The Mormon Missionary Advantage

Pilkington Metal Finishing employs 110 workers and does upwards of $5 million a year in aluminum anodizing work out of a 72,000 square foot building five minutes from the Salt Lake City airport.

From his desktop computer, with the help of specially designed software, company founder and president Van Pilkington can monitor and track in real time, the jobs in progress of each of his production workers.

But it wasn’t always so. The business, he recalls only too well, began a quarter century ago about as modestly as an enterprise possible can: in a cinder block garage that her ented for $145 a month. With nobody but himself on the payroll, Pilkington loaded jobs into the back of the family pickup after his afternoon classes at the University of Utah, did them himself on the little tank line that he and his father had set up in the garage, delivered them a day or two later, then scurried home to type up invoices.

His father, who’d retired from the Air Force and worked for a Fortune 500 company that supplied chemical and process equipment to the metal finishing industry, had helped with $4,500 in seed money – and more importantly, suggested an eager account – a medical devices company that needed many of its expensive parts refurbished. “This is something we don’t want to do in-house,” the company’s purchase agent told Pilkington. “It’s a good opportunity for an enterprising young man like yourself.”

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