Steve Stone is the General Manager at Saporito Finishing in Chicago, where he has worked for almost 24 years.

Stone began working at Saporito in 2000 as a laboratory technician, then moved up to lab manager a few years later. He was the shop’s Technical Director before becoming General Manager in 2016.

Saporito Finishing is one of the largest shops in the anodizing and plating industry and offers over 100 metal plating and anodizing finishes.

How did you get your start in the finishing and coating industry? When I was finishing college, Saporito had a metallurgical R&D department, and they contacted me to join as a research chemist.

What does your job entail? My current role as General Manager oversees our plating and anodizing operations' daily production operations.

Can you walk us through a typical day for you? A typical day for me involves reviewing the prior day's production reports and current order status to help each department schedule and facilitate their current work process. From there, it helps identify any problems with production and works to get them fixed so the department can continue without delay. 

What do you like best about working in the finishing and coating industry? The thing I like best is there is never a boring day. There is nothing monotonous about working in a plating company; whether you’ve been there one year or 30, you are always learning and seeing something new.

What preconceived notions about the finishing and coating industry have changed since you started working in it? That is a hazardous environment. We indeed deal with hazardous chemicals and a dangerous environment. Still, the industry, especially Saporito Finishing, has done a lot in the 20-plus years I’ve been here to prioritize safety and reduce the potential danger to everyone, including the environment. 

Steve Stone and his son, playing Steve's favorite hobby, golf.Steve Stone and his son, playing Steve's favorite hobby, golf.Can you describe a project you have been involved in that made you most proud? A few years ago, I ran a process improvement team at Saporito. We brought together a team that included production, office staff, and the laboratory with the focus of increasing profitability through simplification. I was proud of my work with this team because we achieved our primary goal of increasing profitability and made the employees' day-to-day lives better by reducing paperwork, streamlining processes, and improving efficiencies. I was proud that I could run a team that, while they came from different areas and focuses within the company, helped them mesh together and work towards a common goal.

Why would you recommend a career in the finishing and coating industry to a friend? I would, especially for the younger generation. There is a lack of youth in the industry, and it is important for all of us to recruit, train, and encourage the next generation. Finishing and coating will always be needed, and it is a great career to pursue.

What is the toughest part of your job? The toughest part currently is recruitment. This is from general labor to other skilled positions. Since the pandemic started, finding qualified individuals and retaining them long-term has become more difficult. 

How do you describe what you do in your job to family and friends and the importance of it? Anywhere you go, from the car your drive to the plane you travel on to the pack of screws you just bought, some items have been coated in some way. My job is to provide that coating and ensure that it is done properly and is safe to use.

Are you involved in any industry associations or trade groups? I currently sit on the Chicago Surface Finishing Foundation board, which is part of the Chicago chapter of the NASF. One primary purpose of the foundation is to provide education and learning opportunities for the members of the Chicago Chapter.

What was the first job you had in your career? A research chemist at Saporito Finishing

What type of college, school, or training have you had? B.S. in Chemistry and Masters in Business Administration

Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years? At Saporito Finishing, I hopefully train the next generation so the company is in good hands when I retire.

What is your most humorous day/event in the finishing and coating industry? I'm not sure if I can pick out a specific event, but as far as enjoyable, I would have to say the industry events, including SurFin, are always ones I look forward to. 

What was your favorite subject in high school or college? US History by far. If I hadn’t pursued chemistry in college, my backup plan was to be a high school history teacher.

What motivates you to work hard at your job? My family, first and foremost. They are the most important thing to me and keep me focused and motivated. After that, the employees at Saporito Finishing. The hard work and dedication they bring daily make it impossible for me not to give them that same effort in return.

Tell us about your interests outside: Golf is my favorite hobby. You'll probably find me on the golf course if I’m not somewhere in the summertime with my wife and kids. Recently, I’ve started playing French horn again, which I haven’t played since college. I joined a local community band last year and have enjoyed playing with them.

What three things do you think of the most each workday? Daily sales, customer turnaround, and what’s for lunch.

Who has been the biggest mentor in your career? The president of our company, Jeff Logan. We have worked together for over 20 years since he was the Quality Manager and I worked in our chemical laboratory. Since then, he has helped me along the way with plating knowledge and navigating issues both at work and outside of Saporito.

What is your favorite book you have read? Team of Rivals by Doris Goodwin.