Alaska Hydrographics owner Paul Reed has been making custom coating work for over 10 years. What started as a hobby grew into a full fledged business with an endless stream of requests from the community.
“I call it, ‘hobby gone wild’,” Reed said with a laugh. “It just grew so fast.”
Reed specializes in water transfer coating work, and he’s able to offer a wide spectrum of possibilities for custom coating projects.
Reed carries several books filled with designs to choose from. He said the most popular design by far is camouflage. Carbon fiber coating follows that as the second most popular request.
He said that when he first started, he thought snowmachine and ATV parts would some of his most popular requests, but he quickly found out guns trumped all other projects. He said that 95 percent of his projects are with guns, and he even has a local gunsmith onsite to help with the process.
“I think it’s because it’s Alaska, and Alaskans like to hunt. They love camo,” Reed said.
Reed said that he does custom work for just about everything, ranging from rifles and moose skulls to snowmachine panels and hockey helmets. He’s even painted fishing lures and video game controller casings.
“I can do anything,” Reed said. “As long as I can put paint on it, I can dip it.”
Reed uses a process called water transfer printing to apply decorative patterns with countless design options like wood grains and carbon fibers.
Reed said a great range of items can go through the process as long they can handle the water. He said the process is open to whatever the customer envisions in their mind. He said that no matter the task, he’s always up to it.
“I treat every project as my only project; because once it leaves my door, I can’t defend it anymore. It’s gotta look good,” Reed said.
Reed said that he takes pride in his work and his creative process has helped him meet a lot of different people over the years. He said one of his favorite parts of doing this is seeing the customer’s reaction.
“I see the biggest smiles on people’s faces when they come to pick up their stuff. That makes me happy,” Reed said.
Reed said that it started with him messing around in his garage for a couple of years before his wife kicked him out of the garage. He said that he found eventually settled in his current location off the Palmer-Wasilla Highway in 2015 after projects here and there for friends grew to request after request thanks to word of mouth.
“Word traveled quickly,” Reed said. “I’ve always been kind of artsy, so it kind of fell in line with what I like to do.”
Reed said there’s about a two-week turnaround for any given project. He said that prices vary by each request.
“They have lots of options. I’d say the options are endless,” Reed said.
Store hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. seven days a week. Reed noted that he lets all customers know he will be gone for moose season.
“I like to hunt too,” Reed said.
Alaska Hydrographics is located at 1755 North Golden Hills Drive in Palmer, across the street from Midtown Estates and Pioneer Pizza.