Five and a half years ago, Ashley (Accounting ’04) and Jason (Mechanical Engineering ’05) Hunsaker eagerly waited for approval for an SBA (Small Business Administration) loan. Their deadline for approval was a tight one. If they could close the loan with a bank before October 15, the date of an important auction, they would be able to purchase needed equipment to start their business. The catch? The timeline to close the loan was shorter than what the bank had ever heard of a small business achieving.
“We closed the loan on October 5,” Ashley said. “That was God.”
One thing that Ashley noticed as she presented their business idea to the bank was that the combination of both Ashley’s and Jason’s skills and experience worked in their favor. “When we were trying to get [the loan], I was able to present to the bank’s financials and projections,” Ashley explained. “Most small business owners do not have the accounting background, but because Jason and I were a team—his dream and my accounting experience—the bank was able to close our SBA loan in record time. We know that it was truly God working and not us, but definitely God used our experience and education to be able to start and manage HTS Coatings.”
Once it got started, HTS Coatings took off as a business. Ashley Hunsaker became the CEO while Jason took the position of president. Located in the Midwest, the business offers engineered solutions, often through thermal spray coatings, to various industries for their wear and corrosion problems. “We extend the life of equipment in very abrasive environments to reduce down times and maintenance costs,” said Ashley.
Jason Hunsaker explained that although thermal spray is used in industries around the world, it is still a very niche field. “I enjoy teaching others about what thermal spray coatings can do to repair parts and extend their life,” he said. While a majority of customers range from the Appalachians to the Rockies, HTS Coatings has also served customers from Mexico, Belgium, Britain, Canada, Malaysia, and Dubai. “Another perk to the business is I get to see many machine shops and manufacturing plants. I have been in everything from steel mills, power plants, and aluminum rolling mills down to plastic bag manufacturers, refineries, and pump shops. There is always something new to see [with] problems to solve.”
Other tasks Jason has been overseeing as president include getting the company ready for an audit that will allow them to achieve ISO (International Organization for Standardization) certification and helping solve engineering issues that arise at times within the shop itself. All these tests have put his mechanical engineering degree to the test, especially because of the critical thinking involved. Jason explained, “My degree at PCC helped me to think critically and be able to visualize multiple ways to solve an issue. In business, you typically do not have a teacher or answer key to help guide you. You have to make decisions based on the knowledge of the situation and how you see it playing out. . . . It is a lot like solving complicated math and kinematics problems.”
While Jason oversees the shop and the fulfilling of work requests, Ashley explained that as CEO, her main goal is “to communicate and live out our mission, vision, and core values. I’m the culture driver. Right now I am also sitting in our finance seat. I am making sure the work we do is profitable, and if it is not, finding out how to make it profitable.”
Ashley considers Cost Accounting (AC 301), a class she took as part of her accounting degree from PCC, as having been especially helpful with the task of making sure that their business stays profitable. “Allocating manufacturing costs properly and truly knowing what each process is costing us so that we can sell it properly is valuable,” she said.
Although the business had to go through growing pains, as many businesses do, the Hunsakers have been amazed at how God has worked on their behalf. From providing early payments from customers in just the amount the Hunsakers needed to protecting their business during the COVID-19 outbreak of 2020, God’s care has been evident. Ashley explained that during the past year, they did not have to lay off any employees and were able to continue production. Additionally, they were able to use the year to restructure and regroup as a business. What started out as a group of six has become a business with 22 employees.
“In the middle of tough times and tough decisions, God always led us where He wanted us to be,” Jason said. “We truly believe that God has given us the business to be a ministry to people: both employees and non-employees. . . . We try our best to love our employees and give them every chance to enjoy their work and learn about God.”
In addition to recognizing God’s hand in their business, Ashley Hunsaker acknowledged that HTS Coatings is what it is partly because she and Jason started it as a team. “People ask me all the time, ‘How do you do it all?’ The answer to this question is, ‘I don’t.’ Jason and I are a team 100 percent. God has given me my perfect match,” Ashley said.
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