Engineering Excellence: KMI Systems’ Proven Innovations in Finishing Systems

When it comes to engineering, designing and building paint and porcelain enamel finishing systems, KMI Systems Inc. has proven its ability to deliver engineered design solutions and turnkey installations. For the last three decades, the company has grown by establishing a leadership position in the porcelain enamel finishing industry, adding to its capabilities and meeting customer needs.

In the earliest days of the company, its focus was exclusively on porcelain enamel furnaces. From there, KMI  added spray applications for porcelain and slowly grew from there. In the early-to-mid 1990s, the company saw an opportunity to expand into dry off and cure ovens, eventually adding the resources and expertise needed to provide complete turnkey systems to manufacturers.

Today, KMI’s custom turnkey finishing systems include porcelain enamel furnaces; powder coating for an array of products; e-coat systems; liquid coat systems; environmental rooms; and paint sludge removal. These systems can be used for many applications, including material handling, dry off and cure ovens, coat and spray paint booths, pretreatment machines, cleaning machines, and mill room storage.

Helping Hands

KMI is able to work with customers from the earliest phases of any project. The company’s project teams include sales personnel, engineers and system designers, as well as installation, maintenance and start up personnel. These teams allow KMI to provide service to customers long before a project begins and long after installation is complete.

“Since I came to the company a little more than 10 years ago, my goal has been to help it grow by taking on more business and expanding our experience in the industries we serve,” President Kevin Coursin says. “We’ve branched out into more markets and gone international.”

The company treats each of its projects as if it is delivering a solution for itself. This ensures that each system is up to a high standard of quality and maintainable over the long term.  Coursin says KMI isn’t always the least-expensive provider, but it does offer an extremely high level of quality at a reasonable price.

“We work with our customers throughout the process, and we’ve received a lot of repeat business and referrals,” Coursin explains. “We guide them to help determine what they need.  We can work on a short installation schedule and don’t require large down time for our customers, and we respond quickly after projects are installed if they ever have any issues.”

Able to Change

One of KMI’s ongoing concerns is improving the quality and depth of its services. This is why it has shifted from AutoCAD software to SolidWorks software.

KMI also is a little different than some of its competitors in that it subcontracts all its fabrication work. That means it has worked hard to establish long-term ties with many external vendors and suppliers, working closely with them on designs and finding ways to improve manufacturing.

“We value our relationships with vendors and fabricators,” Coursin says. “There have been times when logistics on a certain project have warranted us looking to new vendors, and we always look for quality of service.”

From a back office perspective, KMI has done a lot of work to improve internal processes. It has outsourced payroll and upgraded to new accounting and scheduling systems.

“We also regularly work on our culture, as we have regularly scheduled project review meetings and keep dialogue open so we can resolve issues quickly and eliminate problems in the most effective and least expensive ways,” Coursin says.

The last few years have seen a lot of adaptations for KMI as it has reacted to market changes and economic issues. Many of its customers have tightened their belts, and 2009 was a difficult year for KMI. Although many companies sat on the sidelines in recent times, Coursin says KMI is seeing its business improve his year.

“We’re seeing a lot of growth this year, and we are up about 30 percent for the year,” Coursin says. “We could be up by 50 or 60 percent by the end of the year.

“This is due to a lot of pent-up demand,” Coursin continues. “Many things are hard to predict because of the situation in Europe, the healthcare law and the elections in the United States. But the industry is coming back, and there are a lot of opportunities with new products, maintenance, consolidation and companies coming back from overseas.”

On the domestic front, KMI plans to look for ways to branch out into ancillary industries. The company’s roots are in the appliance industry, and it will continue to have significant presence there. But it also is trying to take its experience and business model into other industries throughout North America.

Additionally, the company is looking at opportunities to expand its influence into more geographic markets. Coursin says KMI sees China, Southeast Asia and Brazil as markets with potential. The company also is working with the U.S. government to find help with its export business.

The company and its leaders feel that staying active in its industries is another way for KMI to grow and have an influence on how its markets evolve. Coursin serves on the board of several different trade organizations, including the Powder Coating Institute and the Porcelain Enamel Institute. He also currently serves as vice president of Chemical Coaters Association International.

Coursin believes that by getting himself and others within KMI involved externally, it can expand the company’s brand identity and help improve and grow the industries the company serves.

“The overall philosophy of the company has always been relational with our customers and vendors,” Coursin says. “The people who know us give favorable recommendations because we do a good job for them. They can count on us. That is what we were founded on, and its what KMI is all about today.”