An interview with the new president of the MFASC, Vincent Noonan, CEF
Photo credit: MFASC
The Metal Finishers Association of Southern California (MFASC) has announced that Vincent Noonan, CEF, will be its new president, succeeding Justin Guzman of Aircraft Xray Laboratories (Huntington Park, Calif.). Noonan, currently Vice President of Strategic Operations at Sheffield Platers (San Diego, CA), has been involved in the metal finishing industry for over 35 years. His experience includes seven years with Technic Inc. as a technical service engineer and later in sales, as well as 13 years with MacDermid Enthone, which included stints as a technical liaison in Asia and later as a manager. Western regional sales. Noonan is bringing his years of experience to take the reins amid important negotiations with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) over a proposed rule that would phase out hexavalent chromium finishing operations in the state. Noonan recently took time out of his busy schedule to chat with PF on his goals as the new president of MFASC.
Tell us about your current role at Sheffield Platers.
As Vice President of Strategic Operations, my role is twofold. My first objective is the management of large accounts in the electronics sector. Second, I work with the owners (Dale and Mark Watkins) and our management team to ensure our 3, 5 and 10 year strategic plan is on track and achievable. This means that we are looking for new markets and opportunities that the industry needs; this in turn will generate revenue, keeping us on the path to long-term sustainability. In Sheffield, it’s a very collaborative environment — and it’s bottom-up. Dale Watkins, the owner and president, and I are always out there checking in with everyone and looking for ideas to make us more efficient. If anyone has any ideas on how to turn parts faster or make something work better than the way we do today, we want to know. This collaborative environment allows us to make quick decisions. If we need to pivot on a process or a product, it’s done in real time.
Why do you think it is important to get involved in associations?
When you’re invested in the industry, you have to have a passion for making change happen. At the state level, the industry needs associations to work to find ways to help the environmental justice community, as well as keep jobs in California. What we’re doing now is trying to drive change within the industry, and at the same time driving change with how our board of directors is addressing these many issues. We want to address these challenges/opportunities in a way that continues to shine a light on the positive things we do as surface finishing experts.
Talk about your goals as the new president of MFASC.
The first is to continue to represent the association with respect to regulations and rulemaking in California. Regulation must be sensible and collaborative.
When we worked with the AQMD [Air Quality Management District] on rule 1469, they initially proposed a rule that we could not comply with in any way. But with the work of Bryan Leiker [executive director of the combined Metal Finishers Association of California (MFACA)]our lobbyist Jerry Desmond, assisted by Jeff Hannapel and Christian Richter [The Policy Group], representing NASF; we were able to walk into a room and negotiate Rule 1469. To be clear, prior to AQMD’s implementation of Rule 1469, surface finishers had already reduced 95.5% of chromium emissions from their facilities. To this day, our association is still willing to continue discussions to work towards developing sensible emissions-based rules for the future.
That said, we are now in the middle of the same kind of process with CARB regarding their proposal to phase out hexavalent chromium – despite the fact that decorative chromium is one of the smallest sources of emissions, 99% of these chromium emissions come from mobile emitters, such as trucks and trains. So one of the goals is to continue to work with everyone involved to try to establish fair and equitable rules. Reasonable rules based on emissions will always be our goal. This type of regulation will continue to reduce emissions and keep those high-paying jobs in the same neighborhoods that environmental justice communities are fighting for,
Another goal is to pursue alignment with the National Association for Surface Finishing (NASF). If state and regional chapters become sub-chapters of the NASF, we will have much more power and influence than as small, separate groups. So one of my goals is not just to push this roster for Southern California and Northern California, but across the board for all surface finishing associations.
You also sit on the AESF National Board of Directors as Vice President. Can you talk about this job?
The three main areas of the Foundation are education, research and scholarship. The AESF Foundation was created with the aim of providing distinct learning platforms: classroom courses, online courses, home courses and personalized courses, which are tailored to the individual needs of public and private entities. of the surface finishing industry. The AESF is the benchmark for training in the finishing industry and the exclusive provider of industry certifications, from Basic CEF (Certified Electroplating Finisher) to MSF (Senior Surface Finisher).
When you look at how college admissions have gone and the amount of debt people are racking up, not everyone is fit for college. So why not work with local junior colleges and trade schools to take our educational platform and see if we can get it accredited. Maybe a two-year certificate of achievement could be a pathway that gets people interested in being part of the industry? Can we work with these educational institutions to put together certificates showing that this person has expertise in this area? They could be hired immediately. We are always on the lookout for smart people and we need new ideas to continue building an educated workforce.
In addition to the regulatory issues you mentioned, pavers face other challenges such as supply chain disruptions and rising raw material costs. Would you mind talking about efforts to address these issues?
When it comes to supply chain issues, the only thing we can do as an association is educate our members and work with industry suppliers to provide their best easing times. You’d be very surprised how many finishing companies don’t understand the method or feel empowered enough to pass on cost increases. When our suppliers impose surcharges on materials such as nickel and hypo [sodium hypophosphite, widely used in nickel plating as a reducing agent] our costs as surface finishers are increasing. By passing these costs on to our customers as surcharges, we can remain profitable. We know that in the early stages of supply chain flexibility, suppliers will reduce or eliminate these surcharges. We in turn add supplements to our bills. This allows you to send a message to the customer that we are all facing these challenges together and as we see a relaxation from suppliers, these surcharges may be reduced or removed. We consider this sharing of ideas as an advantage for the members of the association.
What is your hope for the future of the finishing industry?
I want these companies to be here in 35, 50, 100 years. It’s about doing things the right way and that’s how we survive. It’s about real breakthroughs and being able to drive that change, showing that we are a group of technologically advanced companies that can make an impact in the world, which includes environmental leadership. We’re here to make that connector last longer, we’re here to make that exhaust pipe more corrosion resistant, because it’s shiny, we’re here to keep that EV on the road for a few more years, that which is going to help the environment and we are here to make sure the plane stays in the air. We are surface finishers; we are professionals, technology leaders and we are going to do it the right way.