If a part is made in the U.S. and headed to Mexico to be assembled, then Sav-On Plating seeks to be a stop on the way.
“We want a piece of it,” says Chris Trimino, Vice President of Operations at Sav-On Plating in Phoenix, Arizona. “We offer a plating service, final quality, final packaging, and direct delivery to their customer for assembly in Mexico.”
It has been that way since 1992, when Trimino’s father, Joseph, opened the Phoenix location with his sister, JoAnn, after their father began serving the Southern California area in 1969. Eventually, Joseph and Chris closed the Paramount location, and Joseph bought out his sister and kept the Arizona facility open and growing.
‘Bread-and-Butter’ is Zinc
Jose’s son — and Chris’ father — Joseph is the current owner, overseeing over 40,000 sq. feet in facilities that specialize in zinc plating and chromating on diecasts on both rack and barrel lines.
“Zinc is our bread and butter,” says Chris, who has been running operations for over 10 years. “We also offer cadmium plating, bright nickel, tin, black oxide, and passivation of stainless steel.”
In 2017, Sav-On added a new automatic zinc plating rack system to keep up with the demand as manufacturers found their location just north of the Mexico border a perfect spot to have parts plated before going south, including for the growing automotive industry in Mexico.
And for almost a year now, Trimino says they have been running an automated barrel line as well for zinc plating.
“We touch a lot of commercial, industrial work,” he says. “A lot of medical work, automotive, a little bit of OEM, and a lot of aftermarket automotive military. The list continues to grow, and we’ve gotten into a little bit of aerospace work, too.”
Adding Processes to Meet Customer Demand
After many years of working on getting a line going, Sav-On added a black oxide process line to attract even more business.
“That’s really taken off for us over the last couple of years, just really exploded,” Trimino says. “We are willing to do just about anything if we can get enough business or there is enough opportunity to do so. A lot of our current customers were asking about it, so about two and a half years ago, I bit the bullet because there was one customer for that I would like to have seen their work. I didn’t have it at that time, but it has now been in our shop for a good year and a half.”
The next process that Sav-On is adding is an electroless nickel line that is currently in the works.
“There’s a big demand just in the local Phoenix market,” Trimino says. “We’ve also drawn some interest in the Southern California area, so we are in the midst of getting it all up and running soon.”
Automation Helps with Labor Shortage
Sav-On currently has 35 employees, and adding more processes will put a strain on labor resources in an already tight market, which is why Trimino says the facility is working on automating as many of its processes as possible, especially the newer ones it is bringing on.
The new automated rack line utilizes one person to load and unload, and the automation removed about three people from that process, Trimino says. Likewise, the automated barrel line that has been up for almost a year is run by just one person, whereas two people were needed to run the manual line in the past.
Trimino says it is a difficult choice for Sav-On to eliminate positions when adding automated lines, but it is a necessity sometimes, especially when the technology is present and useful.
“We’ve removed a few positions, which we don’t want to do,” he says. “We enjoy helping families, enjoy feeding anyone that we can; but at the same time, we need to be competitive. We need to be successful.”
Breaking Ground on New Lines
Sav-On has actually just broken ground on a third automated line. The footers are in place, Trimino says, and it will be an automated hoist rack line with 12-foot tanks. Meanwhile, the electroless nickel line they are planning is going be a manual line that is a little bit smaller, with roughly 30 x 30 x 30 size tanks that are expected to be ready by the end of 2023.
The one thing that won’t change is the name of the company — Sav-On Plating — which Trimino says he isn’t sure what the origin of the name came from, but he likes it for its “catchiness” and is suitable for their mission.
“We know what it costs to plate items, and we need to charge accordingly in order to be successful,” he says. “But I like it. It’s catchy and definitely fitting for our operation.”
Something else that won’t change with all the growth and expansion is Sav-On’s mission statement of wanting to be known throughout the industry as “a respected and ethical supplier of top-quality plating.”
Trimino says they want to be successful on the “business side” of the operation and elsewhere, too.
“We want to be as successful as possible all the way down to the employees,” he says. “We do our best to take care of them with incentives, with bonus programs, and anything we can do to work together. We can all succeed together if we continue to work together.”