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Ornamental and Miscellaneous Metal


The official publication of the National Ornamental & Miscellaneous Metals Association

July/August 2010 $6.00 US

Job Profiles

Taking the extra step on a grand stair, page 48 Shop Talk

Navigating the metal boat market, page 24

Member Talk

FabCAD celebrates 20 years, page 33

Biz Side

8 Tips to help your advertising, page 59

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July/August 2010 Vol. 51, No. 4

This aluminum, two-leaf gate spans 32 feet and is 15 feet at the tallest point, page 44.

Tips & Tactics 10 Tips to grow your fabricating business..........14 NOMMA member firm Steel Welding shares insight on leveraging resources. By Rachel Bailey Shop Talk Tool talkin’ time.............................17 8 NOMMA members talk about their favorite tools. By Peter Hildebrandt Ins and outs of metal boat fabrication...........24 Find out if your shop has the right skills to weather this market. By Jeff Fogel Member Talk FabCAD celebrates 20 years.....33 Past NOMMA Pres Dave Filippi talks about how he and FabCAD got started. By Rachel Bailey

Training helps business and shop workers..........................38 Thrifty Iron Works talks about its new education program. By Sheila Phinazee Special Feature NOMMA meets ABANA in Memphis................ 41 An update on NOMMA’s outreach efforts from the show. By Rachel Bailey Job Profiles Stumbling upon the perfect gate design...............44 A NOMMA firm turns a pile of rocks into a stunning yet deterring gate. By Douglas Charles Granum Taking the extra step on a grand stair..............................48 Winning the bid on a project across from your competitor — priceless. By Stephen Aretz

Trust makes fountain flow........52 Mutual respect between a designer and fabricator makes a beautiful idea work. By Kelly Olene-Stylski Biz Side Planning your exit........................55 Even if retirement is years away, it’s never to soon for succession planning. By William J. Lynott So, you’re not advertising.........59 Even on a small budget, a little advice helps advertising go a long way. By Andy Ellis What’s Hot! Nationwide Suppliers.................62 New Members.................................63 News Briefs......................................65 New Products/Events..................67 People.................................................71

President’s Letter. ............. 6 Exec. Director’s Letter.... 8 NEF Chair Letter. ...............11 Metal Moments................. 74 Paying your membership Get online to maximize your New officers appointed; Advice on powder coating fee pays you back. NOMMA member benefits. certification takes shape. after galvanizing. About the cover: NOMMA member Hot Shot Welding of Largo, FL

fabricated this grand stair for a residence in Tampa Bay, FL. July/August 2010 n Fabricator


NOMMA O fficers President Bruce Boyler Boyler’s Ornamental Iron Inc. Bettendorf, IA Vice President/ Treasurer Will Keeler Keeler Iron Works Memphis, TN

President-Elect James Minter, Jr. Imagine Ironworks Brookhaven, MS Immediate Past President Bob Foust III Bob’s Ornamental . Iron Studio Kansas City, KS

F abricator D i rectors Ray Michael R & F Metals Inc. Clinton, MD

Greg Terrill Division 5 Metalworks Kalamazoo, MI

J.R. Molina Big D Metalworks Dallas, TX

Todd Kinnikin Eureka Forge, Pacific, MO

Mark O’Malley O’Malley Welding & Fabricating Inc. Yorkville, IL

Mark Koneke Germantown . Iron & Steel Corp. Jackson, WI

S u ppli er D i rectors Wayne Haas Cleveland Steel . Tool Co. Cleveland, OH

Cathee Speaks King Architectural Metals Dallas, TX

Gina Pietrocola D.J.A. Imports Ltd. Bronx, NY

NOMMA E ducation F ou n dation O fficers Chair Roger Carlsen Ephraim Forge Inc. Frankfort, IL Vice Chair Christopher Maitner Christopher . Metal Fabricating Treasurer Mike Boyler Boyler’s Ornamental Iron Inc. Bettendorf, IA

T rustees Stacey Lawler Taylor Lawler Foundry Corp. Birmingham, AL Heidi Bischmann The Wagner Cos. Milwaukee, WI James Minter, Jr. Imagine Ironworks Brookhaven, MS Lynn Parquette Mueller Orn. Iron Works Elk Grove Village, IL

NOMMA C hapters Florida Chapter Britt Gordy, President Liberty Aluminum Co. Fort Myers, FL (239) 369-3000

Northeast Chapter Keith Majka, President Majka Railing Co. Inc. Paterson, NJ 7501 (973) 247-7603

Gulf Coast Network Scott Colson, President Iron Innovations Inc. Clinton, MS (866) 924-0640

Upper Midwest Chapter Mark Koenke, President Germantown Iron & Steel Richfield, WI (262) 677-2530

President’s Letter

A NOMMA membership is a smart investment is an article in the Fabricator, dilemma, which bills get paid a video, a webinar, or classes at and which ones wait. In these convention, NOMMA is always hard times it seems easier to let teaching. If a problem comes some slide just a bit. up, I can always find the answer It does seem to be easier from one of my hundreds of when you break them down as friends on the ListServ. to what you receive for your Matter of fact, I can solve Bruce Boyler payment. You can’t run your problems I don’t even know I is president business without materials, have yet by keeping up on the of NOMMA. labor, or rent. Insurance is a ListServ discussions. There is necessary evil and the tax man always a discussion of a new is always in the wings. technique or a new supplier to As I write this article it is make my business more suctime to pay my NOMMA dues. cessful, and more importantly, Fortunately this is one bill that I more profitable. don’t have to think about paying. Yes, I am going to pay my NOMMA The NOMMA dues are one of the bill first. It is the best return on investfew that give back much more than ment that there is. you pay out. I might even add a donation to Not only is NOMMA standing NEF to help with the new tutorial up for my interests and representvideos. ing my positions at code hearings, but NOMMA is teaching my employees and solving my problems. Whether it Every week, I have the same

NOMMA Education Foundation Webinar Series Get valuable education on key issues that affect your business. Coming in August: • Making Sales During Hard Times Presenter: Larry Bangs

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NOMMA S taff Executive Director & Editor J. Todd Daniel

Member Care & Operations Manager Liz Johnson

NEF Executive Director & Meetings/Exposition Manager Martha Pennington

Managing Editor Rachel Bailey



Dedicated to the success of our members and industry.

Layout Editor Robin Sherman

Webinars are held biweekly, on Wednesdays at 2 p.m. EDT. For exact dates visit: Cost: FREE to NOMMA members; $49 for nonmembers.

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Ornamental & Miscellaneous Metal Fabricator (ISSN 0191-5940), is the official publication of the National . Ornamental & Miscellaneous Metals . Association (NOMMA). O&MM Fabricator / NOMMA 805 South Glynn St., Ste. 127, #311 . Fayetteville, GA 30214 Editorial We love articles! Send story ideas, letters, press releases, and product news to: Fabricator at address above. Ph/Fax: (888) 516-8585. E-mail: Advertise Reach 8,500 fabricators For information, call Martha Pennington, Ph: (888) 516-8585, ext. 104. Ads are due on the first Friday of the month . preceding the cover date. Send ads on . CD to: Fabricator at address above. E-mail ads to: (max. 5 megs by e-mail). Or upload ads to our website where a downloadable media . kit is available: Membership Join NOMMA! In addition to the magazine, enjoy more benefits as a NOMMA member. To join, . call (888) 516-8585, ext. 101. For a list of benefits, see membership ad in this issue. Exhibit in METALfab Exhibit at METALfab, NOMMA’s annual convention and trade show. For more information, contact . Martha Pennington at (888) 516-8585, . ext. 104, or Subscriptions Subscription questions? Call (888) 516-8585. Send subscription . address changes to: Fabricator Subscriptions, 805 South Glynn St., Ste. 127, #311, Fayetteville, GA 30214. Fax: (888) 5168585, or E-mail: 1-year: U.S., Canada, Mexico — $30 2-year: U.S., Canada, Mexico — $50 1-year: all other countries — $44 2-year: all other countries — $78 Payment in U.S. dollars by check drawn on U.S. bank or money order. For NOMMA members, a year’s subscription is a part of membership dues. NOMMA Buyer’s Guide Published each December as a separate . issue. Deadline for all advertising materials is October 31. For info, contact Todd Daniel at (888) 516-8585 or 2010 Editorial Advisory Council Doug Bracken.......... Wiemann Metalcraft Nancy Hayden......... Tesko Enterprises Tom McDonough.... Master Metal Services Rob Rolves................ Foreman Fabricators Inc. 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. © 2010 National Ornamental & Miscellaneous Metals Association 8


How to reach us

Executive Director’s Letter

Find best benefits online Like other associations,

is, you will get a quick answer. NOMMA is putting more of its Whether you are looking for an benefits online. This year, with obscure part or need help with the help of the NOMMA Educaa business issue, the ListServ is tion Foundation, we began new the place to turn. ongoing webinars and online The e-newsletter keeps video tutorials. These benefits you informed on code issues, are in addition to our existing upcoming events, chapter news, Todd Daniel e-newsletter, the famous Listand provides a summary of Serv, and an extensive member’s is executive NOMMA and NEF activities. only website. We also use email director of During METALfab season, the NOMMA. for action alerts and emails are especially important announcements. because they provide the latest Fabricator remains impordetails on our annual meeting tant, but it is only one contact and trade show. every other month. If you are While email is still our prinot “wired in” online, you are mary means of communicamissing a large part of your membertion, we also encourage you to join ship experience. If you are not receivus on the online services — Twitter, ing emails from NOMMA, please make Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr, and Yousure that we have your email and that it Tube. We use Twitter to announce is correct. Once a year we send a conthe upload of new videos, deadlines, tact update form to all members, and and other items. We use Flickr to post you can also update your contact info pictures from the Top Job contest as in the member’s area. well as METALfab and chapter events. By default, all electronic commuTo connect to these services, visit our nications go to the main company website or scroll to the bottom of any mailbox. If you would like our e-mail e-newsletter. newsletter, alerts, and other items to If you are interested in learning go to various employees, please let us more about our many online benefits, I know. Receiving the e-newsletter is encourage you to sign up for the next particularly important, since it will upNOMMA 101 webinar. This is an ondate you on the latest uploaded tutorial line introduction class that is great for videos and upcoming webinars. both new and long-time members. Many members consider the ListFor more information, please visit Serv their best benefit. Yet, only about NOMMA at 30 percent subscribe. The ListServ lets you stay in continuous touch with your peers around the world. Chances are, no matter how difficult your question

Book review correction In the May/June book review of Shop Class as Soulcraft (pg. 74), the incorrect author was listed for the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. The correct author of that book is Robert M. Pirsig. O&MM Fabricator regrets this error. Please keep us posted on any other influential books in your library so we can share with Fabricator readers.

Fabricator n July/August 2010

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The NOMMA Network

Plug into NOMMA’s Chapters! Chapter meetings are packed with education and networking opportunities. NOMMA chapters are an important member benefit, and if you live in an area where a chapter exists, we strongly encourage you to get active. Chapters are an important part of your development as a professional, and they provide an opportunity to learn, network, and receive the latest news about NOMMA and the industry. Just spending time with your colleagues is a natural high, and the connections you make can lead to more business. Chapter members typically form close bonds and regularly refer work to one another, partner on projects, and subcontract with one another. Plus, there are always vendors present at meetings, and this provides an opportunity to learn about new products and technologies.

A typical meeting

Chapter meetings are normally Saturday events, which are held 3-4 times a year. Meetings include business talks and fabrication demos, and there is always a shop tour and free, delicious lunch. Occasionally, chapters provide hands-on classes, and they sometimes do

special projects, such as making items for the NEF auction. Chapters sometimes even hold socials, which have included dinners and visiting local attractions.

Gulf Coast A shop tour at the Gulf Coast Network Group.

How to get involved

Don’t be shy! Check out the NOMMA website for the latest chapter schedule and mark your calendar for the next event. Nonmembers are always welcome, but in fairness we ask that you join after one or two visits. Chapter membership is included in your national dues. Once you become a “regular,” you’ll gain knowledge and make new connections that can help your business. New chapters wanted

We’d love to see the entire U.S. covered by a chapter. To get a chapter going, we need at least five committed shops. Recently, NOMMA members in Maryland and Virginia got together to discuss a possible Metro DC Chapter, and there has also been interest in Texas and the Northwest. If you’d like to help form a chapter, please contact the NOMMA office.

Florida Florida Chapter members enjoy a presentation.

Northeast Northeast Chapter members listen to a business presentation.

Upper Midwest Upper Midwest Chapter members enjoy a welding demonstration.

Learn about chapters - watch our video Want to learn more about NOMMA chapters? Visit our YouTube site to watch a 5-minute video on our chapter program. You’ll see pictures and video clips from past chapter meetings, and you’ll also hear from our executive director, Todd Daniel, on how chapters can benefit your business. And while you are at the site, enjoy our other videos, which cover NOMMA membership, the last Top Job contest, and even a few “how to” videos. Visit our YouTube site to watch our chapter video. 10

Fabricator n July/August 2010


NOMMA Educational Foundation

In partnership with the National Ornamental & Miscellaneous Metals Association

New NEF trustees, certification update n

Martha Pennington appointed also to Executive Director of the NOMMA Education Foundation.

I have some wonderful and exciting news to report regarding

the NOMMA Education Foundation. Wednesday, June 23, 2010, the NOMMA Board of Directors appointed the 2010– 2011 Board of Trustees: Heidi Bischman, The Wagner Companies, Mike Boyler, Boyler’s Ornamental Iron Inc., Roger Carlsen, Ephraim Forge Inc., Chris Maitner, Christopher Metal Fabricating, Stacy Lawler Taylor, Lawler Foundry Corp., and Lynn Parquette of Mueller Ornamental Iron Works, who will be joining the group as a first-time trustee. A change to the NEF by-laws will allow for the president-elect of NOMMA to Update from become an automatic trustee. This change helps the incoming NOMMA President to NEF Chair Roger Carlsen, better understand NEF and foster an exEphraim cellent working relationship between the Forge Inc. organizations. James Minter, Imagine Iron Works is the current President-Elect of NOMMA. And finally, the really big news, Martha Pennington has been appointed to the position of Executive Director of the NOMMA Education Foundation. Most of you know Martha from her excellent organizational skills in bringing together the METALfab conventions. During her tenure at NOMMA, Martha has managed the convention, trade show, and METALfab education program. In 2001, she helped to create NEF and has served as program director since that time. Over the years, she has worked with NEF to produce continuing education programs, educational videos and publications, the annual NEF auction, and most recently she helped to develop a scholarship program for NOMMA members. Martha will remain the Meetings & Expositions Manager for NOMMA when she assumes the duties of the Executive Director of the NOMMA Education Foundation. Video kits available to members

As I write this column a Kodak Zi8 kit is in the hands of one of our members who will soon be posting his short video to our NOMMA website. July/August 2010 n Fabricator

Because of a generous donation by both King Architectural Metals and Lawler Foundry, we have two of these kits available to our membership. The kits are comprised of a Kodak Zi8 digital high definition video camera, a SDHD storage card, lapel wireless microphone, a table top tripod, and all the necessary wiring. The goal is to produce a 7 to 9 minute tutorial video. These tutorials will be uploaded to our website for others (members only) to view. There are a number of videos on our NOMMA website explaining how to use these kits and an excellent video about the over all production of a video. If you are interested in using one of these kits, please contact Roger Carlsen or Martha Pennington. The Upper Midwest Chapter meeting in May was quite a success. See the story on page 66. We had the NEF film crew on hand to tape the demo for the day. This footage will be used for our next video, titled, “Brazing, Soldering and Tig Welding Architectural Bronze, Nickel Silver, and Redd Metals.” Part of the production cost was graciously underwritten by supplier member Mac Metals Inc., who also provided the raw materials. JR Lodico, a former Metal Museum staff member, served as presenter for the video and did a fantastic job. This video is packed with information and is a great member benefit. In addition, NEF is providing a free copy of its 2009 video, “Overview of Driveway Gate Installation” to every member who renews. This 37-minute video, which is narrated by Scott Colson, covers everything from UL325/F2200 safety standards to post setting, hinging, and loops. It’s a gold mine of information! NOMMA certification models Boy Scouts of America program

A major stumbling block concerning NOMMA certification has been whether it should be a shop certification or an individual person certification. I do not see these as mutually exclusive events; but rather as simultaneous independent events. This is the premise on which the certifications committee is basing its design. The committee is proceeding on the basis that individuals may seek NOMMA certified classifications whether or not they are employed in a certified shop. The actual certification classifications are still in the planning stages but, as with the shops, there will be different levels with numerous requirements. Some of the requirements will entail both written and performance based tests, time employed in the industry, 11

“task certificates,” and quite possibly, a board of review or some type of a service to the industry. The program is like the Boy Scouts of America’s classifications program of Star, Life, and Eagle Scout. In the Boy Scouts once an individual has earned his First Class Scout rank he would work on merit badges and after achieving the required number of merit badges, a board of review, and a service project, he would succeed in rank. Six merit badges and passing a board of review earned his Star rank, 11 merit badges and another board of review granted Life Scout rank, and so on. Our task certificates would be like the merit badges, e.g. certified welder (this would probably be tied in closely with AWS certification), lay out certificate, OSHA compliant knowledge certificate, certificate in fabrication, certificate in first aid and safety, etc. Once a certain number of these “merit badges” are earned and other requirements met, the individual would go before a board of review, and if suc-

Individuals may seek NOMMA certified classifications whether

or not they are employed in a certified shop. I feel these certificates and classifications should not be simple: pay your money and you too can be certified. cessful would be a NOMMA Certified Installer, or fabricator, or finisher, etc. All of this is taking place on an individual’s own initiative and at the individuals own cost. The individual’s employer may want to assist with the cost or compensate time associated with the person’s certification process; after all, the better trained the employee is the more valuable he is to the shop.

A similar program would exist for a NOMMA shop classification certification. In addition to meeting certain requirements, a shop certification may include a tour of the shop by a NOMMA evaluation committee and an annual renewal assessment. This may all seem a bit complicated and the certifications not easily obtained, but I feel these certificates and classifications should not be simple: pay your money and you too can be certified. Presently, in our industry, neither shops nor individuals need be certified to do the work. And, in the future, when the certifications are in place, individuals and shops will not necessarily need to be certified to do the work; however, if they are certified, it should have some meaning to those who will be doing the hiring. It should not simply be an honorary designation for being a member; it should signify that this individual or shop is exceptional in the industry and worthy of added consideration.



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Tips& Tactics n


10 Tips to grow your fabricating business Make your shop, your truck, and the design process work for you. Whether you’ve got a tor, and hand tools can 1-man show, a team of also serve as a creative billtwo, or 20 plus people board when painted and hammering out the goods branded. for your clients, the folHolt says their truck lowing tips can help you works 24/7. They park it so get more new and returnpeople can see it when not ing business. in use. These suggestions were And clients can take presented by Chris Holt pride in the fact that they and John Steel of NOMhave chosen a quality busiMA member firm Steel ness with an attractive Welding (Freedom, PA) at vehicle parked by their Steel Welding outfitted this newspaper delivery truck with fabrication the ABANA Conference home. tools and a fine paint job to showcase their company name and logo. in June, during a round Strategically parked, it works for them around the clock. table discussion titled the Win customers Business of Craft. tor, and for other magazines, and then by owning the While blacksmithing legends Dan place them in a binder. design process and Judy Boone gave advice on build“Your clients can see that you are As a master gardener and metaling a business by traveling the craft well thought of in the fabricating smith, Holt offers some unique twists show circuit, Holt and Steel described world,” says Holt. on managing the design process: how they’ve professionalized their n Honor the existing house; pick metalwork business with the following Set up your own out something from their home and touches. photo studio mimic it, especially if something is Professionally staged photographs newly redone. go a long way, particularly when entern Direct your focus to the person Use your shop ing projects in contests. who’s done most of the decorating as a show room Steel Welding has a photo studio already. Have an area for visitors, even if it’s set up in their shop so they can shoot n Show three to five different dejust a corner. “If you can get them out their smaller work. Holt says polar signs, but save the best design for last. to your shop, they will be impressed to fleece works great as a back drop n If mimicking nature, be sure to see where ‘their’ work will be created,” because it never creases or wrinkles. spend time observing exactly what says Chris Holt. Be sure to get before and after shots you’re portraying. Samples are also impressive, espefor clients that are not aware of metaln Since natural elements work difcially for big jobs. Remember to showworking processes. ferently in metal replication, know case any awards on your walls, and when to enhance reality. some before and after shots of projects. Outfit your truck n For residential customers that Steel Welding has a story board on to do double work may be on the fence, explain how irona few of their projects. They also write A newspaper delivery truck outfitwork blooms in the winter with snow. articles for Anvil’s Ring, Fabricated with welding equipment, a genera“They like to hear that something






Fabricator would like to publish your step-by-step tutorial or problem/solution case study. Please contact the Editor at (888) 516-8585 or e-mail: 14

Fabricator n July/August 2010

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else can happen outside their home and in the garden in winter,” says Holt.

5 Get more return business by doing extra

Happy previous customers are your best lead. “We always like to give a little more than what the client expected,” says Holt. Two examples of going the extra step include 1) fabricating an ornament or two for the garden if a project involves a fence or gate, and 2) fabricating finials so that customers can screw them off and put other finials in place. “This allows customers to be part of the project, by making it interactive,” says Holt. Also, invite your client to your shop before their project is finished, so you can still tweak it to their liking.

6 Get public work bids by donating first

If you’d like to get into the business of public projects, get a foot in by donating a piece of work to a public park. Be sure to put a plaque on it. This gets your name in public without much red tape. Get free advertising by volunteering to present at community organizations, historical clubs, garden clubs, and libraries.

7 Build good relations with your neighbors

If you’ve got one too many jobs at a given time, or if you’ve been asked to work in a type of metal you haven’t mastered yet, alleviate the pressure from contractors and clients by sending some jobs to a neighboring shop. More than likely they’ll return the favor.

8 Don’t just deal with codes, meet them

Don’t ever sacrifice meeting code just to get a bid. As soon as you acknowledge that they are breaking code, you are liable, especially if they sign off on it. That is proof that you know. “Absolutely forget the job if they want you to ignore the code,” says John Steel. “How much is your home and your business worth? Cause they’ll have it.”

9 Be proactive with contractors

Expect pressure when working with contractors, and then it won’t be a surprise. Look at their past history and believe it. If you heard they don’t pay, they don’t pay. Be sure to establish a payment agreement, keeping in mind that you may never see your last 10 percent.

10 Do at least basic marketing

Invest in a great logo. If you have a good logo people pay attention to it. Be sure to have a portfolio, business cards, pamphlets, and a website. “Your website shouldn’t be cumbersome,” says Holt. “Use it as a business card, and let them come see you for more information.” Also, get your name out there by entering contests (Top Job). Awards can bring on other jobs. And of course network and join NOMMA! 16

Fabricator n July/August 2010

PlasmaCam CNC burner (left) for cutting shapes. HP Wide Format Plotter (bottom left) for printing fullscale drawings.

Shop Talk

Haco Alantic Press Brake, 120 ton, (bottom right) for work on spiral stairs.

Tool talkin’ time By Peter Hildebrandt

Find out what 8 NOMMA members say about their favorite tools.

July/August 2010 n Fabricator

Art critic Robert Hughes once observed

that “a determined soul will do more with a rusty monkey wrench than a loafer will accomplish with all the tools in a machine shop.” Though his point is well taken, those of us who have ever known the aggravation of using a crummy tool for a difficult job can easily relate to the joy of using a great tool, and seeing the good results. When asked about the tools that have been the most beneficial to their businesses in the past decade, NOMMA members weren’t shy about sharing what works best for them. The tools reported as being most critical and necessary reflect the vast diversity existing in the work, shops, and projects of members from around the country. NOMMA member shops run the gamut from those with very few tools, to those with a wide variety of the latest in technology and tools.

For your information



What you’ll learn n The freedom of cordless tools. n When to automate. n The value of online listings. n How to spend more time in the shop and less time in the office. n The various benefits of drawing software. n What makes field measuring easier. n Tips to help save your back. n Which tools are essential to any fabrication shop.


Looking at what tools work best for other shops might spur you to better use what you already have or even move you to leave that rusty wrench behind and try some of what is working well for others. Smaller shop works with less

Rob Mueller, owner of Mueller Ornamental Iron Works of Elk Grove Village, IL does both new metalwork and some rehab work in his business. The company’s history stretches back to 1933, and there are three employees in their shop. Their current tools range from standard drills, for both interior and exterior applications, to the latest hightech innovations. “I know there are shops around using such things as automated band saws and the like,” says Mueller, “but we are a small shop doing custom work, and we never got into that type of equipment using automation. “Many of those items produced through such equipment we don’t have the capability to do. We buy those outside our shop or have someone produce them for us.” The latest additions that have helped them most have been their cordless tools, including drills, screw guns, hammer drills, and saws, according to Mueller. “Not having to drag the cords around as we do our work has been a tremendous plus. Each time we work with something such as a hammer drill we don’t have to pull the electric line over to the work area to use it.” For onsite installations, their cordless tools are most often used. Most of their rehab work involves disassembling something from the field, bringing it back to the shop, and then working on it there. Often they are making new fence pieces, welding new pieces, and blasting down to bare metal so that they can start all over. When the work is done the fence is taken out to the field and reinstalled. “We’re not the people going out and buying all the fancy tools, never have found a reason for that,” Mueller says. Though he’s used FabCAD for over ten years, he basically uses the internet 18

HEBO machinery. Tim Cornelius, First Impressions Security Doors, Gilbert, AZ, recently purchased the German-made HEBO machinery and will be using that to turn his own scrollwork rather than outsourcing.

only to find parts to buy for certain projects. Blade makes the cut, tool-wise

David Bailey of Gate Co. Inc., Rochester, WA, has a relatively small gate and ornamental iron business. He has the standard tools, sanders, and welders, but his most useful tool is a blade called the “Raging Rhino Blade,” which he has helped customize for his own business. “The blade has enhanced our business considerably by saving us time and cleanup,” says Bailey. “These blades they’ve developed are anywhere from 4 to 14 inches, and the large diameter

“I know there are shops

around using such things as automated band saws and the like, but we are a small shop doing custom work, and we never got into that type of equipment using automation. Rob Mueller. Mueller Ornamental Iron Works. Elk Grove Village, IL

blades should be used in 1400 rpm cutoff saws. All blades are to be used for cutting ferrous or non-ferrous metals. The smaller blades fit in industrial handheld saws. We have a very expensive band saw sitting in the shop, and we never even use it much anymore.” The chop saws they use are 1400– 1500 rpm. “It’s wonderful because we can build things so quickly whether in shop or out on the job. These blades work for virtually any of the trades involved with sawing. All we do is pick up a handheld rotary saw and cut it off at any angle.” Bailey has blades able to go into a 4-inch battery-powered saw as well as into a variety of other saw sizes. He finds this equipment invaluable for any job. “Being able to be used in a variety of sizes makes these blades quite versatile. The handheld and cutoff saws are advantageous on any job. Used properly, these blades will prove extremely helpful in your work and are wonderful tools.” Investing in diverse tool lineup helps save money

Tim Cornelius and his Phoenix, AZ company, First Impression Security Doors does many things, but the heart of their work is manufacturing security screen doors and making imFabricator n July/August 2010

Punch Press. First Impression Security Doors used to buy pre-stamped tubing, which was three times more expensive than doing it in-house. Now they use a CNC controlled Milling machine by Emmegi for punching holes in the 1" by 3" tubing for slim line locks on security/screen doors.

provements to those doors over time. Their CNC milling machine mortises out the holes for their security door locks on the 3-inch tubing used in the construction. The slim line locks are then ready to slide right into the 16-guage steel tubing on the screen door construction.

“Having to purchase pre-stamped 1-inch by 3-inch tubings with the holes for the locks in place was a tremendous expense,” says Cornelius. “That machinery itself has saved us literally thousands of dollars each month. This is significant for us. We’re constructing 500 or 600 security doors per

month; that volume requires that we take advantage of any savings we can on material. The pre-stamped tubing was three times more expensive than for us to do it ourselves.” First Impression also uses a Messer high-definition plasma, CNC-type machine in their work. This computer-controlled machine is powered by a hypertherm, high definition power source. It torches out designs for scrolls and artwork. This does a very clean cut from 1/8-inch up to ¾-inch plate. It’s used for custom artwork on security doors, all done through their CAD program. They also recently purchased the

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German-made HEBO so they can turn their own scroll work. They will now heat up the raw steel on their own forge and simply make their own scrolls for the security doors and gates instead of having to purchase them. “We’re big on doing things ourselves and don’t like to pay someone else to do something,” says Cornelius. “When you’re doing hundreds or thousands of something it really pays off to have the machinery to be able to do it yourself. This HEBO machinery is modern-day hand-forging and is specially designed by blacksmiths for the ornamental iron industry.” Their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, a Microsoft product, is a customer sales tracking tool that has improved their business significantly too. It tracks all their sales orders and leads, installation and ser-

“When you’re doing

hundreds or thousands of something it really pays off to have the machinery to be able to do it yourself.” Tim Cornelius,. First Impressions Security Doors,. Gilbert, AZ

vice, and any contact they have with a customer. Digital and laser tools save time and labor

Will Keeler, Keeler Iron Works, Memphis, TN, likes simply going to a website to get drawings for a building

instead of having to pick them up in person. He can get drawings for a bid online and simply print them out in his office. There is a lot less paper involved. Drawings are also submitted electronically for approval, also saving paper. Another favorite tool at Keeler’s 25-person shop is a cordless impact wrench. They also find their new measuring tools indispensable for field work. These include laser tools for measuring and a laser rangefinder used for measuring interior spaces. The laser dot is placed on the spot to be measured to, and then that distance is measured. “It is extremely accurate,” says Keeler. “That comes in handy especially when trying to figure out how much clearance we have. It can be used horizontally or vertically. Laser plumb lines and laser lights have now replaced chalk lines. What it means to me is I can now go out and measure a job myself, whereas before it would have taken two or three workers to do this task.” They also use CNC equipment for structural work and stairs. Two of their CNC machines have been bought within the past ten years. Their angle machine was bought in 2003 and a drill line in 2006 both made by Controlled Automation, a U.S. company. Keeler comments that CNC equipment has generally improved the quality of their product. “Though there can always be some problems, the CNC equipment improves the consistency of your product,” he says. 3 Critical tools: Ironworker, roller, and bandsaw

Guy Felton, owner of A.G. Welding, Houston, TX, currently has 10 workers in his shop. He also has an Ironworker, a hydraulic machine that does quite a few different things. “We don’t have all the attachments to utilize all its capabilities,” says Felton. “It is used for punching holes in metal, bending metal to 90 degrees, cutting or shearing of metal plates and overall is a very useful piece of equipment for us.” For getting the spirals in their spiral staircases they use an Eagle Pyramid Roller. This is used for most of their bends on arched gates and for spiral stairs. The next most used equip20

Fabricator n July/August 2010

Scotchman Ironworker. Tom Kervin of Kervin Brothers Ornamental Iron Inc., Portland, OR says his Scotchman Ironworker does all of the square holes needed in each and every picketed railing his shop produces. He could not operate without it.

ment is their large horizontal stationary bandsaw. Felton mentions those three pieces of equipment because they are the three he uses the most. “I have been owner for some seven years now,” says Felton. “And this equipment has been here with me that entire time; it came

with the business when I purchased it, and we’ve put it to good use.” PowerCAD and online listings empower company

The most important piece of equipment owned by Tom Kervin of Kervin Brothers Ornamental Iron Inc., Port-

land, OR is his PowerCAD drawing software. This Mac-based product is simple, intuitive, and fast, allowing a much quicker learning curve than AutoCAD, according to Kervin. “Everything we produce is first detailed in PowderCAD,” explains Kervin. “If the railing is particularly tricky, a full-scale plot is made by our HP DesignJet 755CM, and the fabricator builds the railing on top of the full scale drawing. Our error rate dropped to near zero once this system was implemented. No longer does the fabricator have to ‘figure out’ a set of written measurements and instructions. There is no waiting for an outside detailer to get to our project, and no paying the detailer for the work. Corrections are quickly and easily made. “We also have the most obvious and important tools, the welders, band saws, and ironworkers. Those I think are so universal. And clearly no shop can function without a welder, one of a proper amperage and duty cycle. Once purchased, they are a long-lived asset. For example, our newest big weld-

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er was purchased in the early 1990’s. Our Scotchman Ironworker was also an early 1990’s buy; it does all of the square holes needed in each and every picketed railing. We could not operate without it. The same goes for our band saw which cuts all our steel to size.” On the technology side, their website has become their business driver, according to Kervin. “We get a good level of ‘hits’ per day and have page one placement in Google and Yahoo. This allowed us to cut back our Yellow

Page cost by 90 percent. Our customers come to us nearly pre-sold. They have seen our work, know our story, and have a comfort level with us before we even meet in person. That’s a good feeling and a great fit for any business.” The right tools can save your back

One of the tools most favored by Eric Cuper of Cuper Studios LLC, Easton, PA, is his fly press. “It allows us to tweak very large material without having to injure ourselves trying

to strong-arm it. We use it for flattening scrolls after forming them on a jig, forming angles, broaching, curving, etc. We are always coming up with new uses for this tool, and it will continue to remain in the center of my shop.” Other favorites of Cuper’s are the three jib cranes in his shop. “We used to move everything by hand and at the end of a large railings job my back would ache for weeks. The cranes also cut down on fabrication time because it would often require two or more

Flypress. Eric Cuper, Cuper Studios LLC enjoys his flypress because it allows him to tweak very large material without having to injure himself trying to strong-arm it. According to Cuper, the only little label on it says, “Try Out Press,” otherwise there are no indications of a makers mark. Photo credit: Trevor Kent

people every time we had to flip a railing. Now, one person can flip a railing without disrupting other workers, and no one has to strain to do it.” Along the same lines, Cuper recently acquired a Chevy box truck. This truck has a ramp, and is tall enough to stand up in. Previously, workers were climbing into and jumping out of a regular 22

Fabricator n July/August 2010

van and had to crouch over while carrying a large railing. At the end of an all-day installation everything hurt on everyone from all the constant crouching and jumping down with railings in hand. Now they are able to pick things up comfortably and get in and out of the truck without taxing their bodies. “Another great move, one of the best things I have done is to hire a PEO (professional employment organization). I am a small business and I make more money making railings than doing paperwork. My PEO handles my payroll, workmen’s comp., insurance, unemployment claims, and all my other HR concerns. “Of special note is that they provide an OSHA-trained safety consultant and safety manual for any situations that may require them. I found them out of necessity as a way to co-employ myself so that I may also be covered by Workmen’s Compensation Insurance. “Certainly the best thing I have done — and wish I’d hooked up the minute I went into business — was joining NOMMA. The ListServ alone is worth the price, but knowing that NOMMA members are out there helping to defend our industry is also worth the price of admission. “Everything I have done with NOMMA has benefitted my business and I look forward to being able to give back and help others whenever possible.” Save valuable hours with FabCAD

One of the biggest things that has helped Jensen’s Ornamental Inc., Napa, CA in the past 10 years has been the computers in their CAD system, according to Lance Stafford, president and owner. These are for doing all the drawings in their shop. “NOMMA member Dave Filippi of FabCAD® developed a program really designed around us,” explains Stafford. “It has all to do with railings, fences, and gates, and I just can’t say enough good stuff about it.” Nearly every year Filippi comes up with a new update or program for FabCAD. All the different suppliers of material and casting companies are built into the program so that a client can see exactly what they are going to get. July/August 2010 n Fabricator

“I used to spend hours

“I have drawings from 20 years ago that I am now copying into this program so that designs that were somewhat lost, now are coming around again,” adds Stafford. “I used to spend hours working on a drawing; I can do things now in minutes. It has even helped our sales and promotion. Anything else we need, we simply make ourselves or improvise. The human brain is a powerful tool too.”

working on a drawing; I can do things now in minutes. It has even helped our sales and promotion.” Lance Stafford. Jensen’s Ornamental Inc., Napa, CA




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Shop Talk

Ins and outs of metal boat fabrication n

If you’ve got the right skills in your shop, it might be the next product line you launch. By Jeff Fogel

For your information


What you’ll learn n The two main camps of metal boat building: aluminum and steel. n What fabrication skills are necessary. n What the market is like for boat builders. About the author Jeff Fogel began writing as a journalist with the New York Daily News. He has been a copywriter and associate creative director for Ogilvy & Mather, as well as several other major advertising agencies. Jeff now lives in New Hampshire where the weather’s bad, the skiing’s better, and blacksmithing’s . a respectable way to keep warm.

Just when you think you’ve seen everything — moon

landings, iPads, Red Sox championships — there it is. Someone’s using origami to build a boat. I’m not talking paper. Boat building, origami style, involves cutting, folding, the whole megilla, but with steel. And we’re not talking scale models. We’re talking about taking your friends and family on board and heading offshore for a sail. Welcome to the world of metal boat building. Even in the nautical realm, it occupies a world of its own. Actually, more like a cult, with subcults of aluminum versus steel and ne’r the twain shall meet. Why, you might ask, should a guy building railings or chandeliers care about boat building? For one thing, it combines art with architecture. Boat designers aren’t called naval architects for nothing. They must design (and the builders must fabricate) a floating work of art that will not capsize in wind and waves, and will fulfill performance expectations. And do it safely. Two, it’s a marketable skill. If the market for railings or chandeliers goes soft, it wouldn’t hurt to know how to stitch-weld a hull. Aluminum versus steel

The vast majority of metal boats are built from steel or aluminum. Of that, aluminum accounts for the greatest number of smaller recreational metal boats. 24

Fabricator n July/August 2010

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There is a small niche of carbon fiber hulls, but this is the exclusive domain of high dollar racing and speed records. Carbon is extremely expensive. But in this rarified atmosphere, cost is no object. For the rest of the world, it’s either steel or aluminum. Each camp asseverates, with religious fervor, the superiority of its chosen material. Did I mention the cult aspect to metal boat building?

On the downside, aluminum has an Achilles heel. For one thing, it’s a noble metal. That means it’s more than willing to cough up electrons to another less noble metal, like brass or steel. That’s why aluminum is often used as a sacrificial anode in fresh water. The aluminum piece acts as a decoy, drawing the galvanic corrosion away from the more important parts of the boat, like the propeller. Aluminum’s susceptibility Advantages and to galvanic corrosion makes Steel fabrication. Waterline Yachts builds high-end steel yachts. While exact specifications vary with design, they typically use 3/16” disadvantages of it fussy about the metals it plate of 44W for the hull and 10-gauge A36 for the deck. aluminum boats comes in contact with. Objectively, each metal There are the apocryphal Each camp asseverates, has its advantages and disadvantages. stories of people unwittingly dropwith religious fervor, the Aluminum is the lightweight contendping loose change into a bilge where, er. At .098 per cubic inch, it is lighter unseen, it gradually gnaws a hole superiority of its chosen than steel, fiberglass, or wood. Aluthrough the hull. material. Did I mention minum has great corrosion resistance But to be fair, I’ve never met anyas well. So, aluminum is light, strong, one who’s met anyone who knows anythe cult aspect to metal stiff, and doesn’t rust. Need we say one that this has actually happened to. boat building? more? Actually, we do. That’s not to say galvanic corro-

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Welding. Metal boat fabrication uses MIG welding. First, frames are constructed and linked by longitudinal stringers. Then the skin plates are tack welded into place in order to be stitch welded. It is important to spread the heat so there’s no torsion of the hull shape.

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Aluminum is also a little more challenging to fabricate, says Elwood Scully, proprietor of Scully’s Aluminum and Fabrication. They build boats down in Louisiana, from bass rigs to custom work boats. “It’s easier to go from aluminum to steel,” says Scully. “There’s less margin for error with aluminum. You can’t be rough with it.” But one should not be deterred. The transition from other types of fabrication to aluminum boat building is definitely doable. “If you can weld, you could [transfer] with two to three months training,” says Scully. “I had four new guys,” he recalls, “and it took from 30 to 60 days to get them up to speed.” And they came from steel backgrounds. If you want to break into aluminum boat building, Scully says it helps to have solid TIG or MIG welding skills and broad experience working with various alloys and grades. Particularly since the type of alloy used in a hull varies widely from customer to customer. Steel hulls aren’t just for leviathans anymore

While most people think of large ships when they think of steel hulls, plenty of recreational yachts and workFabricator n July/August 2010

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boats are being fabricated from steel. And not just recently. The Joshua, sailed by renowned French yachtsman, Bernard Montessier, in the first around the world alone race, was steel hulled. Although leading for the entire race, the Joshua never crossed the finish line because instead of returning home after completing the race, Montessier wigged out and kept on sailing. Steel is the hull of choice for those braving extreme latitudes, as well. In 1992, Alvah Simon, and his wife, sailed the Roger Henry, a 36-foot steel hulled yacht into the Arctic darkness. The boat and its crew survived the winter where it was beset by crushing ice and, as Simon put it, “lifesucking cold.” But of course, that’s the whole point of steel. It’s extremely strong. For instance, 44W steel has an impressive yield strength of 44,000 psi. And now, boat buyers are discovering one more attribute of steel, something ornamental fabricators have always known. Steel is beautiful. Just ask Mark Tiessen of Waterline Yachts. They build exquisitely finished high-end yachts. While exact specifications vary with design, they typically use 3/16 inch plate of 44W for the hull and 10-gauge A36 for the deck. The hardware is marine grade (316) stainless. Methods and challenges of steel boat fabrication

So what’s it take to do this kind of work? The building method is conventional, using MIG welding. First, frames are constructed, linked by longitudinal stringers. Then the skin plates are tack welded into place in order to be stitch welded. The idea is to move around, make a weld, take a few steps back; then weld again and move a few steps forward for the next weld. Then jump around to the other side of the boat. This way, the heat is spread evenly, and there’s no torsion of the hull shape. This is pretty much standard operating procedure for any kind of metal boat. The parts are all galvanized and then painted with Awlgrip,® a standard boatbuilder’s urethane. Tiessen’s boats show just what can be done with steel. No hard chines or seams on these boats. They’re all smooth curves. Up close, you’d swear you were looking at a fiberglass boat. When it comes to steel boats though, it’s more about fitting and fabrication than welding experience, says Tiessen. Good fabrication skills are the ticket, he notes. Fabricator n July/August 2010

July/August 2010 n Fabricator


And, as Monty Python 3) Then three to six coats put it, now for something of epoxy. completely different. Randy 4) Then, the paint. Larreau, head of the Metal He uses a basic marine Boat Society, is building a urethane with UV protective steel boat in his backyard ingredients. using the Origami method. Since it can never hurt to Cutting darts into 10 have a second opinion, (in gauge mild steel plates, fact, I’m a big believer in third he tacks them into place and fourth opinions), I asked on longitudinal stringers. Randy how hard it is to learn There are no frames. The boatbuilding. “You can’t use plates, when welded, will unskilled labor, like with fiprovide the structural berglass building,” he says, but integrity of the vessel. “there’s always a need for skilled The origami method welders.” uses basic stitch welding. He also feels that those who Finishing. The parts of Tiessen’s steel boats are all galvanized and As always, the main direc- then painted with Awlgrip,® a standard boatbuilder’s urethane. have worked in small producCurves are all smooth, no hard chines or seams. tive is to evenly distribute tion shops, using woodworkthe heat. ing type tools, will have the best Unlike commercial boat buildwelders, TIG, with its shorter leads, chances at transitioning to employers, Randy works solo. So he uses stick would be the way to go. ment in the boat business. welding because it enables him to use As for steel boat finishing, Randy But for Randy, welding is the sine 75 foot leads, a definite plus when you’re says it involves four steps: qua non of metal boat building. walking back and forth from one side of 1) First he sandblasts the steel. “The worst of welding is stronger the hull to the other for each weld. 2) This is followed by a high zinc than the best of other ways of joining.” Of course, if you have a crew of epoxy primer. Current market potential for metal boat building

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Proud NOMMA Member

When asked about the market for boat fabrication jobs, Scully from Scully’s Aluminum & Fabrication in Louisiana says it’s hot right now. Especially in the Gulf where the recent oil rig contretemps has revved up the demand for all things marine. And that includes boats. Yacht orders on the other hand are somewhat flat right now, according to Mark Tiessen of Waterline Yachts. However, he explains, owing to the upscale nature of the market, it tends to be relatively more recession proof than others. Wealthy people may not always need boats, but they’ll always want boats. And that’s all it takes to drive the market. As head of the Metal Boat Society, Randy Larreau finds that when boat orders go flat, a lot of smaller boat yards turn to general fabrication. And one more thing he adds, “Don’t even think about getting into metal boat building without spending $45 to join the Metal Boat Society.” Good to know.

Fabricator n July/August 2010

Member Talk

FabCAD celebrates 20 years

By Rachel Bailey

And NOMMA celebrates longtime association advocate Dave Filippi. n

“It’s really amazing

to see one-man or two-person shops revolutionize their business by leveraging this technology.” Dave Filippi

“If you can FAB it, you can CAD it.”

That’s what Dave Filippi, FabCAD president and founder, has been telling metal fabricators and designers since 1989. This year NOMMA Nationwide Supplier Member FabCAD celebrates 20 years in business. To honor that and to delve into the mastermind that created it, Fabricator caught up with past NOMMA president Dave Filippi. FabCAD is an ornamental design software company, an outgrowth of a NOMMA fabricating company that Filippi used to operate, Colonial Iron Works, which is now owned by one of Filippi’s former employees. FabCAD helps create ornamental iron designs such as railings, gates, and fences, Filippi says. Using AutoDesk Technology, the software gives the end user a library of 13,000 different castings and forgings, which can be inserted into the basic structure of the gate or rail to create additional ornamentation. “We deal mostly with small business owners,” says Filippi. “It’s really amazing to see one-man or two-person shops revolutionize their business by leveraging this technology.” How Filippi got started in ornamental iron

As an innovator of digital technology for our industry, surely Filippi has a background in software development or metal fabrication, I assumed. Turns out he’s an English teacher, and I susJuly/August 2010 n Fabricator

pect his training in Dave Filippi, education is why he NOMMA can help fabricators member and founder of overcome the learn- FabCAD, served ing curve associated on NOMMA’s with computer aided board from 1989 drawing. Filippi’s fa- to 1996 and is ther started Colonial still a regular demonstrator Iron Works, but Fil- at METALfab. ippi got an advanced degree in English. He was actually in the midst of running a private school and getting it accredited when his father needed help. “I was a teacher, and I had no interest in the business,” says Filippi. “But I took a leave of absence to help run it when my father got ill, and I ended up staying there.” At first, Filippi didn’t think there was much of a future in ornamental iron. But then he went to the NOMMA convention in 1975 and saw how well people were doing; it changed his perspective. “The business was good when it was just my dad, and it only had to provide a living for one family,” says Filippi. “When I got involved he no longer could work, but he still owned the company. We had to grow the business so I could make a living too.” Going to NOMMA’s 1975 convention confirmed that was possible. Even though Filippi’s father was not a NOMMA member at the time, Filippi happened to be in Atlanta on vacation when he looked through the phone book for ornamental iron companies 33

and saw the NOMMA emblem. So he went to check out NOMMA’s headquarters, which used to be in the Buckhead area of Atlanta, and signed up for the convention. “I thought there was more to the business than what I knew myself,” he says. “And since I had no experience in it, it was interesting to see Top Job awards — the caliber of work — and that some of these guys were making a lot of money.” “I had to do a job on a Sunday to make enough money for plane fare down there. It was one of those things that just happened,” Filippi says referring to his luck in finding NOMMA when he did. “You never know in life when something is going to work out for you.”




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All right so that explains how he got into metal fabrication, but how did he get into developing CAD software customized for ornamental fabrication design? “For some reason I have an aptitude for computers,” he says. Filippi started developing his aptitude in the mid 1980s when his wife bought him a Radio Shack TRS 80 that hooked up to a TV and video cassette player to record programs. It enabled him to begin creating spreadsheets and to write basic code. “I never took an academic computer course in my life, just some seminars,” he says. According to Filippi, software development is trial and error. “You have to build these programs and test them. When we created our first home program of FabCAD we filtered 96 times before we got it to work. In the 2010 version, we got it on the second try.” Back in 1987, when Filippi started working with CAD software, which at the time was DOS based, he didn’t even know if it could draw curved lines. He called an AutoDesk reseller and sent a picture of a handrail bracket and asked if they could draw it. They said they could. “You could insert a picket, and, using the Array command, generate several pickets at set distances,” Filippi explains. Apparently that’s all he needed, because by NOMMA’s 1989 convention in Las Vegas, he was asked to give a CAD demonstration during the trade show. “I drew some rails and inserted some of our designs we’d already drawn. People who were already using CAD wanted those designs, and I hired engineering students during the summer to start drawing more.” He had a real computer sweat shop going on, Filippi says with a chuckle, and he started selling that library. FabCAD’s first edition was a customized version of AutoCAD LT with libraries and enhancements. “We started as a value added reseller and then became a developer,” he says. “And now we have a full version of CAD.” Filippi helped NOMMA and NOMMA helped him

Between 1989 and 1996 Filippi helped guide NOMMA through its golden years when he served as a member of the NOMMA board and as president in 1995. Fabricator n July/August 2010

Full disclosure Filippi explains practical and precise value of FabCAD Now I’ve never heard a fabricator say that investing in anymore.” FabCAD imparts that information. “If you can FabCAD was a bad idea. Honestly. And since Filippi repprovide the right information to people, then you can get resents both sides of the fence, I think we have full license highly efficient and accurate work done.” Further, he exto let him explain just how the software can help the bread plains, “When people in the shop can see the full picture and butter of our industry: the 1- to 2-man shop. it’s easier to fabricate it — and same with the customer.” “One thing we emphasize is that not only is FabCAD a To help fabricators get proficient quickly, FabCAD design tool and a shop tool [drawings], it is a great selling provides training movies that start with the basics (Autotool,” says Filippi. “Fabricators can take their gate designs CAD) at “They are free and superimpose them on a customer’s house or driveway.” and require no registration,” says Filippi. “We also have a In fact, Filippi explains how one customer, NOMMA collection of archived webinars we have done over the past member Mark O’Malley, was driving by a construction few months at” project that had some columns and no gate. He took a — Rachel Bailey straight on photo of the columns, superimposed a gate design, printed it out, and typed a note saying, “If you need some help with your ornamental design, please, give us a call.” And he got that job. “I have customers tell me all the time their sales go way up using this tool because their customers can see exactly what it is going to look like,” says Filippi. “The other thing is once the drawing is done, you’ve already done the layout. So you don’t have to pay someone in the shop to do it again.” Basically, FabCAD speeds up production and cuts labor costs for shop owners because it takes out the guess work, according to Filippi. “The computer does the layout work and generates dimensions. It is very easy and quick to do. It makes them more efficient and more accurate.” “One of the things that managers and owners of ornamental iron shops have This FabCAD drawing illustrates the speed and proficiency of the found is that it’s very hard to find people software. The custom gate on the left was drawn in less than two who can look at something and build it,” minutes. The drawing on the right shows how the stair rail program Filippi says. “Those people just don’t exist will draw rails on a stringer and layout the stair treads and risers. GATE

QT Y 2

“Back in 1989 NOMMA was going through major changes,” he says. “There was $4,000 in the checkbook. That’s when Todd Daniel [NOMMA’s current executive director] joined the NOMMA staff. We took the approach of making NOMMA appeal to a larger group of fabricators and assembled a good team over the years.” The board at the time started goals to increase membership to 1,000 members, and they did. “The team we were working with was able to grow the July/August 2010 n Fabricator



















10 7/16"



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association during the 1990s,” Filippi says. “A lot of the people involved in NOMMA today got their first taste of NOMMA during that time. We were just trying to keep up the tradition that I experienced when I first joined, of sharing and making people feel welcome. NOMMA is a very unique association. It has a unique character to it. “Being a NOMMA member changed my whole attitude as a fabricator,” Filippi explains. “As a supplier, it’s basically a great organization for



1 1/4 SQ. TUBE

connecting with people who are pretty progressive companies and prime candidates for looking at software. Quite a few NOMMA members are already using our software.” Referring to how NOMMA has helped him grow his supplier member business, Filippi sings music to my ears: “The biggest advantage is Fabricator magazine. Our calls pick up when that magazine hits the street. Trade Shows are also a big time for us to pick up new business.” 35

But it wasn’t until after his time on the board that Filippi became a supplier member. He says he really didn’t do any heavy marketing or trade show exhibiting until after he served as NOMMA president. “I didn’t want to do that at the same time,” he says. “I reinvented myself after that.” Indeed he did. In 1997 Filippi sold Colonial Iron Works to one of his employees and former NOMMA board member, Fred Michael, and that is when he morphed from fabricator member to supplier member.

Other businesses and industries

Over the years Filippi has run several businesses that morphed out of Colonial Iron Works or out of his experience in the ornamental metal fabrication industry, including a solid panel gutter guard company. “In a business like that you’re dealing with 2 percent labor versus 30 percent labor with ironwork,” he says. And it seems FabCAD isn’t just for metal fabricators. After interviewing Filippi, I got to see him in action at the ABANA conference in June where he led two education sessions on CAD. To

a room of 25 progressive blacksmiths I saw Filippi demonstrate how to free form draw in FabCAD. “There are no limitations with CAD,” he explained. “Free hand is possible.” Then he simulated hand forging on the screen, illustrating the time savings of repeating a scroll by copying and pasting and readjusting. “With CAD you never have to draw anything twice,” Filippi told them. “It gives you more time to be creative because you don’t have to do the grunt drawing. It’s just another tool to help you get from A to B.”

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Fabricator n July/August 2010

Dave Filippi (left photo, center) is a regular speaker, at NOMMA’s METALfab conventions. Joining him at this 2008 meeting in Memphis, TN, is Mark O’Malley, O’Malley Welding & Fabricating Inc., Yorkville, IL (left), and Carl Grainger, Grainger Metal Works, Nichols, SC. Right photo: Filippi led two education sessions on CAD at ABANA’s national conference in Memphis this June.

So watch out fabricators. I think of Filippi as a canary in a coal mine. If blacksmiths are ready to take advantage of FabCAD, it might not be long before they inject some serious custom forged work competition into our industry. Like the blacksmiths, I learned a lot from my conversations with Filippi. He’s a keen business minded individual, one of those teachers who makes

July/August 2010 n Fabricator

you want to learn, and a good hearted person. He even helped sell a NOMMA membership at the ABANA show, and along with some other NOMMA members, helped man our booth. What I like best about Dave Filippi is how he tries to be modest about his success, claiming he just happened to be in the right places at the right time. But I don’t agree. How many 28-year-

old English majors have the business savvy to study the phonebook for leads while on vacation, and the inclination to master spreadsheets and computer code, while at the same time gain proficiency in their pop’s hands-on trade of ornamental iron work? That’s a lot of stars to align. Thanks Dave, for being you, and for sharing your talent with NOMMA.


Member Talk

Training helps business and shop workers n

NOMMA member shop Thrifty Iron Works talks about the success of an after-hours training program they started this year.

For your information


Member: Thrifty Iron Works Located: Hyattsville, MD Type of Business: 2nd Generation family business focuses on commercial and residential projects. Number of Project per Year: 1,100 to 1,500 Number of Employees: 70 People, including four family members. Interesting Fact: Started an apprenticeship type program for employees as continuing education after work hours. CO NTAC T

Richard Thrift Thrifty Iron Works Inc. 5627 Lafayette Pl. Hyattsville, MD 20781 (301) 277-0508 Fax: (301) 277-2916


By Sheila Phinazee

There are two people on

This year, NOMMA Member Richard

staff who teach. Each

Thrift of Thrifty Iron Works in Hyattsville, MD began classes after hours for his employees during the middle of April 2010. Thrift shares how this training idea took off and how his business is going overall. Fabricator: How did your afterhours training program get started? Thrift: It’s something we were talking about for a number of years, and we decided it was time to start doing it. We teach classes after hours to some of our employees, like an apprenticeship program of sorts. Fabricator: What kinds of topics are covered in the training? Thrift: We teach people blue print reading, layout work, and math. There are not really levels in the formal sense. Everyone is pretty much at the same level in the class; although some know more and some know less. Most of the classes are geared for production. People start the training and continue through — the classes are organic and ongoing. Past topics have included code compliance and standards; basic math; different finishes and qualities; identification of materials; some simple and some complex geometry; and different layouts. Some employees just focus on the topics they want to learn, others continue through them all. It never really ends and some of the younger guys

class consists of eight to 10 employees who meet one night per week. The classes last for about an hour, any more than that, then people start to lose their ability to concentrate. Richard Thrift,. Thrifty Iron Works. Hyattsville, MD

seem to enjoy being in all the classes to see what’s going on. Fabricator: Who teaches the classes, and how often are classes held? Thrift: There are two people on staff who teach. Each class consists of eight to 10 employees who meet one night per week. The classes last for about an hour, any more than that, then people start to lose their ability to concentrate. Thrifty Iron Works is a family business, in its second generation. Begun in 1963 by his father, Allen Thrift, Richard Thrift hopes that one day he will be able to pass the business on as well. Fabricator: How did you get started as a fabricator and how big is the business today? Thrift: I kind of grew up in the Fabricator n July/August 2010

Aluminum and glass canopy. Thrifty Iron Works does miscellaneous structural work, erection, fabrication, and architectural metal. This aluminum and glass canopy hangs over the front door of their office.

business, so hopefully we can continue the family business in the future. We now have a staff of 70 people — this includes four family members. We have a small building of about 10,000 square feet, with two yards. We work in the shop, in the field as well as outside in the yards. Fabricator: Speaking of staff, how do you recruit new employees? Thrift: Thrifty Iron Works is located near the University of Maryland in College Park, MD. Recently, we started considering the University as a possible source for office staff or field work employees. Typically we find our staff via the newspaper, or people come to us based on our reputation in the area. Fabricator: On what type of projects does Thrifty Iron Works focus? Thrift: We do fabrication, erection, miscellaneous structural work, and architectural metals. We also do welding but not much forge work. We did it a while back, but it’s not really what we do now. We focus on commercial and residential projects. In terms of residential work, Thrifty Iron Works is involved in a lot of apartment buildings. About a year ago, they started working on a luxury apartment building just outside of Baltimore, MD in Towson, MD called the Palisades of Towson. Fabricator: Can you tell me more about the large project in Towson, MD and how you found out about this job? July/August 2010 n Fabricator

Structural and ornamental. Thrifty Iron Works is involved in a lot of apartment buildings (left and top left). A year ago the firm started working on a luxury apartment building just outside of Baltimore, MD in Towson, MD called the Palisades of Towson. The 18-story building involves steel, glass rails, stairs, stair railing, and structural steel and is a LEED®-certified silver designed apartment home community. Photos courtesy of the Palisades of Towson (




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NEF Chair Roger Carlsen on after-hours training Down economic times can be the prime time to beef up more things and add value,” says Carlsen. Shop ownprofessional skills. Roger Carlsen, NEF Chair and Ephraim ers can then take on new and different types of projects Forge owner, can vouch for after-hours training as a viable as Builders Ironworks did. “Prior to last winter’s training option for shop owners. During the winter of 2008, Carlsthey weren’t doing much forge work,” says Carlsen. en partnered with another NOMMA shop member, Rick After-hours training is also good from the perspective Wories, of Builders Ironworks Inc. of Crete, IL and trained of the employee, who gains additional education from the Wories’ shop employees on the basics of blacksmithing. At employer. And, in the case of Wories and Builders Ironthe time, Wories had an eight-man shop. works, Carlsen believes he himself gained something. “I According to Carlsen, whose strength is in blackgained the opportunity to teach,” he says. “Everyone bensmithing and forging, using traditional and contemporary efitted from this deal.” techniques, Wories and his team In light of educating and decided to expand their knowlequipping NOMMA members, edge base — to benefit the shop some new initiatives are coming and themselves. Wories asked up for NEF. “We’re hot and heavy Carlsen to purchase some necesin researching individual and sary equipment and arranged for shop certifications,” says Carlsen. Carlsen to come in and head up Also, Carlsen just finished up training on Fridays. The series ran another video that will be hosted for about six to eight weeks. for members only on the NOMDuring this particular season, Upside to economic downturn. NEF Chair and MA website. The latest tutorial Wories’ employees were working Ephraim Forge owner Roger Carlsen (left) helped Rick features how to do an instant rust four days per week since business Wories of Builders Ironworks Inc. train Wories’ shop finish on ironwork. was sluggish. However, not every- employees on the basics of blacksmithing. As mentioned in the May/ one took advantage of the opportunity. June issue, with financial assistance from King Architec“What I found to be interesting is that not all the guys tural Metals and Lawler Foundry, NOMMA has two high followed up on getting the training with pay. Some chose definition Kodak Zi8 cameras available for members to to take the day off without pay rather than using the time use on loan. to develop more skills.” “We will be shipping off another Zi8 camera kit to “Rick actually paid his guys to come in on Friday to another shop that has lined up to do a tutorial,” says learn the basics of blacksmithing,” says Carlsen. “They Carlsen. continued to work in the shop Monday through ThursOnce completed, these video tutorials will enable day, and then have class for four to five hours on Friday members to sharpen their skills as they learn from each every week for about eight weeks. Then when business other. Current and potential customers can also benefit. picked up, they went back to working five days per week.” “This will help the individual shop too, because these This emphasis on professional education ties in with videos can be posted on YouTube or on your own webCarlsen’s NEF focus primarily in two ways. site,” says Carlsen. “When we can educate the general “From the employer’s perspective, shop owners can populace on what is good ironwork and what isn’t, it’s increase the education of their workers so they can do good for our industry.” Thrift: The 18-story building we’re working on involves steel, glass rails, stairs, stair railing, structural steel, everything. We heard about it through our network of customers and architects we work with. We won the bid and got to work. Most of our projects last a couple years, and we work within 100 miles. Fabricator: What types of projects do you enjoy most? Thrift: I like challenging work. 40

I like to do stainless steel work and things that are different — something ornate but difficult due to math. Some high-end residences often involve this kind of a challenge. There are a lot of mansions in this area. A lot of it is structural and not ornamental. A few years ago, we worked on a challenging commercial project for Trex Lumber that required an ornamental stair for the company headquarters in Winchester, VA. We did an ornamental stair in the interior of their

building. It was very unique, and elliptical rather than spiral. Fabricator: About how many projects a year do you do and what are your business objectives for the future? Thrift: We average 1,100 to 1,500 projects per year; some are really small, some are large. [In terms of the future] part of our business model is to do everything — to stay productive and be profitable. Fabricator n July/August 2010

Great conversations about education and the automation of forged work took place in the NOMMA booth, particularly by longtime ABANA member Bernd Mergener (left) and Phillip Simmons’ grandson and Provost of the American College of the Building Arts Ade Ajani Ofunniyin.

Show Report

NOMMA meets . ABANA in Memphis By Rachel Bailey A goal for NOMMA this year is to increase

NOMMA’s presence in the marketplace again. This means NOMMA will be exhibiting at several trade shows, in addition to our own METALfab. To that end, NOMMA and Fabricator magazine went to the Artist-Blacksmith’s Association of North America (ABANA) national show in Memphis, TN, June 2–5, 2010. It provided a great opportunity for NOMMA to strengthen connections with ABANA and the National Ornamental Metal Museum, to reconnect with several long-time NOMMA members, and to bring some new blood into the fold. Reen Stanhouse of Island Iron rejoined on the spot! NOMMA roots

“As NOMMA members, many of our roots come from that one-man shop. And that’s the ABANA member,” says NOMMA President Bruce Boyler, Boyler’s Ornamental Iron Inc. “As they grow from a hobbyist artist-blacksmith to a business, then their interests may turn to the NOMMA side of things.” NOMMA Vice President/Treasurer Will Keeler of Keeler Iron Works is a long-time July/August 2010 n Fabricator

member of the ABANA Memphis Chapter. He and his brother Rob and members of their shop helped NOMMA set up and run the NOMMA booth at the ABANA show. To Will, it’s a no brainer why NOMMA should connect more with ABANA. He recognizes the need NOMMA members have for skilled workers and sees how many ABANA members can help fill that need. “Reaching out to ABANA is a way to reach those professional smiths,” Keeler says. Many Fabricator advertisers and NOMMA Nationwide Supplier members must feel the same way because they were also exhibiting, including Big Blu Hammer, which exhibited and ran demonstrations the whole week, King Architectural Metals, NC Tool Co. Inc., Blue Moon Press, and Blacksmiths Depot. Although FabCAD didn’t exhibit, Dave Filippi led two education sessions on CAD. Dan Nibbelink of Colorado Waterjet was also there, just to enjoy the show and connect with old friends. And Dan Nauman of NOMMA member shop Bighorn Forge Inc. led teaching demonstrations throughout the show.

NOMMA in the house. NOMMA members (left to right) Dave Filippi of FabCAD, John Steel of Steel Welding, George Bandarra of The Iron Hammer, and Ed Mack of Fine Architectural Metalsmiths and the Center for Metal Arts all attended the ABANA conference this year, along with several other NOMMA supplier and fabricator members. And yes, George got on the harp in Downtown Memphis, warming up for next year’s METALfab.

Links to Metal Museum

On Thursday night, June 3, 2010, the National Ornamental Metal Museum, or the 41

2010 ABANA Conference review By Nick Vincent Nathan’s Forge Ltd. The 2010 ABANA Conference started to gel for me in December of 2009. There were lots of rumors about the reorganization of the conference and making it more user-friendly. The preliminary list of demonstrators included my friend and mentor, Dan Boone. Dan was scheduled to do two dragon making seminars and he and his wife, Judy, were to join John Steele and Chris Holt for a round table discussion of the Business of Craft. The book

I asked Dan and Judy if they would like me to put together a slide show of their products and displays to show during their talk. Judy said “Should we do a book?” Long story short, I got Don Plummer to do the writing, I did the photographs and the Boones had a book to go along with their presentations at the conference showcasing Dan’s remarkable blacksmithing career.

Dan Boone demonstrates, (top left) on an Anyang 110 how to forge a dragon’s head nail. A tree stump was located behind the demonstration tents where all blacksmiths could drive a nail of their own creation. NOMMA Nationwide Supplier Member Big Blu Hammer sponsored a tent where Tsur Sadan and Amit Har-Lev, both of Israel demonstrated. They made tools, punches and drifts to make forging tools: straight peen hammers, cross peen, and ball peen hammers. The grand finale of their demo was both of them drawing out bars under the power hammer, at the same time, from opposite sides of the power hammer and producing identical tapers. Shown here (middle left), Tsur is shaping the hammer head under the power hammer with the drift in place. Photos courtesy of Nick Vincent.

to heavy power hammer forging. And a first class gallery offered members a place to show off their creations. Nineteen vendors were in attendance promoting everything from books to power hammers. Many offered hands on demonstrations of their products. One popular vendor was Guilders Paste. They led several workshops working with groups of 20 at a time showing Demonstrations aglow how to apply and finish ironwork using their The ABANA conference is always a products. magical experience. There are friends and The round table discussion on the Business blacksmiths from around the world ready of Craft led by John Steele and Chris Holt and to share and learn from each other. Part Dan Boone Wrought Iron Dan and Judy Boone was a welcome relief in Written by Don Plummer of the magic is how the set up crew can the air conditioned theatre. The session started Photography by Nick Vincent transform the parking lot at the Agricen- To order, contact: with each group showing slides and explaining ter into five large demonstration areas their business plan. John and Chris do custom Nick Vincent, (410) 848-7903; with all of the tools and toys a 21st cenwork, mostly architectural while Dan and Judy tury blacksmith would need to educate sell household products at craft shows. There and entertain their peers. is no bigger cheerleader for NOMMA than Demos started the first night right after the Opening John Steele. A lively discussion followed the slides, Ceremonies. The demo I attended was Steve Parker on focusing on design, clients, and building codes (see Tips power hammer techniques. Another part of the magic is and Tactics, page 14). forging through the evening, into the darkness and seeing The ABANA Board of Directors did a great job projust the glow of the forge and hot iron. viding a conference that kept the needs and wants of their The Teaching Center occupied one of the tents where membership in mind. There was plenty of on-site campMark Aspery, Brian Braseal, NOMMA member Dan ing for those that wanted to brave the heat and humidity. Nauman of Bighorn Forge, and Darryl Nelson taught The next ABANA Conference is scheduled for 2012 in classes. Demonstrations ranged from simple hand forging Rapid City, SD.


Fabricator n July/August 2010

Metal Museum for short, held a reception. The Metal Museum is another organization with which NOMMA is rekindling an old connection. As it states on the Metal Museum’s website: “In 1975, at the NOMMA conference in Atlanta, GA, members of the Memphis Chapter proposed an industry museum. A year later, a charter and bylaws were filed in the State of Tennessee and the dream that was to become the National Ornamental Metal Museum took life.” “Many NOMMA members have gone through classes at the Metal Museum, and many NOMMA members support the Metal Museum individually,” says Boyler. In fact, NOMMA member shops built a fence at the Metal Museum and installed it days before METALfab 2008, which was held in Memphis to commemorate NOMMA’s 50th anniversary. Each shop built a different section,

NOMMA and the National Ornamental Metal Museum have a strong historical connection.

explains Chris Maitner of Christopher Metal Fabricating. But the section that Maitner’s shop built represents the gate’s centerpiece. It features the NOMMA Top Job award emblem, “plasma cut and highlighted with different faux finishes of gold and copper to shade and shadow the emblem,” says Maitner. (Look for the story about the Metal Museum’s NOMMA gate in an upcoming issue of Fabricator). While it had been four years since ABANA held its last national show, attendees that came to the NOMMA booth seemed pleased with the turnout and the educational opportunities available. The number of ABANA members with which NOMMA was able to personally share the benefits of NOMMA membership and a free copy of Fabricator made it a success for NOMMA.

• Metal-Ready • Increase Productivity • Invest In Your Bottom Line

Look forward to hearing from you:

July/August 2010 n Fabricator


Job Profiles

Stumbling upon the perfect gate design n

An artist diligently pleases his clients and pays tribute to fabricators by simulating a solid pile of rocks.

For your information


Challenge: The home owners were avid art collectors so artistic style was important. At the same time, they wanted their impressive gate to deter viewers rather than attract them. Solution: A lightweight, exquisitely imitated pile of rocks. Implication: Making aluminum look like rock requires a lot of perseverance, especially if you don’t often work . with aluminum, plus creative forming, texturing, and finishing. C O N TA C T

Douglas Granum Douglas Granum Inc. P.O. Box 171 Southworth, WA 98386 Ph: (360) 871-4471 Fax: (360) 871-5520 Email: Web:


By Douglas Charles Granum Our customers often walk in with only

an idea, and we, without a clue of how we will do it, say, “Why, sure, we can do that.” As we rub our heads, we think, “How in the world am I going to do that?” So I dedicate this article to the creators among us, no matter what you do or where you are. I hope that you see in this story the common experience of faith, of being able to persevere until a solution materializes. One evening I met with favorite collectors of my work. Through the years they’ve bought a 20- by 60foot glass chandelier, a hand painted copper roof, steel fleur de lei gazebo, paintings; well you get the idea. They are important. They wanted a gate. Their home in the city (Tacoma, WA) is unique and well placed except there is a beautiful bridge nearby. Many people have crossed the bridge and driven onto their spacious property to look back and view the bridge;

hence a gate was called for. No one can have strangers parking in their yard. Now, usually, when people ask for gates, they want them to be welcoming, like warm and sweet portals to their homes, and of course to provide security. But when I asked the husband if he wanted the gate to be engaging, he said, “No.” He wanted it to be resistant, stand offish so that people would not want to come near it and onto his property. He also wanted it to be something that you could not see through. So one afternoon after being invited over to their home I arrived with drawings and sketches. We sat in their spacious kitchen, and over a glass of red wine I showed them my ideas. The wife loved them, and he kind of loved them too. The gate had what my Swedish friend called “lagum,” which means neither too great nor too small. An important concept when designing for our collectors and clients is lagum. This means that one doesn’t design the gates to a castle for a trailer park or the gates to a trailer park for a castle. Fabricator n July/August 2010

gate like that?” And of course, before I thought about it, I said, “Yes.” Then it began. On the ride home, rain plowing against the windshield, I knew my life just got a lot more complicated. Any of you ever been there? How do you make a light weight rock? Shaping metal into rock takes perseverance

From that point it took about a year and a quarter to put it together. R and D were interesting to say the least. :tri-state-quarter page.qxd 12/19/07 9:44 AM Page 1 I knew that I couldn’t make it out of These rocks in Sun Valley, ID inspired the design of the rock gate. stone, obviously. I couldn’t cast it, too So we agreed after viewing my of some of the more beautiful, elegant, heavy and too expensive. I knew that I sketches that I was going to do the gate and bold things that provide inspiracould probably make it out of fiberglass — ah relief. They loved it, and I did tion for me. and other lighter material, but sometoo. You all know the moment. It’s in Yes, onto the floor fell the picture how they lacked the cache it needed. the bag; now go build it. of a pile of stones in Sun Valley. My You can’t throw a diamond on a gunny I stood up to leave and out of my client looked at it, and quick as a wink sack; fiberglass just wouldn’t cut it. sketch book fell a photograph that I — with a rise in his voice — he said, I thought maybe I could create had taken in Sun Valley, ID of a stack “What’s that?” rocks by melting aluminum into sand of rocks. “It’s a pile of stones that I thought molds. I could take an aluminum Since I am a stone sculptor as well, was really beautiful,” I said with a bit sheet, lay it over the mold, torch it, and I take photographs of everything that of dread. let it slump into the mold. 45-3454-ACF-121807-V2 I see, trying to form a memory bank AD PROOF And he-said, “Could you make a Now, I know those of you who

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Gate before texture applied, above/below. To prepare the aluminum rocks for painting, the fabricator sandblasted, applied an aluminum primer coat in the shop, and allowed several days for each to dry.

know a lot about aluminum and its capacity to completely go from solid to liquid in a nano second are laughing at my attempt. But I was nonetheless trying. My life is about trying not to say no. So after failing miserably at that idea, I pondered. I thought about it more. Here is where the perseverance that we all know comes in. What I needed were rocks as big as the hood of a 1958 Buick and some as small as a loaf of bread. They all needed to have dimensionality. They had to have front to obverse sides. The front to back dimension needed to be about 6 to 12 inches. Don Davis is my right arm and my 12-year companion in my studio. He and I got the idea that we could lay

Don Davis fills gaps, prepping gate for priming, left. To ensure no one could see through the gate, the fabricators applied a high-density spray foam gel to fill the cracks between the stones. After the foam expanded and stabilized they then used carving knives to sculpt the spaces between the stones and create a more natural look. To create the multi-color appearance of rocks, far left, a two-part epoxy resin base that contained flecks of mica was used. The fabricator also collected samples of stones from the property of the homeowner to match appropriate colors.


Fabricator n July/August 2010

down big boulders on the pad in front of the studio. Over them we could lay a sheet of metal that’s all ready been cut to the form of each rock, on the bed of boulders. Then we would take more boulders and smash them down onto the aluminum sheet. After smashing the aluminum onto the boulders with other boulders, we were surprised with the result. Although one might think of them as bent pancakes, I discovered they looked like the surface of a rock, very exciting. They had shadow and eccentric form, and, most importantly, they looked a lot like rocks and weighed next to nothing. It was a very noisy process. My dogs went running; my cat left; the Herron left the pond. The upshot was that we needed to get earmuffs to do the work. Once we had cut out the forms of the rocks and laid them on the stones and smashed them, then I needed to do the obverse side. I laid other stones out and smashed them as well. Once we had all the surfaces of the stones completed, I needed the dimensionality. So I took six-inch aluminum edge banding of the same material, had it sheared at a local shop into long bands. Don and I then built tabs on to the stone faces themselves. We then joined the two halves of the rock together and welded the edge band all the way around. This was a very tricky business given the thinness of the metal: about 22 gauge. When finished I had a rock form, which was a hollow, abstract, odd shaped box. The rock box subsequently became very strong and light because of the edge banding. Its lightness was exactly what the gate process called for. Finishing touches complete the solid rock illusion

After making all of the rocks for the gate, which became 15 feet high at the highest and 32 feet long, I composed all of the rocks on the floor of the studio to form the gate, like a big jigsaw puzzle. Bela Kovaks and his extra talented son Bela Jr., co-creators and old world Hungarian craftsmen, welded them together as two units separated only with the fitted opening of the gate. Once this shiny, bright aluminum landslide form was joined, Bela and I July/August 2010 n Fabricator

put vertical rods through it to give it more diaphragm and baffle. We then put it on swing posts. The opening was welded onto large schedule #80 aluminum pipes with stainless steel bearings. When it was finally standing — “Eureka!” I could barely make out where the opening was. It turned out just as I wanted. Only those who knew better would drive up to a pile of rocks, and they would magically open. Once the gate was assembled, we needed to make the stones look like stones rather than crumpled aluminum boxes. So we contacted, Beth Smith, a person who faux paints, and began the process of coloration and shadows. Coating aluminum is a difficult task. Preparing the aluminum rocks for painting included sandblasting, applying an aluminum primer coat, and allowing several days for each to dry. Remember our customer did not want anyone to see through the gate. Therefore, a high-density spray foam gel was used to fill all of the cracks between the stones. The foam expanded in all the cracks and increased the baffle all the more. After several days the foam stabilized in the internal spaces. With carving knives we sculpted the spaces between the stones to fit naturally with the curvatures and outcroppings. We added another prime coat and let it dry. To create the multi-color appearance of rocks, a two-part epoxy resin base that contained flecks of mica was used. We collected samples of stones from the property of the homeowner to mix and match those colors. Using four different color forms, one on top of another, we made the stones as real as any living rock, given the 20-foot rule. The gates were then installed and the landscaping completed. The goal was to drive up to what looks like a solid landslide of rock. At that point one would put in a code, push a button, and then the landslide of rock would open. The goal was met. So again, with this article I pay tribute to each of you and the various artists all of us rub shoulders with each day. What a diverse group we are, we who create things and who recognize the infinite beauty and potential contained in a pile of rocks.

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Monumental stair. Hot Shot fabricated the entire project, which consists of two curved steel stringers painted satin black with stainless steel posts, curved glass, and mahogany wood treads.

By Stephen Aretz My name is Stephen Aretz, and I am

Job Profiles

Taking the extra step on a grand stair A reputation for excellence won this project’s bid and keeps Hot Shot humming. n


president and owner of Hot Shot Welding & Architectural Design Inc. I am both extremely passionate about my work and very meticulous with details, and I am convinced that applying these traits to all of our projects is what puts our company one step beyond the others. This particular grand staircase, located locally in a private residence, is definitely one that we are very proud of. A lot of labor and time went into making sure that our customers would be happy with the finished product. A project as elaborate as this does not allow room for error and requires scrupulous effort from all persons involved. Attention to detail is something that is crucially important throughout the entire process, beginning with design. At Hot Shot, we have our own in-house AutoCAD draftsmen that scheduled many visits to the jobsite during which he took necessary field measurements, noting the dimensions floor to floor and layout of the floor plan. Once we had the measurements we began building the 10-foot tall, 23-foot long grand stair inside our 10,000-square-foot factory. Once the staircase was built we took it apart, primed and polished all the stainless steel, milled the wood steps and stained them. Each of the ten posts in the staircase was made up of 14 separate pieces that had to be cut and welded together. Our biggest challenge during this project was figuring out how to get this colossal structure into the house itself. We ended up flying individual sections of the stairs through the glass doors located on the sixth story balcony of the building with a crane and then welded Fabricator n July/August 2010

them back together once it was inside. The process required that we close off the entire street, and I had to pull permits from the city. Once the frame of the staircase was inside the home we painted the stringers satin black with an electric static paint gun. The next step was bolting the wood steps with a Ÿ-inch layer of cork placed under mahogany treads which provided for a quiet step. Final touches included installing the ½-inch tempered polished glass. The finished product was perfect, really exquisite looking. The residence where this grand staircase was built is ironically located directly across the street from one of our competitors, yet we were awarded the job. I believe this says something about the quality of our workmanship and our reputation in the industry as a company that is not afraid to go one step beyond our competitors. Brandon Construction, the general contractor for this project, has an extensive work history that includes the Ferrari dealership in Palm Harbor, FL, and it was a pleasure working with them on this staircase.

For your information


About the fabricator: Hot Shot Welding specializes in design and fabrication of monumental and spiral staircases, unique artwork, decorative panels, sunshades, railings, fencing, and ornamental gates.

Piece posts. Each of the ten posts in the staircase was made up of 14 separate pieces that had to be cut and welded together.

About the job: This 10-foot tall, 23foot long monumental stair resides in a private residence in Florida. Fabrication included two curved steel stringers, 10 stainless steel posts, curved ½-inch tempered polished glass, and mahogany wood treads. CO NTAC T

Stephen Aretz Hot Shot Welding 1135 Starkey Rd., Unit 10 Largo, FL 33771 (727) 585-1900 Fax: (727) 535-8228

July/August 2010 n Fabricator


This grand rail illustrates Hot Shot’s hurricane scroll style wrought iron railing. Hot Shot fabricates this system out of 5/8-inch, and ¾-inch thick square bar with forged finials on each end. This was fabricated by hand in their shop, with a faux paint finish. Hot Shot also builds this out of solid aluminum square bar with hammered edges built on Aretz’s scroll bender that will bend the whole part in one shot.

Then the break came

It takes hard work and dedication to be a Hot Shot At Hot Shot Welding, we specialize in the design and fabrication of grand or monumental staircases, spiral staircases, unique artwork, decorative panels, sun-shades, railings, fencing, and ornamental gates. Our company also fabricates glass railing systems and stainless steel cable systems. We can accommodate any type of metal to include stainless steel, aluminum, wrought iron, and brass. All of our work is welded and designed to meet any architectural specifications. Hot Shot Welding has been in business for 19 years, and we fabricate and install all of our work, which has spanned the continental United States including projects in Boca Raton and Las Vegas. We’ve even completed work abroad. I started this company in September of 1990, after being laid off from another job. I was 21 years old, had no money, and lived on my own with my bird dog, Tuggers. I attended welding classes at a vocational school in the evening and mowed lawns on the weekends just to pay my bills. The guy responsible for laying me off all those years ago now works for me at Hot Shot Welding as my project manager and right hand man. It’s funny how life works out sometimes.


During the company’s infancy I did a lot of small jobs, mainly spending countless hours fixing equipment for customers. It wasn’t until a man came along and convinced me to build a staircase that would fit into his $4 million home that things took a turn for the better. He said everyone he spoke to recommended Hot Shot Welding, claiming I would be able to build this staircase. I was honest and told the gentleman that I had no idea how to build something like this, but he was very persistent and kept on me until I agreed. My solution was a single stringer stair case using a five-inch diameter pipe rolled into a helix and open risers with red wood steps. It was definitely a challenge to build, but the end result was remarkable. The company grew pretty rapidly after that point, and today I am proud to say that Hot Shot Welding is a $2.5 million company. Even in the midst of a poor economy, we are still busy building high-end homes and large commercial buildings. Currently, we are working on our fourth museum on the west coast of Florida. There are still people out there with money to spend, but I believe they are a little more cautious today on how they spend it. The fact that we efficiently build quality products at a good price is one of the reasons Hot Shot Welding is still going strong in these challenging times. We have also worked very hard to establish a dependable reputation. The majority of our business comes from word of mouth. Today, I am 41 years old with a beautiful wife Kellie and three great kids Aaron, Isabella, and David. Oh and I can’t forget our Jack Russell Terrier, Angel. Sometimes I look back at where I started and see how far I’ve come. Cliché as this may be, it really does go to show that hard work and dedication do pay off. We currently have a talented crew of 20 employees at Hot Shot who enjoy working for the company. We’re like a big family. Not only do we work well together as a team, we are friends too. Frequently we hold company picnics and fishing trips. One of the things I try to eliminate at the shop is stress in the workplace. There is no need for it, and people work better without it. I want my employees to enjoy coming to work just like I do.

Fabricator n July/August 2010


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Job Profiles

Trust makes a fountain flow n

Respect between fabricator and designer made this outdoor Minnesota water sculpture a success.

By Kelly Olene-Stylski Accent Ornamental This sculpture serves as a fountain

center piece at an upscale office building in Eden Prairie, MN. Its designer, Dan Andersen of D.J. Andersen Design Inc., contacted Mike Stylski, owner of Accent Ornamental Iron & Powder Coating Company, in February 2009 to see if Accent could do the job. Accent had never done anything quite like this before. However, having worked with D.J. Andersen Design in the past, Mike was intrigued and wanted a closer look at the project. A meeting was arranged between Mike Stylski and Dan Andersen to go 52

Built for winter. Since this was an outdoor fountain piece in Minnesota, the finished sculpture had to drain and withstand freezing and thawing. Each piece was made as if it were to be galvanized: water had to flow completely through, and there could be no dead-ends.

over the design, size, type of material, and time line. It was at this meeting Mike discovered there were no engineered drawings or plans. Dan had only his artist’s conceptual drawing revealing the final shape and look of the piece. In the end, this would be the only drawing the fabricators would use. Another challenge was to use material heavy enough to make it stable at its base. During the meeting, Mike and Dan determined the base plus an additional four feet would consist of ½ inch steel plate, then ¼ inch steel for the next six feet in height, followed by 10-gauge steel up to the final height of 17 feet. The two agreed that Accent would fabricate

this as one complete piece. After agreeing upon price, the next step was the site visit in Eden Prairie, MN. The field measuring was very simple: just four, 1-inch stainless steel anchor bolts would be needed to fasten the base to the inside of a large fountain bowl located in the center of a large parking ramp. When Accent began the fabrication process Mike realized, with only a 12foot ceiling height, the finished piece would be too large for our shop building. Accent began fabrication in the building, and after two sections were complete (beginning with the base), the piece was moved outside to the south parking lot. Fabricator n July/August 2010

Natural rust finish. To create a natural rusting appearance the fabricator hired A-Blast Inc., of East Bethel, MN to sand blast the sculpture on-site in Accent’s parking lot. The final finish involved a muriatic acid wash after a white blast.

Once we had the first section completed, the designer came to our shop to check on the progress. Dan Ander5 sen thought everything looked good and told the fabricators while they are working on his project they should, and I quote, “check your manhood at the door in the morning, get in touch with your feminine side, and pretend you’re picking out curtains with the wives.” Dan wanted to make sure the fabricators all understood the drawing he supplied to them was just a concept, and he needed to be certain the sculpture flowed and presented naturally. Dan made only a couple of visits to our shop during the fabrication process. Once he was comfortable that our fabricators understood what he was looking for, the fabricators were free to be its creators. Mike e-mailed Dan progress pictures until the sculpture was complete. Since this was a fountain piece, and it had to withstand Minnesota winters (freezing and thawing), the finished sculpture had to be able to drain. So, all of the shapes were designed to keep the sculpture from holding water itself. Each piece created for the final look was made as if it were to be galvanized: completely flow-through, no deadends. The total fabrication time was July/August 2010 n Fabricator

Too big for the shop. The finished fountain stands 17 feet high. Accent Ornamental began its fabrication inside, but after the two main sections were complete, the piece was moved outside.

approximately 220 hours. Once the fabrication process was complete, the finish had to be applied. Book ad Fab:Layout 1 12/17/07 5:42 PM Page 1 During Mike and Dan’s initial meeting, it was determined the fountain would have a natural rusting appearance. A-Blast Inc. from East Bethel, MN, was contracted to sand blast the sculpture on-site in our south parking lot. The final finish was simply a muriatic acid wash after a white blast. The installation would be the most coordinated effort of the entire project. A crane and operator, as well as a f Hot of ss the Pre

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special wide load trucking permit, were required to move the finished sculpture, weighing in at approximately 6,000 pounds, 15 feet 6 inches wide, and 17 feet tall. The trucking permit limited the hauling time to between 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. Four of our workers would be required for final installation. They reported for duty at 11:00 p.m. to ensure proper loading by the crane operator. The workers, crane, and truck all left our Cambridge, MN parking lot at 1:00 a.m. to drive the 65 miles to the sculp-

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Collaboration enhances the design process

The designer made only

a couple visits to the fabricator’s shop during the fabrication process. Once he was comfortable that Accent’s fabricators understood what he was looking for, the fabricators were free to implement their own creativity. ture’s final destination, Eden Prairie, MN. There, it was off loaded and slid neatly into place over the stainless steel anchor bolts. Dan Andersen, the designer, was anxiously awaiting the fountain sculpture’s arrival at 2:00 a.m. He was very pleased with the final product, and its ease of installation. He has many other designs in the works.

Designer’s perspective on working with fabricators By Dan Anderson D.J. Andersen Design Inc. I think what is most important is to come up with a design that makes people stop and take the time to try and figure out what it is they’re looking at. And also to wonder what makes people do what they do. What is interesting to me is that most architects and designers seem to get in their own way. The egos and the self promotion, in many ways, get the credit. If a true creator understands their goal, then that designer or architect tries to involve the people around them. In this situation, getting Mike involved as well as the person actually doing the welding was most important. To understand design is to understand people and every little additive they bring to a project. This is the only way to have design that is different than everyone else, and by default has its own personality. People are funny, what they think is great in one eye, is awful in the other eye. That’s the beauty. Working with Accent Ornamental Iron I was able to control the design, but at the same time I felt very comfortable pushing the members of their fabrication team to add their own thought and detail. You would be very surprised to see what some of the most unexpected shop welders say, and come up with. Mike has a great team and will always do my sculptor work as well as my decorative iron work.


For your information


Close enough. Accent Ornamental had to work from only an artist’s conceptual drawing because no engineered drawings or plans were available. The red lines on this photograph provide a closer representation of that initial artist drawing.

Challenges: n The fabricators had to work from only an artist’s conceptual drawing because no engineered drawings or plans were available. n The material had to be heavy enough to make the fountain stable at its base, and it was to be fabricated in one piece. n Assembly of completed pieces had to happen outside since the shop’s 12-foot ceiling was not large enough to house the finished piece. n The fountain had to withstand Minnesota winters — including freezing and thawing — and be able to drain. CO NTAC T

Michael A. Stylski, Sr. Accent Ornamental Iron & . Powder Coating Co. 354 South Adams St. Cambridge, MN 55008 (763) 691-8500 Fax: (763) 691-8503

Fabricator n July/August 2010

Biz Side

Planning your exit For your information


What you’ll learn n It’s never too early to strategize your exit plan. n An exit plan is just as important as your business plan, and the two should be compatible. n Your unexpected exit should be part of your exit plan. n A well thought out exit plan can help you and your heirs avoid unexpected taxes. About the Author Bill Lynott is a long-time business writer for Fabricator. Since 1957 he has written nearly 1,000 essays and columns and is the author of three books. In . addition to his career as a writer, Bill also has an extensive background . in management, consulting, and . marketing.

July/August 2010 n Fabricator


Start now and avoid the costly mistake of neglecting it.

By William J. Lynott As a busy shop owner, you have more

than enough daily crises competing for your attention. That’s one reason why so many of your peers fail to plan adequately for the inevitable day when they will part company with the company. While there is no way for you to know for sure when that day will come, you can be certain that it will come. That leaves only the question of how you will take your leave. “An Exit Plan is as important as a living will or your budget,” says management consultant Skip Evans of Evans, Waite Business Solutions LLC, Centennial, CO. “It’s critical to have a game plan for how you want to disengage from your business at some point in the future.”

Mark O’Malley, O’Malley Welding & Fabricating, Yorkville, IL, still in his early 40s, admits that he hasn’t given much thought to how he’ll leave the business, but he agrees that an exit plan is a good idea. O’Malley has two sons who work in the business. Writing in his newsletter, Exit Planning Review, professional exit planner and author, John H. Brown, says he knows of only eight ways to leave a business: 1. Transfer the business to a family member 2. Sell the business to one or more key employees 3. Sell to key employees using an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) 4. Sell the business to one or more co-owners 55

5. Sell to an outside third party 6. Engage in an Initial Public Offering 7. Retain ownership but become a passive owner 8. Liquidate Chances are that one of these paths is best for you; but which one? And which one would be disastrous for you




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or your heirs? Whether your retirement is just around the corner or years away, you owe it to yourself to begin considering these questions right now. Elmer Wheeler of Wheeler Ornament Metals, Dothan, AL, has no doubt about which path he’ll choose. “I plan to retire in about three years,” he says, and at that time I’ll pass the business along to my son. That will be the third generation for our business.” “A well designed exit plan has many advantages,” says business intermediary Richard H. Marsh, Jenkintown, PA. “Among other things, a good plan will help the owner to maximize the value of the business. It will also make it possible for the owner to leave the business under his own terms at the time of his own choosing.” “My partner and I believe that business owners should plan for their exit at least two years prior to leaving, if not longer,” says Fred Hageman, Hageman, Stansberry & Associates, Cameron Park, CA. “And you should have a clear understanding of what it means to exit the company. Will your departure be merely a function of training your children or heirs to run and manage the business? If so, do you plan to have any passive involvement, like being a board member or minority owner? If you have such a plan, do you have a written agreement in place outlining compensation or other benefits?”

Wheeler plans to stay on in a consulting role after he retires in order to help his son, a common arrangement in family-owned businesses. In some ways, it’s understandable why a business owner will neglect planning for the future. “With so much time spent keeping customers happy, dealing with human resource issues, ensuring that there’s enough cash to pay the bills, and still trying to eke out some semblance of a family life, most owners neglect planning for their eventual exit,” says exit planning professional and CPA, Greg Austin, Saint Louis, Mo. “That’s unfortunate because one thing is certain; eventually every owner must eventually exit the business.” Define your exit plan

According to Austin, most business owners have one or more of the following: 1. A will to direct how their assets should be handled when the business owner dies. 2. An estate plan which is usually created to assist in minimizing the estate and gift taxes paid on transfers of the business owner’s assets. 3. A verbal or written succession plan with their children, co-owners, or key employees about who should run the business in the future. “While these items are key ingredients in a formal exit plan, no single item is a plan in itself,” says Austin. “A well-prepared plan will use a team of professional advisors—attorney, CPA, financial planner/insurance professional—all focused on meeting the business owner’s exit goals.” Questions to answer

(951) 737-2480 56

“At a minimum, your exit plan should answer the following questions,” says Evans. n To whom do I expect to sell the business: partners, outside buyer, family, etc.? n What formula should be used to determine the value of the business for a buy/sell agreement with co-owners or in the case of the owner’s death? n At what age do I want to retire? Fabricator n July/August 2010

n What do I want my surviving

spouse or family to do with the business? Sell it or continue to operate it? “If you own the real property from which your business operates, make sure it is owned by an entity separate from the business,” says Evans. “Also, you should reassess your corporate entity type (LLP, LLC, “S” corp., “C” corp., etc.). Consult with a knowledgeable accountant or attorney to determine what is best for you and the future of the company.” 2007 05 g-s co:2007 05 G-S

Align your business with your exit plan

In his book, How to Run Your Business So You Can Leave It in Style, Brown says that owner-based goals for exit planning fall into three broad categories: 1. Create and preserve the value of the company. 2. Provide a means to exchange that value for money with the least tax consequences possible. 3. Meet personal and family needs by providing security and continuity to your business and for your family either upon your planned departure or if disaster strikes, upon your death or disability. Let’s say that your retirement plan includes the hope that you will be able sell your business to an outsider or competitor for a tidy sum. In that case, you will want to do everything possible to build the market value of the company. That may include such tactics as making significant capital investments in facilities or equipment, and marketing plans designed to assure steady growth. However, if your long-range plan centers on passing the business to a family member with less experience, you may be more interested in the creation and implementation of internal systems designed to run smoothly without benefit of your personal oversight. If you expect to divorce yourself entirely from the operation of the business once you leave, you’ll probably want to hire and train management or supervisory people who have the sort of skills and interests that will be missJuly/August 2010 n Fabricator

ing once you take your leave. And don’t forget your financial needs. If you expect to add to your retirement funding with a hefty chunk of money from the sale of your business, that could be a problem in a sale to a family member, or even a partner or employee. Where will that money come from? If the buyer can’t come up with it, an expensive loan could prove to be a roadblock to the sale. Perhaps you’ve had your fill of the pressures, stresses, and headaches that go along with carrying the entire load yourself but can’t stand the idea of reCo 4/5/07 10:41 AM Page 1 tiring to the garden or golf course. In that case, you may find yourself looking for a buyer willing and anxious to take advantage of your irreplaceable experience and knowledge. This could mean a sales agreement that includes your continued participation as a paid consultant. If that sort of arrangement is on your mind, now is the time to

crystallize your thoughts on how it can be arranged. Plan for the unexpected

No matter your age now, there is always the possibility that you may depart this mortal coil when you and those around you least expect it. Without proper planning, that unfortunate event could dump an awful mess in the laps of your heirs. “Although none of us likes to contemplate what would happen if we were to become disabled or die suddenly, a good exit plan will have those bases covered,” says Austin. “This could include insurance, stay-bonus plans for employees, buy/sell agreements with co-owners or friendly competitors, or other contingency planning tools.” And, of course, your exit plan should include enough insurance to allow for continuation of the business

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at least until your heirs or partners are able to sort everything out well enough to allow them to stay in business or arrange for a profitable sale. Even if an emergency doesn’t occur, you may change your mind entirely about your exit plan as the time approaches. Be sure to plan for that too. “There is one characteristic common to every well-thought-out exit plan: flexibility,” says Marsh. “No matter how certain you are now of just how you want your exit from the business to play out, there’s a good chance that you will change some part of your thinking before that time arrives.


Nothing is static in either business or personal life. That’s why you must be ready and willing to adapt your plan to changing circumstances.” Seek professional assistance

“Effective exit planning requires input and participation by a variety of professionals,” says Austin. “Professionals formally trained in exit planning recognize the importance of allowing the business owner to determine the how and when of exiting, and they understand the power of a team of professional advisors working together to develop an optimum exit plan.”

Austin says that a skillfully drawn exit plan will consider not only the financial and tax ramifications for the owner, but also for the business and its new owners. “A good exit plan will also take the owner’s family and personal situation into account,” he says. “Depending on the size of the business, a transfer to insiders may involve tax considerations such as transferring at least part of the business at a low value in order to save taxes,” says Marsh. “That’s where the help of professionals can be critical.” “Just like a good business plan is a smart move, so is a good exit plan,” says, Hageman. “Know what makes sense for your departure. Discuss it with your trusted advisors. Listen to their input. Keep in mind that the better prepared you are, both mentally and organizationally, the better you will be able to execute your exit plan. And, your plan should be written down and formalized so it can be analyzed, reviewed, and modified as circumstances change.” Whether you need a professional exit planner to help you put your plan together is a decision that only you can make. However, professional planners agree that the most important step you can take in exit planning is to get started early. “The day you start your business,” says Austin, “is not too early to begin planning for your exit.” Fabricator n July/August 2010

Biz Side

So, you’re not advertising? n

Out of sight, out of mind? Big budget or not, here are 8 tips to help you make the most of it.

By Andy Ellis Do you actually need to advertise?

1 Promote what differentiates you from your competition

In the 30 some years I’ve been in advertising, marketing, and promotions, I have never actually created a campaign for an ornamental metal manufacturer. However, I do have a client serving another niche of the construction industry, a landscape and stone masonry firm. This company is amazing at designing and constructing beautiful custom patios that might be terraced or include features like a built-in barbecue or fire pit, or perhaps, ornamental metal accents. Well, last summer when the U.S. economy was neck-deep in recession, my client decided to pull all of his advertising in an effort to save money. I wasn’t surprised. Historically, in harsh economic times, the first line item that gets the July/August 2010 n Fabricator

For your information


My answer to that would be, “well, you need to do something.” I am not so naïve to think every ornamental metal company out there can afford an ad agency or branding firm, especially in the current economic climate, but here are some advertising tips to consider whether you’ve got a big budget or not.

What you’ll learn: n Sometimes a downturn economy is the time to advertise. n Cutting advertising to save money may have adverse effects. n Understanding the difference between an ad agency and a branding firm can save you time and money. About the author: Andy Ellis is currently founder and creative director for the branding firm Ellis and Others 2 in Raleigh, NC. Andy has served as a creative director, group head, writer, and broadcast producer for such accounts as The Discovery Channel, Orient Express Hotels, Best Western, Clarke’s Ice Cream (U.K.), and The National Zoo.

scalpel is the marketing-advertising budget. And that goes for companies as large as Exxon-Mobile or as small as your local car dealers. Not wanting to strain relations with my client, I didn’t argue against his decision until a month later when an associate of mine found an article on some financial news website detailing a concept known as “staycation.” The article explained that during these difficult economic times many families were opting to spend their vacation time at home rather than spending, say, $4,000 renting a beach house or spending a week in Orlando or driving to the Grand Canyon. And to make that time at home a little nicer, they might spend, say, $2,000 to add a new deck or hot tub or something else to their home. The point being, an expenditure that would increase the value of one’s home was far easier to justify than spending twice as much and only having a pair of mouse ears to show for it. Armed with this article and a creative strategy based on the whole notion of staycation, off we went to see our client who immediately reinstated his advertising budget, and three weeks later was promoting his business as the place for all of your staycation needs. While braced for one of the worst summers in the com59

pany’s history, sales far exceeded traditional seasonal forecasts. The fact of the matter was there was no point in advertising until we found something worth promoting that would differentiate our client from his competition. Yes, any of his competitors could jump on the staycation bandwagon, but by being the first to do so, our client owned it.

that reads: “All ornamental metal work created by”

3 Be aware of the message you send when you stop advertising

2 Make sure

admirers know how to find you

NOMMA member Eileen Webb of California’s has a strong online presence (and not just because her last name is Webb), yet says she does virtually zero advertising. She offered a very compelling rationale when she told me, “Actually every commission I do is a billboard. That could be a staircase in a L.A. restaurant or an ornamental gate for a country club driveway. My creations advertise what I can do. And if somebody likes what they see, they can easily ask my client ‘who did that?’” While I buy this wholeheartedly, I would suggest Ms. Webb provide her clients with a healthy stack of her business cards and, with permission upfront, post a small, tasteful plaque near the entrance of that L.A. restaurant

On the other hand, Susan Sullivan, who handles the marketing for Modern Iron Concepts in Nashville, TN, does advertise, but she says, “It’s a catch-22. For example, we run ads in a local weekly newspaper here that’s a dead-on match to our target audience. After being in that paper consistently for months, if we suddenly disappeared, I think folks would think we went under.” She went on to say, “Yes, we’ve cut back in some areas, but stepped up in others. We’re now sending out handwritten thank you notes to customers. That’s a 44¢ investment in retention, plus it encourages our current customers to recommend Modern Iron to their friends.” It also demonstrates they value every customer.

4 Stay focused

on your key message

Ms. Sullivan also shared what I deem to be the number one rule for successful, effective advertising, “We stay focused on our key message: ‘Quality craftsmanship by local arti-

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sans with an emphasis on having our client enjoy the experience of having a lost art transform their space.’ ” The point being, you’re never going to be all things to all people, so why not just be one really, really good thing, and promote it. If your audience walks away remembering that one positive attribute about your business, you’ve succeeded. You know this is true. Think about the brands you like. Volvos are safe. Bounty paper towels clean spills faster. No soap is as pure as Ivory. One concise, consistent, memorable message. Sticking with people named Sullivan, in his book Hey Whipple, Squeeze This, fellow ad vet, Luke Sullivan stresses that whatever your message is, it must be relevant. “It has to offer something customers want or solves a problem they have.” Luke goes on to warn, “No matter how well you execute it, an unimportant message has no receiver. The tree falls in the forest.”

5 Use an outside source

to determine and articulate your best attribute

Developing your key message is where an agency or branding firm can be extremely helpful. Because while you may know your business better than any suit in any agency ever will, you may be too deep into the woods to see the trees (you’ve got to hand it to me for both sticking with people named Sullivan and forest analogies). This explains why I have never seen a truly good ad for an ad agency: they’re too close to their source. For example, you look in the mirror and think to yourself, “My eyes are my best feature.” But ask your significant other or close friends, and they might say, “I’ve always loved your smile.” The point being, you need objectivity to better determine your key message.

6 Consider The Yellow Pages and online directories

There’s another thing Susan Sullivan told me that I think bears repeating. She mentioned that Modern Iron Concepts stopped running a display ad in The Yellow Pages about two years ago to save money. “But I think we’re going to go back in this year because Fabricator n July/August 2010

the customers we get from The Yellow Pages are pre-sold. He or she has already decided they want what we’re selling. They open that fat book looking for us. All we have to do is figure out how we can make them the happiest given their budget.” This is the same reason Modern Iron also has an online presence. Google (used as a verb) “Ornamental Ironwork, Nashville, TN,” and there’s Modern Iron Concepts’ web address, street address, phone number, and red marker on a map of Music City. It’s kind of like The Yellow Pages on steroids. So, kudos, Ms. Sullivan. If you ever want out of the metalwork industry and want a job as a strategist at an agency, I’ll gladly give you a glowing recommendation.

7 If you can afford it, leave it to

the pros (No fluffy, white dogs)

In nearly every television market there is some bozo who owns a car dealership and insists he not only create his own commercials, but also star in them. And said bozo is basically a water cooler-laughingstock, but bozo either doesn’t know or doesn’t care. So, year-after-year, he continues to produce his own commercials, usually featuring his little white, ankle-biter of a dog. Now this is where you say, “Fine Andy, Bozo may be a clown, but people talk about him and remember him.” My reply is, yes they do talk about him, but not for the right reasons. (“Did you see the one where he had that little hors d’oeuvre of a dog of his dressed up like a leprechaun?”) You remember him because he buys so much air time (frequency), not because he gives you that one consistent, compelling reason to visit Bozo Dodge/Honda/Kia. Remember the number one rule for achieving successful advertising is to promote your key message. And of course, outsourcing your advertising and marketing efforts allows you more time to do what you do best. Rather than getting hounded by sales reps from every media outlet in your hemisphere and waiting around for your photographer to get the lightJuly/August 2010 n Fabricator

ing “just so,” you can make sure your shop production stays on schedule.

even if you don’t care for any dessert. You’re going to pay for the overhead of the entire shop whether every employee works on your business or not and basically chew up a limited budget in about, oh, 28 days. Plus, as you might assume, the bigger clients in the agency are going to get the attention of the more seasoned players.

8 Choose a

branding firm over a traditional advertising agency

If your company can afford to invest some cash into your marketing efforts, I’d strongly suggest going to a branding firm versus a full-service ad agency, and ask them to help you develop a brand strategy (i.e., determine what your one resonating message should be), and you can stop there if you like. Or you could ask them to execute some creative concepts, plan, and buy some media, etc. Branding firms tend to be a bit more like a cafeteria where you only take what you want and only pay for what you put on your tray. On the other hand a full-service ad agency is more like going out for a prix fixe five course dinner where you’re paying for the whole shooting match

Again, I understand not everyone can afford an outside firm or agency. But do get an outside perspective when determining your key message, and remember at least a few of the tips listed here. If you do end up doing your own ads, please for Pete’s sake, promise me you won’t include your fluffy little white dog. And as the U.S. economy slowly begins to rebound, I sincerely wish you nothing less than total success in your marketing efforts. Phone: (800) 285-3056

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Nationwide Supplier Members A Cut Above Distributing (800) 444-2999 Accurate Manufactured Products Group Inc. (317) 472-9000 Albina Pipe Bending Co. Inc. (866) 252-4628 Alku Group of Companies (800) 465-7143 Allen Architectural Metals Inc. (800) 204-3858 Alloy Casting Co. Inc. (800) 527-1318 American Punch Co. (800) 243-1492 American Security Products (310) 324-1680 Ameristar Fence Products (888) 333-3422 Architectural Iron Designs Inc. (800) 784-7444 Architectural Metal Sales (925) 216-1004 Artistic Ornamental Supply (305) 836-0192 Atlas Metal Sales (800) 662-0143 Banker Wire (800) 523-6772 Barnett Bates Corp. (800) 541-3912 Bavarian Iron Works Co. (800) 522-4766 BFT U.S. Inc. (877) 995-8155 Big Blu Hammer Mfg. (828) 437-5348 Julius Blum & Co. Inc. (800) 526-6293 Builders Fence Co. Inc. (800) 767-0367 Byan Systems Inc. (800) 223-2926 The Cable Connection (800) 851-2961 Cadd Connection (541) 967-7954 Carell Corp. (251) 937-0948 Carl Stahl DecorCable Innovations (800) 444-6271 Century Group Inc (800) 527-5232 Cleveland Steel Tool Co. (800) 446-4402 CML USA Inc. (563) 391-7700 Colorado Waterjet Co. (866) 532-5404


Custom Orn. Iron Works Ltd. (866) 464-4766 D & D Technologies (USA) Inc. (800) 716-0888 D.J.A. Imports Ltd. (718) 324-6871 DAC Industries Inc. (800) 888-9768 Dashmesh Ornamentals (011) 91-987-844-7477 Decorative Iron (888) 380-9278 DKS, DoorKing Systems (800) 826-7493 Robert J. Donaldson Co. (856) 629-2737 Downey Glass Industries (954) 972-0026 Eagle Bending Machines Inc. (251) 937-0947 Eastern Metal Supply (800) 343-8154 Elite Architectural Metal Supply LLC (847) 636-1233 EPi (262) 786-9330 ETemplate Systems (919) 676-2244 EURO-FER SPA (011) 39-044-544-0033 FabCad Inc. (866) 427-2454 Feeney Inc. (Feeney Architectural Products) (800) 888-2418 Gates That Open LLC (GTO) (800) 543-4283 Genova Imports LLC (972) 395-8199 Geo. Bezdan Sales Ltd. (800) 663-6356 Gerhard Glaser GmbH & Co. (011) 49-607-893-7137 Glasswerks LA Inc. (800) 350-4527 The G-S Co. (410) 284-9549 Hartford Standard Co. Inc. (270) 298-3227 Hayn Enterprises LLC (800) 346-4296 Hebo/Stratford Gate Systems Inc. (503) 722-7700 Hendrick Mfg., Perforated Metals Div. (800) 225-7373 Heritage Cast Iron USA (918) 592-1700

Illinois Engineered Products Inc. (312) 850-3710 Indiana Gratings Inc. (800) 634-1988 Industrial Coverage Corp. (800) 242-9872 Industrial Metal Supply Co. (800) 371-4404 Innovative Hinge Products Inc. (817) 598-4846 Interstate Mfg. Associates Inc. (800) 667-9101 The Iron Shop (800) 523-7427 Iron World Mfg. (866) 310-2747 ITW Ransburg (800) 233-3366 Jansen Ornamental Supply Co. Inc. (800) 4-JANSEN King Architectural Metals, CA (800) 542-2379 King Architectural Metals, MD (800) 542-2379 King Architectural Metals, TX (800) 542-2379 Laser Precision Cutting (800) 514-8065 C.R. Laurence Co. Inc. (800) 421-6144 Lavi Industries (800) 624-6225 Lawler Foundry Corp. (800) 624-9512 Lewis Brass & Copper Co. Inc. (800) 221-5579 Locinox USA (877) 562-4669 Logical Decisions Inc. (800) 676-5537 Mac Metals Inc. (800) 631-9510 McKey Perforating (800) 345-7373 Metabo Corp. (281) 948-2823 Mittler Bros. Machine & Tool (800) 467-2464 Multi Sales Inc. (800) 421-3575 NC Tool Co. (800) 446-6498 New Metals Inc. (888) 639-6382 Ohio Gratings Inc. (800) 321-9800 Overseas Supply Inc. (866) 985-9885

P & J Mfg. Co. (419) 227-8742 Paxton & Thau Artistic Supply (866) 629-2790 Precision Glass Bending Corp. (800) 543-8796 ProCounsel (866) 289-7833 Q-Railing USA Co. (714) 259-1372 Regency Railings Inc. (214) 742-9408 Robinson Iron Corp. (800) 824-2157 Rockite, Div. of Hartline Products Co. Inc. (800) 841-8457 Rogers Mfg. Inc. (940) 325-7806 L.E. Sauer Machine Co. (800) 745-4107 Scotchman Industries Inc. (800) 843-8844 SECO South (888) 535-SECO Shaped Steel Inc. (816) 781-5717 Sharpe Products (800) 879-4418 South Camden Iron Works Inc. (800) 962-1029 Stair Service Inc. (800) 478-2477 Stairways Inc. (800) 231-0793 Steel Masters Inc. (602) 243-5245 Stephens Pipe & Steel LLC (800) 451-2612 Sumter Coatings Inc. (888) 471-3400 Taco Metals (800) 743-3803 Texas Metal Industries (800) 222-6033 Transpacific Industrial Supply Inc. (909) 581-3058 Tri-State Shearing & Bending (718) 485-2200 TS Distributors Inc. (800) 392-3655 Universal Entry Systems Inc. (800) 837-4283 The Wagner Companies (888) 243-6914 Wasatch Steel Inc. (888) 486-4463 West Tennessee Ornamental Door (866) 790-3667

Fabricator n July/August 2010


New Members We are pleased to introduce our newest members. We encourage our new member firms to “jump in and get involved.”

You’re Invited To ....

METALfab 2011

New NOMMA Members as of June 25, 2010. *Asterisk denotes returning member. Accurate Manufactured Products Group Inc. Indianapolis, IN Alex Goldberg Nationwide Supplier AGS Solutions* Bainbridge, WA Michael Toglia Fabricator American Security Products* Gardena, CA Katy Dagampat Nationwide Supplier Collo Ornamental Iron Inc.* Egg Harbor Township, NJ Jim Collo Fabricator Creative Metals Inc. Cleveland, OH Dean Fox Fabricator Dwiggins Metal Masters Inc.* Mocksville, NC Mike Dwiggins Fabricator Eastern Metal Works Inc.* Milford, CT Raymond Weiner Fabricator Elegant Iron Studios West . Alexandria, OH Amanda Dalton Fabricator

Island Iron* Reen Stanhouse Ramrod Key, FL Fabricator King Architectural Metals Baltimore, MD Steven Wilkinson Nationwide Supplier King Architectural Metals Buena Park, CA Michelle MacLeod Nationwide Supplier Bob Kline Quality Metals Inc.* West Palm . Beach, FL Bob Kline Fabricator Land’s Welding* Baton Rouge, LA Frank Land Fabricator Red Pepper Forge Inc.* Peggy Bomba North East, MD Fabricator

March 16-19, 2011 New Orleans, LA • Education • Trade Show • Shop Tours • Awards Contest • Networking Events

Join us for the world’s largest ornamental iron education expo & exchange

Rens Welding & Fabricating Inc.* Taunton, MA Rens Hayes Fabricator TFC Metals & Security Memphis, TN Ken Argroves Fabricator

For the latest updates, visit: metalfab Or, contact us at 888-5168585, ext. 101;

July/August 2010 n Fabricator


Join NOMMA Today!

Increase your knowledge • Network and learn from peers • Enhance your company’s exposure Join the National Ornamental & Miscellaneous Metals Association and you’ll receive.... n Introductory Package - Upon joining you will receive a kit containing the Buyer’s Guide, logo slicks, and a sampling of our educational booklets and sales aids. n Technical support on issues related to codes and standards. n Email discussion forum - the perfect place to get your questions answered. n NOMMA Members Only Area - This area of our website contains technical support information on ADA, driveway gates, building codes, and more. n Access to TechNotes, our bimonthly technical bulletin and Fabricator’s Journal, our bimonthly “how to” publication. You’ll receive O&MM Fabricator as well. n Subscription to NOMMA Newswire, our monthly email newsletter. n Discounts to METALfab, our annual convention, continuing education programs, and other events. n Discounts to the training DVDs and various publications provided by the NOMMA Education Foundation. Membership Categories Please Check One: ☐ Fabricator $425 - Metal fabricating shops, blacksmiths, artists or other firms and individuals in the industry whose products or services are sold directly to the consumer or the consumer’s immediate agent or contractor. ☐ Nationwide Supplier $595 - Firms that sell supplies, raw materials, equipment, machinery, or services on a nationwide or international basis.

n Awards contest - A great way to get recognition for your work. n Insurance program - participate in the NOMMA-endorsed insurance progam. Enjoy competitive rates and a unique program customized for our industry. n Affiliation and recognition - As a member you are encouraged to display the NOMMA logo on your company stationery, sales literature, building, vehicles, etc.. n Industry support - Your dues advances the work of the NOMMA Technical Affairs Division, which represents industry interests with code bodies, government entities, and standards-setting organizations. This advocacy work is essential to ensure that our industry has a voice with organizations that impact our industry and livelihoods. n Member Locator - Obtain extra exposure with our online member locator. Our website receives over 15,000 visitors per month, including visits from architects, contractors, and consumers. n Chapters - If there is a chapter in your area you can enjoy local education, social activities, tours, and demos.

☐ Regional Supplier $465 - Firms that sell supplies, raw materials, equipment, machinery, or services only within a 500-mile radius. ☐ Local Supplier $375.00 - Firms that sell supplies, raw materials, equipment, machinery, or services only within a 150-mile radius. ☐ Affiliate $310 - Individuals, firms, & organizations which do not engage in the fabrication of ornamental or miscellaneous metal products and do not provide products or services to the industry but which have a

special interest in the industry.

Check on-line for our 1/2 price membe rship special.

Please note: n The membership year runs from July 1 to June 30. n Membership dues payments are not deductible as a charitable contribution, but may be deducted as an ordinary and necessary business expense. n By signing this application, you agree to abide by NOMMA’s Bylaws and Code of Ethics upon acceptance. n Checks should be made payable to NOMMA.

☐ YES, I want to join today so that I can start enjoying the benefits of a NOMMA membership! Company Name____________________________________Your Name______________________________________ Address_________________________________________________________________________________________ City______________________________State_________Zip___________________Country_____________________ Phone________________________________Fax_____________________Sponsor (if any)______________________ E-mail______________________________________________Web_________________________________________ Company Specialty/Description_______________________________________________________________________ Signature___________________________________Payment Method ☐ Check ☐ VISA ☐ MC ☐ AMEX ☐ Discover Credit card #_______________________________________________________Exp_____/______CVV_____________ Exact name on card_____________________________________Signature___________________________________ Return to: NOMMA, 805 South Glynn St., Ste. 127, #311, Fayetteville, GA 30214 • Ph/Fax: (888) 516-8585

To join online, visit: - Then click on “Join” 64

Fabricator n July/August 2010

What’s Hot? n Biz Briefs Metalforming companies expect business to improve According to the May 2010 Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) Business Conditions Report, metalforming companies expect business conditions to continue in a positive direction for at least the next three months. The report, an economic indicator for manufacturing, has 129 U.S. and Canadian metalforming companies participating in its sampling each month. “May’s business conditions report shows that 85 percent of PMA members expect new orders for May through July to either be higher than the past three months, or to remain flat, at fairly good levels,” said William E. Gaskin, PMA president. “This confirms that the metalforming industry is well on its way toward a significant recovery which began in the summer of 2009, after a two-year slide. Also, data from PMA’s monthly orders and shipments report show conditions in the industry are improving, with new orders rising above the 12-month rolling average for the past nine months and shipments above the 12-month rolling average for the last eight months. In addition, data from the 100 companies in the survey’s control group indicate that orders grew in the first quarter by 50 percent compared to the first quarter of 2009 and shipments increased by 35 percent during the same period.” Contact Precision Metalforming Association; (216) 901-8800;

July/August 2010 n Fabricator

Industry News & More

R&B Wagner named top employer

R & B Wagner Inc. was honored as one of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s “Top 100 Workplaces” in Southeastern Wisconsin for 2010. R & B Wagner was presented with this award for Career Opportunities at the Italian Community Center on May 21, 2010, where they were ranked fifth out of 35 Midsize companies (150–499 employees). The owners, Bob Wagner and Barbara Karol, were pleased to receive this prestigious award, because the Top 100 list was determined by employee participation in a voluntary survey given by Workplace Dynamics. Workplace Dynamics, a Philadelphia-based employee research company, invited more than 1,193 companies in southeastern Wisconsin to participate, and 166 companies completed the survey. “They were extremely proud to be named one of the Top 100 Workplaces in Southeast Wisconsin by their employees” said Heidi Bischmann, Marketing/Administrative Manager

NOMMA Nationwide Supplier member R & B Wagner Inc. has been in the metals business since 1850.

at The Wagner Companies. “They just beamed after the announcement, and I often hear them telling people about the honor and the wonderful employees that work for them.” “The Wagner Companies has always been a family business,” said Bischmann. “Employees are very close and support one another in every way. The company provides excellent benefits, working conditions, and current equipment and technology. “In addition, they go out of their way to recognize both big and small events in employees lives — birthdays, anniversaries, births/adoptions, graduations, etc. — and holiday parties, summer picnics, monthly treats to celebrate birthdays, and summer lunchtime BBQ’s are all common. It’s a fantastic place to work!” Contact Heidi Bischmann, The Wagner Companies; (414) 214-8383; 65

What’s Hot? n

Chapter News

Chapter Briefs

Chapter demo filmed. A crew for the NOMMA Educational Foundation filmed the Upper Midwest Chapter demo on brazing, welding, and soldering. The demo, which was broken into morning and afternoon sessions, included discussions of metal properties and safety tips. See related stories below.

41 Upper Midwest Chapter members attend copper alloy demonstration The Upper Midwest Chapter held their spring meeting on May 22 in Kalamazoo, MI, with an attendance of 41 people. A thanks to Division 5 Metalworks for serving as host. The day began with coffee, bagels, and donut holes, followed by a business meeting. Afterwards, attendees enjoyed a demo titled “Brazing, Soldering, and Welding of Copper Alloys.” The demonstration covered metal preparation, a discussion of metal properties, and safety tips. Special emphasis was placed on cap rail. At noon, everyone took a break and enjoyed a delicious Mexican lunch. Afterwards, the demo continued for another hour. A NEF film crew was on hand to record the video, which will become part of the NEF Video Tutorial Series. Thanks to NOMMA member Mac Metals for providing the raw stock and helping to finance the video production. The action continued in the afternoon during the chapter’s annual spring social. This year, attendees went to the Air Museum to enjoy an aircraft 66

restoration tour. Airplanes featured on the tour included military, vintage, and experimental. In the evening, the chapter held a dinner event at The Union restaurant, which was within walking distance of the main host hotel. Contact Chapter President Mark Koenke Germantown Iron & Steel Corp., at (262) 677-2530. NEF underwrites filming of chapter presentations Don’t forget to take advantage of the NOMMA Education Foundation’s (NEF) Continuing Education Project for NOMMA chapters. Through this program NEF will be helping to underwrite the cost of presenters and videotaping of demonstrations at chapter meetings and the help make available to the NOMMA membership. In addition, chapters will soon be able to show Shop Tour videos at their chapter meetings, thanks to coordination by NEF. Contact NOMMA at (888) 516-8585 or at

Northeast chapter gets ready for fall On Wednesday, June 23, 2010, the Northeast Chapter conducted a Board of Directors dinner meeting at the Mason Jar restaurant in Mahwah, NJ. The purpose of the business meeting was to discuss the Chapter’s direction for the fall. Topics included demonstrations, education, meeting locations, local architects’ show, building NEF auction items, and a new slate of officers. Everyone has a voice in our Chapter. The Chapter officers welcome and need your input to help all of us survive and grow in this economy. Contact Chapter President President Keith Majka, Majka Railing Co. Inc., at (973) 247-7603. New DC-area chapter forming Patty Koppers of Koppers Fabricators Inc., is heading up an initiative to form a NOMMA chapter in the DC area. An organizational meeting was held on June 25, 2010 to discuss the formation of the chapter, which will represent DC, Maryland, Virginia, and possibly Delaware. To qualify as a NOMMA chapter, at least five NOMMA fabricator members in a common region need to hold meetings 3–4 times a year. Contact Koppers Fabricators Inc., in Forestville, MD at (301) 420-6080. Gulf Coast Network to meet in October The Gulf Coast Network is holding its next meeting in October at the shop of Metal Head in Lafayette, LA. Contact Chapter President Scott Colson, Iron Innovations, at (866) 924-0640.

Fabricator n July/August 2010


Events Encon Electronics to host Viking Access Systems seminar July 28, 2010 Encon Electronics, an access control distributor, is working with gate operator manufacturer, Viking Access Systems, on a seminar at Encon’s training facility in Hayward, CA. Viking’s Chief Engineer, Daniel Perez, will introduce their newest product innovations and review Viking’s complete line of swing, slide, underground and barrier operators. Attendees are encouraged to provide input on Viking’s new concept product lines and participate in hands-on demonstrations. Participants will also have exclusive access to Encon and Viking technical representatives in an informal setting. Call Encon for registration information. Contact Encon Electronics; (800) 782-5598; www. Call for photos for Ironwork Today 3 Submission deadline August 1 Schiffer Publishing Ltd., a leading publisher of art reference, decorative art, and design books, is accepting professional quality photo submissions for Ironwork Today 3. Submitted materials will be reviewed. Chosen artists will get an acceptance letter with a list of the pieces to be in the book. Contributing artists will be credited on the photo page, in a personal profile section, and in contact information listings. Submission and inclusion in this book is free, though Schiffer Publishing does not provide complimentary copies of the book to See Events, page 68

July/August 2010 n Fabricator

What’s Hot? n 2010 Master Catalog Outwater Plastics Industries + Architectural Products by Outwater Outwater has recently released its free 2010 Master Catalog. This catalog is designed and published in a comprehensible, easy to use (and read) format to benefit and meet the requirements of any industry professional. Each of the 65,000+ products depicted in this 1,000-plus page catalog is clearly and accurately represented with complete schematics, technical information, pricing, and photos or drawings to simplify application and purchasing decisions. Contact Outwater Plastics Industries; (888) 772-1400; 2010 Product Catalog Carell Corporation Carell Corporation announces the release of their new 2010 Product Catalog. This illustrated, full-color catalog showcases their major machine series, including important features, advantages, popular available options, and basic machine specifications. The catalog is an excellent tool to assist potential machine buyers in selecting the optimal machine to match their rolling, bending, or forming application. For convenience, the catalog can also be downloaded as a PDF file. Contact Carell Corporation; (251) 9370948; 2010 Product Catalog Eagle Bending Machines Eagle Bending Machines has released its new 2010 Product Catalog. This full-color, illustrated catalog features their entire line of Section Rolls and Profile Bending Machines, including important features, advantages, popular available options, and complete specifications and bending capacities for each model. This catalog is a superb tool to assist potential machine buyers in determining the most appropriate machine type and size to match their roll bending and forming needs. The catalog can also be downloaded as a PDF file. Contact Eagle Bending Machines; (251) 937-0948;


What’s Hot? n Bending machines Eagle Bending Machines Eagle Bending Machines introduces several new machines: The Eagle CP30 Versatile Universal Roll Benders are available in seven versions, offering features to match your budget. The CP30 line is built tough, and the patented Z-Block top journal allows maximum rigidity, truer to plane rolling, and lower maintenance. The CP40 Section Rolls offers four versions to match your budget. All CP40’s have large LED readouts, and hydraulic versions have the MPR-40

programmable repeat controls for repetitious jobs. This standard feature makes repeat positioning fast, easy, and accurate. The Eagle CP60H, a pyramid-style profile-bending machine, has a powerful and versatile 3-inch capacity. It comes in standard and variable-speed versions. Controls on this bender are large and easy to use, with moisture and dust-proof polycarbonate overlays. The CNC-machined solid steel main frames are the heaviest in the industry. The CZ402 and ZH402, from Eagle, are 2-inch capacity, three-roll pyramid-type universal roll bending machines. These machines offer manually or hydraulically adjusted forming roll, dual driven lower rolls, and a mobile control stand with LED digital readout to monitor the forming roll. The “Z” Series main frames are constructed of solid steel, are CNC-machined, and stress relieved. Contact Eagle Bending Machines; (251) 937-0947; 68


Multi-media primer and new tank system Carell Corporation

Carell has incorporated a new multi-media primer into their efficient Vertical Format Tank Production Systems. This muti-media primer pulls raw material from coil stock, roll, cut, and seam weld each tank shell with dramatic savings in time and labor costs. The modular design also allows you to add components as your tank building requirements evolve. Carell has also introduced the latest technology in Automated Vertical Tank Production Systems by IMCAR. Key advantages to this system include a reduction in labor costs, shop space requirements, and material handling time by using coil stock material. Tanks can be produced in-shop and or in the field at the installation site. Contact Carell Corporation; (251) 937-0948; Glass rail locking assembly system The Wagner Companies

The Wagner patent for PanelGrip®, a unique system for dry glazing structural, tempered glass railings, has been approved. PanelGrip® is a locking assembly of high-strength aluminum, two PVC isolators, and a specially designed alu-

Events Continued from page 67 contributing artists in order to keep costs down. Each participant is offered an initial 40 percent discount to purchase copies of this book or any of their 4,200 titles. Contact Karen Choppa, Schiffer Publishing, Ltd.; (610) 593-1777; Preservation Technology group to hold conference October 6–9, 2010 The Association for Preservation Technology International (APT) will hold their 2010 Conference in Denver, CO at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel. More than 400 preservation professionals are expected to attend hands-on workshops and panel sessions promoting the best technology for conserving historic structures and their settings. Paper topics include: Challenges in Preserving Art and Architectural Metal Finishes; Philadelphia Museum of Art Exterior Envelope Renovations: A Tale of Two Metals; Sullivan’s Carson Pirie Scott: A Case Study in Cast Iron Facade Restoration. Contact Association for Preservation Technology International; (217) 529-9039; Makino announces online seminar schedule Summer 2010 Makino’s summer online seminar schedule offers expertise on a variety of topics including milling, EDM and automation, and new machining technologies from Makino. The seminars consist of a 15–30 minute presentation and a live Q&A session. See Events, page 69

Fabricator n July/August 2010

What’s Hot? n


Events Continued from page 68 Registration is required to attend, but all seminars are free. A full schedule is available at “Each year our online seminars help thousands of viewers undertake the newest and most difficult machining and processing tasks, and this summer’s line-up offers something for everyone,” says Mark Rentschler, Makino’s marketing manager. Contact Makino; (800) 552-3288;

minum shoe moulding that will reduce labor costs by up to 80 percent and freight costs by up to 30 percent. PanelGrip® requires no special tools and provides an easy, clean, and cost effective alternative for the installation of tempered glass panels. Contact The Wagner Companies; (888) 243-6914; Heavy duty band saw line Pat Mooney, Inc., The Saw Company Pat Mooney Inc., The Saw Company has reached an agreement to represent the Danobat line of Heavy Duty Band Saw Machines in North America. The Danobat Model CP520AF is designed specifically for sawing demanding applications such as die forging, steel service centers, and heavy manufacturing operations. Each machine

can be equipped with the IntelliCut™ Software to increase parts per shift, decrease cutting cost, and remove the operator from the decision-making process regarding the use of the saw blade and the cutting rate. Contact Pat Mooney Inc., The Saw Company; (630) 543-6222; Versatile ironworker Scotchman® Industries New Scotchman® Industries 65-ton hydraulic ironworker, Model 6509-

TUBING BENDERS Hand Tube Bender Rolls:  1 1/2” Square Tubing  1 x 1 1/2” Rectangular Tubing  Flat Bar (1/2 x 1 1/2” & smaller)  Pipe & Tubing


Magnum Hand Tube Bender Rolls:


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Cap Rails



 Flat Bar (on edge hard way) R&D Hydraulics, Mfg. and Machine Co. 1431 West 5th St. Chico, CA 95928

July/August 2010 n Fabricator


What’s Hot? n


24M, offers more versatility and flexibility. It also offers the largest flat bar shear capacity (1-inch by 6-inches, ½-inch by 12-inches and ¼-inch by 24-inches) and the largest angle shear capacity (5-inch by 5-inches by ½-inch) for a 65-ton machine. Other additional standard features include:

9-inch throat depth, keyed punch ram to insure safe alignment of shaped punches, punch gauging table with fence and scale, electric stroke controls, jog control, electric foot pedal, emergency stop button, lock-out tag out switch and fork lift accommodations. Numerous optional tooling is available for additional fabricating functions. Contact Scotchman Industries, (800) 843-8844; Angle grinder with added safety Metabo Corporation Metabo Corporation now offers an electronic 6-inc angle grinder/cut-off

Whether you choose 1-½" diamond wire mesh or 2"x1" rectangular partition systems both are pre-engineered for easy installation and with multiple functions for use in high security or low security, tool cribs, quality control cages or safety storage caging on mezzanines.

machine with a non-locking paddle switch. The WEP14-150 Quick “Deadman” increases user safety by turning off automatically when released or dropped. With a long lasting 12.2 A motor, the WEP14-150 Quick is ideal for welders, pipe fitters, plumbers, steam fitters, mechanical contractors, and metal fabricators. Other tool safety features include a burst-proof locking wheel guard with seven positions and the Metabo “S-Automatic” safety slip clutch to help protect the operator from kickback. Contact Metabo Corporaton; (800) 638-2264; Workpiece holding magnet Strong Hand Tools®

"From the simplest to the complex, Jesco does it best!" 1" Square, 10 gauge. 1-½" Diamond, 10 gauge. 2" Square / Diamond, 8 and 6 gauge. Contact us today and we'll take care of your wire mesh needs. Call toll free

96 1-800-609-82 View our complete catalog at nline .com www.JescoO Jesco Industries, Inc.

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Phone: 1-517-542-2353 Fax: 1-517-542-2501

Strong Hand Tools® introduces the unique 90° Corner Magnet™ for holding workpieces from the outside. This unique, boomerang-shaped magnet is a 90° Magnet Square in reverse, allowing you to create a precise 90° frame by placing multiple Corner Magnets around the outside of your structure.

At 3½ inches, the Corner Magnet™ is compact and is especially useful in holding a flange in place for tack welding to pipes or tubes. Contact Strong Hand Tools; (800) 989-5244; 4 New glove options Hobart Welding Products

Hobart Welding Products is offering four new glove option designs to its line of welding and metalworking apparel. Form-fitted MIG gloves, two new multi-use gloves, and an economical value pack of welding and multiuse gloves will offer fabricators comfort, dexterity, and protection at an affordable price. The new gloves feature Hobart’s characteristic commitment to comfort, protection, and durability with heavy-duty stitching, top-quality leather, and ergonomic design. All three glove styles and the value pack are available through farm, ranch, hardware, and tool retailers in the US and Canada. Contact Hobart Welding Products; (877) 462-2781;

Fabricator n July/August 2010

What’s Hot? n


NOMMA member Terry Driscoll elected to SMA board NOMMA member and Custom Iron Inc. president, Terry Driscoll, was elected to the Stairway Manufacturers Association (SMA) Board of Directors at their conference in St. Louis, Missouri on April, 30, 2010. Driscoll, having benefited from being a SMA member for over a decade, felt it was his responsibility to make a greater contribution to the organization. “Custom Iron has had a focus on stairs for more than 30 years . . . spiral and curving stairways, as well as stair parts,” said Driscoll. “As a result, many of the concerns of the SMA coincide with the concerns of Custom Iron.” The SMA is a non-profit trade organization representing the stair industry. It was officially formed in

Since 1925

1988 to insure the dominantly wood growth and prosperstair builders,” said ity of the stairway Driscoll. “Obviindustry. ously, that is a little SMA’s original different than metal goal was to focus on fabricators, but, like building code develNOMMA, SMA opment but, today, works to develop it is also actively inbuilding codes and volved in helping to to promote initiaform the standards tives that benefit its Terry Driscoll of Custom Iron Inc. related to the stair members.” specializes in spiral stairs and industry. “Both NOMMA railing systems. Through the and SMA are excelyears, SMA’s membership has grown to lent trade organizations, and particiinclude stair part manufacturers, stair pation in both could be of value to builders, installers, millwork distribumany.” tors, and related associated businesses Contact Terry Driscoll, Custom that support the stairway industry. Iron Inc.; (800) 732-7699; www. “The membership of SMA is

Brasstown, NC

John C. Campbell Folk School Join us for weeklong and weekend workshops! Blacksmithing • Bladesmithing • Toolmaking Design Process • Repoussé and many more!

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To request a free catalog or register for a class, or call 1.800.FOLK.SCH


July/August 2010 n Fabricator

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David A. Yancey Southern Aluminum Finishing Company Inc. (SAF) Southern Aluminum Finishing Co., Inc. (SAF) has announced the retirement of David A. Yancey (February 19, 2010). Yancey began working at SAF as a part-time employee while attending Georgia Tech in the summer of 1958, which gives him the distinction as the only “50-year-man” in SAF Company history. During those 50 years, Yancey fielded every conceivable question and complaint about the products and services at SAF, and his reputation extends throughout the country. Yancey will always be known as

“Mister SAF Sales” to his customers and co-workers or, as his license tag states, he’ll forever be the “Tin Man.” “I greatly admire Dave,” said John B. McClatchey, Jr., Sales Manager at SAF. “He was a mentor and as good a man as there can be!” Contact SAF; (800) 241-7429 or (404) 355-1560; Mike Robbins CML USA Inc. Ercolina CML USA Inc., a manufacturer of tube, pipe and profile bending and metalworking machinery, is pleased to announce that Mike Robbins of MH Metal will serve as Ercolina’s Manufacturer’s Representative responsible for Wisconsin and Illinois.

Contact CML USA, Inc. Ercolina; (563) 391-7700; Brian R. Patrick Englert Inc. Brian R. Patrick has been named director of Operations at Englert Inc., a leading manufacturer and supplier of rainware and metal roofing products. Patrick will be responsible for managing Englert’s manufacturing facilities, its field service center operations, and its warehouse and distribution operations. Prior to joining Englert, Patrick was director of business development at Chinook Sciences LLC in Cranford, New Jersey. Contact Englert Inc.; (732) 8268614;

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Fabricator n July/August 2010 Fabricator Chicago 2010 ad.indd 1

5/26/2010 1:58:49 PM


Advertiser’s Index A thanks to the following advertisers for their support of O&MM Fabricator magazine Pg Company* Website 23...Architectural Iron

Pg Company* Website 70....Jesco Industries Inc......................................


30...Julius Blum & Co.

16....Big Blu Hammer Mfg.

75....King Architectural Metals............................

60...Blacksmiths Depot...........................

13....Lawler Foundry

53...Blue Moon................................................

2......Lewis Brass & Copper Co. Inc.....................

34...The Cable Connection................

69...Lindblade Metal

71....Campbell Folk School, John


37...Carell Corp.........................................................

26...Pat Mooney

29...Chicago Metal Rolled Products Co.....................

26...NC Tool Co.


57....Colorado Waterjet

69...R & D Hydraulics Mfg. & Machine

36...CompLex Industries


27...D & D Technologies (USA) Inc....................

12....Sharpe Products....................................

3......D.J.A. Imports Ltd...........................................


37...Eagle Bending Machines.....


61....Eberl Iron Works

28...Sumter Coatings


22...Sur-Fin Chemical Corp..........................

4......FabCAD Inc..............................................................

19....TACO Metals Inc..............................................


43...TigerStop LLC......................................................

15....Feeney Architectural..........................................

72....Traditional Building.......................

57....The G-S Co..................................................................

45...Tri-State Shearing & Bending................................(718) 485-2200

9......Hebo - Stratford

43...Universal Entry Systems Inc...................................(800) 837-4283

71....Hougen Mfg. Inc..................................................

7......The Wagner

58...International Gate

32...Weaver’s Iron Works.......................

76....The Iron

Attention Industry Suppliers: Plug into the NOMMA Network Call (888) 516-8585, ext. 101

Advertise in Fabricator! Help us celebrate our 50th anniversary by placing an ad in Fabricator. For more info, download our media kit at www.

July/August 2010 n Fabricator

For suppliers, NOMMA offers many marketing opportunities to gain exposure for your . company, including membership, advertising, exhibiting, and sponsorships. Getting Duplicates? No Longer Wish To Receive Fabricator? Please help us reduce waste by reporting unneeded issues. To remove an issue from our list, simply fax the mailing label to: (888) 516-8585. Or, send an email to: nommainfo@ You may also submit a drop request by visiting the “Fabricator” area of the NOMMA website.



Metal Moments

How to avoid outgassing when duplexing Solution: Sandblasting after galvanizing and then heating work past temperature at which it is powder coated, prior to powder coating, should avoid outgassing. Editor’s note: The following conversation took place on NOMMA’s members only electronic ListServ in May. To post your fabricating questions and get answers, call NOMMA’s Fabricator magazine 888-516-8585, ext 103.

Due to improper prep before galvanizing, this rail (top) by A2 Fabrication had to be refinished. Image at left illustrates the result of outgassing causing a break in the powder coated finish and then subsequent rust occurring.

Initial post

A recent customer wanted to have his ornamental deck railing galvanized and then powder coated. I’ve done this on one other job that was a simple pipe rail, and it turned out OK. This time it was a disaster. The galvanizing outgassed during the whole powder coat process. Crevices powdered up within a couple of weeks, and rust occurred in those areas. The top rail looked blistered. I am now blasting off all the paint and galvanizing and considering the best next step. I’m leaning towards eliminating the galvanizing and going with an epoxy primer and a polyurethane topcoat. Do others galvanize prior to painting or powder coating ornamental rails? If so, do you have recommendations for how to achieve a good result? Gale Schmidt A2 Fabrication Inc. Milwaukie, OR Response #1

Gale, I had this same problem years ago and did the same thing you are doing. I learned later that if the galvanized surface had been lightly sandblasted then it would have held. I’ve had a couple projects done 74

since then but have primed and sprayed because I didn’t want to try the powder. Henry A. Wheeler Wheeler Ornamental Metals Dothan, AL Response #2

I had the same problem a few years ago. The reason was that the galvanizing company acid washed my pieces after they were galvanized. I have them do this for all galvanizing that gets painted afterwards (that eliminates an acid wash primer). A light sandblasting after the galvanizing is all you need prior to powder coating. Kai Schulte Schulte Studios, Inc. Sugar Grove, IL Response #3

Here I go again getting up on my metalizing horse. METALIZE, METALIZE, METALIZE! If the rail is sandblasted and then spray coated with zinc and then pow-

der coated or painted you should have no rust. The only issue is with outgassing, and that is solved by heating the work past the temperature at which it is powder coated. This allows the outgassing to happen before the powder is applied and not after. The process works well for us here on Long Island where we are never very far from saltwater. Paul Montelbano Duke of Iron Smithtown, Long Island, NY

Editor’s note: NOMMA members can download a popular article on duplexing, i.e. power coating over galvanizing, from the NOMMA knowledgebase. Here’s a helpful quote from the article: Painting galvanized steel can be a waste of time if the surface isn’t properly prepared. Galvanized steel ages with time. Oxides of zinc form on the surface. So it’s important to powder coat within 12 hours after galvanizing, and to tell your galvanizing source to air cool your assemblies. Usually, galvanized steel is water or chromate quenched. The water quench can deposit dirt or an oily film on the surface. The chromate quench passivates the surface, but it interferes with the phosphate pre-treatment used in powder painting. Other resources to check out: n n

Fabricator n July/August 2010

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