It may be a reach to say that the DECC Company in Grand Rapids, Michigan, saved rock and roll music, but stay with us on this one. Suffice to say, it was founder Evert Mellema’s ingenuity more than 56 years ago that kept many jukebox’s humming along, as well as dust and dirt free.

Fred MellemaFred MellemaIt was 1964, and jukebox maker Rowe AMI was having problems with the oil on the machine’s selector pins attracting dust and dirt that jammed up the selections. Faced with the music dying before their eyes, an engineer at Rowe happened to be friends with Mellema, who owned his own bicycle repair shop and was a brainiac at heart.

Challenged by the friend to figure out a way to prevent the pin in the jukeboxes from sticking, Mellema used a relatively new dry film lubricant called Teflon along with a crudely made vibratory machine and a $15 oven to solve the problem with a custom coating application.

“It eliminated the need for oil, which eliminated the dust and dirt mixing with the oil,” says Fred Mellema, DECC’s president and Evert’s nephew. “You can say that was DECC’s first customer, and we solved the problem with an innovative solution. We’ve been solving thousands of customer problems in just the same way.”

Evert and his brother, Don — Fred’s father — soon bought an old building on Wallen Avenue and incorporated a coating business. They named the business DECC for the first names of Don, Evert, their father, Chet, and their brother, also named Chet.

Extensive Range Of Industrial Coating Services

DECC plating Line 5Today, DECC offers an extensive range of industrial coating services, such as chemical resistant coatings, high-temperature resistant coatings, rubber bonding adhesives, corrosion protective coatings, FDA approved coatings, and others, including dry film lubricants.

“We are predominantly automotive with the rest of our customers coming from defense, office furniture, over the road diesel and medical,” says Fred Mellema, whose company runs across three shifts with approximately 100 employees.

Over the last several years, DECC has invested in multiple new pieces of equipment in order to enhance their capacity, quality, and throughput, including adding robotic sprayers, a second automated electrostatic bell line, and multiple processing ovens.

“We have also recently added a belt washer to improve alkaline washing capabilities and an additional fixture burn-off oven for fixture maintenance.,” says Mark Piersma, DECC General Manager.

In 2021, DECC will continue to grow, including the addition of a new application for them in the form of dip/spin coating.

“This will be a small unit to produce small volume production part runs and samples,” says Calista Phillips, the company’s Production Manager.

Adding Specialty ID Coating Machine and Blast Equipment

man Hand SprayMellema says that DECC also has plans to add a specialty ID coating machine and additional blast equipment as the company continues to 5-S its facility to add additional floor space required.

“We also can expand our 100,000-square-foot facility if needed,” he says.

DECC’s processing typically starts with some type of surface prep, whether it be a manual grit blast, automatic tumble blast, pre-bake, alkaline wash with either barrel or belt, or zinc phosphate, and often there is a combination of more than one of those processes depending on the substrate preparation.

Parts are then racked on specifically-designed fixturing for each customers’ parts and sent to the specialty coatings area using automated spray lines that offer both electrostatic bell applicators and electrostatic robotic applications.

“We can also spray parts manually for smaller volume jobs that do not justify a fully automated process,” Mellema says. The parts are then dried and cured thru inline bake ovens or offline bulk bake ovens.

Aside from Mellema, Piersma, and Phillips, the DECC management team includes Curt Jacob, Chief Financial Officer; Ryan Gritter, Sales Manager; Matt Foster, Engineering Manager, Kathy Johnson, Quality Manager; and Amanda Byrne, Human Resource Manager.

Watch the Video: DECC's Culture 

Focused on Innovative Solutions

man Blasting partsWhile the facility has become experts at coating applications over the past 50+ years, Mellema says DECC is focused on innovative solutions for its customers. The in-house design of their coating fixtures allows them to tailor the tooling exactly as needed to the customer part geometry.

“It also allows us to be flexible in the design stage,” Mellema says. “We can try out different configurations of tooling to optimize the process.”

Additionally, DECC uses a Plex operating system that allows them to implement controls within their processes that produce world-class quality results.

“Our PPM is consistently below 10, and our external ISO 9001-2015 certification audits have shown 12 years of zero non-conformances,” says Johnson, who oversees the quality department.

Mellema says that DECC also has a very motivated and engaged workforce through its company culture, as well as a companywide profit-sharing program.

“We allow for flexible work schedules and promotions from within,” Mellema says. “Many of our key positions are filled by long term, starting from the ground floor employees that have been with us for many years.”

Byrne says each DECC employee is well informed on the company’s business status on a monthly basis, which is great for productivity and morale.

“It shows when they are making decisions in their daily jobs using the business health and culture information we share with them,” she says.

Partnership with Suppliers

DECC teamDECC’s major suppliers are Henkel, Magni, Doerken, NOF, and PPG. Mellema says there have been a lot of changes as many suppliers started much smaller and have been acquired by larger suppliers.

“We continue to work through any supply issues to minimize any potential downtime,” he says.

One of those suppliers that DECC has had a long history with is Doerken, which manufactures specially engineered corrosion-resistant coatings for the automotive, military, and diesel industries that meet a wide range of specifications. They are most notably known for their Delta Protekt, Delta Seal, and Delta Tone series of coatings.

  • DELTA-PROTEKT® KL 120 is the latest silver, inorganic zinc flake basecoat technology offering exceedingly high corrosion protection with no white corrosion.KL 120 offers excellent adhesion, ductility and temperature resistance in thin layer protection making it a high value solution for many challenging applications.
  • DELTA-PROTEKT® KL 100 is a silver, inorganic, zinc flake basecoat, and provides highly effective anti-corrosion protection with a relatively thin coating, from 720hrs salt spray resistance at 8 microns up to 1500hrs at 15 microns, depending on part geometry and application method.
  • DELTA-PROTEKT® KL105 is a silver, inorganic, zinc flake basecoat that is a high-performance corrosion-resistant coating — up to 960hrs at 10 microns — that, due to its integrated lubricant, has optimized abrasion resistance, as well.
  • DELTA-PROTEKT® KL 170 RT is a new evolution of zinc flake coatings offering room temperature or low temperature curing.This is particularly suitable for large parts and assemblies sensitive to high temperatures typically used in the cure process.
  • DELTA-PROTEKT® VL 411 GZ is an organic, UV resistant topcoat that is engineered for application over an electroplated substrate or a zinc flake basecoat to ensure maximum corrosion resistance.
  • DELTA®-SEAL is an organic, chemical resistant topcoat with a various color and defined lubricant options that provides controlled properties, making it an ideal seal over zinc flake basecoat or electroplated layers in an effort to increase corrosion resistance.
  • DELTA®-SEAL GZ is an organic, chemical resistant topcoat with various color options that has a defined integrated lubricant and is an ideal seal over zinc flake basecoat or electroplated layers in an effort to increase corrosion resistance.
  • DELTA®-TONE 9000 is a silver, inorganic, zinc flake basecoat that provides highly effective anti-corrosion protection with a relatively thin coating, from 480hrs salt spray resistance at 8 microns up to 1500hrs at 15 microns, depending on part geometry and application method.

DECC also made a major investment in its future with the purchase of the Plex Online system, a manufacturing execution system (MES) that provides them with the tools that Mellema says gives them an edge over the competition. The system ties all of their departments together, utilizing software tailored specifically for DECC. 

Attentive To Customer’s Needs

people Packing parts“We are attentive to our customer’s needs, both in delivery and quality,” Mellema says. “We provide flexible schedules when possible to limit lead times in emergency situations, and we provide immediate responses to any customer quality issues and strive to learn from issues to improve our processes and overall customer part quality.”

Another differentiator for DECC is the company culture and its employee involvement. For example, the company volunteers annually with Habitat for Humanity. After volunteering at the program an employee fell in love with the concept, and pursued better housing for her family the next year.

“Being open to help others is what we are about,” Mellema says. “Our success in the finishing industry allows us to give back to our community.”

Going into 2021, DECC feels there is no limit as to how much they can grow. 

“We are always looking at unique and out-of-the-ordinary coating solutions that will add to the growth of our company,” Mellema says. “With the industry filled with custom coaters, we see ourselves standing out in quality, delivery, and innovation on a daily basis. It is this attention to our customers that will allow us to continue to service the industry for many years to come.”