R&B Plating and Buffing is located at 775 Cherokee St., in Leavenworth, and is owned by Ron and Beth Sutton.

R&B Plating and Buffing is located at 775 Cherokee St., in Leavenworth, and is owned by Ron and Beth Sutton.

1. Your business R&B Plating and Buffing opened recently in downtown Leavenworth. What's your background in this line of work and are there other family members working at the store?
I started in the plating business as a very young kid. I used to go with my dad every Saturday to his shop and have to clean up.
During the summer in high school I would work in the "bumper yard" and sort bumpers.
In the 1970s, the majority of cars and trucks had steel bumpers. So I would say I grew up in the business.
When I graduated high school, I joined the Army and did a three-year tour. Once I got out of the active Army I returned to Wichita. In 1984, I went to work for a bumper plating shop determined to go on my own.
I started as a plater and worked my way to general manager. I eventually went into business with a partner in Wichita before being called up to serve during 9/11. My wife, Beth, and my brother-in-law, Brian, are working there as well.

2. What are some of the items that require plating and buffing and why is there such a need for this service in the Kansas City area?
Items that require plating or buffing are anything, usually metal, that need protection from the elements. Many custom autos as well as motorcycles fit into that category. I have plenty of experience in the industry from plating for Big Dog Motorcycles to Boeing Aerospace. There are items in the Kansas Cosmosphere with my plating on them as well as the 1,000,000th lantern made by Coleman Lanterns. Buffing is usually done to bring metal back to luster or bring it to luster. An example of some items that have been buffed are aluminum motorcycle and car parts, brass lamps, copper kettles, stainless steel trim pieces to name a few. With such a demand for custom plating and buffing the Kansas City area is a great place to start up. When automobile and truck bumpers started transitioning to plastic bumpers a lot of companies closed their doors because the demand was not there. The auto and motorcycle restorers were left with few choices. There are several large custom plating shops in Chicago, Nashville and Pittsburg, Pa. These shops are up to 6 months behind. I recently spoke with a plating company in Chicago and he was very excited that a shop was started in the Kansas City area.

3. Why did you choose Leavenworth for your business and how did the Leavenworth County Development Corporation assist your company?
When I was called up for 9/11 I felt something and wanted to continue my federal active service so I applied and got a job as Active Guard Reserve with the Kansas Army National Guard which led me to Fort Leavenworth.
After listening to a few car people telling me how they have to send their parts out of state and it takes months for them to get their parts back.
That got me thinking about using my past experience and expertise in the plating business to give these guys somewhere local they could take their parts to have them plated or buffed.
I was talking to a very good friend in Tonganoxie about the idea and he referred me to a banker friend of his.
We eventually set up a meeting with Steve Jack from LCDC and Will Katz from the University of Kansas Small Business Administration to see what their thoughts were. I came out of the meeting very pleased with positive responses that were had.
Will immediately said he thought from his vast experience that I had something.
This is a business that could bring commerce as well as jobs to the Leavenworth area.

4. Can you explain to those who might not know the details of plating and buffing what is involved in the process?
Plating is a process that starts with preparation of the part. When an old part comes in the metal must be buffed and polished to its original state which can be very tedious.
Once the part is prepped for plating they are run through an electro cleaning process and then to the nickel bath. The nickel plating bath is a combination of nickel solution, nickel metal, heat, agitation and electricity.
Once the the part starts through the process it cannot be touched until it comes out of the plating bath.

5. What has been the best thing so far about operating a business in downtown Leavenworth?
The best thing so far has been seeing the positive reactions from the customers as well as working with the Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce and Leavenworth County Development Corp.
It is very nice to see the support from the downtown businesses.

— Rimsie McConiga