SHOP PROFILE: Master Finish’s 3rd Gen Adds 3rd Line to Increase Capacity

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How apropos that a third-generation finishing operation in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is celebrating the installation of its third line. That is the case at Master Finish, which was founded by John Mulder in 1959, the son of immigrants from the Netherlands who started Master Finishing and Deburring company to help local stamping and casting facilities with the automatic removal of flash and burrs from the products they produced.

Today, the company is run by John Mulder, CEF, who is owner and CEO, and Aaron Mulder, CEF, also an owner and president. In between, their father, Dale, made Master Finish one of the best-run operations in all of North America before his retirement.

The third line is a return rack machine that will be capable of plating up to four unique layers of nickel and chrome on parts made from steel and stainless steel material.

“The new line vastly increases our capacity to perform this type of rack plating,” says John Mulder, namesake of his grandfather. “We have also added recently the ability to plate a duplex nickel in our barrel plating line. Our largest rack plating line also has seen some growth in finish offerings with a new dark black chrome and a special nickel process designed for the brazing market.”

Aside from John and Aaron, the Master Finish management team includes 10 other salaried managers, many of which hold CEF certification. The bulk of their current business portfolio is in the automotive market serving high end decorative needs to auto manufactures through the tiered supply chain. They also serve a host of other industries including motorcycle, recreational vehicles, appliance, consumer products, plumbing and general industrial.


Master Finish’s top processes are decorative copper nickel chrome finishes and barrel plated nickel and replacement chrome finish. They offer rack plating of copper nickel chrome with several of their Fashion Finish options that many shops do not offer, including satin nickels and black chromes.

“These options allow us to serve programs where there are multiple trim options on a single vehicle platform,” Aaron says.

Master Finish runs a three shift operation with 80 employees, as production runs around the clock to serve their customers. Both John and Aaron devised a ‘T.H.I.S.’ concept for the managers and staff to ensure that customers are taken care of at the highest level.

“The T.H.I.S. acronym stands for teamwork, honesty, innovation and service,” John says. He further explained its significance to their work ethos:

  • Teamwork: We believe in the power of teamwork and collaboration. As members of the Master Finish team we care for each other like family and treat each other with respect.
  • Honesty: We believe in honesty and integrity in all of our interactions with customers, suppliers and each other. We are committed to speak the truth and to be transparent in our communications with each other.
  • Innovation: We believe in continuously finding new finishes, processes, technologies and improvements that will enable us to be leaders in our market. We believe in the importance of continuous learning and growth for our people to enable them to be the innovators themselves.
  • Service: We believe it is essential to provide excellence in service in all aspects of the business. This service extends to our environmental practices where we serve the community thru efforts in safety and regulatory compliance. Service to our customers providing high quality finishing work delivered on time. Service to our team members is shown by providing a safe, efficient work area in a healthy work environment. We are committed to practicing sound business principles and serving our customers with nothing but the very best quality products.


“The key to our success has been living out our core values trying to be there for our customers, employees, and community,” Aarons says. “We also have three chemical suppliers that are doing great for us.”

Those suppliers include MacDermid EnthoneHaviland Chemical and Columbia Chemical. Their plating racks are made by Expert Coating and Rack Processing.

“With the decorative work we do, our largest suppliers are the polishing and buffing shops we use to prepare the parts for plating,” John says. “Impact Operations and Highpoint Finishing Systems are handling the bulk of their work these days, but there are several other great shops in Grand Rapids that also serve Master Finish very well each having their own niche in the market.

The team at Master Finish is always looking for opportunities to better serve their customers by releasing new decorative options, engineering ways to eliminate waste from processes and exploring ways to improve service, quality, and reduce lead times. The company markets their services heavily to gain new customers.

“We use a combination of internet marketing, trade shows and manufacturer’s reps to keep a pulse on activity in the marketplace,” John says. “Once we have found a customer they tend to be really loyal as we treat customers very well.”

Aaron says Master Finish typically only lose products when their customers lose the work, or when a program ends its life cycle.

“Often we are not the cheapest plater in the marked, however we offer quality and service that exceeds our competition,” he says. “We certainly don’t build extra costs into the parts when bidding, but an automated plating system comes with some additional costs.”


Both John and Aaron know they have been blessed working in the finishing industry, but a lot of that comes from their hard work by themselves and their team, as well as the path laid down by their grandfather and father; Dale is often still in the shop and serves as a guiding hand to his sons.

John was honored as a Products Finishing 40-under-40 award recipients in 2017, and in 2016 was elected president of the Michigan Chapter of the NASF. Aaron also received the 40-under-40 award, and is also active in the finishing community.

“Most of all it has been an honor working with my brother Aaron to fill our father’s seat leading a stellar team of people at Master Finish,” John says. “Our team has been awarded a Top Shop prize for our efforts two of the last three years, and we earned the first DecoKlad supplier certification issued by MacDermid Enthone in North America. It is a truly great team here at Master Finish that allows us to grow our company, retain our customers, and earn these accolades.”

The recent pandemic has been difficult for all manufacturers and suppliers, including Master Finish. But John and Aaron continue to be optimistic that they will continue a successful run in the future.

“Our nation is in a condition of unprecedented chaos in the marketplace,” John says. “Our company continues to focus on the long road ahead and place action toward our long term vision. We find ways to adapt to the market quickly, resolve issues rapidly, innovate new ideas with our own systematic approach, and push metrics on customer satisfaction, employee engagement, quality improvements, pollution prevention, and financial metrics to a better place.”

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