If you’re sitting in one of the 80,000 seats at the refurbished Georgia Dome, you’re sitting on the work of a Gainesville company.
Georgia Powder Coatings, which specializes in powder-coated, electrostatic painting, was selected to coat and assemble the new and refurbished seats for the Dome.
Dallas Cooley, vice president of sales, said the refurbishing had some initial challenges.
"We had to clean out 16 years of spilled drinks, popcorn butter and chewing gum," Cooley said. The 33,000 refurbished seats were changed from a teal green to the Falcon’s colors of red and black.
"We knew we could handle a job of that caliber," Cooley said. "The overall size of the job is not uncommon for us. We repowder-coated about 33,000 refurbished seats from the upper and mezzanine levels. We also powder-coated and assembled 38,000 new seats for the lower level."
The time line was the challenge.
The first production run started in February. The seats were installed as each production run was finalized because of scheduled events at the Dome, and the job had to be completed prior to the Falcons’ first preseason game Saturday.
According to Cooley, it was the equivalent of powder-coating a minor-league baseball park every week.
The company’s staff of 32 employees, plus six temporary workers hired for the project, was able to complete the project about two weeks ago.
Powder-coating creates fewer volatile organic compound emissions compared to those of conventional liquid paint, Cooley said.
"It is an electrostatic process," Cooley said. "The part to be coated is grounded and the powder has a positive charge to it. The powder is then baked on in an oven."
More than 1 million pounds of the plastic used from the old teal seating at the dome and 225,000 pounds of aluminum were recycled from the project.
The renovation of the Dome was a priority for Falcons owner Arthur Blank. The 16-year-old Dome is home venue for the Falcons and has been the site of two Super Bowls. It was a major venue for the 1996 Olympic games and is the site for the Southeastern Conference football championship and the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Georgia Powder Coating was started in 1999 in the back of a poultry-processing warehouse. With only two employees, who continue to work at Georgia Powder Coating today, the conveyor line had to be stopped to answer the telephone. When work was slow, they made paint hooks from clothes hangers. As the workload grew beyond what the small staff could handle, Cooley said they would drive around in search of extra workers.
The company now has its own facility on Zander Drive that features an automatic-gun conveyor line for large-quantity coating production and a batch operation for coating individual orders.