment, here are some of the cost and environmental benefits the company realized by implementing pollution prevention measures and participating in the program.
  • Wastewater reductions of more than 95,000 gallons per day by installing a closed loop ion exchange system.
  • Extended process bath life of 50 percent using filters and chemical analyses, leading to big operating cost savings from both the purchasing and waste disposal ends. 
  • Energy and cost savings from installing efficient lighting, insulated and temperature-controlled hot tanks, and a natural gas boiler.
  • Free compliance and pollution prevention assistance direct from regulators.
  • Public  recognition as a Model Shop award recipient.  Press Release