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Ornamental and Miscellaneous Metal The official publication of the National Ornamental & Miscellaneous Metals Association January/February 2004 $6.00 US

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4 , 200 6 – 3 h Marc ento, CA tunity m or Sacra lden Opp Go Your

Job Profiles

Exterior railings: A true reflection of beauty page 62

page 62

Tips & Tactics

The state of the industry, page 11

Shop Talk

Painting with plastics, page 28

Biz Side

Dealing with difficult people, page 68



January/February 2004 Vol. 45, No. 1

A finish that loves the outdoors, pg. 28.

Tips & Tactics

Switching gears from steel to aluminum, pg. 59.

Biz Side

Member Talk

Ask our Expert 11 Advisory Council member Rob Rolves looks at the state of our industry. Finishing 13 Learn three great “secrets” for polishing stainless steel. Special Feature 15 METALfab 2004 Two more education sessions are added, plus meet our exhibitors. Shop Talk Painting with plastics 28 Protect your metal with a plastic film— that’s what powder coating is all about.

The National Ornamental Metal Museum turns 25 52 The museum continues to move forward by adding a foundry and library.

Dealing with difficult people 68 Learning how to work with difficult employees is a key to success.

Job Profiles

Architects: Ready to start selling to them? 70 Stand out from the competition, earn trust, build rapport, and start work!

By Todd Daniel

Crafting a memorial to remember 9/11 56 NOMMA member Papp Iron Works creates a lasting tribute. By Allen Papp

A switch to aluminum 59 Slopes and operator capacity required a switch to a lighter metal. By Ron Hill

Member Talk A little metal with your meal? 48 A NOMMA member creates a “family exhibit” at a local restaurant. President’s Letter 6 Make plans now for Sacramento, CA!

By Michael Stone

Don’t get eaten for dinner 75 Protect yourself from the seven deadly scams often used on small businesses. By William J. Lynott

What’s Hot!

By John L. Campbell

How is your managerial struc44 ture working out? Four fabricators share ideas on how to organize shop management.

By Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D.

Water plants and watery waves.

Reflecting on the beauty of outdoor railings 62 Exterior railings capture the essence of their surroundings.

Editor’s Letter 8 Finding pearls inside oysters

Biz Briefs 82 New Members 86 Chapter Events Coming Events 88 People 90 Literature 92 Products 93 Classifieds 97

NEF 81 Support the NOMMA Education Foundation


Fabricator Poll 98 What’s your advice for 2004?

Cover photo: Featuring over 170-feet of forged rail, this exterior job consists of 3/4” scrollwork that is edge hammered to create a scalloped look. In the center of each design panel there are two flat bars that have been punched so the scroll is able to pass through it. All of the ball spacers are drilled and pinned. The finish is a dark bronze with a light brown latex wash. Top Job Award: 2003 silver. Fabricator: Klahm & Sons Inc., Ocala, FL.

President’s Letter

Dedicated to the success of our members and industry. NOMMA Officers President Chris Maitner Christopher Metal Fab. Inc. Grand Rapids, MI President-Elect Curt Witter Big D Metalworks Dallas, TX

As I write this it’s that time of year Treasurer Doug Bracken Wiemann Ironworks Tulsa, OK Immediate Past President Belk Null Berger Iron Works Inc. Houston, TX

Vice President/

Fabricator Directors Breck Nelson Kelley Ornamental Iron LLC Peoria, IL Chris Connelly DeAngelis Iron Work Inc. South Easton, MA Fred Michael Colonial Iron Works Inc. Petersburg, VA Rob Mueller Mueller Ornamental

Iron Works Inc. Elk Grove Village, IL Rod Stodtmeister Stodtmeister Iron Sparks, NV Sally Powell Powell’s Custom Metal Fab Inc. Jacksonville, FL

Supplier Directors David T. Donnell Eagle Bending Machines Stapleton, AL Bob Borsh House of Forgings Houston, TX Pam Beckham

Mittler Bros. Machine & Tool Foristell, MO

NOMMA Staff Executive Director Barbara H. Cook Meetings & Exposition Manager Martha Pennington Communications Mgr. & Editor J. Todd Daniel Managing Editor Rachel Squires Administrative Assistant Liz Ware

Technical Consultant Tim Moss

2004 Advisory Council Jay Holeman Mountain Iron Fabrications

Rob Rolves Foreman Fabricators

Contributing Writers John L. Campbell William J. Lynott


Make plans now for Sacramento, CA!

Mark Hoerrner

again. I swear it was just yesterday when I was saying, “Wow I can’t believe Thanksgiving is almost here.” Now, I look at the calendar and realize that today is one week before Christmas, and Thanksgiving was three weeks ago! By the time you read this column, Christmas and New Years will be ancient history. There will, however, be another Big Event coming up. This event occurs the first week of March in Sacramento, CA. And trust me, before you know it, March will be around the corner, so I caution you not to delay and make your METALfab reservations now. I really believe that this can be one of NOMMA’s best ever conventions. Those of you who have attended in the past know what a valuable time the convention can be. The formal education classes, the networking with your peers, and the seeing, feeling, and talking with vendors at the trade show are all invaluable experiences. The ideas you pick up during the week should more than pay for the cost of the convention.

Preconvention seminars

This year we have three continuing education classes on the two days prior to METALfab. The first, titled “Guiding Your Company into 2005,” focuses on developing your management skills, creating a vision, and then finding the work needed to accomplish this vision. The second class, called “Power Hammer Tooling,” is more hands on and shows how to make your own tooling. A third session, titled “Estimating: A Class with Something for Everyone,” covers all aspects of estimating and takeoffs. All three classes have limited openings, so sign up early.

Sacramento may be a significant distance for some folks, but it’s an incredible destination and well worth the travel time. To the east, you have Reno and Tahoe, and in the other direction San Francisco and wine country are only an hour and a half away. Then there is beautiful Sacramento, which alone is worth the journey. Our convention is directly across from the state Capitol, and they will be in session. We have invited Gov. Schwarzenegger, but whether he can make an appearance is unknown. Shop tours

We have a great shop tour lined up and two fabulous Chris Maitner optional tours for the is president of the National spouses. It’s the one Ornamental and time of year for the Miscellaneous Board of Directors, Metals Associastaff, chapter leaders tion. and members, and the general membership to actually get together and communicate face to face. It’s the best place to develop friendships and business relationships to help us all better deal with the problems and issues in our daily business lives. As I mentioned earlier, this event has the potential to be one of the best conventions ever, but to make that happen we need everyone’s participation. After all, this is supposed to be about “You.” To quote Uncle Sam in the early 1940s, “I Want You!” Hope to see you all there, and if you’re not, I might just enlist the help of the Terminator to get you to come. Live long and prosper.

An exciting destination

Fabricator n January-February 2004


Ornamental & Miscellaneous Met­al Fab­ri­ca­tor (ISSN 0191-5940), is the of­fi­cial pub­li­ca­tion of the Na­tional Or­na­men­tal & Mis­cel­la­ne­ous Metals As­so­cia­tion (NOMMA). O&MM Fabricator 532 Forest Pkwy., Ste. A Forest Park, GA 30297


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In addition to the magazine, you’ll enjoy many more benefits as a NOMMA member. To join, call the headquarters office at (404) 363-4009. For a complete list of benefits, refer to the membership ad in this issue.


$25 for up to 35 words, $38 for 36–55 words, $50 for 56–70 words. Send items to: Rachel Squires, Fabricator, at address above. Ads may be faxed with credit card information to: (404) 366-1852. Deadline: 2nd Fri­day of the month prior to pub­li­ca­tion.


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Supplier Directory

Published each December as a separate issue. Space reservation deadline is July 31. Deadline for all advertising materials is August 31. For info, contact Rachel Squires at (404) 363-4009, ext. 14 or


Reprints of articles are available. For a quote, contact Rachel Squires at (404) 3634009, ext. 14 or


How to reach us

Editor’s Letter

Finding pearls inside oysters One of my favorite parts of every NOMMA convention is getting to meet all the first-time attendees who come from around the world. Prior to each METALfab, an orientation takes place, and this is my first opportunity to introduce myself to the new folks. It is always interesting getting to know our newcomers and learning about their shops and businesses. Sometimes new attendees are a little shy, but once you make them feel at home you can learn about their interests and why they decided to attend METALfab.

members who are continually reaching out to others, and he epitomizes the true sharing spirit of NOMMA. It doesn’t end at conventions

Back in 2002 I had the honor of visiting Paul at his shop in central Long Island. While I enjoyed seeing his facility and some of his work in the area, Paul informed me that we had to make an important stop. Before I knew it we Todd Daniel were in Westbury, is editor of NY visiting a potenOrnamental & tial member and tell- Miscellaneous Fabricator. ing him the benefits of joining NOMMA. It is this type of year-round recruiting and promotion that keeps our association growing and strong.

The other special people

And while our guests are special, there is another group of special people— our many long-time members who make the newcomers feel at home. Unlike some inclusive organizations, the METALfab conventions have always been open and friendly, and everyone is made to feel at home. Sometimes I’ll be walking around in the evening and see a long-time attendee chatting with a newcomer late into the night. At the last convention in Covington, KY, I was particularly moved to see long-time member Paul Montelbano of Duke of Iron Inc. continually reaching out to new folks. When a class was over and the room was nearly empty, there was Paul sitting on the back row talking to a couple of new attendees. During breaks, as we all stood in the lobby, I saw him again talking to firsttime guests. Paul is just one of many

So, why the strange title?

As I said at the beginning, many newcomers to both NOMMA and the convention may at first seem shy. But once you get them to start talking, you might discover a potential contact for exchanging referrals with, a fresh source of knowledge, and a new friend. Inside nearly every oyster is a pearl, and at the next convention I urge you to reach out to the newcomers, get to know them, and help them to shine. And, as members like Paul show us, it’s not just at conventions where you can find potential pearls—sometimes it can be in your own community.

Opinions expressed in Fabricator are not necessarily those of the editors or NOM­MA. Articles appearing in Fabricator may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the express permission of NOMMA. Circulation: 8,000.

Paul Montelbano gets acquainted with firsttime attendees Abe and Shannon Duenas. 8

Fabricator n January-February 2004

Tips& Tactics n

Ask Our Expert

State of the industry address

I see the State of the Industry as one of growing together through technology and diversity, but mostly we’re growing simply because quality never goes out of style. Decorative metal fabrication is a growing trade. As our company president, Brian Foreman, is fond of saying, the customer redefines our product for us every day. And as the industry grows it appears that new niches are created where individuals can position themselves with a limited amount of competition. Because of this diversity, I suspect our industry will grow in several ways. We’ll see more membership in NOMMA, more information available, and more technological breakthroughs. We’ll see some people retaining the “old fashioned” way of doing things, and for certain a demand for the unique products that our industry produces on a daily basis will continue. A growing sense of community, particularly within NOMMA, helps our industry grow together. Firms join and stay, inviting others to come in and share their views and learn a few things. I find it easy to chat with a fabricator from Boston, MA, or Fort Lauderdale, FL, or Fairbanks, AK, and commiserate about contractors and architects, deadlines and past due receivables. The ideas that get shared, many of which are possible solutions to the things that have been driving me crazy since forever, are the reasons that I continue to go to METALfab and stay tuned-in to NOMMA through Fabricator magazine and the e-mail ListServe. Not all the ideas are a perfect fit, and sometimes I have to stretch them or look at them from a different angle to get what I am looking for. But I do I feel a sense of gratitude and a desire to try to offer some ideas back in the opposite direction. And of course a thank you from a fellow fabricator on a tip shared is reward enough. Advancement in communication technology helps our industry get smarter. Our technical knowledge is more easily accessed since it is being archived in many different areas. Where once the tips and tricks were handed from person to person, they can now be disseminated to a very large group through Fabricator, the ListServe, or any number of Internet websites. Technical data on the metals we use, whether it regards alloy contents, color matching, material availability, or optimum fabrication methods, requires only a simple search on the World Wide Web to give an interested party plenty of mental fodder. I have used NOMMA’s website (www., as well as sites on copper (, aluminum (, and stainless steel (www. The bulk of our suppliers have websites with the ability to search their products or download a drawing of the product you need. The vendors also have instructions on how to use or install their product, no guesswork needed. January-February 2004 n Fabricator

All of this adds up to a more knowledgeable fabricator who has a better sense of what to do and who can do their job right the first time. This information is even reviewed by our customers, giving them an opportunity to become an educated consumer—even though that newfound knowledge has been About the author: known to make those same Rob Rolves, Foreman customers dangerous from time Fabricators Inc., St. to time. Louis, MO, has been in We’re also gaining more busithe ornamental metals industry since 1990. In ness savvy as we get together his position at Foreman and share our wisdom on how Fabricators he deals to successfully run a company. mostly with general conNOMMA has recently utilized tractors and architects in commercial constructhe talents of Cynthia Paul of tion. FMI ( and Michael Stone of Construction Programs and Results (www. by having them speak at seminars during METALfab. These people have specifically addressed the office side of the metal fabrication business and how to succeed in making a company more respected, less stressful, and more profitable. These are huge factors when considering that the bulk of NOMMA firms are small businesses, not small businesses as considered by the Federal government where you have less than 500 employees, but small business as in less than FIVE employees. One of the euphemisms I’ve heard stated many times is that it’s not the crook we have to fear in this business, but the honest guy who doesn’t know what he’s doing. I also feel that demand for quality crafted metal products is growing. Throughout the years many synthetic materials such as plastic have been introduced and touted as the best way to go, yet discerning and value-conscious individuals know that there is no substitute for real metal. And as long as there are customers or designers who would like something different than what is on the shelf or showroom floor, there will always be demand for what we do. Custom, quality metal fabrication will never go out of style.

Our Expert


Tips& Tactics n


Three tips for polishing stainless steel

By Kane Behling, The Wagner Companies Metal finishing is a combination of art and science. An acceptable finished product is dependent on quality materials, correct supplies and, most importantly, skill. I have developed some simple rules, guidelines, and a process flow chart to help polishers. By increasing their knowledge of materials and products and practicing to improve their skill, a polisher can more cost-effectively achieve an acceptably finished rail.  


Handle materials carefully

If you are fabricating a rail that will be finished, handle the rail components carefully during production! Any of the surface damage caused in fabrication will have to be polished out to reach an acceptable finish. Save time and money by avoiding more polishing through poor handling. Do yourself a favor and drop the idea that handling doesn’t matter because the rail gets polished anyway.


recommended to achieve the most common stainless steel finishes: #4 (Architectural, Dairy or Sanitary Finish), #6 (Fine Satin Finish), and #8 (Mirror Finish). Please remember these processes are not the only way to achieve an acceptable finish. There are an infinite number of ways to achieve a desired finish. Every good polisher has formed his/her own technique and has found polishing supplies that work best for them. This is the nature of polishing.  The flow chart below assumes average handling damage to the material to be polished. It recommends starting with a 120-grit zirconium belt. In some cases, if the material is in exceptionally good condition, the beginning operations may be skipped, but this is only advised using great caution.

In general, the finest grit should be used to acheive desired results. should coarser grit be necessary, it is important to revert one grit level.

Pre-polish everything

Pre-polishing rail components before the rail is assembled can save a tremendous amount of time because the component parts are smaller and easier to handle, hard to get to areas are some times eliminated, and if a piece has a flaw that cannot be polished out the piece can be remade and replaced prior to installation. Flanges and brackets should also be pre-polished. By doing it this way, only a touchup operation is necessary after assembly to clean up the weld and clamp marks.


Practice! Practice! Practice!

Metal polishing is a learned skill. Perfectly good rails can be ruined from poor polishing by an inexperienced polisher. The cost to repair “jobs gone bad” can be considerable, and sometimes the whole job must be scrapped and remade. Practice using polishing supplies on scrap material to get a feel for how the equipment and supplies will work. You can also determine if the desired finish can be achieved. The flow chart shown here was developed to assist the inexperienced polisher in picking the right starting abrasive and sequence January-February 2004 n Fabricator


Ex: When working towards #6 architectural, if fine nonwoven belt is not cutting correct finish, one should revert to 240 grit alum. oxide, then proceed back to fine non-woven.

FPO Regency Railings IMPORTANT: Make sure the corrective patch is repositioned after you place the file!!!!!

100 Glass St., Suite 101 • Dallas, TX 75207 Phone: 214-742-9408 • Fax: 214-742-9402

Special Feature

METALfab 2004

Education Program Update The NOMMA Education Foundation

has worked hard to create a topquality education program at this year’s convention. In addition to the outstanding sessions already listed in the convention guide, NEF is proud to introduce the following additional classes.

3D Modeling for Ornamental Fabrication

Use 3D solid modeling in your shop to design and produce ornamental items. This design method permits the creation of an object in virtual 3D space instead of merely showing orthogonal views like conventional drafting. The information can then be used for controlling CNC machin-

March 3–6, 2004 • Sacramento, CA ery or for laser, waterjet, or plasma cutting. The 3D process also makes impressive images that can be used as a sales tool. During this session, you’ll see examples of ornamental projects as well as a live demonstration of the modeling process.

Where’s the Cash?

When we receive our financial statement from our friendly accountant, we usually look straight to the bottom line for profit. If there is a profit, the most asked question is,

“Where’s the cash?” There are some quick ways to determine where the cash is in your company and we will look at some “thinking out of the box” ways to get that cash into the checkbook.

New for 2004: Video Viewing Room Watch NEF’s video series in a special screening room during convention week. This is a great opportunity to preview videos at your leisure before making purchases.

Business As Usual

Topics will include “How to make the most of your day,” “Handling the daily grind and still enjoy work,” and “Making tough decisions during tough times.” The presentation ends with a question and answer period.

Meet Your METALfab 2004 Exhibitors See the latest products and services from nearly 70 exhibitors. Exhibit Hours Thurs., March 4 3:00 p.m - 6:30 p.m. Fri., March 5 2:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. Sat., March 6 8:30 a.m. - 12 noon

March 4–6, 2004 • Sacramento Convention Center • Exhibit Hall E Exhibitors as of 12/22/03

Advanced Measuring Systems                         P.O. Box 39 Forney, TX 75126 972-552-3337 Fax:  972-552-3339 Quick Loc stop gauging with teeth in both standard & metric. Atlas Metal Sales                                             1401 Umatilla St. Denver, CO 80204 January-February 2004 n Fabricator

303-623-0143 • 800-662-0143 Fax: 303-623-3034 Silicon bronze. Auciello Iron Works Inc.                                  560 Main St. Hudson, MA 01749 978-568-8382 Fax:  978-562-9982 E-Z sleeves.

Julius Blum & Co. Inc.                                     P.O. Box 816 Carlstadt, NJ 07072 201-438-4600 • 800-526-6293 Fax:  201-438-6003 Traditional steel railings to glass rails. J.G. Braun Co.                                                 8125 River Dr. Morton Grove, IL 60053 847-663-9300 Fax: 847-663-0667 15 Handrail components, glass rail components, extrusions, pipe, and tube.

563-391-7700 Tube benders, notchers, bar twist, scroll.

Byan Systems Inc. C.R. Laurence Co. Inc.                                     413 Linden 2503 East Vernon Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90058 Lusk, WY 82225 307-334-2865 800-421-6144 Fax: 800-262-3099 Fax: 307-334-2028 Hydraulic gate operators & access control Hardware, door closers, all glass entryways, rails and hardware, transaction hardware. products. CML USA Inc. Ercolina                                     8506 North Fairmont Davenport, UA 52806

The Cable Connection                                     5224 Hwy. 50 E Carson City, NV 89701

775-885-1443 Fax: 775-885-2734 Cable railing products. Cleveland Steel Tool Co.                                 474 East 105th St. Cleveland, OH 44108 800-446-4402 Fax:  216-681-7009 Ironworkers, portable fabricating machines & tooling. Click2Enter Inc. P.O. Box 1532

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Sonoma, CA 95476 877-939-3800 Fax: 707-996-3739 Emergency access control systems. Colorado WaterJet Company                          5186-F Longs Peak Rd. Berthoud, CO 80513 970-532-5404 Fax: 970-532-5405 Custom panels and components; abrasive waterjet cutting services. Crescent City Iron Supply                                2033 North 17th Ave. Melrose Park, IL 60160 708-551-4333 Fax: 708-551-4333 Ornamental iron components. Custom Ornamental Iron Works Ltd.                40-12020 Vulcan Way Richmond, BC V6V 1J8 CANADA 604-273-6435 Fax: 604-273-7985


Ornamental balusters. D.J.A. Imports Ltd.                                           1672 East 233rd St. Bronx, NY 10466 718-324-6871 Fax: 718-324-0726 Ferrous & nonferrous components, gate & door hardware, cantilever gate system. DKS, DoorKing Inc.                                          120 Glasgow Ave. Inglewood, CA 90301 310-645-0023 Fax: 310-641-1586 Access control products. Decorative Iron                                                10600 Telephone Rd. Houston, TX 77075 888-380-9278 Fax: 713-991-6493 On-line product catalog offering many decorative & ornamental pieces. Doringer Cold Saws                                         13400 Estrella Ave. Gardena, CA 90248

310-366-7766 Fax: 310-366-7573 Cold saws & saw blades. Eagle Bending Machines Inc.                          34225 Hwy. 31, P.O. Box 99 Stapleton, AL 36578 251-937-0947 Fax: 251-937-4742 Profile bending machines, scrolling & twisting machines, pipe benders, bending tools. Encon Electronics                                            28310 Industrial Blvd. # I Hayward, CA 94545 800-782-5598 Fax: 510-782-4290 Automatic gate operators, accessories and access control. EURO-FER SRL                                                Viale Dell’Industria, 16/18 Castelgomberto, VI 36070 ITALY 011-39-044-544-0033 Fax:  011-39-044-544-0351 Production of ornamental wrought iron components for gates, stairs, and windows.

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FABCAD.USA                                                   2000 Midway Ave. Petersburg, VA 23803 804-861-0292 Fax: 804-861-6379 Ornamental design software. FabTrolSystems Inc.                                       132 East Broadway, # 636 Eugene, OR 97405 541-485-4719 Fax: 841-485-4302 FabTrol. Feeney Wire Rope & Rigging                          2603 Union St. Oakland, CA 94607 800-888-2418 Fax: 510-893-9484 Cablerail architectural cable assemblies & aluminum railing systems. Flynn & Enslow Inc.                                         1530 17th St.

San Francisco, CA 94107 415-863-5340 Fax: 415-863-2635 Woven & welded wire meshes; perforated & expanded metals. GTO Inc. – GTO/PRO Professional Access Systems 3121 Hartsfield Rd. Tallahassee, FL 32303 800-543-4283 Fax: 850-580-8816 Automatic gate operators and access control systems. GrahamManufacturing                                                17781 West Grant Line Rd. Tracy, CA 95391 888-879-1026 Fax: 209-839-1126 Power hammers, dies, art items, glass, components, tools. Hebo GmbH                                                     Am Berg 2 Germunden/Grusen 35285 GERMANY 011-49-645-391-3321 Fax: 011-49-645-391-3325 Wrought iron machine systems. House of Forgings                                            1922 Rankin Rd. Houston, TX 77073 281-443-4848 Fax: 281-443-1133 Forged steel components. Industrial Coverage Corp.                                3237 Route 112, Bldg. 6 Medford, Long Island, NY 11763 631-736-7500 Fax: 631-736-7619 Insurance programs designed for NOMMA members. Interstate Mfg. Associates Inc.                         169 Sunapee St. Newport, NH 03773 603-863-4855 Fax:  603-863-3811 Hinges.


Fabricator n January-February 2004

Jansen Ornamental Supply                             10926 Schmidt Rd. El Monte, CA 91733 800-423-4494 Fax: 626-444-3847 Justin R.P.G. Corp.                               539 West Rosecrans Ave. Gardena, CA 90248 800-563-3479 Fax: 310-532-3370 Ornamental products, fences, storm doors, oem parts. King Architectural Metals                                9611 East RL Thornton Fwy. Dallas, TX 75228 800-542-2379 Fax: 214-388-1048 Forgings, gate operators, fence operators. Lavi Industries                                                 27810 Ave. Hopkins Valencia, CA 91355 800-624-6225 Fax: 661-257-4938 Tubing & fittings.

Lawler Foundry Corp.                                      P.O. Box 320069 Birmingham, AL 35232 205-595-0596 Fax: 205-595-0599 Ornamental metal components, accessories, & furniture. Liaoyang Shenzhou Hardware Co. Ltd. 61 Hua Shun Rd. #135 Huanggu District, Shenyang 11036 CHINA 011-248-625-2829 Fax: 011-248-685-4915 Hardware. Marks USA                                                       5300 New Horizons Blvd. Amityville, NY 11701 631-225-5400 Fax: 631-225-6136 Locks. Master Halco                                                    110 East La Habra Blvd. La Habra, CA 90631 562-694-5066 Fax: 562-691-4686 Fence systems. Mittler Bros. Machine & Tool                           121 East Mulberrry St., P.O. Box 110 Foristell, MO 63348 636-463-2464 Fax: 636-463-2874 Ultimate tubing notcher, hyd tubing bender & plasma parts. Frank Morrow Company                                  129 Baker St. Providence, RI 02905 401-941-3900 • 800-956-7688 Fax: 401-941-3810 Decorative metal stampings, metal trims, grey iron & white metal castings. New Metals Inc.                                               5823 Northgate # 2032 Laredo, TX 78041 888-639-6382 Fax: 888-813-4275 Ornamental iron components, forgings, expanded metal and grating. NOMMA/NEF                                                    532 Forest Pkwy., Suite A Forest Park, GA 30297 404-363-4009 Fax: 404-366-1852 nommainfo@nomma. org • NOMMA is the industry’s trade association. NEF is a charitable education foundation. Ohio Gratings Inc.                                            5299 Southway St. SW Canton, OH 44706 800-321-9800 Fax: 330-477-7872 Aluminum, heavy duty, light duty and fiberglass bar grating. Omega Coating Corp.                                      1210 North Haverhill Rd. El Dorado, KS 67042 316-322-8200 Fax: 316-322-8203 Paint. PDM Steel                                                       


Fabricator n January-February 2004

3535 East Myrtle St. Stockton, CA 95201 209-943-0555 Fax: 209-943-1606 In-line galvanized tubing & shapes. Production Machinery Inc. P.O. Box 70005 Baltimore, MD 21237 410-574-2110 Fax: 410-574-4790 Roll bending and cold sawing equipment. R & B Wagner Inc.                                           P.O. Box 423 Butler, WI 53007 414-214-0444 • 800-786-2111 Fax: 414-214-0450 Handrail components, glass rail components, extrusions, etc.

Fax: 630-237-5003 Electrostatic paint systems & spray guns, air and airless spray guns. Regency Railings Inc.                                      100 Glass St., Ste. 101 Dallas, TX 75207 214-742-9408 Fax:  214-742-9402 Forged railing components. Rik-Fer USA                                                     401 South County Line Rd. Franklin Park, IL 60131 630-350-0900 Fax: 630-350-0902 Wrought iron and stainless steel elements, gates, railings, and wrought iron furniture.

Rockite, Div. of Hartline Ransburg Distributed Products –                     Products Co. Inc.       2120 South Green Rd., Ste. 202 ITW Industrial Finishing Cleveland, OH 44121 195 Internationale Blvd. 216-291-2303 Glendale Heights, IL 60139 Fax:  216-291-4482 630-237-5106

24 ROCKITE expanding, fast-setting, nonshrinking, anchoring & patching cement. Rogers Mfg. Inc.                                               109 Southwest 7th St. Mineral Wells, TX 76067 940-325-7806 Fax: 940-325-7156 Ironworking machinery press shear. Scotchman Industries Inc.                               180 East Hwy. 14 Philip, SD 57567 605-859-2542 Fax: 605-859-2499 Ironworkers, band saws, belt grinders, tube & pipe notchers, centerless grinders. Sea USA Inc.                                                   2806 Northwest 79th Ave. Miami, FL 33122 305-594-1151 Fax: 305-594-7325

Fabricator n January-February 2004

Gate operators & access control. Sharpe Products                                              2550 South 170th New Berlin, WI 53151 262-754-0369 Fax: 262-754-0374 Railing components, special bending. Software Design Associates                             1645 Ave. D Billings, MT 59102 406-252-5945 Fax: 406-256-5133 Fence estimating software. Sparky Abrasives                                             4811 Dusharme Dr. Brooklyn Center, MN 55429 800-328-4560 Fax: 763-535-2708 Abrasives. Striker Tool Co. (USA) Inc.                               3939 West Capitol Ave., Ste. E West Sacramento, CA 95691 866-290-1263 Fax: 916-374-8297

26 Striker forging hammers. Sumter Coatings                                              2410 Hwy. 15 S Sumter, SC 29154 803-481-3400 Fax: 803-481-3776 Specialty paints formulated specifically for ornamental and misc. metals. Tennessee Fabricating Co.                    2025 York Ave. Memphis, TN 38104 901-725-1548 Fax: 901-725-5954 Cast, forged metal, hardware. Texas Metal Industries Inc.                              1331 East Hwy. 80, Ste. 15 Mesquite, TX 75150 972-288-2333 Fax: 972-472-3807 Ornamental castings, forgings, hardware. Transpacific Industrial Supply Inc.                  3929 Guasti Rd., Unit E

Ontario, CA 91761 909-390-8885 Fax: 909-390-7288 Fence material: cast iron, aluminum (pickets, hardware, etc.) Triebenbacher Bavarian Iron Works                619 Pennbrook Ave. Lansdale, PA 19446 800-522-4766 Fax: 888-699-9666 Quality forged elements. West Tennessee Ornamental Door Co.                        3021 Carrier St. Memphis, TN 38116 866-790-3667 Fax:  866-545-2569 Security doors, fencing, gates, & ornamental iron products. Wrought Iron Concepts Inc.                             724 Rincon Ave. Vista, CA 92083 877-370-8000 Fax: 877-380-8000 Ornamental wrought iron components.

Fabricator n January-February 2004

Shop Talk

This railing was given a powder coat finish consisting of two different colors. Fabricator: Unlimited Welding Inc.

n Powder coating continues to grow in popularity in the ornamental metalworking industry, and fabricators continue to experiment and push the limits of the process. This article provides a backgrounder on the technology and answers some frequently asked questions.

By John L. Campbell

Nothing grabs our attention faster than a

threat to our income; and that’s the squeeze I felt after reading about U. S. Polymer’s new development in Reading, PA, where they developed a process to coat metal with plastic. That was over 50 years ago. In the late 1950s I was selling magnesium anodes for cathodic protection. The natural gas utility companies, spurred by a rash of residential explosions, were campaigning to protect underground steel service lines from corrosion using magnesium anodes. With the likelihood of superior plastic coatings for steel pipe the volume of anodes required for gas service lines would be greatly reduced. Plastic coated pipe could reduce my income.

Birth of an industry U. S. Polymer’s process for applying

plastic to metal seemed simple enough. Steel parts were heated to over 400° F, and then 28

dipped into a fluidized bed of finely ground plastic resins, particles suspended in air. The resins melted, fused together, and adhered to metal, forming an impervious coating like heavy-duty Spandex. A few years later, while sitting in my car at a railway crossing, I saw a trainload of bright yellow pipe. I knew what it was. Republic Steel had finally hit the market with polyethylene coated steel pipe, and it looked good enough to eat. Shortly thereafter, I bought Republic Steel stock, convinced they had a product that would revolutionize the industry. As fate would have it, that same year President Kennedy put a price-freeze on steel, and my hedgedinvestment vaporized like wax in a cheap candle. To paraphrase the Scottish poet Bobby Burns, “The best laid schemes of mice and men, ‘oft go astray.” Nevertheless, the events I endured were episodes in the development of a new industry…call it painting with plastics.

For your information


Ornamental projects typically require operator assistance instead of full automation. Photo: Dupont Powder Coatings.

How powder coating works: Fine particles of pigment and resin are electrostatically charged and sprayed onto an item. The part that is sprayed is electrically grounded so that the charged particles cling to the metal. Once in the oven, the particles are melted and fused into a solid coating. Pro: Powder coating is strong, scratch-resistant, and long-lasting. These days, numerous colors and effects are possible. Pro: Powder coating is great for the environment, since no solvents are used and VOCs are negligible. Con: An in-house system is still too expensive for many fabrication shops. Most firms job the work out. Con: The set-up for powder coating is substantial, and thus it may not be cost-effective for very small jobs.

Two Basic Types of Plastics Fabricator n January-February 2004

A black “crinkle” powder coat was applied to this gate. Then, a “pewter” liquid leaf highlighting was added. Fabricator: Christopher Metal Fabricating Inc.

If you have had any experience with plastic specifications, you know there are two basic types of plastic resins: thermoplastics and thermosets. The thermoplastics can be recycled, whereas the thermosets, as the name implies, become set, when some complex chemical linkages occur during solidification. Typical of the thermoplastics are materials like polyethylene and polypropylene, plastics used for toothbrush handles. Thermoplastics are commonly formed by injection


molding, extrusion, or blow molding, making inexpensive items like milk containers that can be ground-up and remelted. The first resins used in U. S. Polymer’s fluidized-bed process were thermoplastics. Too soft to be ground into fine powders, coatings were typically 6 to 40 mils thick. These heavy applications were functional rather than decorative. Applications for thermoplastic resins

Thermoplastics are heavy molecular polymers with the benefits of toughness, flexibility, and resistance to chemicals. Functional applications for nylon, polyethylene, polypropylene, and polyvinyl chloride are being performed by heating metal parts and dipping them into a fluidized bed of the resin desired. Nylon, with its low coefficient of friction and resistance to wear and abrasion, is used for mechanical purposes to enhance sliding, rotating, and bearing action. Outdoor metal furniture is a market for thermoplastic polyesters, which offer good exterior durability and weathering. Dishwasher racks are coated with polyvinyl chloride to resist the cycling temperatures, detergents, and loading impact. Because thermoplastic coatings are heavier and thicker than electrostatic applied thermosets, they’re not considered competitive with solvent based coatings. That’s where the thermosetting resins take over. For some applications, like the face-guards on football helmets, a tough, flexible thermoplastic resin is

Fabricator n January-February 2004

Outsourcing work to a powder coater may even be cheaper than operating your own paint shop. Typically, quotes are easy to obtain and may require only three items: a print of the job, quantity, and a description of the intended use. Photo: Dupont Powder Coatings.

first applied, then coated with a thermosetting resin for decorative finish. Three basic thermosetting resins

Thermosets come in three different chemistries: (1) epoxies (2) polyesters and (3) acrylics. Because thermosetting resins can be ground into fine powders and applied by electrostatic spray in thin coats, then cured under heat, they have become the crownprince of resins to compete with solvent based paints. “The promise and the dream were greater than the reality,� said John Heyer, reflecting on his experiences watching the industry develop. John is president of Kettle Moraine Coatings in Jackson, WI, a jobbing firm of medium size, specializing in three forms of plastic coating: plastisol dipping, fluidized-bed processing, and powder painting. He has seen the powder painting industry confront and solve many problems. When his employer decided to divorce jobbing work from their captive finishing operation, Heyer acquired the jobbing business in 1975. During a visit to his facility, Heyer addressed several questions NOMMA members have raised about powder painting, answers to which will be covered in this article. For the most part, Heyer’s company is finishing small steel stampings and January-February 2004 n Fabricator


Once this railing was assembled, the mild steel was sandblasted and finished with a satin black powder coat. Fabricator: Cape Cod Fabrications Inc.

wire forms. The racking and handling before and after finishing are the most labor intensive part of the process. It wasn’t until the late 1960s that electrostatic spraying of thin layers of thermosetting resins made inroads on the liquid coating industry. Since then, progress in applications of new and hybrid resins has grown steadily. Today, Heyer claims you can buy any color and countless textures, even simulated rust coatings, in thermosetting plastic resins. “Powder coating of a clear coat over rust to secure that type of


rustic finish isn’t recommended,” Heyer explained. “You run the risk that the rust will work its way though the finish.” He recommends using a powder-plastic-finish that replicates a rust-like appearance. Three of the major suppliers of thermoset resins are Rohm and Haas, TCI-New Zealand and Du Pont. With a multitude of potential applications, all the new formulations for powder painting have been thermosetting resins. Benefits of powder painting

Solvent based paints emit high percentages of volatile-organiccompounds. VOC is the acronym used by environmentalists for these emissions. VOC’s are defined in the Clean Air Act of 1990 as hazardousair-pollutants (HAP’s). These VOC’s can be as high as 80 percent of the volume of paint applied. For environmental reasons, powder painting has major advantages. Aside from the fact that non-adhering resin spray can be recovered and reused, the process emits very little effluent during the curing cycle.

Fabricator n January-February 2004

This gate was sent out to receive a black powder coated finish. It was then returned to the shop where gold accents were added. Fabricator: Kelley Ornamental Iron LLC.

The electrostatic application gives the powder coating process a leg up on both fluidized-bed dipping and liquid painting. Parts don’t have to be pre-heated and dipped, and unused powdered resin can be recovered. Thin coatings made the thermosetting finishes decorative and competitive. Automotive wheels are all clear coated. Some automotive finishes are finalized with a clear resin coating, and automotive finishes account for 15 percent of the resins sold. Applications are environmentally friendly,


and the process has become more competitive with solvent based paints. Recent advances in special thermoset resins have penetrated the architectural markets for aluminum extrusions. The Powder Coating Institute (PCI) reports that coatings applied to building panels have been in service in Europe since 1976 with good results. By 1998 over 15 percent of all paint finishing in the U.S. was powder coated plastic, according to PCI. Epoxy resins were the first formulations available in fine

powders. Then, yielding to market demands, resins became available in mixed resin powders like epoxypolyesters, polyester-urethanes and acrylic hybrids. New businesses were born to satisfy the need for processing equipment and resins with textures and colors. Color choices are no longer a problem, according to John Heyer. “Black is basic. I can’t make any general cost comparisons between the thermosetting resins, although reds, yellows, and some greens tend to be more expensive.” NOMMA member Rob Mueller at Mueller Ornamental Iron Works Inc. has been powder painting for six years. “When we moved into our new location,” said Mueller, “we looked at putting in a spray booth and hiring a painter. But after looking at the space we’d lose in our shop, and the cost and headache of hiring a new employee, we decided to look into powder painting. As long as we have about 30 feet of rail that’s to be paintContinued on page 38

Fabricator n January-February 2004

Question: What is the recommended

strates. Even in simplified pretreat­

of, or lack thereof, raw materials.

Extra tough: Powder coating over galvanizing!

Looking for an extra layer of protection? These tips first appeared in a past issue of Products Finishing, and are provided courtesy of the Powder Coating Institute. If your powder coater is unfamiliar with painting over galvanizing, consider sharing this information with them. powder coating method for galvanized steel products? First, you should select a “paintable”

grade of galvanized steel. These are known by the trade names of “galvannealed” and “paint grip” given to them by the steel suppliers. These products are specially developed to provide good bonding between the substrate, galvanizing, pretreatment, and coating. The galvanizing will not outgas when subjected to the temperatures required to cure the powder coating. Further, the galvanizing will not delaminate from the steel substrate, as hot dipped and cold dipped galvanizing may do.

Prepare the material

Second, you should choose an appropriate pretreatment for this corrosionresistant substrate. Zinc phosphate is especially suited for galvanized steel products and can provide up to 1,000 hours of salt spray resistance when used with a powder coating topcoat. This pretreatment technique has some drawbacks, however. The washer may require some additional stages prior to (i.e. conditioning stage) and after the (i.e. deionized rinses) application of the zinc phosphate. Sludge must be decanted from the zinc phosphate solution, and the wastewater stream requires a treatment system prior to proper disposal. You may even consider a chromic acid rinse/sealer since you will already have the wastewater treatment system. You should discuss these situations with both your pretreatment supplier and your local regulatory agencies. If this pretreatment and wastewater system sounds too complicated or expensive, then maybe you should rethink using galvanized steel sub36

ment systems, zinc from the galvanized substrate can accumulate in your solution tanks, causing you to take special precautions prior to dumping. Furthermore, no other ferrous substrate will be as corrosion resistant as galvanized steel. So, it is assumed you have selected this material for reasons that relate to product life and other end-use requirements. Dry the item thoroughly

In addition to meeting tough requirements imposed by New York City, this railing had to withstand the harsh waterfront elements as well as vandalism. To provide maximum durability, the railing was hot dipped galvanized and then coated with a Caribbean blue powder coating. Fabricator: A & T Iron Works Inc.

After pretreatment, the part should be completely dried in an oven set to 250° F. This oven should have sufficient air turnover to remove moisture and promote drying of the part. The addition of an air blow-off system in the washer exit vestibule can be an effective way of displacing cupped or entrapped water prior to the part entering the dry-off oven. Further, the part should be allowed to cool to 100° F prior to applying the coating. Apply the powder

Powder application is performed as normal. But you should carefully select the powder coating material in accordance with your end-use requirements. Issues such as UV stability, corrosion resistance, impact, flexibility, and hardness should be discussed at length with your powder coating material supplier. After a powder coating material is selected, you should write an engineering specification that describes the performance of this powder coating material to your supplier. This engineering document will offer you some protection when the coating supplier changes their formulation based upon availability

Final curing

There are many ways to cure the powder coating, none of which is peculiar to coating galvanized substrates. For instance, infrared, convection, or combination ovens can be used, depending on your product’s configuration. When using “paintable” grades of galvanized steel, problems with out-gassing disappear. Make sure you have sufficient time and temperature in your oven to fully cure the powder coating you have selected. Corrosion resistance is developed towards the end of the cure cycle, so full cure is required to achieve this attribute in the powder coating you apply. The specific cure cycle (time and temperature) for your powder coating is available from your supplier. For more resources from Products Finishing, visit:

Fabricator n January-February 2004

“After looking at the space we’d lose in our shop, and the cost and

headache of hiring a new employee, we decided to look into powder painting.” ed the same color, the cost of powder painting is about the same as if one of our guys was to get everything set up, spray the pieces, and clean up afterwards. The (powder) coating goes on heavier, and it’s more durable than a standard sprayed enamel finish.” New curing techniques and resins

Advances in curing tech-

niques with infrared technology have made it possible to powder paint heat sensitive substrates with resins that cure below 212° F. Now, wooden toilet seats are being powder painted. Silicone-based powder coatings have the ability to withstand temperatures up to 1,000° F and retain their adhesion, color, and gloss. The potential for new artistic appear-

ances seems limitless, i.e. a brass look on polished aluminum; veins and hammer-tones that give a distressed or antique appearance; the granite-look, rusty and weathered appearance, and clear-coats. Wrinkles and textures are popular for hiding substrate irregularities, or for non-skid surfaces. For road-signs and hazard markings, there’s a photo-luminescent coating that absorbs and re-emits light. Antibacterial and anti-microbial resins are being used to help prevent the spread of bacteria in homes, hospitals, and restaurants. The entire industry has blossomed with new and problem-solving applications. You name it; the industry will find a way to make it, provided the volume justifies the cost. What would it cost to install in-house facilities?

With all these positive advantages there’s a down-side to powder coating metal unrelated to quality and the economic-environmental benefits. The equipment for powder coating and the conveyor space for curing require a substantial investment. When asked about the cost of setting up an in-house powder painting facility, John Heyer estimated the cost would vary from $50,000 for a small batch-type operation to as much as $2 million. “There’s a lot of used equipment on the market right now,” Heyer said, attributing that to the various manufacturing facilities that have closed. “You have to have a tank for cleaning parts before painting,” Heyer explained. “Generally, that’s done with a hot solution.” Kettle Moraine

Resources on the Web

Powder coating suppliers often provide a wealth of information on their websites. For a listing of suppliers, check out the Powder Coating Institute membership roster at: One supplier, DuPont Powder Coatings, even provides on-line color chips. To see the colorful samples, go to: www.


Fabricator n January-February 2004

“All we need to give a customer an estimate is a print of the part, so we know how much surface area has to be covered, the quantity to be painted, and how the parts are going to be used.” Coating uses an iron-phosphate wash, which gives metal an etched coating to which the resins will adhere. They use the same wash for both steel and aluminum. “And, you’ve got to have a drying oven after the wash.” The rest of the process involves the electrostatic sprayers and a curing oven, often a long heated tunnel through which parts are carried on conveyor racks. Space is essential. Heyer started his operation with about 15,000 square feet and he’s added on to his building several times. Although in a production shop electrostatic spraying is performed by robotic guns in a narrow plastic tunnel, there’s usually one individual-worker with a spray gun who monitors the process, spraying hidden recesses with a hand-gun.

The maximum economy of powder painting lies in finishing volumes of parts, where a coating line can run continuously without changing colors, resin chemistries, and conveying fixtures. Although powders have been developed to compete with almost every market traditionally serviced by liquid coatings, the application process for customized coating still lacks short-run economy. Equipment manufactures and the powder coating industry are working to rectify that draw-back. “Everybody (in the business) has size limitations,” said Heyer. “All we need to give a customer an estimate is a print of the part, so we know how much surface area has to be covered, the quantity to be painted, and how the parts are going to be used.”

Powder coating over galvanizing: Not everyone agrees There is not a complete consensus on the benefits and practicality of power coating over galvanized steel. The following comes from a discussion appearing in the December 1998 edition of Products Finishing:

Question: We have tried to apply epoxy powder coating over hot dip galvanizing with mixed results, often due to outgassing pinholes. Do you have any suggestions? Powder coating over hot dip gal-

vanizing does not work because the galvanizing outgasses through the powder coating at the cure temperature of the coating. You can try to preheat the part to drive the gas out of the galvanizing prior to powder coating, but usually this does not eliminate all the entrapped gases and the associated pinholes. You can look to a “zinc rich” powder coating to obtain a powder coated finish that has similar properties as powder coating over hot-dipped galvanizing.


Apply this material directly over a sandblasted hot­rolled steel surface for best results.

Hot dip galvanized steel: A response In reference to the statement that

“powder coating over hot dip galvanizing does not work” we thought you would like to know about our experience. Our powder is formulated for outgassing of castings. I just had the opportunity to powder coat hot dipped galvanizing. We cleaned the part after galvanizing with a mild soap before coating. We ran scratch adhesion tests with no problems. There was no pitting in the finish. We did not run the parts through our normal pretreatment system, however, because the aggressive alkaline cleaner and iron phosphate appears to attack the hot dip galvanizing.

Information provided courtesy of the Powder Coating Institute.

The five basic thermosetting powders

Like the thermoplastic resins, thermosets melt when heated to a specific temperature. The difference is that thermosets change their chemical composition during solidification. There’s a complex molecular crosslinkage that can’t be reversed. The resin electrostatically applied has a different chemistry than the finished plastic coating cured on the parts. In all cases the cured plastic will resist higher temperatures than the melted resin. Because thermosets can be ground into fine powders and because their applications are competitive with liquid paints, the latest technology is devoted to new thermosetting resins and newer application methods. Five coating systems have been derived from the three basic thermosetting resins: epoxy, polyester and acrylic. The epoxy resin-based coatings are the most common for indoor decorative and functional purposes. They tend to discolor and chalk when exposed to sunlight for long periods of time. So, they’re not recommended for outside use. Hybrids like epoxy-polyester are mainly used for decorative purposes. They’re better for covering recessed areas, more resistant to chalking, softer, and less resistant to solvents. For outdoor applications like panels of aluminum on a commercial building or weather resistant railings, polyester coatings are combined by a curing agent called TGIC (triglycidyl isocyanurate). With the impact strength and weather resistance of TGIC polyester, the resin is being used on patio furniture and outdoor equipment like lawn mowers. Another good coating for outdoor applications is polyesterurethane. The polyesters have greater flexibility, less apt to chip in service than the acrylic-urethane. The acrylicurethanes have excellent color, gloss, hardness, weathering ability, and chemical resistance. Out-gassing a potential problem

Powder painting aluminum castings, sand, permanent mold and Fabricator n January-February 2004

This lighted stair entry tower is covered with custom aluminum panels, which were powder coated. The custom aluminum extrusions, which form the glass mullions, were also powder coated. Fabricator: Big D Metalworks.

die cast parts, with the wrong type of thermosetting resin can produce disappointing finishes. We called them fish-eyes due to their appearance. This can be a problem with other types of cast-alloys as well. During the high temperature curing process the cast metal tends to emit small amounts of gas. These gases can be trapped in the finish as the thermosetting resin takes a set. To compensate for this phenomenon, powder paint manufacturers have resins that take longer to cure, so the gases emitted pass through the finish before curing occurs. Knowledgeable powder painting establishments know about these problems and can recommend resins to insure smooth finishes on cast surfaces. A crinkled finish can mask substrates that aren’t uniformly smooth. Similar out-gassing can occur with galvanized steel, where gas is emitted from a zinc coating. These are all problems the industry has addressed with some success. Duplex finishes offer superior corrosion protection

A few NOMMA firms, such as Grainger Metalworks Inc. of Conway, SC, operate in-house powder painting facilities. Carl Grainger does a lot of oceanfront metalwork using aluminum, where salt air and chlorides play havoc with light weight alloys. For added protection, Grainger applies an Alodine® wash followed by powder painting. Alodine® is a registered trademark of Henkel Surface Technologies, described as chromate conversion, a chemical treatment process for aluminum used to provide corrosion protection and prepare surfaces for paint and adhesives. Another similar chromate conversion coating is Iridite®, a trademark of MacDermid Inc. Both of these conversion coatings use chromic acid in the form of soluble salts. A thin oxide film is produced on the aluminum surface that will vary in color, some almost gold-like, depending on the aluminum alloy being treated. The coating conforms to Mil-C-5541E Class 1A. It’s electrically conductive, increases corrosion resistance, gives a good bonding surface for paint, and is inexpensive. 42

Fabricator n January-February 2004

“During the high temp-erature

curing process the cast metal tends to emit small amounts of gas. These gases can be trapped in the finish as the thermosetting resin takes a set.”

For extending the life of steel guardrail exposed to salt spray, more contractors are specifying duplexing by galvanizing and powder painting. Fabricators with experience painting galvanized steel recommend that the fabrication not be water-quenched after galvanizing, and not be left to oxidize too long before painting. What do you use for touchups?

According to firms like the Electrostatic Technology division of Nordson Corp., who manufacture the equipment, no one sells a hot-resin application to cover welds, scratches, and nicks that occur during on-site assembly. There are color-matching aerosols and compatible liquid paints for touch-up work. You can paint over powder coatings, but make sure the solvent is compatible with the resin finish. If you know in advance that powder painting is the finishing process, you can design to either eliminate or reduce the areas that might be missed in electrostatic spray applications. The question about clear coating over a patina is best answered by trying a sample first. Any type of oxidizing process that is alive and aging for the life of the product is not going to clear coat without discoloring or blistering over time. As a last piece of advice, revealing to the finisher the environment where your fabrication will be installed can help eliminate many misunderstandings and disappointments. Mr. Campbell is a long-time senior writer for Fabricator. If you’ve missed his past articles, don’t worry. Members can download past articles from the Member’s Only area at www. nomma. org. January-February 2004 n Fabricator



Member Talk

How is your managerial structure working out? n Four NOMMA fabricators share ideas about effective ways to organize shop management.


I was wondering if any other NOMMA shops had a Working Shop Foreman, in addition to a Shop Supervisor? We have one shipping and receiving clerk, one cut man, nine fabricators, four cleaners/grinders, and one painter. It is quite a task for our shop supervisor to assign jobs, check on quality and accuracy, and ensure that all 16 employees are productive all day long, in addition to all of the paper work that he is required to do for the main office, phone calls, making material takeoffs, etc. We have made one of our cleaners a working foreman, so three can be subtracted from our shop supervisor’s list of employees to supervise. So 13 is the actual amount. If we turned one of our nine fabricators into a working shop foreman, this would reduce his count by eight, which would make his list of men to supervise, lead, and direct be at five, which I feel is a more manageable

About the participants


Allen Guidry, Florida Aluminum & Steel Fabricators Inc., Fort Myers, This conversation took place on NOMMA’s ListServ. TO find out how to joint NOMMA’


number for one man. I feel that this would not only reduce his workload, but it would make the shop increase in productivity as well as assist in quality control, and reduce the chances of error resulting in rework! At my last place of employment, I had a working shop foreman, and a shop supervisor! I am just wondering if anyone else does. Any and all feedback would be greatly appreciated. Sincerely, Allen Guidry Florida Aluminum & Steel Fabricators Inc. Responses:

Allen, We have 30 guys in the shop. One non-working shop foreman is responsible for everything. We also have one quality control/checker and one logistics manager (who also takes care of all the delivery tickets, all material received, and fasteners for the projects). One of our layout men acts as non-official foremen when the three above are not there. We have four layout men in the structural shop and FL, Ph: 239-9368153, ext 144, Fax: 239-936-4594, Web:, E-mail: rnamental@ Tom McDonough,

three in the rail department. It seems to work out fine. In our situation a working foreman would not work because of the amount of paperwork that is necessary. I act as the office liaison to the shop. All work that goes in the shop goes through me then to the shop foreman. He then assigns the job to the layout men. Tom McDonough Eagle Metal Fabricators, Inc. Allen, I’ve been a project manager at a 40- to 60-man shop and at a 10- to 15man shop (in Las Vegas, the number is rarely constant), and am currently a family member in a four-man, twowoman shop (family member is the only title that fits, since we all do everything and we ARE all family). In both of my previous places of employment, I had a shop foreman and field foreman, both of whom worked actively on projects. My role was part technical, providing drawings, material, and information to the shop and field crews, and part managerial, manEagle Metal Fabricators Inc., Ft. Lauderdale, FL, Ph: 954-583-8353, www., Email:

Fabricator n January-February 2004

aging projects of a certain size (smaller orders did not require my oversight). At the larger company under the shop foreman there were other foremen, although they did not have this title. For instance, there were individuals in charge of painting (supervising two–four men), polishing (supervising six–10 men), forging (supervising three–five men), sheet metal (supervising four men) and machining (supervising two–four men). This was in addition to the fabricators, of whom there were six–10. The assignment of these individuals, many of whom came into positions of leadership in time anyway, enabled the assignment of specific jobs and quality control to occur on a task-by-task level, with the shop foreman only being called in to deal with problems and oversee the general process. But this was with 60 men–with the 15-man shop, there was no need for this. At either place, any given person in our organization had to oversee or communicate with more than five people. To directly supervise more than five people requires a talent that I think is truly rare (I know I can’t do it!) It sounds like you’ve arrived at that number as well, and I’m sure other NOMMA members will share their experience, too. Our shop foreman also happened to be the most skilled and efficient fabricator, so it was important that I kept him on the tricky projects. To help with this, I made cut lists, ordered material, answered questions directly from shop workers (open door policy), and walked through the shop every hour or two to make sure things were being done in the manner in which we had intended (we being the various foremen, the owner, salespeople, and myself). In our case, the most critical step to keeping a working foreman actually fabricating or installing is to eliminate as much paperwork from his list of responsibilities as possible. At the smaller shop, we did use an “Operations Manager.” This was an individual who took a great deal of pride in the company, had fantastic organizational and people skills, but did not have many technical skills as a fabricator (i.e. no welding, polishing, layout). We found that it was actually January-February 2004 n Fabricator

Lee Rodrigue, Virginia Architectural Metals, Fredericksburg, VA, Ph: 540-899-0642, Web: E-mail: Belk Null, Berger Iron Works Inc., beneficial that he came from a millwork background because he had ideas about how the shop should run that none of us would have thought of. He

Houston, TX, Ph: 713-869-7836, Web: www.bergeriw. com, E-mail: bnull@ bergeriw.comwww.

took care of most of the lighter duties like equipment maintenance, shipping/ receiving, and stocking of supplies. This also helped to free up the foremen,


(in addition to fitting, welding and whatever needs to be done). His crew is usually a couple of welders and a helper. We have a shop superintendent who is responsible for the entire shop including scheduling work for everyone. We have a foreman who checks layouts and finished products as well as helping to push the work out the door. If we get overloaded, we have one of our top lead men help check finished products after hours. If the volume of work is there, you can’t go wrong with the foreman. Belk Null Berger Iron Works Inc.

and he worked in tandem with each of them to help with their shop organization. He was also able to do “projects” with available manpower, like re-organization of storage areas, large-scale maintenance, etc. I hope this information helps. Again, I encourage other NOMMA members to share their organization-al experience.


Lee Rodrigue Virginia Architectural Metals Allen, We have (on average) 20 people in the shop. Our structure is similar to what it appears that you have. We have our employees broken into four crews, each with a “lead” man who is responsible for laying out work and running of his crew

Fabricator n January-February 2004

January-February 2004 n Fabricator



Member Talk

New member spotlight: Getting into custom An ex-industrial fabrictor applies his old skills in his new shop.

After working as an industrial fabricator for over 20 years, Quentin Jones decided to stake it out on his own. When Bethlehem Steel Co. went bankrupt this year and was absorbed by International Steel Group Inc., Jones started up Caltim Ironworks in Port Tobacco, MD, a shop specializing in custom fabrication. Fabricator: What made you decide to start a custom fabrication shop? Jones: I always felt that my skills were not being used to their full potential as an industrial fabricator. At an industrial fabrication plant you’ve got 200 workers around you, and the volume of work is so great that the finer details involved in fabricating get overlooked, or are at least less valued. When Bethlehem went under I looked at it as somewhat of a blessing in disguise. It has forced me to take a chance on my own skill and talent, which is something I’ve always wanted to do. Fabricator: What brought you to Bethlehem Steel in the first place and what was your experience there?


Jones: I started working at Bethlehem in 1979 after serving in the Navy. My father had a job there and got me an application for an apprenticeship. He had been a barber by trade, but with the hairstyles of the 1970’s, or lack of really, he decided to work another trade to supplement his income. Then he helped me get into the trade too since what I had trained for in the Navy wasn’t available to civilians. And after three years as a supply clerk I was ready for anything else. I passed a basic math test and then began as an apprentice with four other guys. Bethlehem’s training program lasted four years. We had a 10-week orientation, then classroom instruction, and then hands-on instruction. We learned welding, burning, rigging, measuring, algebra, trigonometry, and were taught how to read blueprints, sheet metal layout, and take field measurements. Our ironworker department was comprised of 200 guys, and we were spread throughout the plant in four divisions. Within these divisions we were divided up into groups of three and four men, called gangs. As the apprenticeship program pro-

For your information



Member: Caltim Ironworks, Tobacco, MD Issue: Quentin Jones recently began his own custom shop after working for an industrial fabricator for over 20 years and needs help developing client relation skills specific to our industry. Solution: Network! Quentin has joined NOMMA specifically to get help learning the social and technical nuances of custom, as

Fabricator n January-February 2004

gressed we were tested and switched around to different gangs and different positions in the gangs. The final phase was to lead a gang as the fitter. The real fitter was still there of course to help us just in case we needed it. Fabricator: Sounds like great training. Jones: It was. It was great training. I have 8,000 training hours as a certified journeyman as an ironworker/erecter from a state approved certified nationwide program, and if the steel industry were stronger right now that would be worth a lot. But really, industrial fabrication can get pretty boring. I never

January-February 2004 n Fabricator

got to see the end result of my work. And industrial fabrication leaves little room for creativity on the job. Fabricator: What do you think your biggest challenges will be in starting up your own business and transitioning over to the custom side of the industry?

Jones: The biggest challenge is developing my skills as far as working with customers and attracting the right kind of clients. Working in an industrial plant I never experienced the client/sales relationship. I know how to level, square, and plum and could apply these skills to any area of construction. I’m a good welder, and I


understand what heat will do. I know

how to tack up my work and brace it

to minimize bowing or warping prior to welding. I know how to fit and how to work with drawings. I’m studying CAD and have received a lot of guidance from Dave Filippi at FABCAD. USA. I can build straight rails and stairs, and I’m getting other materials ready to use as demonstrations of my skill for potential clients. The only thing I’m really apprehensive about is building curved railings. I mean, I know I can do it–I just don’t want to practice on a client. And that’s an expensive project to practice on at home. I might try to get hired on at another shop for a while and maintain Caltim Ironworks on the side until I learn more of the nuances of custom fabrication. Fabricator: Have you ever worked in a custom shop? Jones: Yes, I worked at a couple of custom shops over the years. The plant made cutbacks at the end of 1987 and early 1988. Before I got hired back in 1990, when the economy picked back up again, I worked at two different shops. At Washington Star & Iron I built straight stair stringer, and at Ed Myers Welding I did a lot of miscellaneous work. I also did some structural work on my own. For a public works project I built tubular steel columns, which were then covered with brick. Fabricator: What did you learn from working at these shops that you will apply to your new shop? Jones: I learned from these experiences that as a startup company without a lot of capital, it’s best to stick with residential work rather than commercial work since there may be less liability involved. Plus worker’s comp is higher in commercial structural fabrication than in miscellaneous and ornamental work.


Fabricator n January-February 2004

Fabricator: What are your plans for getting Caltim Ironworks off the ground? Jones: Well so far I’ve joined NOMMA and hope to get some guidance as far as the business end goes. I plan to go to the convention and learn as much as I can there. And like I said, I’m fabricating samples for my own house to demonstrate my abilities. My wife is the best salesperson, marketing person, and manager there is, so I’ve got her developing that end. And I do just about everything else. This is actually a difficult time for me. This is the first time in my life that I don’t have a paycheck coming in, and I know it takes a while to build up a client base. But I’ve got patience. Fabricator: What kind of clients would you like to attract? Jones: Well, our shop is 40 to 50 miles south of Washington D.C. and near a lot of newly developing, very highend neighborhoods. I know the work is here, estate and driveway gates, interior and exterior railings. I think my main challenge will be educating people about ornamental metalwork. I’ve noticed that a lot of builders offer metalwork as an option on new homes, but the charge is really out the roof. I know I can beat those prices. And I know I can beat the quality.

January-February 2004 n Fabricator


Member Talk

Happy Anniversary! The National Ornamental Metal Museum turns 25 At the heart of the museum grounds is the main gallery building, which houses both traveling and permanent exhibits. It also includes a store, office space, and living quarters for apprentices.

n The

National Ornamental Metal Museum, an honorary NOMMA member, celebrates its silver anniversary. During the past two and a half decades, the museum has faithfully pursued its mission of preserving and perpetuating the traditions of our industry, while providing education to both the public and trade.

By Todd Daniel Editor

the idea was attracting support from around the country. Two months later, the committee had already identified three historic buildings at a closed-down U.S. Marine Hospital as a potential site for the museum. Help was already Thirty years ago a small group of NOMMA members had coming in from various sources, and fabricators made coma magnificent dream. They proposed the idea of creating mitments to donate blacksmithing equipment, decorative a national museum to preserve and promote the craft of ornamental metalworking. While there is no written record pieces, and one individual volunteered to chair the fundon when the idea was conceived, according to one longraising committee. time member, the dream was sparked during a joint picnic During the summer of 1975, at the advice of NOMMA’s between the Mid-South (Memphis) and St. Louis chapters. attorney, it was decided to make the museum a separate By January 1975, the vision was picking up momentum and entity. NOMMA president Bill Haines also appointed all the Mid-South Chapter already had a hard-working MuMid-South Chapter members to the Museum Committee. seum Committee in place. Plans were made to pitch the idea The committee was instructed by NOMMA to obtain costs to Memphis city officials and then to the NOMMA board at on renovation, insurance, and provide written commitments the upcoming convention in Atlanta, GA. from potential donors. Apparently pleased with the commitAt the Atlanta convention in February 1975, tee’s progress, NOMMA provided $1,500 in NOMMA president Bill Haines appointed the seed money and asked members to draft bylaws and a charter for the fledgling museum. first Museum Committee, which was made up As 1975 came to a close, many of the legal and of members from around the country. ChairNational Ornamental Metal Museum insurance issues were worked out, and the ing the group was James Stafford of Memphis, 374 Metal Museum Dr. project continued to move forward. TN, with Leon York of Oklahoma City, OK Memphis, TN 38106 The next year, the museum was incorporated serving as co-chair. Ph: (901) 774-6380 and the Memphis Park Commission approved On the local level, there were times when the Fax: (901) 774-6382 the lease for the 3.2 acre site. A lease was working committee was down to 4-5 memsigned with the city and annual rent was set at bers, but these individuals persevered and one dollar per year. overcame numerous obstacles. By March 1975,

For your information



Fabricator n January-February 2004

Much of the next three years was spent raising funds and preparing for the renovations. In addition to the initial contribution made by NOMMA, many members around the country contributed funds until the seed money reached $32,000. One major development during the 1976-78 period was the creation of a Women’s Auxiliary, which was made up of the spouses of local fabricators. In October 1977 the wives held their initial meeting at the home of George and Louise Keeler, and before long they were busy sweeping, mopping, and scrubbing the facilities. Another important event during this period was the hiring of Jim Wallace as fulltime director. Actual renovation work began in the fall of 1978 on the badly neglected and vandalized buildings. The startup money was quickly spent, but many members and non-members alike pitched in to help with painting, plumbing, wiring, and general carpentry. As part of a first phase, the main building was turned into a gallery, while an adjacent structure was converted into living quarters for the director and his family. Finally, on February 5, 1979 the museum officially opened its doors! While the grand opening was a pivotal moment in the museum’s history, the work was far from done. Two immediate goals at this time were to create a landmark structure on the edge of the property, which faces the Mississippi River, and to build a fully-operational smithy. The first goal was accomplished in 1984, with the completion of a beautiful riverfront pavilion that is today a favorite spot for weddings. Known as the Riverbluff Pavilion, the

Volunteers receive their traditional safety talk and orientation prior to the beginning of the annual Repair Days, which takes place each October.

structure included cast iron pieces that were salvaged from an old building on historic Beal Street. Additional parts were cast by Lawler Foundry Corp., and a local metal artist helped to oversee the project. The second objective was reached two years later with the opening of the Schering-Plough Smithy. Like the museum itself, the smithy started with a big dream and little money, and the project’s success relied on the ingenuity of the museum trustees, staff, and volunteers. The new building replaced an older, crude structure that had served as a small blacksmith shop. A generous matching grant provided

by Schering-Plough Corp., combined with donated materials and labor, turned yet another dream into reality. On June 13, 1986, the building was opened to the public. Other major enhancements during the museum’s 25-year history include the addition of a sculpture garden and permanent exhibits, and the construction of a metal conservation lab behind the smithy. The museum has also continually expanded its library, which was started with a major loan from Julius Blum & Co. Inc. in 1983. Blum formally donated its collection in 1995, and today the material continues to make up the library’s core. All total, there are over 6,000 books

Through the museum’s various outreaches, many young people are exposed to the metalworking craft. Shown is part of the “Hands on Activities” area, which was part of the recent Repair Days event. January-February 2004 n Fabricator


Museum director Jim Wallace shares the history of the front “anniversary gates” during a visit by the NOMMA board in 2000.

and portfolios and over 10,000 slides and photos. Even on the eve of its silver anniversary, the grand vision for the National Ornamental Metal Museum continues to materialize. In late 2003, ground was broken for the construction of

the new Lawler Foundry, which was made possible by a generous donation of funds and equipment from Lawler Foundry Corp. This year, after four years of fund-raising, a $1.5 million renovation project is scheduled to begin on the original third building, turning it into a modern library. Used as a storage facility for many years, plans are to remodel the historic structure to house the museum’s continually growing library. When completed, the building will provide shelf areas, meeting rooms, and a catering kitchen. Other planned improvements to the grounds include lighting and ventilation upgrades to the smithy, a new staff parking area, and landscaping improvements. While the gallery exhibits are the most visible aspect of the museum, the facility offers so much more, including

apprenticeships for students, education classes, tours of the smithy, and metal conservation work. The overall effect of all the various outreaches and services is an increased awareness of ornamental metalwork, not only in the Memphis area but throughout the United States. Special thanks go to the museum’s 29 founders, who are listed today on a bronze plaque outside the building. Appreciation also goes to other NOMMA members who have continued the tradition of supporting the museum. Most notably, a salute goes to Ken Argroves of Tennessee Fabricating Co. In addition to his long service as president and a trustee on the museum board, Ken also chaired NOMMA’s Museum Support Committee during the late 1980s and early 1990s.

A salute to the museum’s 29 founders a group of NOMMA members chartered the National Ornamental Metal Museum in Memphis, TN. The following is a list of people who gave our industry a cherished gift—a museum. Today, these founders are listed on a bronze plaque outside the main building. The names are: • Clifford H. Brown • Chuck & Bobbie Cummings • James A. & Georgeanna Francis • William S. Gasparrini • Roger Good • Lynwood Grisham • Bill Hains • Chick Huettel • F. Jack Hurley • George & Louise Keeler • Barney Lanzarone • Stanley D. Lawler • Robert A. Mueller • Jim & Eva Neikirk • Sam Paresi • Robert L. Ponsler Sr. • Earl Ray • Abe Sauer • G.R. “Jeff”Shilling Jr. • James & Weda Stafford • James Stamps • Ernest Wiemann • Leon & Evelyn York

In 1976


Fabricator n January-February 2004

Sources: Fabricator magazine, meeting minutes from the Mid-South Chapter, other NOMMA documents.

Who Cares... Museum timeline 1975 - Museum idea is presented to the NOMMA board by Memphis members during the Atlanta convention. 1976 - Museum is chartered. - Land and buildings provided by Memphis Park Commission.

about Consistent Quality Parts that Always Fit? about Fair Low Pricing? about Listening to Our Customers?

1977 - Women’s Auxiliary formed. 1978 - Renovation begins on two of the three buildings on the grounds. - Jim Wallace hired as director. 1979 - Feb. 5 - Museum opens to public. 1983 - Julius Blum Library established.

We Do.

1984 - Cast iron pavilion added on riverfront. 1986 - Schering-Plough Smithy opens. 1989 - Great gates project - a collaborative effort of metalsmiths around the world. 1990 - May 20 - NOMMA names museum an honorary member. 1993 - Conservation lab opens behind smithy. 2000 - Capital fundraising campaign begins to renovate the third building on the grounds to house the museum’s library.

since 1944.

Preserving the Integrity of our Industry.

1-800-258-4766 2025 York Ave. Memphis, TN 38104 (901) 725-1548 fax: (901) 725-5954 www.tnfab. com e-mail:

2003 - Foundation is poured for the new Lawler Foundry.

January-February 2004 n Fabricator



Fabricator n January-February 2004

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Fabricator n January-February 2004

Job Profiles

A switch to aluminum n Original

plans called for the gates to be crafted in steel, but the job was later converted to aluminum while still maintaining the “look and feel” of the original design. The lighter material allowed the fabricator to use the operating system originally specified for the project.

In 2001 Classic Iron reviewed an architect’s

preliminary set of plans for a driveway gate system that would enclose several high-dollar communities. At that time, the specifics of the site were unknown. The design was feasible and ballpark estimates were given for planning purposes. In September of 2002, Classic Iron was asked—by another contractor—to present a formal proposal for the design, fabrication, and installation of the gate systems. But this “other contractor,” whose work consisted of the access control and monitoring equipment and systems, held an electrical license.

A lattice panel assembly crafted in aluminum.

January-February 2004 n Fabricator

Under California contractor’s law, contractors with electrical licenses cannot subcontract work. Since the project had no general contractor, and since the owner wanted Classic to do the ornamental fabrication of the gate work, they asked if we would assume the lead and subcontract the electrical work. The arrangement was doable, and Classic became the prime contractor for the project. Red tape is sometimes good

This was a situation where red tape worked in the fabricator’s favor. Unlike some situations where fabricators struggle with work interface conditions at jobsites, we were fortunate in that the owner directed the other trades involved to follow Classic’s directions. This allowed for the best fit and appearance of both the gates and associated work, such as the adjacent masonry work. The project consisted of two double slide gate systems with pedestrian gates, three double bi-parting swing gate systems with pedestrian gates, and the access control monitoring. The fabrication and installation of the five systems, from start to finish, took the better part of a year. Along with some initial design challenges, the entire progress of the project hinged on attention to finalizing the design details prior to fabrication, materials coordination, production scheduling, finishing, 59

For your information


By Ron Hill Classic Iron Supply

Project name: WestridgeValencia Owner: Newhall Land & Farming Co. Architect: HRP Landesign Fabricator: Classic Iron Craft (div. of Classic Iron Supply) Material: 36,000 pounds of aluminum Classic Iron Craft, div. of Classic Iron Supply 12155 Magnolia Ave., ta ct Co n11-A Unit Riverside, CA 92503-4905 Ph: 909-351-0400 Fax: 909-351-2540 E-mail: 12155-800@ www.classicirononline. com

“The estimated weight of the slide gates was over 2,000 pounds each, and the swing gates in excess of 1,800 pounds each.”

Among the multiple challenges of this job were the heavy weight of the gates, dealing with grades, and being locked to a specific gate operator system. The obstacles were overcome by switching the entire project to aluminum, which reduced weight 40 to 60 percent.

METALfab 2004 Don’t Miss it! Sacramento, California March 3–6, 2004 Shop Tours Top Job Contest Education Classes Trade Show Networking And More!

5186-F Longs Peak Road, Berthoud, CO 80513


and final installation. As part of the bidding process, it was discovered that most of the gates would have substantial grades to overcome. The contract specified all-steel construction, and it required us to use a specific gate operator. The estimated weight of the slide gates was over 2,000 pounds each, and the swing gates in excess of 1,800 pounds each. It was determined the “push/pull” requirements of moving the gates were far in excess of the specified gate operator’s capacity. The easiest and most practical solution to the problem was to select a lighter weight material for the gate construction, but the owner insisted on keeping the original design. So after much consideration, we chose aluminum, which reduced the gate’s weight by 40–60 percent. Fabrication time

With the weight/design problem solved, we were ready to fabricate the gates. Architectural aluminum shapes were purchased both for appearance and dimensional uniformity. Surprise! The square and rectangular tubing were both out of square and twisted along the length. Fortunately, since aluminum is fairly flexible, we compensated for the twist by using lots of clamps. The out-of-square condition primarily affected the interface points. To solve this problem we cut the ends of the tubing in a manner to compensate for the out-of-square issue and weld-filled the remaining gaps. During the welding process, we learned that an aluminum spool gun or a modified standard MIG welder with a Teflon liner, used on production welding, were unreliable and inefficient. After discussions with our welding equipment supplier, we determined the most useful machine for our process would be the Miller model 304 with XR control, a unit specifically designed for production aluminum welding. The quality of the weld (appearance, penetration, and peed) was far superior to any of the Fabricator n January-February 2004

“Although using aluminum solves some design issues involving weight, working with aluminum can be more expensive than steel.�

It was discovered that the tubing was both out of square and twisted. To correct the problem, numerous clamps were applied. At interface points, it was necessary to cut the ends of the tubing to compensate for the non-plum condition and the remaining gaps were weld-filled.

other methods we previously tried. We’ve done quite a bit of interior decorative work with aluminum. We do a lot of work for casinos and end up making those grand looking chandeliers out of aluminum, like one we made recently for a casino in Atlantic City.

sides. So we made that happen as well. After we completed fabricating all of the component parts, we had them sandblasted and powder coated. All total, the project used 36,000 pounds of aluminum.

Aluminum challenges

Although using aluminum solves some design issues involving weight, working with aluminum can be more expensive than steel. First, the welding technique is more time consuming. Second, aluminum does not provide the same structural strength as steel. So if a design calls for 2-inch thick steel stock, a thicker stock of aluminum is needed to provide the same structural strength. Third, while steel runs about 40 cents a pound, aluminum runs anywhere from $1.60 to $2.30 a pound, depending on the time of year. Despite these challenges, working with aluminum allowed us to maintain the desired appearance and still use the specified gate operators. Plus, using aluminum made fabricating woven design at the bottom of the gate much easier. The design required that we use custom woven metal insert panels. We fabricated them from aluminum flat bar. The design also required that each intersection have a full bucked rivet with heads on both January-February 2004 n Fabricator


Job Profiles

Cover Feature

Massive aluminum job

There are approximately 170’ of forged aluminum rail. The finish is a dark bronze with a light brown latex wash. Labor time: 1,440 hours. Fabricator: Klahm & Sons Inc., Ocala, FL. Top Job award: 2003 silver.

n While indoor rail systems often get

most of the attention, their outdoor cousins are equally beautiful. In this issue, we give exterior railings some well-deserved recognition.

Powder coating, galvanizing, heavy-duty paint, and weep holes —welcome to the world of outdoor railings. Often exposed to harsh weather, vandalism, and other variables, exterior rails follow a different rulebook from their indoor counterparts. Each year, the exterior railing categories in the Top Job Contest feature some outstanding work, and in this issue we provide a few samples from the 2003 contest.

Photo: Steve Ash

Rails add dignity and authority


These residential railings compliment the eclectic and colorful design of the home they surround. The rails were fabricated incorporating a variety of aluminum castings and hand twisted balusters. The architect designed all elements. Labor time: approx. 325 hours. Fabricator: Custom Metals Inc., Madison, WI.

Fabricator n January-February 2004

Heavy forged balcony railing

This exterior railing is forged mild steel with a galvanized and rubbed flat black patina finish, and is designed by the fabricator. A 300 pound power hammer was used to forge 3” x 3” x 42” square end posts and proceeded to upset the crown. The challenges were the forged 3” x 3” x 42” square end post, the transportation to the remote mountain site, and having a generator as the only power source at the site, making welding difficult. Labor time: approx. 80 hours. Fabricator: Jefferson Mack Metal Inc., San Francisco, CA.


Capturing the feel of a pond

The fabricator’s designers created this balcony fence according to the client’s wishes. The customer’s house is situated on the pond bank, so she wanted to see the motif of water and water plants. The balcony fence was 100 percent hand forged and it was made in separate sections and installed between pillars. Each section has a different design. All surfaces were hammered everywhere. The handrail was made using different shapes of material intertwisted together and hammered to imitate the bark of a tree. Materials used: handrail bars fl” and 1⁄” round, main design 5/8”, 7/16”, ⁄” round. The work was painted a dim black color. Labor time: approx. 380 hours. Fabricator: Russian Blacksmithing, Moscow, Russia.

uuuuuu 64

Fabricator n January-February 2004

A railing featuring two-sided rosettes

This railing was engineered by the fabricator and designed by the fabricator and homeowner. Materials used were a 5 /8” square solid bar, 1” square tubing, 1” x fi” channel, and solid bronze rosettes. All total, there is 35’ of 36” high railing. All scrolls were individually hand forged. The job is made of all solid welded construction. A 156 bronze rosettes were drilled and tapped. A unique feature of this project is that you can see the rosettes from either side of the railing. A challenge was creating the many hand hammered scrolls, which was tedious and exhausting. Another challenge was lifting the railing to the second floor at the rear of the home. Labor time: Approx. 350 hours. Fabricator: Wilson Railing & Metal Fabricating, Park City, IL. Top Job award: 2003 bronze.

January-February 2004 n Fabricator


Design reflects elegance of surrounding estate

A new U-shaped stone retaining wall at the entrance to a large old estate required packing a lot of architectural interest into the new ironwork design to make it compatible with the age of the site. The fabricator used the 14” width of the stonework to their advantage by adding a radius curve to the long center railing. Two traditional railing motifs were alternated to create a historically appropriate entrance with maximum architectural interest. Elements are forged out of 3/8” x fl” stock. Designed by fabricator. Fabricator: Fine Architectural Metalsmiths, Chester, NY. Top Job award: 2003 gold.


A special thanks to our METALfab 2004 sponsors Sacramento, CA March 3–6, 2004

Lawler Foundry Corp. R & B Wagner Inc. J.G. Braun Co. Julius Blum & Co. Inc. Carell Corp. Colorado Waterjet Co. Decorative Iron D.J.A. Imports Ltd. Eagle Bending Machines Inc. Innovative Hinge Products Inc. Lavi Industries Mittler Bros. Machine & Tool Indiana Gratings Inc. Ohio Gratings Inc. Rogers Mfg. Inc. Yavus Ferforje A.S.


Fabricator n January-February 2004

Biz Side

Dealing with difficult people What you’ll learn! n Every

business has their share of difficult personalities. The key is learning how to deal with them. Of course, it’s also helpful if you understand your own personality and management style.

We all encounter difficult people every day. Sometimes, all we have to do to see one is to look in the mirror. Maybe you have a person at your shop who gets what he or she wants by raising their voice and being intimidating. Then there’s the person who never follows through or who is never happy— no matter what. If you have to deal with (or act like) any of these Difficult Types, here are some surefire methods for understanding and communicating with them.

The Combative

issues and don’t acknowledge the sarcasm. Keep in mind that they are trying to make you feel bad or make you angry. Remember, the first person to get mad loses. The Indifferent

This person can be cold, closed, difficult, and have a hidden agenda. They avoid controversy at all costs and never let you know where they stand. Ask open-ended questions (not “yes” or “no”), be quiet and wait for the person to respond. It helps to be patient and warm. Indifference can be very painful when directed at an individual so brace yourself. The Arrogant

These people can be aggressive, intimidating, and even threatening. To deal with them appropriately, start by listening to what they have to say. Avoid engaging in arguments and be proper when conversing with them. You should be succinct and precise with your comments, acting rather than reacting. It may also be wise to have someone else in the room with you.

Their ego runs them and anyone else who gets caught in their trap. They are knowit-all’s and act superior every chance they get, but when they’re wrong they tend to pass the buck. To deal with them, make sure you know what you are talking about and it helps if you have documentation to back it up. Agree when possible, ask powerful questions, and listen deeply. Disagree only when you know you’re in the right.

The Dissident

The Grouch

They can be subversive, critical and sarcastic, which can hurt. Nothing ever seems good enough for these people. Focus on the

Everyone knows a complainer. They are usually cynical as well as rigid, and sometimes a downer. To deal with them ef-


For your information


By Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D.

About the author: Dr. Goldsmith is a popular speaker, consultant, radio host, and author. His syndicated columns appear in over 150 publications, including the Los Angeles Business Journal. Dr. Goldsmith works regularly with The Young President’s Organization (YPO) and The Executive Committee (TEC). Web: www. co nt act Phone: (866) 522-7866

Fabricator n January-February 2004

“Dealing with difficult people is an art form. Those who are good at it tend to be successful in life and business.” fectively, don’t allow them to start complaining and keep the focus on solving the problem. Force the grouch to think through the complaint and prove it is valid by telling them they can complain only if they also have a solution. The Windbag

These gabby people are so busy listening to themselves they seldom hear others. To put a lid on it, keep reminding them to stick to the point. Don’t be afraid to interrupt a talker, and it’s always a good idea to tell them you “only have a minute.”

past conflicts begin to surface, cut the stockpiler off quickly and return to the issue at hand. The Adversary

These people actually like to argue. They can also be controlling, critical, and even intimidating. Keep calm when dealing with them and ask questions to clarify and defuse the

argument. Humor can help, but use it sparingly. Focus on how to solve the problem, not on their personality, and don’t engage them if you can help it. Summary

Dealing with difficult people is an art form. Those who are good at it tend to be successful in life and business (or they become therapists). Knowing how someone is likely to behave is helpful, and will give you the upper hand in an uncomfortable situation. Trust your instincts and don’t let

The Slouch

Everyone can be lazy, but loafers tend to also be manipulative and will put more work into getting out of things than it takes to do them. Do not cover for him or her and be sure that everyone else follows this lead. Confront the problem head on by having them create a list of what they need to accomplish. The Procrastinator

This person can be very frustrating. They meant to get around to it, but something else came up (like a re-run of “Friends”). They are unfocused, confused, and disorganized. To deal with them, set firm timelines and emphasize the importance of meeting them. Be sure they know there are consequences if deadlines are missed. This helps to eliminate any excuses that you can think of, but be prepared for them to create some others. Make sure they give you a firm commitment and follow up with them. The Stockpiler

These people hold on to everything, and it’s very hard to come to terms with someone who holds you responsible for something that happened years ago. They are grudge bearers and are not good team players. They tend to live and work best in isolation. Take the pre-emptive approach. Before you start, clarify that you are not present to rehash old conflicts. If January-February 2004 n Fabricator


Biz Side


Ready to start selling to them?

A good relationship with an architect can lead to the more highend and desirable jobs.

n Reaching

out to architects is a great way to develop new and quality work, but first you must attract their interest in you. This article looks at life from an architect’s perspective and provides valuable tips for standing out from the competition. By Michael Stone Construction Programs and Results

I have some time proven methods for working with architects that have brought the companies I work for some very profitable jobs. To do this article, however, I wanted to bring in my friend, Richard Morrison, AIA, ASID, Architect-Interior Designer from Menlo Park, CA, to help me put this information in a very usable form for the reader. I will add a comment or two as Richard tells us how to “sell” an architect on you and your company. Let’s start by assuming that you’re a contractor who would like to get more work from architects. Richard’s first comment 70

to me on this was, “There are a number of advantages to getting work this way. First, by cultivating the right relationships, projects get handed to you with hardly any effort on your part. Second, the projects are likely to be larger and more interesting from a construction standpoint than the ones you get on your own without an architect involved. And third, maintaining a good track record with an architect may get you LOTS of work that could take your business to a new level.” But on the flip side, Richard adds, “Working with architects is usually far different than working by yourself, and you may not be completely prepared for all of the hassles (and benefits, too) that this brings with it.” Now, here is where Richard has a few surprises for you, Joe Contractor. Listen carefully to what he says here because it is a real revelation. If you’ve decided to take the

For your information


What you’ll learn!

Main issue: A simple generic letter of introduction isn’t enough to snare the interest of a busy architect. Solution: Personalize your correspondence. Learn about your audience before approaching them. About the author: Michael Stone has more than three decades of experience in the building and remodeling industry. His class at METALfab 2003 was extremely well received, and he will be presenting again at the 2004 convention in Sacramento on this topic and others.

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plunge and want to start working with architects, or add some more to your “stable,” here are some things to think about: Richard says his files are filled with generic unsolicited marketing letters from assorted local contractors, who invariably say something like: Dear Architect, I’m Joe Contractor, and I’m writing to let you know that we would appreciate the opportunity to bid on any of your upcoming projects. We’ve been in business in the area for 15 years and pride ourselves in providing our customers with the utmost in craftsmanship and professionalism. Please let us know if you have any projects that we could bid on. Sincerely, Joe Contractor

Richard says, “I like to keep these letters because sometimes I enjoy pulling them out for a good laugh. If you are interested in developing relationships with architects, this sort of letter is worse than worthless; it’s a virtual guarantee that I will ignore

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both this letter and you.” This letter doesn’t work for several reasons. According to Richard, architects are primarily interested in: • Having happy clients. • Having construction go smoothly without too many headaches. • Seeing their designs get built close to their “vision.” Second, Richard says there is nothing in the letter that addresses any of these concerns other than possibly “craftsmanship.” However, since EVERY contractor stresses excellent craftsmanship, this is not a terribly compelling statement. In the statements above, my friend has just given you all the advice you normally need to develop a good relationship with architects. He is telling you what most architects hate. Think for a minute. What drives architects crazy? Did you say time lost due to customer complaints about the contractor, or how he or

Remember that the architect is paid to fight for the interests of the owner. If you have the arch-itect on your side, you have a valuable ally.

she is doing the job? RIGHT! Now we are getting to the heart of the matter. The question you should ask yourself is: What can I do to eliminate those problems on the job that I do for the architect? How can I give the architect back the time that he or she is now wasting dealing with customer complaints? That should be your focus and sales point when calling on architects. “I don’t know any architect colleague of mine who would phone a completely unknown person based on a form letter and allow them to get involved in a relatively personal (and


“You need to do a little more ‘courting’ in person before you will be

for meeting schedules and budgets. How well do you manage paperwork entrusted with something as important as that architect’s project. It and subcontractors? You could show may take some time before the first project materializes.” sample budgets, schedules, or change orders. • Be prepared to demonwith THAT architect, specifically. If potentially risky) relationship with strate how you can work collaborayou do a form letter to every architect them and their clients” says Richard. tively without stepping on any design in the Yellow Pages, you’re wasting “You need to do a little more ‘courttoes. How do you communicate when your time. Try to get a brief face-toing’ in person before you will be enproblems arise? Do you ask questions face meeting. (Remember—this is not trusted with something as important regularly and try to have possible like looking for a job, hat in hand. as that architect’s project. It may take solutions ready when you call? Would You are there to explore the possibilsome time, possibly months, before you be prepared to get involved at an ity of working together in the future the first project materializes.” early stage in the budgeting process to as equals, and you may have just as Richard suggests adhering to reduce the architect’s risk of overmuch opportunity to send them a the following guidelines: designing the project? (But I wouldn’t project as vice versa.) • Do some research on the necessarily use that word, though.) • Be prepared to discuss architect before contacting them. Do you have a sample preliminary how you keep your customers happy. Does the architect do the type of budget that shows some Why are you an easy projects you do, or are interested in value engineering experiperson to work with? doing? Do any of your GC buddies, Resources ence?” Do you do anything subcontractors, or suppliers know this Michael Stone’s resource • Don’t do all the special to make your architect? Is he or she reasonable to materials can be purchased talking. Ask the architect customer’s lives easier work with? through the NOMMA Educasome questions, too. (e.g. during construction? • Call or write the architect tion Foundation. For more info, visit: www.nomma. What is the typical size of • Be preand maybe mention a specific project org. To sign up for Michael’s that architect’s projects? pared to demonstrate that you saw, or someone who menfree newsletter, visit www. What level of finish is tioned them. Sound like you’re calling how you manage typical? Are most projects projects responsibly or writing because you want to work


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competitively bid or negotiated? How involved does the architect like to be during construction? What problems does the architect typically have with other contractors? What qualities does the architect like to see in contractors?) Take a look at some of the architect’s sample drawings. Do they look like you could build from them? • Providing references is good, too. (Especially from other design professionals, if you have them.) Photos are helpful in showing the type of projects you are working on, but not nearly as important as your personal qualities. However, you should offer to accompany the architect through some recent projects of yours. • After the meeting stay in touch on a regular basis. Often it takes months before the right-sized project comes up, usually a smaller, low-risk project on which to test you. But you’ll need to be there at the front of the architect’s consciousness because there will be other potential contractors to call. • In the end, you need to be honest about whether or not it’s a good “fit” between the two of you. You definitely don’t want to work for every architect that’s out there. The wrong architect can make your life a living nightmare, but the right architect can make your life vastly easier, bringing you wonderful, well thought out projects, good clients, and more profits.

What the ...

this will likely make you stand out and place you in the pantheon of favored contractors for future work. Doing things the same ol’ way

Brushing off an architect’s design as “weird” or “stupid” is a surefire way to get the relationship off to a bad start.

the integrity of the concept and which things might be negotiable. Ask about details, and ask why they are being done that way (non-judgmentally, of course). Accept the fact that some details may be more expensive and difficult to accomplish, may not make sense to you, and may ultimately be the difference between a “good” project and a stunning project. Since few contractors take the time to have such a discussion with an architect,

Contractors don’t bother to read plans/specifications and just do things “the way we’ve always done it.” Learn to read plans carefully, and don’t make assumptions. Ask questions. Some things may be critically important to the architect or the client, and some things may be mistakes or “boilerplate.” Presumably the client has hired an architect because they’re looking for something more than just square footage, and they might well be looking for a quality level beyond what YOU feel is reasonable or warranted. Going around the architect

Architects don’t like it when a contractor or subcontractor goes behind an architect’s back to propose to the client a “better” way of doing something. Propose changes to the ar-

Things to NOT do

We have summed up the right approach for contacting and working with architects. Now we are going to talk about stuff you should not do when working with architects. Here are things that rub architects the wrong way: Not understanding the project

Contractors don’t take the time to understand the design intent and make changes without any discussion when something seems “wrong,” “weird,” or “stupid.” Have a discussion with the architect during the bidding or negotiating stage about what the architect sees as important to preserve January-February 2004 n Fabricator



Architects don’t like to be used as a scapegoat for problems. Karma will get you.

l fau

Blaming the architect

Resentment at architect’s perceived fiduciary role

r you It’s

chitect FIRST. If not satisfied with the outcome, then have a meeting with all parties present, including the owner. In some cases, it will have taken many hours and many drawings for the architect to get an insecure client to a decision about certain details or a floor plan, and you can undo all of that hard work with a simple question to the client.

Not mine.

Don’t put the architect on the defensive by blaming him for everything that goes wrong.

What makes contractors mad

There are other things, of course, that set architects off when dealing with contractors, but those are the main ones. Now let’s look at things from the architect’s side of the fence. Here are reasons why contractors get mad at architects:

Things can’t be built the way they’re shown on plans

Ask for clarifications or revisions. You don’t need to do the architect’s job, but feel free to make suggestions.

This is how architects are trained. And from an objective viewpoint, it makes sense. The notion of a valid contract presupposes “balanced” parties. Yet, in most construction projects, you have a contractor with years of experience vs. a neophyte, unknowledgeable owner. Having an architect on the owner’s side creates a more equitable balance of power. You can use the architect to your advantage, if you have her on your side (assuming she is a responsible professional, of course)—you’ll have someone that can help resolve disputes more dispassionately; you’ll have someone who understands the construction issues and can help explain to the owner that you’re really NOT being unreasonable. Contractors don’t like architects to take “control” over their funds

Many contractors have found they get paid FASTER when they have the architect’s blessing on their pay request. Of course, you need to make sure that it’s not languishing in the architect’s in-box.

Lack of responsiveness when field issues come up or clarifications requested

Be clear on the required deadline and the consequences for not meeting the deadline. Keeping the owner in the loop helps to keep the architect’s feet to the fire. Summary

From our point of view, much of the rancor between architects and contractors can be reduced with two simple steps: • Don’t make assumptions. • Ask questions. That will keep your jobs running smooth and hassle free from both sides of the fence.

METALfab 2004 Sacramento, CA March 3–6, 2004 74

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Biz Side

Don’t get EATEN

for DINNER What you’ll learn! n Con

By William J. Lynott America’s scam artists are growing hun-

grier, and small business is where they find their biggest meals. If you’re not careful, your business could be next on their plate. There’s nothing new about swindles aimed at small business owners; they’ve been around as long as business has been around. What is new, according to the Council of Better Business Bureaus, is the huge amount of money these tricksters are draining away from business owners like you. Every year, businesses are losing millions of dollars to con artists through a host of different tricks and scams. As the workload for the average employee increases, so does the likelihood of a successful business swindling. A recent workplace survey revealed that nine out of 10 employees responsible for paying company bills have other major responsibilities. That makes it easy for busy employees and managers to become prey for costly business schemes if they aren’t knowledgeable and careful. Crime Prevention Officer Joe Conover of the Abington, PA Police Department offers this

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advice: “The best protection against business scams is knowledge of how the scams work, and constant vigilance on the part of you and your employees.” Here are details on seven scams that can cost you dearly if you allow yourself or your employees to be enticed: The cunning consultant

scam Business consultants have at least one thing in common with financial advisors—neither requires any specific credentials or license. For all practical purposes, anyone who declares himself or herself to be a business consultant is a business consultant. That’s why you must be on your guard whenever you hear from someone who wants to show you how to run your business more profitably. NOMMA member Mike Boyler is all too familiar with this problem. “I didn’t think that I would admit to anyone that we were taken in,” he says, “but I consider this a warning to other NOMMA members. We thought that we were dealing with professionals. It turns out that they were there primarily to suck us dry. It was the worst experience of my business life. Their intrusion into our business—running all the numbers and



For your information


artists are everywhere and they are out to make a killing with your business. Learn about the seven deadly scams and how you can protect yourself and your company.

Problem: The current economy is ripe for scam artists. They know small businesses are struggling with rising health insurance rates and decreasing advertising budgets. These are the areas they will most likely target. Solution: Investigate anyone who promises a good deal. If it’s too good to be true, it’s probably a lie. Implications: Even though new scams may appear at anytime, learning how the following scams work will help you defend your business from even the most cunning con artists. About the author: William J. Lynott is a freelance business writer for the manufacturing and construction industry.

talking with all the employees—was extremely disruptive. It kept us from paying attention to the daily business at hand.” Before entering into any agreement with a business consultant, always ask for at least three references from business owners who have used their service. Then, follow that up by contacting each reference to verify his or her satisfaction.

are finding it easy to peddle phony health insurance with promises of low prices and great benefits—but are complete swindles. Many business owners are too desperate to say no, so they often suspend their better judgment without asking the tough questions that would reveal the warning signs of a costly swindle.” Quiggle offers these suggestions for protecting yourself if an insurance representative approaches you with a Unhealthy health insurance tantalizing offer: scam America’s con artists are well • Contact your state insurance departaware of the struggle you are ment. Ask if the insurance company having with the skyrocketing is licensed in your state or has a hiscosts of health tory of complaints. insurance. “Our troubled • Watch for slight Resources economy is a magnet for differences in names on the Web insurance scams that prey between an unlicensed These Web sites offer adon small businesses,” and licensed health ditional help and information to help you steer clear says James Quiggle of insurance company. of scams aimed at your the Washington DCOften the phony name business: based Coalition Against closely resembles a Insurance Fraud. “With legitimate insurer. ba-scheme.asp www.friendsinbusiness. health premiums rising •Never rely on slick com/scams/ in double digits annually marketing literature it’s no wonder that crooks or high-pressure sales


When bringing in an outside person, make sure you are hiring a consultant and not a CONsultant.

pitches. Check the facts yourself—call your state insurance department. • Back off and ask questions if the deal sounds too good to be true. Be especially wary if the agent or rep insists that you buy now or sounds evasive when you ask direct questions. Loans with a costly catch

Need a loan? Nothing to be ashamed of there. Many—perhaps most—small scam business owners find themselves in need of a cash infusion at some point. Taking out a business loan is normally a routine procedure. However, where you take out that loan can be of monumental importance. Advance fee loan brokers are near the top of the Council of Better Business Bureaus’ list of potentially troublesome businesses. Despite BBB’s warnings, many small business owners continue to lose large sums of money to fraudulent loan brokers. These scammers often advertise in newspaper classifieds hoping to attract financially vulnerable prospects with the promise of guaranteed, low-interest loans to consolidate or pay off debts and clean-up credit records. Most phony loan brokers tell their potential victims that their applications can be taken right over the phone. Of course, all applications are “approved” and the scammer asks the business owner to send an upfront fee ranging from $25 to hundreds or even thousands of dollars. This, they will claim, is to cover the first loan payment or other expenses. Business owners who send money to bogus loan brokers will never receive



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“In the past several years, hundreds of fraudulent loan brokers have

set up operations across the country, targeted out-of-state victims, collected their money, and closed shop.” the loan or a refund for the upfront fee. In the past several years, hundreds of fraudulent loan brokers have set up operations across the country, targeted out-of-state victims, collected their money, and closed shop. Many re-open their doors under different names, hoping to bilk new borrowers while going after old victims for a second time. According to the BBB, the sales pitch from a phony broker may include pressure to make an immediate decision and a requirement to send money, or give out credit card or bank account numbers. To avoid this kind of scam, never give out any account numbers before checking out the reliability of the company with the BBB. Also before signing for any loan, you should have a written agreement clearly outlining all the terms. No legitimate lender will object to this sort of due diligence. While the sales pitch from a phony loan broker may be stunningly persuasive, you should ask yourself, why would an unknown lender, located in another state, be more willing than local financial institutions to provide you with a business loan? If you find yourself in need of a loan, beware of any ads or brokers charging advance fees for their service.

scam starts when a caller or visitor convinces an employee to accept a gift. It’s usually described as a free promotional item, with only a passing reference to merchandise or services offered by the vendor. Later, a shipment of overpriced, unordered merchandise arrives at the company. Soon thereafter, an invoice containing the employee’s name ar-



rives. If someone in the business questions whether the invoice is legitimate, the innocent employee comes under suspicion, thus creating mistrust and discord within the company. The scheme is successful if company officials come to believe that the employee somehow blundered into placing the order and that they are now obligated to pay for it. Think this couldn’t happen in your small shop? Don’t be too sure. A recent workplace survey revealed that nine out of 10 employees responsible for paying company bills have other major responsibilities in addition

The gift horse

This tidy little swindle attempts to create mistrust within an organization, and it works more often than you may think. The gift horse

In the business world, it IS a good idea to look a gift horse in the mouth.

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to handling accounts payable. That makes it easy for busy employees to become easy prey for business schemes such as this. The vanity pitch

“Dear Business Executive” begins the letter. “You are a potential candidate for a free listing in our next edition of Who’s Who in (some impressivesounding directory). Please accept our congratulations for this coveted

scam honor.” More often than not, such pitches for “Who’s Who” publications, biographies of successful people, or memberships in some “exclusive” society are not what they appear to be. If you fall for the flattery by providing details of your career or business, you can expect to be hit with a large subscription fee, a charge for the listing, or an inflated price


Here’s how you can protect your

order form should instruct the sup-

business from paying for unsolicited or unordered merchandise or services: n Know your rights. If you receive supplies or bills for services you didn’t order, don’t pay, and don’t return the unordered merchandise. You may treat unordered merchandise as a gift. By law, it’s illegal for a seller to send you bills or dunning notices for unordered merchandise, or ask you to return it. n Assign designated buyers and require them to document their purchases. For every order, the designated employee should issue a purchase order with an authorized signature and P.O. number. The

plier to note the P.O. number on the invoice and bill of lading. Keep blank order forms secure. n Check documentation before paying bills. When merchandise arrives, an employee should verify that it matches the shipper’s bill of lading and your purchase order. Pay close attention to brand and quantity. Refuse merchandise that doesn’t match internal documentation. n Train your staff. Instruct everyone on how to respond to unsolicited phone, fax, or email offers for office supplies and services. Advise employees not authorized to order supplies and services to refer all such sales pitches to an authorized buyer.

What happens when you receive unordered merchandise?


for buying a publication distributed only to others who have fallen for this hoary scheme. The best defense against this sort of “appeal to your vanity” is to recognize it. Legitimate “Who’s Who” type directories do not extract payment from the people they are honoring. If payment from you—regardless of what they call it—is part of the deal, save your money. Getting taking “Ad”vantage of

You try to be a good citizen in your community. In addition to being the “right thing” to do, it’s also good for business. That’s what makes you a logical target for the purveyors of unwanted, unproductive, and overpriced scam advertising. In one of the more common forms of this scam a telemarketer calls asking you to advertise in a publication that will be widely distributed to organizations within your community that are prospects for your products. This pitch is often accompanied by pressure to act immediately because only the last few spots are still available. Most of the time, these publications never see the light of day, or are of such limited distribution as to be worthless. Another one of the endless versions of this scam involves a pitch for ads in business directories that are never published. If you ask for time to think it over, some of the more aggressive scammers will: • Phone you to say that the ad you agreed to place in their publication is printed and that you are obligated to pay for it. • Obtain the name of a person at your business claiming that person previously authorized the ad. • Send a collector to your business every week claiming that the ad was approved and must be paid for, until you finally give in to get rid of him. Before agreeing to place an ad in any publication that you did not seek out, ask how to reach the salesperson if you decide to advertise. Request a copy of a previous edition, and contact one or more advertisers to ask about their satisfaction. Insist on a


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type that they think they can get away with. How to protect yourself from bogus Yellow Page bills

Don’t fall for the vanity scam.

Before buying advertising space through a mail solicitation or paying a “Yellow Pages” invoice, the Yellow Pages Publishers Association suggests that you take these steps: • Check out the company. Call your local Yellow Pages publisher to discover whether it is affiliated with the soliciting company. • Ask the publisher for a copy of a previous directory edition. If they

comply, contact a sampling of previously listed businesses to find whether the directory was helpful to them. • Ask the sales rep to provide all information in writing. This includes where the directory is distributed, the way it is distributed, how often it is published, and total distribution or circulation figures.

written, detailed contract, and never pay the full fee up front. Bogus Yellow Page bills

Think that your company would never pay a phony Yellow Pages invoice? Don’t be too sure. According to the Yellow Pages Publishers Association, over $500 million is collected annually from unsuspecting business owners like you. Often, the hard-toscam spot phony mail invoices bear the familiar “walking fingers” and the name “Yellow Pages.” Although the publishers portray these directories as legitimate Yellow Pages publications, most do not receive wide distribution and many are never published at all. Keep in mind that solicitations to buy ad space in a bogus Yellow Pages directory may look like an invoice and bear the “walking fingers” logo and the Yellow Pages name. This is possible because neither the name nor logo comes under federal copyright or trademark protection. That makes it easy for scammers to fool businesses into believing that they are dealing with a legitimate telephone directory. The United States Postal Service requires that all solicitations, that are not legitimate invoices, carry the following notice: This is not a bill. This is a solicitation. You are under no obligation to pay the amount stated above unless you accept this offer. You’ll have to look carefully for it though, because scammers design their invoices so that the notice is hard to spot, and they use the smallest


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