NHLA recently had an opportunity to sit down with Chris Fehr, the Eastern Region Sales Director at UC Coatings, to chat about how things are going at the company.
NHLA: UC Coatings has been around for 50 years! How did you get started?
Chris: UC Coatings started in 1971 when Red Murray purchased Upson Chemical and Bates Industries. Our first foray into the wood products industry was with the Bates Glue Release product for woodworkers.
NHLA: Speaking of products, UC Coatings has an extensive product list. What products do you offer?
Chris: Our products are designed to protect, enhance, and conserve forest resources and provide value to those that use them. We are probably most famous for Anchorseal, which was introduced in 1980. Anchorseal and Anchorseal 2 significantly reduce costly end-checking. But we are also well known for several other products.
Flitch Savers, Log Savers, and Log Dawgs help reduce splitting in logs. Britewood-XL prevents sap stain and mold in logs and lumber. Shade-Dri helps protect logs and lumber during air-drying and storage, and Seal-Once offers superior protection against rot and decay for wood decks and siding.
We have many other products like Gempaint, Sol-Brite E, Bates Glue Release, and Seal-Once, to name a few. And we’re constantly working on new products. Last year, we introduced FenceGuard, Gempaint Ultra and expanded the Sela-Once line to include Ready Mix colors.
NHLA: How has COVID 19 affected your business?
Chris: COVID 19 has undoubtedly given us some moments of frustration, but I think we were able to weather the storm reasonably well. We were deemed essential, so we never had to shut the plant down. Employee safety was a huge focus for us, so we made arrangements for people to work from home, and I’m proud to say that we didn’t have any layoffs.
As markets recovered, we were faced with some raw material shortages that made things tricky for a while, but we’re hoping that is all in the rear-view mirror. The biggest issue we seem to face now is making accommodations when people are sick. There have been a few occasions where we didn’t have enough staff, but everybody banded together to help one another, which is a true testament to the chemistry of our team.
NHLA: What makes UC Coatings different from your competition?
Chris: UC Coatings has a commitment to customer service and the quality of our products. When I first joined UC Coatings five years ago, I was repeatedly told by people in the industry that it was a great place to work. Ultimately, I couldn’t have joined a better company.
NHLA: What would you say has been the key to your company’s success?
Chris: We view our customers as partners. We genuinely want to help them be successful, and our products serve that purpose. We are heavily involved in the industry as supporters of associations from the national level down to local kiln drying clubs.
NHLA: One of the associations you are an active part of is NHLA. What has your NHLA membership done for your business?
Chris: Our membership in NHLA has been vital to establishing and demonstrating our commitment to this industry. The NHLA Annual Convention provides a great way to connect with our customers and show our support for them. It also allows us to broaden our network and meet new friends. We enjoy the Conventions and always send a large contingent.
NHLA: What made UC Coatings decide to focus on the forest products industry specifically?
Chris: There was a definite need in the forest products industry for a product like Anchorseal. We had an inexpensive answer to a costly problem. It made sense for us to focus on the forest products industry. Once we got into this community, we asked ourselves, “In what other ways can we help?” and took it from there.
NHLA: What does the future look like for UC Coatings
Chris: It’s an exciting time to be at UC Coatings. We are constantly looking to grow through the introduction of new products or acquisitions of other companies. We just purchased another company this October which will be our third acquisition since 2018 and fourth overall. It is called Abatron Inc., based in Kenosha, Wisconsin. It specializes in the formulation and manufacture of epoxy related compounds.
NHLA: We see the line “The Leader in Wood Protection” a lot in your advertising. What do you mean by that?
Chris: When we say we are the leader in wood protection, we mean the leader in many ways: service, partnership, integrity, value, and performance (not necessarily in that particular order.)