Some say necessity drives invention. And the custom coating industry is no exception.  In this episode, we introduce you to Victor Pate, Owner & Founder of Black Label Coatings.

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He’s got an inspiring bootstrap story of how got into this business and built one of the most impeccable brands in custom coating today. But that’s not all. He talks shop about what he would like to change in the industry and shares what drove him to start his own line of signature powders for custom coater by custom coaters.

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Interview with Victor Pate of BLC

RossKote(Kim): Welcome to episode six. I’m Kim Scott your host and the other half of the powder coating Duo roscoat, you are listening to the powder coater podcast where we interview influencers and Industry in the industry and cover trending topics. So powder coaters can effectively learn and grow their business in this episode. We’ve got BLC in the house chew Create one of the most impeccable brands in bespoke Powder Coating today. And unless you’re hiding under your oven for too long. You know who I’m talking to and I’m honored to speak with today. Victor Ross pay of Black Label Coatings, welcome to the podcast Victor


Victor Pate(BLC): Thank you Kim. I appreciate you having me sorry. It’s been a little bit of a struggle getting our schedules to line up. I know you guys in the middle of the move and we’re staying covered up. I’ve been looking forward to get to talk to you for a while now.

Victor Pate of Black Label Coatings & Powder


RossKote(Kim): Awesome. Well Victor before we get started talking about you. Let’s talk about where your shops located and how long have you been powder coating?


Victor Pate(BLC): We’re located in Chucky Tennessee, which is in the mountains of Upper East Tennessee. We’re pretty much out in the middle of nowhere’s most people would call it. We’ve been in business for five and a half coming up on six years January 1st of this coming year where we are 60 year anniversary. I’ve been in the powder coating for about 13 or 14 years total.


RossKote(Kim): Okay, and where can people find you online? What’s your social media handles website stuff like that.


Victor Pate(BLC): That’s an easy one at black underscore label underscore Coatings you type in BLC and a hashtag search on Instagram. We come up pretty quick. You can also find this at our powder website or excuse my powder Instagram black underscore label underscore powders, and we’ve got Black Label sir our website. We’ve got no one black little is our main website.


RossKote(Kim): yeah, and I can’t wait to talk about these powders a little later in the


Victor Pate(BLC): well


RossKote(Kim): show because I think what you’ve done is absolutely amazing. So but at talking about social media you proudly post that your veteran So thank you for your service. owned. What does that mean to you?


Victor Pate(BLC): Oh well. It’s not as heroic as I wanted as most people like to present it to be I was a musician in my earlier life. I gotta go pregnant. My son came into this world chopped on my hair off joined the army. in search for The elusive benefits, that one would need to have a child basically put my creativity on hold to raise family then, you know do all that and then later on in life when It got a chance to what’s my son graduated high school? Basically, I got chance to strike out and try to fulfill that creative void that I had the Army taught me everything though as far as being disciplined self-resourceful just not given up and I think that’s that’s some of the things you need as a business owner because it gets hard. You already know that you know, there’s days you don’t feel like getting out of bed the days you don’t feel like going days. You don’t feel like doing the prep 100% but you know, that’s where I think we Shine from from other shops is no matter what the job is we trust the process and no matter what it is. We don’t cut the corners.


RossKote(Kim): Yeah, I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s definitely. an ability or not, even an ability but more of like a personality trait or a mantra that you have to abide by or You know get in line with because it’s powder coating has its. Parts that are hard and and it’s definitely a process of learning and everything. It’s not something that you can just pick up easily. Now, let’s start a little bit. You gave us a little teaser on that. I mean, how did you get started and talk me through it because you said you started powder coating before you started the business what compelled you to be a powder coder and how did you get started?


Victor Pate(BLC): Basically, it was just a feel of void. I had a local powder coat shop. There’s a few industrial shops in here. And there was only one shop that would take you know, small batch work. If you had a set of handlebars or set of wheels you could take in there and get powder coated. It was hit or miss on quality. It was hit or miss on price. You could take the same Parts there twice and get two different versions of black the prices were never the same. But as just what was quoted to you you go to pick up the price been jacked up three times what it was promised to you at the Quality was never the same. Sometimes it was good. Sometimes it was okay. Sometimes it was terrible. So after having a look into that world and I started getting into you know, what all would take for me to be able to do my own Parts at the time. I was racing motorcycles and and and wanted to you know looked apart and I wanted everything to match and look good. And basically there’s no in the area that could that could service, you know my needs. So basically I got into it for myself. I spent you know the first few years ruining my own parts, and then I ruined my buddies parts and then I tried got happily decent it, you know got took off. Bring them on worked at a diesel shop about an hour from here and he was having the same problems with the same powder coated that I originally had problems with and he’s like man you need to open up your business and just take off. I promise. I’ll keep you busy. so at the time I was driving a truck working 50 60 hours a week driving a truck had good seniority making great money good benefits, you know, just wanted to do it just to kind of Be able to help me purchase my toys and pay for my hobbies and it slowly turned into a full-time job. It was never the intention. I remember very clearly going into it thanking if I can just make my Foreigner payment each month and I’ll be flying. And next thing, you know, my wife put her job first. She started helping me. She was a nurse for a neurosurgeon in town. And she made good money a good benefits in order the whole nine yards. She quit her job and was helping me do prep in the daytime and we were shooting at night and eventually just got to be the point where I was costing me more to go to work than it would if I had to stay home. So I you know, our shop was in our basement like a lot of people start out. You know, I’m proud to say that I’ve got this idea in my head that when I hit the 10-year Mark, I’m gonna publish pictures from my original setup right now. It’s still to a little close to home. It’s you know, some of it’s embarrassing. But I’m a firm believer and and you have to use what you have at your disposal. So we made every square inch of our house count. We turned you know, we just turned the whole house into basically without a good shot. So after we got to where my wife quit her job and we quickly saw that, you know, I still need to be there. I went ahead and quit mine and we went full-time. That was four and a half years ago that we’ve been doing this full time that I’ve been doing it full time. We quickly found that we needed more space. We started looking on the market for commercial property and it around here commercial property is very hard to come by and in my price range. So we just looked up and found this place that had a house and two shops out in the middle of nowhere. And the big shop had three phase power. So we my ideal going into this after I learned from from my basement shop was you can’t do prep and the same space that you’re doing your powder application without having to spend a day or two of cleaning and luckily for me. I’ve got a prep shop and then I’ve got you know the clean shop where the ovens and the powder beads are so it was almost like this place was made for us and it was meant, you know, we bought it we’ve got here and it’s taken off ever since.


RossKote(Kim): Wow, I mean what a incredible story because you hit on so many of the same. Um things that my husband and I have gone through it’s almost an identical story and I’m wondering how many of the listeners out there have that similar same story because we’re you know, and I I like that story because I think it helps bring it all together as a community, you know that we have similar hero Journeys or you know, similar Journeys, you know that we can all figure out how we got together and got to this place, you know, everybody has that simple beginning, you know. And I I just love that that was great you but you you know, there is something deeper there. It’s not just that you have all you’ve started similar to a lot of other people you have outstanding reviews on Google business page you have.


Victor Pate(BLC): Dot


RossKote(Kim): Um You know your social media is off the hook. everybody follows you powder coders and customers alike. I mean, there’s something there’s something more magical there behind the scenes and maybe it’s your wife. I don’t know. Who knows. There is something that you can do or that you’re bringing to the community that is. A higher level. I don’t know. I’m maybe I’m getting to here, but What do you think sets you apart? Besides all these reviews and you’re out? You know.


Victor Pate(BLC): Well, I’ll be honest with you. Absolutely nothing special about me as a person other than the fact that when I’m interested in something I become obsessed with it. And if I become obsessed with it, I completely submerge myself into it. I don’t have a lot of hobbies. I don’t have a lot of other interests because everything takes a hundred percent of my focus and my time. We keep my both my wife and I and it’s just my Watson now, there’s nobody else, you know, we would like to have somebody else, you know, but at the same time I know that there’s headaches to come along with that. I think honestly, it’s just we’re not afraid to fail. We’re not afraid to try. You know, when I first got into this everybody’s like well, you know, you can’t can’t do this can’t do that. I’m going but why can’t you do that? I’ve got a small background. Painting Automotive Painting and I try to take those same Concepts and apply the powder and I know that’s not a hundred percent always possible but I get that but there’s a lot of things that that we’re doing that when we started people said you can’t do so, it’s it’s just it comes from you know, they say inventions or necessities of mother invention. So for us, it’s everything we’ve done is just because we’ve been a problem in front of us and we’re trying to figure out how to work around it. My wife she’s incredible. She’s my best friend. She’s she’s you know without her, you know, I don’t think the business would be where it is. She would love to been on the podcast today. She’s little on the shots odd. She doesn’t do well talking to people and understand that but we’re we’re both like that. We’re both kind of shut offs, you know on a Friday nights. You don’t find us in town. You don’t find us in a bar you find us on the shop, you know when we When we get into something, we completely turn our lives upside down for you know, that’s what we did. You know, I walked away from a really good job. She walked away from a really good job. We had a big house on a cul-de-sac and a nice subdivision, which is something I’d always wanted. We gave that up office place out in the middle of nowhere and you know, we’re actually happier now that we’ve ever been.


RossKote(Kim): That’s awesome. Yeah, I mean, I think it’s takes a dynamic duo to do all of stuff. I’m not sure who does the social media if it’s you or her or any of the other digital stuff like keeping up with, you know, getting those Google reviews, you know, sometimes people offer them up and sometimes you have to ask for them, but 57 outstanding reviews is an incredible goal that you’ve achieved there. I in my opinion because it all plays into your rankings and your brand and stuff. But as speaking of Brands, we recently had a brand survey that we sent out to other coders. and in the industry and I found this comment. There was a portion there where they got to pick or suggest who their favorite brands that they follow in. The industry are some people named powder coat or suppliers. Some people named other powder coders, you know as who they are who they think has a good brand or on social media or whatever and Then they so once they named it then they were asked the question. Why? what do you think they have or why do they why do you follow them and this comment? I’m not gonna say who it was from because I I’d have to look back but I highlighted this when the survey results came in because I found it fascinating and the way that they just set it set it so perfectly I guess and it might be shocking to you. I don’t know but they specifically said that they named you Black Label Coatings and they said an extremely tidy facade difficult to gauge their actual size. And I think you kind of just I think you kind of just described ahead of time what this is and I I have to agree with him. I mean when you when you’re a powder coder and you’re looking at other powder Growers on social media Yeah, you’re looking at that rim or that color but beyond that you’re looking at the background you’re looking at what what kind of things are in the back of the shop and and stuff like that, you know, you’re paying attention to the details, I guess more so than maybe a customer or an average follower of yours. Do you have anything to say about that? I didn’t mean to throw that out as like to get you off guard or anything, but I had to share that with you because I think it’s I think it’s indicative of your brand but it’s you know, it’s you know, I don’t know. What do you think of that?

Victor Pate(BLC): I think it’s great some of the best lessons I’ve learned from other powder coders indirectly is looking in the background to see what’s going on. I’m very cautious of what’s in my backgrounds. I know sometimes I may let more go than I but it it’s For me it boils down to you don’t have a million dollar shop to do million dollar work. Yeah. I’m a firm believer in that. You can have a small outfit like, you know, we had when we first started, you know, the first few years the business was spent in the 650 square foot basement and and my presence online was was you know, I presented my logo my brand representative the work. And most people always want to know about the my picture Booth where I take pictures and to be honest goes back to what I was saying before where you know necessity is the mother of invention. We started posting some good quality work and then we started getting calls from people going. Hey, man, your work’s being used to sell product for another powder coat or a mile down the road or 10 miles down the road or two states over and I started noticing that you know, Not everybody but there’s some shady people in the industry. So we want to make it as hard as possible. If you just steal our background for you sell our work. So we made the entire background and we still Watermark our pictures. It hasn’t stopped everybody from stealing it and trying to pass it off as theirs, but that’s you know, that’s that’s slowed that down. but


RossKote(Kim): right


Victor Pate(BLC): for me, the main thing was there’s two different types of powder coating there’s industrial and then there’s custom well industrial is just pretty much what it is. It’s industrial you create 10,000 mailboxes through before lunch. And you know, you’ve had a good day where us we don’t do that. It’s not about the quantity. It’s about the quality. So we we do things the hard way. We don’t we wanted the and the reason I named The Black Label Coatings. I remember when I was a young kid, my parents worked for the government. My dad got a job State Department. And I remember after he got a couple of pay raises on him. He bought a really nice suit and it was a Black Label suit from Ralph Lauren. I asked number asking what’s the deal with the black label and he saw other just indicative of the highest quality that you can get and then I started you know, as life went on and time went by I started noticing other brands did the exact same thing like you can buy Mercedes. Yeah, that’s badass. That’s great. It’s very expensive car. Well, you can get an AMG Mercedes or you can get the Black Edition Black Label Edition. So there’s several Brands out there that share that same philosophy, but for us we wanted to only do the very best work. We could we didn’t care. We’re going to make any money in it because this was never supposed to be a business. This was supposed to be a hobby for me to pay for my toys and help us, you know supplement the income. So it’s one of those things that we started where if we do this, we’re only gonna do it one way and that’s the right way.


RossKote(Kim): I love that. Yeah there I’ve never noticed that before about Black Label, but you know while you were talking I was thinking. Oh, yeah, American Express has their black card and that’s supposed to be the card and everything.


Victor Pate(BLC): right Sure.


RossKote(Kim): Yeah. I’ve never Never known that before and that’s yeah. I mean, I think you see that in alcohol Brands you see it in. I don’t know all kinds of Brands actually, so I have to pay more attention to that. And I I think you’re right about you know it there is only so much you can do when you get to that level or you have that much notoriety on social media. it it’s you can slow it down one of the most downloaded photos that we have and I actually happen to be on Instagram when I saw someone caught I actually caught them in the app. They had just posted I was following like the powder coating hashtag on Instagram and going through pictures and seeing what other guys are doing and stuff and I saw our photo on somebody else’s post. I’m like, what is this? I didn’t even understand it. And thank God the day that I took that picture I did something similar. It wasn’t as perfect as your picture, but it had our we had a a banner that’s had our logo on it. And I actually that day don’t normally do this, but that day I look, you know put the banner behind the wheel and literally like the guy must have just cut and pasted it right into his you know, the picture and stuff and it


Victor Pate(BLC): I believe.


RossKote(Kim): Thankfully I had yeah. Thankfully. I have that Banner. I’m like dude you’re using and I totally busted him and it’s hilarious because they have like a gazillion followers, but they they post rims


Victor Pate(BLC): it


RossKote(Kim): and boobs, you know, so And no wonder they have like 25,000 But anyways, I’m like I totally or 50,000 followers by now. busted him and he felt bad and he didn’t take it down. But I’m like well at least tag me in the post, you know, that’s the least you can do if you’re gonna do that, you know.


Victor Pate(BLC): What yeah.


RossKote(Kim): Yeah, it’s just what’s gonna happen when you are the way who you are, you know.


Victor Pate(BLC): People are funny man. They really are funny. They’ll try to watch something funny and get credit for it. But and that’s fine. You know, if you want to use a valve coverage to sell your valve cover refinish things, that’s fine. But just make sure that you’re up to being able to do the job. You’re going to offer up they were


RossKote(Kim): Yeah.


Victor Pate(BLC): sold.


RossKote(Kim): Yeah, it’s get well, it’s gonna bite him in the ass. Anyways, right? I mean if they’re not they can’t do the work that they’re expected. I mean that’s just the nature of powder coating.


Victor Pate(BLC): Yes. Hey, that’s that’s one thing that really kills me. I get a lot of people to contact and be like, hey, man, I love your work. I just bought a new booth just bought a new oven. I’ve got this gun. I know how to plug it up. How do you two tone? I’m not telling you. A long way to that point man. So just just start with the back. Well, I need to make money. I’ve got well, I’m sorry. I can’t help you. So we did it the other way we did where it wasn’t a business. It was just the Hobby and it turned into a business and I think that’s it came natural at that point and I try to explain to people every day that we learned something new literally every time we work I take care of all the prep. I’ll do all the social media do all the unfun stuff. My wife does all the shooting. I hope some when it comes into the two-tone stuff. I’m more comfortable with some of it than she is again. She has her strengths. I have my strengths and together. I feel like we’re Unstoppable at that point.


RossKote(Kim): Yeah, I I think. having a partner in this business, whether it’s your wife girlfriend or a buddy is definitely how to make the most of you know to be a one-man band is really really difficult to especially when you want to keep up with the Social media or get, you know get that ranking on online and stuff. You know where people can actually discover you, you know, but go ahead. Sorry.


Victor Pate(BLC): I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to speak over you. I’m the first person to tell you that my social media game has slipped a little bit, but we’ve just gotten so busy and I used to be that guy that worried that my percentages were down and I need to do something about it. And then it finally just hit me one day just do the work put it out there as art if you post once a day or once every three days just put something good out there and if people want you they’ll find you I don’t I don’t put the effort into it that some shops do but to me, I don’t like seeing 50 useless posts and then one good post instead of Wills. I’m I’m funny like that I guess but


RossKote(Kim): Now that’s just the nature of Instagram. There is a way to do it and Away not to do it. Hopefully going to cover that in a future episode that I’m planning at for now, but I agree and you know, it’s okay to take a break from social media. I mean we have recently just because of you know where we’re at right now in the move. And it’s okay. You can come back just know your brand and utilize the hashtags or share your story and people will come back and follow you again or or like your posts again. It’s just you know, you just have to go with the flow. You can’t be on it all a hundred percent all the time. It’s just insane to do that. It’s not realistic.


Victor Pate(BLC): I think some posts are stops put social media before they put their work and that’s something that I never want to be accused of. I mean, we’ll work 20 hours a day seven days a week and be happy with it before we post two or three times that week. You know, it’s just what it is. I don’t I don’t feel comfortable not doing everything possible to make a job. Right? And I think that’s where all our reviews come from. Anybody’s had work done here knows my schedule stays erect mainly because if it’s not perfect, it does not leave the shop. But I’m also that guy that my tattoo artist has a year and a half wait for me to get into see him and I’m cool with that. So my customers are now cool if we’ve got a two month wait or four month, wait or like this year for the first time we’re booked solid for the rest of the year. We did that like the third week of May that’s never happened. I’m not sure what caused that it just kind of happened and we couldn’t be happier with it. I know the coronaviruses. Really hampered or you know dampened a lot of our new color releases, you know for black little powders and we can get into that a few minutes. But you know, honestly, you know, it’s been our best year for business. It’s just been very difficult in navigating the waters that are right now, but I feel like my customers know what they’re waiting on and they’re cool with that.


RossKote(Kim): yeah, I it’s interesting some are doing okay and some are not I you know, we took a hit for sure just because You know tourism and people demand for business, but it’s coming back around for us and I think a lot of people have some extra cash in their in their savings right now from unemployment. Maybe they’re getting back to work now and they feel a little bit more comfortable spending that money. I’m not sure but we’ve We’ve got quite a bit of rim jobs coming up the minute. We open up plus, you know, the usual construction Gates and railings and stuff like that are you know staying pretty busy so


Victor Pate(BLC): Yep. I’m a big fan of y’all’s railings. That’s cool.


RossKote(Kim): Yeah, it’s a big thing here and I hope to make it more, get it out there more and stuff like that, you know because we really do like those jobs and they look great, you know.


Victor Pate(BLC): Especially that patina yaI’ll have


RossKote(Kim): Yes. Yeah, the patina powder coating is coming along and hopefully we’ll have some big announcements coming up in the next. Month here about what we’re doing.


Victor Pate(BLC): that’s great.


RossKote(Kim): We’re getting some heat getting some attention from some of the bigger multinational companies right now. So we’ll see what the outcome is of those. Yeah, so yeah, let’s get into the powder line. I’m excited about this. You know, I called you when we were talking about patents. I think you had finally announced that you had this powder line. You mentioned you had some patents. Of course, we were at the moment of


Victor Pate(BLC): Yeah.


RossKote(Kim): deciding whether or not we should do a patent. So that’s when I first reached out to you months ago and and you know


Victor Pate(BLC): Yeah.


RossKote(Kim): remember that call and tell me about this powder line it what why did you start it? And what makes what makes these powders different


Victor Pate(BLC): Well again everything for us seems to go back to you know necessities of mother inventions when we first started shooting, you know, I grabbed all the cool colors. I could find from Prismatic powders and Columbia Coatings and order them and got them in and some over awesome. Some of them were great. And then the blacks were just not cool at all. It’s not a real black. It’s you know, we started noticing no matter what brand we ordered. It came in two different shades of black a dirty gray black or a dirty brown black. So I remember calling my powder rip at the time and having a long conversation with her and going. Hey, what can we do to maybe change some of this and she goes? Oh, you know unless you want to do like a 10,000 pound order of a custom color. You know, that’s really Really not you know much we can do for you. And I said well, how do I go about doing this myself? And she goes let me transfer you to the lab and let you talk to them. I think she was tired of hearing me talk. So I got on the phone with the guy at the lab at one of my suppliers and started asking him a bunch of questions and and basically reading between the lines I started making notes and as he was talking I would say, okay, so where can I buy that at? And it’s all you know, go check this website and check this and know these people will sell you, you know, go just ask for a sample, you know on a sample be you know, 20 pounds of pigment. So I just started basically trying to come up with, you know, trying to reinvent the wheel the first color we did was our signature satin black. We did that where the industry standard on satin black Falls anywhere between like 40 and 50% Satin. We mix ours the significantly higher rate. We like to think that that extra gloss level fills the gap between traditional satin and gloss black My Hotrod customers. Absolutely love it. Hey, it’s a single stage powder and B. It’s a lot easier to care for than gloss black as you already know gloss blacks and Nightmare if you touch it and scratch it and you know, there you go. So after we got the signature satin black done we decided we wanted to focus on gloss black. So we started focusing on gloss black and then we got that halfway done and we played with it. I think we had like five or six versions before we came up with actual murderous black. But it’s basically just I think it could be better. So we tried to make it better and that’s been our philosophy since day one and we want this to look as good as humanly possible. You know, how can I do that? And without you know, Reinventing the will and coming up with new formulas there just wasn’t many options out there. So that’s what we were forced into.


RossKote(Kim): Wow, I mean and I love that murderous black this the word in itself is enough to get your attention, right?


Victor Pate(BLC): It is.


RossKote(Kim): I love yeah, I love the names of all your powders and stuff and I mean so Are you saying because you’re using a higher quality pigment? Do you think the is the application? I mean, I’m not a powder coder. So I’m but is it do you get better coverage or is it just that you get the durability? And you know, what? What is the finer line there?


Victor Pate(BLC): So once we once we started having them produced for us that did two things for us instead of spending five or six hours every Sunday afternoon trying to mix up a small batch of gloss black to last us the week. We basically took our tried and true formulas that we came up with took our life savings and invested them into black little powders and by going to the man talking to a lab and the different pigment manufacturers and saying, okay. What is the absolute best pigment you have for this and going that route so many levels to it that most manufacturers don’t go past, you know, just the basic necessity to get a black color. So we’ve tried to incorporate the very best. Very best ingredients if you want to call on that into these powders and as a result, you get an actual true black it is black as night. I hope my son’s not listen, but always like to say it’s black as my ex-wife’s heart.


RossKote(Kim): I love Until that I think that’s awesome. I mean because you are the coders coder. I mean, would you disagree with that? I mean like I I think you’re making powders for people like you that want the and your customers that want the very best. powders in the industry and I maybe it’s a wake-up call or maybe it’s something you know, like people listening today probably didn’t even know that like, I didn’t know that till I talked to you that one day and I was like, oh, wow, I never considered that, you know, um, so I you know, I I it it must have taken you some time to Put it all together. I know you were making the smaller batches and stuff and you kind of mad science then you know, what you were doing on the weekends making your own powders. I mean, what is the process and you don’t have to dive too deep into it. But what’s the simple process you called the chemist and you said give me this give me that.


Victor Pate(BLC): In the beginning. Yes, and then we ran into issues. So there’s magical thing out there called a binder which makes flake adhere. Is that you can apply and without a binder you’re really not doing much good. That was the hardest thing for us to get access to. The way that my powder explains something in the beginning they don’t make high-end powders because like 95% of the powder consumption is for industrial use and if it’s good enough now, then it’ll be good enough tomorrow and they had no interest in fixing a problem. It wasn’t there in their eyes. Custom shops or is they like to calm job shops, you know, they fall in the back burning and what that guy needs. I’m not worried about that because he’s only gonna order met best maybe 500 pounds for me this year. And if that’s his that’s if he’s doing good, you know for a small


RossKote(Kim): right


Victor Pate(BLC): Us in the beginning where we monitor 300 pounds a year. They didn’t care what I had to say. They didn’t care that I didn’t like their black or they’re clear. So it it really They didn’t see is a problem. And I know we’ve stepped on some toes now and that’s fine. I’m proud of what we have and and and I think the difference for us is we took our life savings made this powder and basically what it is it key. It saves us time on on on the back end now and instead of having to prep to make the powder. It’s already done. It’s ready to go shows up boxed and we shoot it. We’re gonna go I don’t push it down people’s throats. I don’t post a whole lot about it. It’s one of those things that’s there if somebody wants it. I’m more of an artist than I’m a businessman. So I know I’m losing, you know revenue and all that. I’m sure people are out here, you know jumping up and down right now at the sheer, you know, sound of my voice saying those words, but it’s not about the money. It’s about to work and and for us if we’ve got a product it’s there on the market, you know, we may get into more advertising later on but right now we’re super comfortable with that. We’re at we’ve got 11 new colors that we need to launch but until the pandemics over and our pigment supplier reopens. There’s really not a whole lot we can do so we’re kind of tied Right now we got a bunch of color matches. We’ve got one for 10 digit designs going on that we still can’t finish up because we just don’t have access to the pigments.


RossKote(Kim): Yeah, I’ve heard there is some disruption there. I hope to dig a little bit more into that when we have a PCI on they can maybe give us some shed some light on that. But yeah, I’ve heard some people. I’ve had some issues. Getting the materials that they need to make their powders. So we’ll I’m I imagine this this story will unfold in the coming months, but I think it’s just


Victor Pate(BLC): so


RossKote(Kim): awesome. You know that what you’ve done and how Innovative and you know, you didn’t start with what can I bring? To the industry you started with what can I bring better to my customers?


Victor Pate(BLC): what 100% 100%


RossKote(Kim): Yeah, go ahead.


Victor Pate(BLC): the biggest I’m sorry, I think I think the biggest thing for me is is the reason we try so hard is we live in a pretty small community and I would say probably 60% of our business comes on the UPS truck, but that other 40% is people that live near and around me and I love being able to look Union shake your hand knows I gave you a kick asset of Wheels. I’ve got customers, you know from back in the day that when we weren’t even a business. It’s still you know, swing by the shop and go. Hey man. Just wanted to show you man. You still look just as good the day you did it for me. That’s what it’s all about.


RossKote(Kim): Yeah, I that’s an interesting story too because like when my husband and I first started or his thing was I want to be the guy, you know, I’m you’re the guy, you know, give me the guy I want that guy the guy that does the powder coating right, you know or the best or you know, and we’re in a small area and stuff like that. So, you know when you’re known as the guy I think it’s kind of making a statement that you’ve kind of arrived in as far as in and around your You know and making customers lifetime customers, right?


Victor Pate(BLC): I’m very happy with where we are today, and I’m proud of how far we’ve come but I’m not satisfied by any means and I think that’s another reason that keeps. Keeps me up late at night keeps my wife up late at night. We keep journals by both sides of the bed. I’ll wake up and write some crazy idea down and I’ll read it the next morning when I get up and not extend the time. I’m not gonna lie to you. It’s all garbage, but there’s you know, just a little bit of that where this magic. And you know, we’re running.


RossKote(Kim): Yeah.


Victor Pate(BLC): It happened last month two months ago. Maybe we were on a job and I kept trying this one. This one finish as a set of poison spotter Jeep fenders and I could not get our heavy silver flake and our custom color match for Jeeps Anvil gray to work together. Well, My wife and I kick these fingers around back and forth back and forth back and forth tried three or four different things. I’m like man, I don’t know and you know, it’s like well if this is as good as we’ve got so far, you know, we’ll see what the customer thinks. And they supposed to come down the next morning or in a couple of days and I called and that makes more say hey man, lightning struck, you know We got a whole new idea give me a the night. week and we’ll see what happens and went down the shop and knocked it out and we could not have been happier. It’s just I think that’s the thing that excites me. The most about powder coating is You can do the same thing. every time 10 times, but if you just make one slot adjustment you can make Leaps and Bounds improvements or make it go the other way makes it a terrible. So you we I really get into those into that area of the process where the slide is saying makes the world a difference even down the media that we blast with, you know, we’re a hundred percent self-sufficient we strip blast coat in house. We don’t rely on anyone else. That’s another pet peeve of mine for new Shops coming up that don’t strip a blast. You know, we get those, you know father not shops that pop up they see us doing okay, and they think they can do it and they last, you know a couple months because they don’t. I could imagine not having the ability to strip and blast something if I needed to because guess what we’ve done this for a minute and I still strip and blast on a regular basis. If we see something that this imperfection that I can’t live with it’s not leaving the shop.


RossKote(Kim): Yeah, I know. I’m married to a man just like that. and you know, it’s


Victor Pate(BLC): That’s a curse in.


RossKote(Kim): It can be. Yeah, it’s a cursive blessing exactly, you know. And I and I I get that passion. It makes it you know makes life interesting and you know, you know that. You know, you’re so sure, you know, and even with the with things falling apart or making him a success, you know that. You know, when that next powder coater tries to start up down the street or whatever. You’ve got nothing to worry about. You know who you are. And I think that that really speaks to me. I feel like when I look at your brand, I feel it all the way down to my bones, you know and talking to you today. Just kind of just you know, just kind of reassures me that what you see is what you get, you know, and I love that. I think I wish more Brands could be bringing that to the you know is just


Victor Pate(BLC): skip


RossKote(Kim): take you you’re just doing you Victor and your wife is just doing her and you’re bringing it all out. You know, you have to protect yourself. It’s a it’s a social it’s it’s a


Victor Pate(BLC): group


RossKote(Kim): profile on the Internet or whatever, but I think for the most you’ve really struck a balance between your personal lives and your label.


Victor Pate(BLC): Well, thank you. I’ll be honest. We don’t have a personal life. It’s just all business. I like that with it this all we do before the business, you know, we rode 15 16,000 miles a year on motorcycles. Each of us my wife and I both have bikes since the business started. We rode just a little bit in the beginning. But once it took off man, like I started my bike one time last year she wrote around the block for me. I haven’t been on it like three years. I just don’t have time. I’m not I’m that’s my focus isn’t there if I’ve got free time to ride a bike. I’ve got free time to be working on new color and a lot of colors like our Nardo gray with real blue pearl. I remember seeing a car in Baltimore Maryland. I was a little kid and the sun was hitting it just right and it was this white. It was a white car that had a blue a custom blue pearl paint job and I fell in love with it not carried that image in my head with me my whole life. Oh, man. I love to be able to recreate that. Just so happened. One of our diesel shops in Arkansas would do a lot of work with he called me up. Hey, man, I need this color and he basically described it except instead of being white. It was a Nardo Gray. so we went to town on that and that’s took a long time to figure out but it’s It’s I don’t do anything but work if it’s not powder coated related, I’m not doing it. I just it’s that’s where my brains at. And that’s where it’s been at for a while. And and and I thank you almost need that when you’re starting a new business. I think you need that when you’re trying to build a brand, but I consider earlier. It’s both a curse and a blessing.


RossKote(Kim): I couldn’t agree with you more. I mean, we literally have had our heads down to the grindstone for the last three or four years since we got serious, you know, we started the business in 2010, but We really didn’t take it to seriously until 2015 when I got out of my industry and joined his business and his industry. So I I hear you about just not


Victor Pate(BLC): right


RossKote(Kim): looking up and just staying focused and stuff. So if you had let’s do some wrap up here. So if you had an extra $10,000 in your bank account for your business right now, what would you spend it on? Would you spend it on a on equipment space another patent, I mean


Victor Pate(BLC): Oh here we’ve got one that we’re working on right now that and again if this pandemic would free up we could have already had it done. We’re working. We’re working on one product. Now that is not currently available anywhere on the market and I don’t want to give it out because I’d be cut my own throat at that point, but we’re hoping to have it wrapped up this year. But yeah pads are expensive trademarks expensive. So definitely take that for legal fees and help push the brand further.


RossKote(Kim): Yeah, yeah. Is there anything that you would like to change in this industry or do you see any I mean, I kind of answered your own question. But do you see any change or Trends changing in the industry? Maybe your powders are a response to that, you know?


Victor Pate(BLC): I think that they’re I think the one thing that drives me crazy the most we work with a lot of high-end Shops and and they’ll have their customers either go on our website or one of the other powder suppliers websites and look at colors and we’ll present you know, our Our customer the retail Shop with a bill for the price, you know for the whole price of the project coming up and the customer looks at it and goes why is the 1600 dollars the powders on 899 a pound? What why is it $600? and I think what bothers me the most is there’s this. Untold rule that that powder coaters are supposed to be you know, but low if you know just feed them, feed them some bread crumbs and throw them a dollar and they’ll do all your work for you for nothing. I don’t know where that came from and it may just be in my area but I think the hardest thing I’ve see other shops struggling with is knowing the value of their time and I think that’s why a lot of shops go under so fast is there they’re spending three and four days on a project and they’re not charging accordingly. So if I had any impact on the industry at all would be just to raise awareness that what we do is is very hard very difficult very time consuming and it’s it’s long form work. You don’t just go in and you know shake the gun at and you’re done you spend the day on prep you spend the day doing this you there’s a lot of time that goes into doing what we do and as you very well know. You have to trust the process. You can’t cheat the process and if you trust the process, you’re gonna spend some time and you’re gonna spend some money and you’re gonna have money wrapped up in equipment. You know people come in and want to you know, beat me up on a $400 set of price or $400 price set of wheels. And I’ve got $250,000 worth of equipment in both shops, and it’s not it’s not The public’s perception of what we do is an Acura, I feel like


RossKote(Kim): Yeah, I couldn’t I mean geez it is true. And I think that that actually comes from The industrialists powder coders because you know for them with the line coding and everything. It’s like everything every part is just you know, the because it’s automated. It’s all about the margin and it’s


Victor Pate(BLC): Sure.


RossKote(Kim): powder and stuff like that. And I I I imagine it’s I agree with you. It’s not just in your area. I think it’s Global actually pretty sure people in all parts of the world are experiencing that too, you know, and it is something that needs to be changed. It’s a valid point. It’s not something that you know the way you just explained it is just so yeah, that’s exactly how it is.


Victor Pate(BLC): skip


RossKote(Kim): You know, you explained it really well, and we covered a lot of that what you were talking about as far as pricing in our just released episode on pricing and it it’s been getting a


Victor Pate(BLC): know you


RossKote(Kim): lot of comments and people have really appreciated this episode because it covers the value of what who you are as a person. You know, it’s not just math. It’s the confidence behind it and stuff like that. So that is a very well said thing and it’s a great. I think it’s a great point to end with because I feel like we’ve only just scratched the surface of yes. I’m definitely going to have you come back if you don’t mind.


Victor Pate(BLC): right on.


RossKote(Kim): As yeah, especially when you come out with that new one that you’re talking you’re talking about and stuff. You’re welcome to come back anytime.


Victor Pate(BLC): Well, it won’t. It won’t be a powder, but it’ll be a shot. It will be something every shop in the US needs and can use and has the needs for right now. They just may not realize it just yet.


RossKote(Kim): Oh, wow, that makes it even more more exciting. That’s great. I love it. And I think Innovation is definitely going to be A trend you’re going to see and it’s not going to come from the industrialists because they’re already built out. They don’t they’ve got everything they need in their in their line


Victor Pate(BLC): Sure.


RossKote(Kim): coding systems. I mean they can always Upgrade their equipment and you know do something fangle with the way they hang it or the speed or the you know, whatever.


Victor Pate(BLC): Sure.


RossKote(Kim): But I think the major Innovation is


Victor Pate(BLC): Please don’t.


RossKote(Kim): going to come from Custom coders like us.


Victor Pate(BLC): I think so. But please don’t get me wrong. I want no part of doing 10,000 mailboxes before launch. What they’ve got going is what they’ve got going and I’m happy for them. Please. Don’t don’t don’t think I’ve would want any part of what they do.


RossKote(Kim): Yeah, don’t mail you 10,000 mailboxes, okay?


Victor Pate(BLC): about it


RossKote(Kim): All right, Victor. It has been a pleasure talking to you. I am so happy that you’ve come on today, tell us again. You’re on Instagram at Black Label Coatings with an S. What’s your websites again?


Victor Pate(BLC): Black Label Coatings and Black Label If you go to Black, there’s a link to the website for powders.


RossKote(Kim): Awesome, and we can just order like online right? We don’t have to call you can just order online. Whatever you need.


Victor Pate(BLC): That’s correct. No, man. Yes, the reason let me touch on this real quick. I know it’s been a touchy subject for a few customers. In the professional world. It’s very common. If you’ve got a website that sells product you can pull up the website and you can look at the products, but you’re not going to have a price until you create an account and gain access to the pricing. The reason we did that is so that if I’m trying to help you with a customer and you call me up say hey, man, my customers looking for this. He’s not really sure what color he wants. I’ll say. Hey just have him check out my website. They’ll be able to look at the colors, but there’s not going to be any pricing the pricings for you the custom shop and that’s what we did, you know? custom powders designed by a custom shop for custom shops


RossKote(Kim): That’s awesome. I get that and yes, we’ve had a few customers come to us or You know, they I don’t know either they’re trying to save money. They think we’re gonna rip them off or whatever. I mean we’ve got shipping, you know for us. I’m not sure. How do you ship just thought I’d ask in case I order some because are you shipping UPS or USPS? How do you get how do we get your powders?


Victor Pate(BLC): Right now everything’s done USPS. We’ve been talking with UPS to take over all of it so that we can have shipping to Canada and other countries right now. We will ship anywhere in the world. You just have to email me your powder label. We’ve got order for Canada going out Monday, and we’ve got our first order going to Australia on Monday, and I’m super stoked about that.


RossKote(Kim): Oh, that is wow get that pin board out and start pinning up all the countries that you are selling to


Victor Pate(BLC): right


RossKote(Kim): just a milestone, you know, I think that’s great.


Victor Pate(BLC): Yeah, we’re happier. But can we really appreciate you having us on today?


RossKote(Kim): Oh man, Victor. Thank you so much. And please say hi to your lovely wife. What’s her I won’t even ask. I’ll ask off what her name is. I’d love to meet her someday.


Victor Pate(BLC): You can talk to her named her. Her name is Jennifer. You can find on Instagram jail Pate 85. So it’s it’s she just not been like talking on phone very much.


RossKote(Kim): Okay, great. Thank you. Well, thanks again for your supporting us followers and following the powder coating podcast. I hope you’ve learned something today new to help you with your powder coating business. Please feel free to comment below, follow, like & share the podcast if you have a topic that you’d like to discuss. Email us at mailto: . You can also if you’ve got something to sell, you know, you say you’re coming out with a new product or you know, just hit us up too. We’re interested in all kinds of things related to custom powder coating. Thanks again for joining the show. 


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