Axalta’s peer-based “20 Group” recently visited Kettle Moraine Coatings in Jackson, Wisconsin to conduct one of their peer evaluation of the shop by eight other powder coating shops.
The 20-group concept goes back to the automotive industry in the 1940s, when auto dealers formed small peer groups with non-competing dealerships, said Axalta’s Trena Benson, who helps lead the group reviews. The dealers met together a few times a year to exchange ideas, identify best practices, discover opportunities and discuss challenges facing their businesses, she said.
Typcially each 20-group meets in the Spring and Fall. Though the meetings are facilitated by Axalta Star Coater administrators, these groups contribute to their own agenda. They have also chosen to participate in benchmarking exercises, comparing certain aspects of their business and how they perform.
Sometimes the groups elect to bring parts they have quoted and the discussion might involve a lesson in “what went wrong” or “how well this job worked out.” They have developed such a strong network that they have actually sold machinery among themselves and recommended each other to other companies who need their niche services.
They often email each other with an urgent technical issue and look to their group for guidance. They are a team. An important part of each meeting is the audit. Group members are given an audit form and a clipboard. They rate the different processes involved in the powder coating operation. Later in the meeting, the group openly discusses their findings with the host company.