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Ornamental and Miscellaneous Metal


The official publication of the National Ornamental & Miscellaneous Metals Association

January/February 2011 $6.00 US

Member Talk

The secret of M. Cohen & Sons’ success page 38

Shop Talk

Learn to love software, page 32

Job Profile

Top Job 2010 Gallery, page 43

Biz Side

Help for your 2010 taxes, page 50

METALfab 2011

Hope to see you there!, page 61


69-60 79th St.

Fill out this form and fax for FREE admission to the METALfab 2011 Trade Show


March 16-18

METALfab 2011 Trade Show Morial Convention Center - Hall G, 900 Convention Center Blvd., New Orleans, LA

TRADE SHOW HOURS Wednesday, March 16 Thursday, March 17 Friday, March 18

5:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. – Trade Show Grand Opening Reception 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. – Trade Show & Education on Show Floor 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. – Trade Show Open

METALfab is the only trade show for the ornamental and miscellaneous metals industry. Join the METALfab 2011 exhibitors for a display of their products and services. If you would like to participate in all the opportunities that METALfab offers (education program, social activities, trade show etc.) visit for additional information about a full registration for METALfab 2011. Complete the information below for free admission to the METALfab 2011 Trade Show. If you have any questions call (888) 516-8585 x 101. You will not receive a confirmation for this free ticket – your badge will be ready for you at the METALfab registration desk in Hall G of the Morial Convention Center METALfab 2011 is sponsored by the National Ornamental & Miscellaneous Metals Association.

FREE Ticket for METALfab 2011 Trade Show

List the products you hope to purchase at METALfab 2011:

Morial Convention Center

1) ________________________________________

900 Convention Center Blvd., New Orleans, LA Go to to register online. Or, complete this form and mail to: METALfab, 805 S. Glynn St., Ste 127, #311, Fayetteville, GA 30214 • Fax to (888) 516-8585 First Name _______________________________________________________ Last Name _______________________________________________________ Company ________________________________________________________ Address __________________________________________________________ City __________________________ State _______ Zip ___________________ Country ____________________________ Phone _______________________ Email ____________________________ Fax_________________________

2) ________________________________________ 3) ________________________________________

1) q q q q

Primary type of business: Fabricator General Supplier Contractor Other___________________

2) q q q q

Annual gross sales: Below $1 million $1 - $2.5 million $2.5 - $5 million Over $5 million

3) q q q

Your role in purchasing: Final Say Recommend Specify

4) q q q

Job description: Owner Manager/Foreman Other_______________

Check here q if you are not involved in the business.

Children 12 years and under are not permitted on the show floor. Young people between the ages of 13 and 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

METALfab 2011

A Special Group of Suppliers - METALfab 2011 Sponsors

The sponsors for 2011 are a very special group of suppliers. In challenging economic times they are going the extra mile to help METALfab be an outstanding event. We appreciate their support! Platinum Sponsors

handrails, guardrails, brackets, tubing, bars and shapes.

Industrial Coverage Corp. 62 South Ocean Ave. Patchogue, NY 11772 (800) 242-9872 • (631) 736-7500 Website: NOMMA endorsed insurance administrator.

D.J.A. Imports Ltd. 1672 East 233rd St. Bronx, NY 10466 (877) 773-2352 • (718) 324-6871 Website: D.J.A. is a full service distributor specializing in ferrous and non-ferrous metals such as ornamental steel, aluminum, stainless steel, and brass. Furthermore, they have gate and door hardware in solid steel and stainless, gate and door handles, furniture commercial furnishings, and machinery.

The Wagner Companies P.O. Box 423 Butler, WI 53007-0423 (888) 243-6914 • (414) 214-0444 Website: The Wagner Companies is a worldwide distributor and manufacturer of metal products – including handrail fittings and systems - for architectural and industrial applications. Its diverse product lines include special focus on railing products (elbows, handrail, fittings, etc.) and services related to railings, such as bending, fabrication and polishing. Gold Sponsor Lawler Foundry Corp. P.O. Box 320069 Birmingham, AL 35232 (800) 624-9512 • (205) 595-0596 Website: Lawler Foundry serves the fabricator and forger with high quality castings and forgings at popular prices. Silver Sponsors Colorado Waterjet 5186 Longs Peak Road, Unit F Berthoud, CO 80513 (866) 532-5404 • (970) 532-5404 Website: Colorado Waterjet Company is Colorado’s oldest, largest, and most experienced job shop specializing in abrasive waterjet shape cutting. Equipment includes a Dynamic WaterJet the most advanced waterjet available. Julius Blum & Co. Inc. P.O. Box 816 Carlstadt, NJ 07072 (800) 526-6293 • (201) 438-4600 Website: Components for architectural metalwork, which are available in aluminum, bronze, stainless steel, and nickel-silver. Products include

Innovative Hinge Products Inc. 415 Jones Rd. Weatherford, TX 76088 (817) 598-4848 Website: www.ihpinc. net Innovative Hinge Products provides high quality, cost effective hinge solutions for almost any door or gate. Bronze Sponsors Carell Corp. P. O. Box 850 Stapleton, AL 36578 (251) 937-0948 Website: www.carellcorp. com Carell Corp. was founded to fill a need for tough, dependable machines capable of working day after day with minimum down time. Carell provides a wide range of models, options and tooling to match almost any budget. They also have an in-house machining shop to satisfy the growing demand for custom tooling at all levels of complexity. O.K. Foundry Co. Inc. 1005 Commerce Rd. Richmond, VA 23224 (888) 592-2240 Website: www. okfoundrycompany. com O.K. Foundry provides production, prototype and one-ofa-kind gray and ductile iron castings for engineering and architectural applications produced in a traditional jobbing foundry. For info on METALfab, visit



January/February 2011 Vol. 52, No. 1

Emerald Ironworks Inc. won the bronze award for this driveway gate in the 2010 Top Job contest, p. 44

Tips & Tactics

Shop Talk

Purchasing a power hammer?................................... 14 Know the basics before you shop. By Rachel Bailey Gain more control over projects with in-house plasma.................... 18 Harnessing this technology can help increase revenue. By Jeff Fogel Low risk temp-to-hire agencies...................20 Third-party agencies can reduce paperwork and number of bad hires. By Doug Bracken Shop Talk Managing the threat of lower-priced products.............22 Get the recap from a heated online member discussion. By Pete Hildebrandt President’s Letter........... 6

Kick your New Year off right by attending METALfab.

Biz Side

CNC Software......................................... 32 Find out why it’s as essential as bookkeeping software in today’s market. By Leon Drake Member Talk Success in Succession.....................38 Each generation at M. Cohen & Sons builds toward greater outcomes. By Rachel Bailey Job Profiles Top Job 2010 Gallery........................43 See what made these entries winners in the 2010 contest. Biz Side How to use Check-the-Box regulations to your benefit.......50 Choose your type of business entity. By Mark E. Battersby

Exec. Director’s Letter.... 8

It’s all about value and relationships.

Shoestring marketing.....................55 Using current resources wisely. By William J. Lynott 3 Growth risks and how to cure them...............................58 A new book explains how to avoid self-inflicted business wounds. Book by Edward D. Hess METALfab 2011 METALfab 2011 update.................. 61 Shop tours, trade show floor demos. By Todd Daniel What’s Hot! Business Briefs...............................65 Events..................................................67 Chapters............................................68 New Products..................................69 Nationwide suppliers..................63 New members.................................64

NEF Chair Letter............ 12

Find out what NEF does for you!

Metal Moment............... 74

Welding is not for dummies, but it’s new to the series.

About the cover: NOMMA member M. Cohen & Sons Inc., Broomall, PA, won the silver award in the Top Job 2010 category

of Stair Fabrication for this cantilevered, suspended steel stair. Read their story on pages 38 and 46. January / February 2011 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 Grand Rapids, MI Treasurer Mike Boyler Boyler’s Ornamental Iron Inc. Bettendorf, IA

T rustees Carl Grainger Grainger Metal Works Nichols, SC Heidi Bischmann The Wagner Companies Milwaukee, WI James Minter, Jr. Imagine Ironworks Brookhaven, MS


Dedicated to the success of our members and industry.

President’s Letter

Attend METALfab 2011 as your New Year’s resolution Well, we survived the holidays

Many suppliers will be offering demos on the floor for even more information. The Top Job exhibition will also be on the trade show floor. It’s always a great opportunity for sharing new ideas and gathering inspiration as well. Bruce Boyler, We have some great shops to Boyler’s tour that will offer even more Ornamental opportunities to pick up tips Iron Inc., is and tricks from other fabricapresident of NOMMA. tors and people in our industry. In addition to all these events, there will be time for Programs for METALfab 2011 fun too. Did I forget to mention that the NEF auction is on St. Patrick’s n New techniques. Day? All of this happens in the great n How to get more business. city of New Orleans. And we have n How to get better employees. added a spouse program so you can n How to run a safer shop. share the fun. n How they restored the Statue of Liberty. I look forward to seeing all of All this and more is waiting for you you there. It’s obviously on my list of in New Orleans. things to do. and now it’s a new year. Last year was not the very best for most of us, but things are looking up. When you make out your New Year’s resolutions, don’t forget to include attending METALfab 2011. We can all use a little extra knowledge to get the New Year off to a quick start. All of the seminars have been created from suggestions from you, the membership.

Look for new exhibitors

Don’t forget the value of attending the full trade show. This year’s exhibit features new suppliers and equipment.

Lynn Parquette Mueller Orn. Iron Works Inc. 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 (973) 247-7603

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

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

NOMMA S taff Executive Director, Editor J. Todd Daniel Managing Editor Rachel Bailey Layout Editor Robin Sherman


Meetings & Exposition Manager; NEF Executive Director Martha Pennington Member Care & Operations Manager Liz Johnson

METALfab 2011 March 16–19, 2011 New Orleans, LA

Ph: (888) 516-8585, ext 101

Trade Show schedule: Wed, March 16, 5:30 p.m.–8 p.m. Thurs, March 17, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Fri, March 18, 9 a.m.–12 p.m. Trade show only is free. Pre-registration is encouraged - simply fill out the form on page 3 and fax in.

Late Breaking News • A “thank you” to King Architectural Metals for their “Gold” level sponsorship. • Class times are now available - (click on “Schedule”) • See the latest listing of trade show floor demos - (click on “Highlights”)

Fabricator n January / February 2011

The Wagner Companies

(888) 243-6914 •

Wagner Price Assurance No Minimum on UPS Shipments Visit


January / February 2011 n Fabricator

6/1/2010 2:06:02 PM


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 8,000 fabricators For information, call Jim Gorzek, Ph: (815) 227-8269. Email: Ads are due on the first Friday of the month preceding the cover date. Send ads 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. © 2011 National Ornamental & Miscellaneous Metals Association 8


How to reach us

Executive Director’s Letter

Growing our membership For the past year, I’ve been

all examined ways to improve researching ways that we can our membership value. Since re-grow our membership, which January, both NOMMA and the has dropped by a third since NOMMA Education Founda2007. tion have launched new prodI’ve read books, articles, ucts and services, including and even hired a consultant, webinars and a vendor discount but the “big picture” did not program. Todd Daniel come together for me until I We now have 16 tangible is executive recently read an article by Ed benefits that we offer the director of Rigsbee, CSP, a noted columnist NOMMA. industry. and speaker. One of our priorities is to do Mr. Rigsbee said that mema better job of educating both bership growth is not about members and the industry on contests and promotions, but our benefits. For instance, your rather it’s about building relabest benefit is a quiet one that tionships and delivering outstanding works behind-the-scenes to protect value. Ultimately, it’s about creating your business — our Technical Affairs a group of professionals who truly Division. Currently, our Technical believe that the association has imAffairs teams are involved in swimproved their business, and who are ming pool codes, manual creation, willing to share their story. and they even provided input for Canada’s recent climbability study. The next level

NOMMA will achieve even greater success when our membership sees the advantages of creating a larger and stronger organization. I can talk about how more members gives us better clout with the code bodies and enables us to provide better services. Or, I can talk about the advantages of having your competitors becoming NOMMA members and committing to our code of ethics. However, we achieve real traction when members themselves see the advantages of growth and become NOMMA evangelists. Creating value

Throughout my career, I’ve always believed that if you create an outstanding product, the customers will come to you. With NOMMA, I believe the same holds true — if we create an outstanding association that truly meets the business and professional needs of our industry, we will grow. Over the past year, the NOMMA board, our task forces, and staff have

Things you can do

The best way that NOMMA can grow is for each member to invite a nonmember to METALfab, and then serve as their “pathfinder” and guide throughout the week. This helps the new person to feel included, and you can show them the educational and networking benefits of a NOMMA membership. As the new attendee becomes comfortable and familiar with our association, they will build an “emotional ownership” in their trade association. According to Mr. Rigsbee, this feeling of personal ownership “is the crucial foundation of any long-term member.” Invest

I strongly encourage each of you to attend METALfab, and better yet, please invite a nonmember friend. In New Orleans, we will learn, exchange information, and grow together as an industry.

Fabricator n January / February 2011


The NOMMA Network Attend METALfab AND get a NOMMA membership! When registering for METALfab, don’t worry if you are not a member — we’ll make you one. This year the nonmember rate includes a NOMMA membership, and will give you full benefits and privileges. To participate in the program, just choose the “Become a NOMMA Member” option when registering. METALfab is the best way to “get connected” with NOMMA and see the great educational and networking benefits that we offer. By now, you should have received a METALfab 2011 conference guide. If not, you can obtain complete information from our website: New NOMMA ListServ is going strong In November, we connected our ListServ with the member’s only area. This allows users to access both services with the same user name and password. Better yet, all ListServ conversations are indexed and become part of our Knowledgebase. While we went to great lengths to ensure a smooth migration, we have discovered a few glitches. If you are no longer getting ListServ postings, please let Liz Johnson at the NOMMA office know (, 888-516-8585,

ext. 101). If you are not on the list and would like to be added, please let us know as well. Are you receiving NOMMA email messages? NOMMA email communications are an important member benefit — are you receiving them? By default, emails go to the main mailbox for each company. You can also have emails go directly to you on request. In addition to our monthly email newsletter, NOMMA Newswire, you’ll also receive occasional announcements

NOMMA Newswire is one of your valuable membership benefits. Are you receiving it?

on upcoming webinars, special events, and conference updates. We dislike spam as much as anyone, and we promise to never send out more than 4–5 announcements per month. We will also never give out your email address. To make sure you are getting the latest NOMMA news, please contact Liz Johnson (, 888516-8585, ext. 101). NOMMA Member’s Area gets new features The NOMMA member’s website is packed with information, but the resources are spread in many areas. To simplify things, we’ve added frequently requested information directly on the home page. For instance, need information on driveway gate standards or cleaning stainless steel? This information and more is now on the home page. Plus, we’ve made webinars, video tutorials, and issues of Fabricator’s Journal easier to access by clicking on links. To manage your member account,

NOMMA Launches 2011 Membership Campaign Not a NOMMA member? NOMMA has recently released a new brochure that outlines the many benefits of membership, which includes free NEF webinars, the Vendor Discount Program, and our super popular ListServ discussion list. In addition, we’ve also redesigned the member’s area of our website, which features a listing of benefits and pictures of members participating in the “NOMMA Network.” If you are already a NOMMA member, please help us grow by sending a colleague in your area a link to the NOMMA website. And if you are a supplier, please invite your customers to join NOMMA. The brochure is currently being printed, and we will be glad to send copies to fabricator and supplier members who would like to pass them out. To request a supply, please contact the NOMMA office (; 888-516-8585, ext. 101).


Fabricator n January / February 2011


The NOMMA Network

The NAAMM-NOMMA manual task force spent two days at NAAMM headquarters in Chicago to work on the upcoming Metal Stair & Rail Manual.

The member’s area has been streamlined to make commonly requested information more accessible.

we’ve simplified the process by creating a “My Membership” menu item, where you can change your contact information, view your transactions, purchase items from the NEF store, and even register for METALfab. NAAMM-NOMMA Task Force meets in Chicago On December 1-2 a NOMMA team traveled to NAAMM headquarters in the Chicago suburbs to work on the Metal Stair & Railing Manual project. Originally launched in 2008, the project hit a speed bump last year, but is going full steam now. Plans are to combine the NOMMA Metal Rail Manual and the NAAMM Pipe Railing Systems Manual and Metal Stairs Manual into a single publication. Much of the two-day meeting was spent defining scope and reviewing and

Please respond to our new member benefits survey In early 2011 NOMMA is conducting a “Member Benefits Survey,” which is an important part of our planning efforts. The survey will help us determine what benefits to enhance, which ones to retire, and what new benefits to consider. The survey will only take 5–7 minutes to complete. When you get the email questionnaire, please take a moment to respond so we get feedback from as many members as possible. January / February 2011 n Fabricator

updating old manuscripts. Ed Powell of Merick is serving as task force leader for the stair section, while Tony Leto of The Wagner Companies is leading the railing task force. Plans are to release the manual in November 2011. A thanks to the following NOMMA members for participating in the meeting: Steve Engebregtsen, The Wagner Companies; Joe Lawrence, Big D Metalworks; Tony Leto, The Wagner Companies; Ed Powell, Merick; and Tom Zuzik, Jr., Artistic Railings Inc.

Shop Certification Task Force completes third draft NOMMA’s Shop Certification Task Force has completed their criteria for a basic shop accreditation, and the document is now ready for NOMMA board review. Once the team receives the “green light” they will put the document out to the membership for public comments. The group will also begin working on the education curriculum, which will include a study guide and an exam.

NOMMA exhibits at FABTECH show in Atlanta NOMMA was pleased to participate in the FABTECH show, which took place November 2­–4 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, GA. NOMMA’s booth was located in the welding supplies section and stayed busy throughout the three days. At the booth, staff and volunteers gave out materials on membership and we invited fabricators and suppliers to METALfab 2011. The FABTECH event is a com-

bined show that includes the American Welding Society (AWS) and several other associations. The Atlanta event featured 1,138 exhibitors and about 22,000 attendees. NOMMA has already signed up for the next show, which will be November 13-16 at McCormick Place in Chicago. If you are a member and able to volunteer for a shift, please contact Todd Daniel (todd@nomma. org, 888-516-8585, ext. 102). Both half day and full day shifts are available.

NOMMA booth at FABTECH. The NOMMA exhibit stayed busy throughout the show, and allowed staff and volunteers to make contacts with dozens of fabricators and suppliers. 11


NOMMA Educational Foundation

In partnership with the National Ornamental & Miscellaneous Metals Association

What does NEF do for you? I have noticed that when greeting quite a number of

METALfab Education Program

you, instead of reaching out your hand to shake mine NEF plans and produces the METALfab Education you instinctively reach for your wallet and make sure Program for the convention and trade show. that it is secure and that I can’t get to it. In these challenging times it is difficult for me and the other Scholarship and Grants NEF trustees to quickly convince you that you should NEF has been fortunate to contribute to the fundopen up your wallet and empty it out and financially ing and administer the Wagner Grant. The Wagner support NEF. I am sure that if I could spend half of Companies has paired with NEF to provide grants to an hour with each of you, I could convince you that Update from members that are unable to participate in the METwhen you are contributing to the NEF you are help- NEF Chair ALfab experience. Roger Carlsen, ing yourself. Unfortunately, neither you nor I can Ephraim afford that much time. NEFERP Forge Inc. In lieu of that, Martha Pennington, NEF’s Executive The goal of the NEF Education Resource Program Director, and I put together a short list of what NEF (NEFERP) is to be the resource center for education does for you in the hopes that when we come to you seminars that can be presented at local chapter meetwith fund raising in our eyes, a smile on our lips, and ings or at member shops that do not have chapter our hands outreached that you will take out your walaffiliation. let or checkbook and say, “How much do you need?” Below is a list of NEF services for NOMMA members: Zi8 Video Program NEF has two Kodak Zi8 video cameras for use by New Member Packets NOMMA members. The purpose of these cameras is to NEF produces and provides media materials for new loan them out so members can video tape a tip, technique, member packets. When you join NOMMA the packet of or solution to a problem and then post this video on our brochures you receive is created, produced, and provided members-only site. Currently the program has expanded to by the NOMMA Education Foundation. include taping a contribution for the video shop tour program for METALfab 2011. DVD with Membership Renewal

When you receive a DVD with your membership renewal, that DVD was produced by the NOMMA Education Foundation. Educational videos

NEF has produced a library of educational videos that are available for in-shop or at-home training. Subject matter covered in the productions includes stair railings – straight, curved, stair fabrications – curved and straight steel stair; finishing; garden gates; scroll theory and production, working with stainless steel and architectural bronze, nickel silver, and Redd Metals; ergonomic techniques for blacksmithing, and power hammer techniques. NEF publications

NEF offers publications and pamphlets covering design ideas for ornamental metal, driveway gates, interior railings, walkway gates, and metal finishes.

NEF Auction

The silent and live auction help NEF raise funds to support its programs while providing great entertainment for the attendees. Continuing Education Program

NEF has provided both one- and two-day seminars giving attendees a hands-on approach to learning. Topics have included estimating, scroll making, FabCAD, power hammer techniques, etc. NEF Webinars

The NEF Webinar program provides an opportunity for fabricators to take a class at work. These webinars are archived and available for viewing later in the membersonly area. Some of the topics covered in these webinars are: codes, hiring employees, making sales in hard times, payment bonds, etc.


For more information on donating to the NOMMA Education Foundation contact Martha Pennington, (888) 516-8585 x 104, 12

Fabricator n January / February 2011

Chapter Support

NEF provides educational support for new and existing chapters. NEF helps with the education program at the organizational meetings. NEF has also assisted existing chapters with special programs for their meetings such as the recent finishing program at the Upper Midwest Chapter. Certification Continuing Education

When the certification program is established, NEF will provide the continuing education needed to help members acquire and maintain their certification.

provides a valuable pool of data for the NOMMA Technical Affairs Division and allows NOMMA to provide solid facts in response to code change proposals. Fund raising

NEF also acts as the primary fund raiser to support all of these programs. With all of the programs and activities listed above I hope you see the value of NEF to you and that you will respond in a positive and generous way when presented with the opportunity to financially support NEF.

Cliff Brown Award

This award recognizes those who have made an outstanding contribution to education in the industry. The honor is named after the late Clifford Brown, founder of Hallmark Iron Works. NEF Lawler Research Program

The NOMMA Education Foundation took the a major step in March of 2006 by announcing the creation of the NEF Lawler Research Program. Initially, the research program focused on guard safety and climbability, and we will consider other areas as needs arise. The research

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Tips& Tactics n Purchasing a power hammer? Learn the basics to get more bang for your buck By Rachel Bailey To be competitive with custom

forged work you pretty much have to have a power hammer in your shop. And, adding custom work to your product offering is a great way to differentiate from the fab shop next door. However, unlike 30 years ago, there are a lot to choose from. Distributors and manufacturers of today’s power hammers all seem to suggest that their hammer is the best. And all of them are not wrong. Depending on your specific needs, there is a certain hammer that is best for you. Here are some basics to consider when investing in a power hammer. Self contained or utility

once the air tank is low the hammer will lose power, which could lead to down time,” Johnson says. On the other hand, according to Kayne, air compressors can last 20 years, and if you do have a problem they are easy to replace (depending on the size of the compressor). Also, on a utility hammer, “when you take your foot off the treadle, the ram sits there and does not continuously run,” says Kayne. The idea is that it gives the operator greater control. While most shops already have a compressor, if your shop does not have a one, Dean Curfman of Big Blu says to ask your potential dealer or manufacturer what they would suggest for your particular unit because it will factor into your budget.

It seems the most popular questions Steve Kayne of Blacksmiths Depot and Your budget James Johnson of Anyang Of course, you have to USA get about air hammers Corrina Mensoff of Phoenix Metalworks made a custom swage to know your budget. How concern the difference bemuch are you willing to texture 1/8-inch steel plate hummingbird wings on her 100 lb utility tween a utility hammer and hammer, which runs off her shop’s air compressor. invest in a power hammer a self contained hammer. right now? Kayne likes to Here it is in a nutshell. ask, “Do you want a Hugo or a Mercedes?” “A self-contained air hammer has a built in air source,” While hammers come in a variety of shapes and sizes, explains Johnson. “In the back of the hammer there is a Jon Ledford (who’s been working with Ed Mack out of Fine constant cycling piston that generates an air source that is Architectural Metalsmiths for the last eight years) cautions always present. against getting a hammer that is too big. “Advantages are that workers can run the hammer full Really, anything in the 300 to 400 pound range is overkill throttle all day, without any power loss or any down time. for most NOMMA shops who generally are not working Power is not dependent upon a separate air compressor that material that is bigger than 3- to 4-inch solid, he says. W R IT E!

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 January / February 2011






Fax or e-mail your prints or mail samples for immediate quotation!

Mac Metals, Inc. 936 Harrison Avenue Kearny, NJ 07032 Tel: 800.631.9510 Fax: 201.997.7457 Website: E-Mail:


Plus, the bigger the hammer, the more danger there is for the operator and less room for operator error. “The ABANA guys, and guys who are mechanics, like the big­ger hammers,” says Ledford, but they know how to work on them. If you’ve come into possession of an older hammer, there are some guys who will restore it for you. (Ask any of the suppliers listed below or try Bob Bergman of Postville Blacksmith Shop, While the size of the hammer plays a role in how much it costs, a way to save money no matter what you buy is to cut out shipping costs. Curfman suggests asking the manufacturer or dealer if you can pick up your hammer. He also says to be sure to find out exactly what comes with your hammer and what doesn’t. “Are you going to have to either find or make dies?” says Curfman. Be sure they fit, and consider the price range for standard or custom dies for your particular hammer. Shop logistics

Curfman also reminds fabricators to take into account the footprint of a new hammer, and its power requirements. Is it pneumatic or electric? If electric, is it a single- or three-phase? And do you have the appropriate foundation for it?

ed either down or back into the work. “Anything beyond this ratio, returns are minimal,” says Kayne. Force of the ram

According to Ledford, the weight of the ram or the force of it, as opposed to a particular ratio, is probably the most important factor. “Technically you can do anything on a small hammer that you can do on a big hammer, but the greater the force of the blow, the quicker you can work.” Johnson adds that the force of the ram is a function of the ram weight plus the air pressure pushing down on it. Versatility

The engineering of the dies you use can also affect your hammer’s efficiency. And if you only have one hammer, you’ll want one that allows you to Blacksmith Dan Boone demonstrates on a easily and quickly change out dies or 110 lb, self-contained hammer at ABANA’s May 2010 conference. Photo courtesy of swages for custom texturing. Nick Vincent, Nathan’s Forge. In addition, Curfman says to be sure you get a hammer with the necessary throat depth for the material you Below is a list of power hammer suppliers listed in NOMMA’s 2010 will be forging.

Power hammer suppliers

Buyer’s Guide. For details on how to obtain the 2011 Buyer’s Guide, visit

Set up and training

Obviously, the quicker you can get up to speed on your new tool, the quicker the return on your investment. So, Curfman says to be sure to ask if your dealAnyang USA D.J.A. Imports 2956 CR 1370 1672-A East 233rd St. er or manufacturer will Alvord, TX 76225 Bronx, NY 10466-3306 be able to help you set up (940) 627-4529 (877) 773-2352 Basic efficiency your hammer and provide of hammer basic training for you and If you are looking to your staff. Big BLU Hammer Mfg. Co. Ironwood LLC invest in a power hammer He also believes that 3308 Frank Whisnant Rd. 10385 Long Rd. Arlington, TN 38002-5911 or add another one to your Morganton, NC 28655 it is important to develop (828) 437-5348 (901) 867-7300 shop, you are obviously a relationship with your interested in increasing dealer or manufacturer your production efficiency. since they will be a necesSo it’s important for you to recognize sary contact for a long time to come. what it is about a power hammer that Hammer to anvil ratio Of course all of this is great inforaffects its efficiency. According to Steve Kayne, an mation, but like Jon Ledford says, for Many variables come into play here, efficient hand hammer to anvil ratio most it really comes down to brand and not everybody agrees on what is 50:1. On a power hammer, because loyalty, the availability of parts, and they are. So, take the items below into you don’t consider the horn and the price. So check on that too, and get a consideration along with what you heel, Kayne says a desirable ratio is 20:1. clear understanding of your warranty. already know and then ask your This means the anvil (not the whole dealer or manufacturer a lot more machine) weighs 20 times more than Thanks to Jon, Steve, James, and questions: the ram so that most energy is reflectDean for their help with this article. 16

Alku Group of Companies 127A Aviva Park Dr. Woodbidge, ON, CANADA L4L 9C1 (905) 265-1093

Blacksmiths Depot 100 Daniel Ridge Rd. Candler, NC 28715 (828) 667-8868

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Tips& Tactics n Gain more control over projects with in-house plasma By Jeff Fogel One way to increase profits is to

streamline the fabrication process. Whether you’re a one-man shop or a mid-sized operation, there’s a plasma cutter that’s right for your business And the possibilities for new revenue and custom design go from there. Plasma in a nutshell

Plasma comprises about 99 percent of the universe. Yet no one ever heard of plasma until it was identified as a fourth state of matter in 1879. Plasma is basically gas in a superheated, ionized state. Stars are made of plasma, which gives you an idea of the kind of heat that it can generate. In the 1950s researchers at Union Carbide discovered that if you bottleneck the flow of gas through a TIG welder, in accordance with Bernoulli’s principle, the rate of flow will be accelerated. An arc circuit could then ionize the fast moving gas, and voila: a star in a box. The 30,000-plus degree plasma went through metal like a hot knife through butter, leaving an impossibly thin, clean kerf in its wake. A new technology was born. Today, you can get a manual plasma cutter at a big box hardware store for less than a thousand dollars. The larger, computerized models go for considerably more, but are still affordable to small companies. And the best thing about them is that they quickly begin paying for themselves in a number of ways.

Selecting a machine

Increasing your revenue

Plasma cutters have come a long way. In its basic manifestation, it’s a compact, portable machine about the size of an arc welder. If your needs (and means) are modest, these basic machines will definitely get the job done. And while a little more expensive than an oxy-fuel cutter, they’ll do some things the oxy-cutters can’t do: namely cut aluminum and stainless. When you’re looking for a machine, the basic guidelines are similar to selecting a welding machine: duty cycle, amperage, weight and balance of torch nozzle, and so forth. Another parameter is IPM, or inches per minute. This is the rate of the cut and is directly proportional to amperage. A machine that will go through ½-inch plate is probably in the vicinity of 60 amps.

For Carl Grainger, of Grainger Metal Works, that meant more control over projects. Before he acquired a CNC plasma cutter, he sent work out. He can now keep projects in house. This means a quicker turnaround, and better control over quality. It’s also opened possibilities for design. “If you can draw it, you can cut it out,” says Grainger. Not to mention the fact that he can now do cutting for other fabrication shops — yet another way these machines pay their own way.

CNC: Cutting by the numbers

Computer numerically controlled machines were developed by researchers at MIT in the 1960s. These are the higher end machines that can turn a fabricator into a Rembrandt. Simply, they are a torch mounted on a multiaxis gantry which moves across a table. The gantry’s movements are directed by internal software. The internal software is orchestrated by additional software which translates the cutting design into electronic traffic signals for the table’s servos. This software can be pre-packaged — sort of Clip Art for metal workers — or you can draw it yourself. That’s where the possibilities become endless. And with those possibilities come revenue possibilities.

Safety considerations

Whether you go with a manual plasma cutter or step up to the CNC machines, there are a few additional considerations. Safety is one. A good helmet goes without saying; preferably in the 6 to 8 (depending on amperage) range. Plasma cutters also generate a lot of airborne pollutants in your shop. If you’re operating a manual cutter, a mask and a good air filtration system is a must. The CNC machines keep dust to a minimum with either downdraft or water systems. Online help

Carl Grainger suggests these two websites for online help: n An online forum for plasma cutters takes place at n Helpful FAQs are at www. Thanks to Carl and Jeff for these tips.


Fabricator would like to publish your tips and tactics. Please contact the Editor at (888) 516-8585 or e-mail: 18

Fabricator n January / February 2011

Plasma cutter suppliers Below is a list of plasma cutting equipment suppliers listed in NOMMA’s 2010 Buyer’s Guide. For details on how to obtain the 2011 Buyer’s Guide, visit Bug-O Systems 3001 West Carson St. Pittsburgh, PA 15204-9989 (800) 245-3186 Chicago Architectural Metals 4619 North Ravenswood Ave. Chicago, IL 60640 (773) 275-0700 Dynatorch 3530 Starnes Dr. Paducah, KY 42003 (877) 260-2390 Elderfield & Hall Inc. 775 West Jackson Chicago, IL 60661 (800) 747-9353

January / February 2011 n Fabricator

Hypertherm Inc. P.O. Box 5010 Hanover, NH 03755 (800) 643-0030

Steel & Pipes Inc. P.O. Box 5309 Caguas, PR 00726 (787) 747-9415

Lincoln Electric Co. 22801 St. Clair Ave. Cleveland, OH 44117 (800) 833-9353

Texas Metal Industries 1331 East Hwy 80, Ste. 15 Mesquite, TX 75150 (800) 222-6033

Mittler Bros. Machine & Tool P.O. Box 110 Foristell, MO 63348-0110 (800) 467-2464

Three Rivers Machinery 345 Mt. Lebanon Blvd., # 17 Pittsburgh, PA 15234 (412) 344-7424

PlasmaCAM Inc. P.O. Box 19818 Colorado City, CO 81019-0818 (719) 676-2700

Wasatch Steel Inc. 243 West 3300 South Salt Lake City, UT 84115 (888) 496-4463

Nido Inc. Group P.O. Box 11978 San Juan, PR 00922-1978 (800) 981-6565

Xycorp Inc. 1258 Montalvo Way Palm Springs, CA 92262 (888) 745-0333

Samson P.O. Box 279 Rye, CO 81069 (719) 489-3337


Tips& Tactics n Low risk temp-to-hire agencies . . . can reduce your paperwork and number of bad hires By Doug Bracken I was surprised recently to see my

colleagues discussing on NOMMA’s online forum about how hard it is to find good, qualified employees. During boom years this is predictably one of the biggest concerns for NOMMA members and manufacturing industries nationwide, but I was surprised to hear that the trend continues even in these challenging economic times. At METALfab 2011 in New Orleans (March 16–19, 2011), I will lead a session on “How to find, hire, and keep good employees.” But until then, here’s a little food for thought. The first hurdle to overcome is the idea that there aren’t any good employees available. This is simply not true. More than ever talent is available but just because you own and run a fabrication shop does not mean that you necessarily know how and where to find good metalworking talent! There are a million reasons why someone would be looking for a chance to work for your business such as: a better place to work, a job closer to home, a job with advancement potential, a more stable company, a job with health insurance, etc. However, the task of matching a qualified candidate to your open position is a task which can and should be given to those who make their living matching employees with jobs — a temp-to-hire agency. As a small business manager or owner, we all wear too many hats to begin with, and because most of us

don’t come from a professional human resources background the key here is to simplify and insulate the process by employing a temp-to-hire agency to minimize your risk and reduce your workload and chances of making a bad hire. First, identify a temporary labor or temp-to-hire agency in your area that specializes in hiring people who perform work within metal manufacturing. Try to have representatives from the agency come by to see your shop and meet you personally so they know firsthand what kind of employee you want and what kind of work you do. The agency should offer, as part of their services, to interview each candidate and verify references, driving history, and work history too. If you are willing to pay a little more, they should also provide criminal background checks and even drug screens PRIOR to you even interviewing or hiring. Discuss the agency fee structure which is usually base wage plus a percentage (often 1.4 to 1.6%) and negotiate two rates, the highest rate will apply when they send a prospective employee from their pool of applicants and a slightly lower rate applies when you send an employee prospect (who you found) over to them. Then, hire every new prospect through this agency. Many of you might be upset that the temp agency charges “so much” and may even say that it is not affordable. But, considering that on your base wage, you can expect to pay at least 20 percent just to cover taxes and

insurance, in my opinion, for them to charge about 30 percent on top of that for 90 days to run the ads, answer the phones, hand out the applications, do all the paperwork and interviewing, and then filter the results down to the best one or two applicants for your needs, is invaluable, let alone inexpensive assistance. Once the prospective employee passes muster with the agency, then they can come to work for your company but their wages and insurance are paid by the agency until you are ready to hire them. Most agencies will require a 90-day period prior to direct hiring by your company. The good news here is that if you or your partner or shop manager finds the new employee not up to snuff for ANY reason, you can throw them back into the pool without any penalty or fear of work comp exposure at any time. Having a good relationship with a good temp-to-hire agency should be at the top of your to do’s list if you are interested in finding better qualified applicants and reducing the amount of paperwork and exposure for new hires. The premium you pay above the base wage, tax, and work comp insurance to have a third party interview and background check your prospective new hires is cheap insurance when it comes to avoiding the costs of making a poor hiring decision. Thanks to Doug Bracken, president of Wiemann Metalcraft and Heritage Cast Iron USA for sending in this tip.


Fabricator would like to publish your tips and tactics. Please contact the Editor at (888) 516-8585 or e-mail: 20

Fabricator n January / February 2011

“FabCAD® paid for itself within a month of purchase … It is easy to use even for someone like me who is not heavy into computers.” TERRY PRICE • Quality Ornamental Iron • Kansas City, KS






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Roundtable Discussion

Tom Kervin

Roger Carlsen

Mike Boyler Rob Rolves

Shop Talk

Tom Zuzik

Managing the threat of lower-priced products NOMMA members discuss setting yourself apart

By Peter Hildebrandt These days it is tempting to jump

on the “we’ve been beaten by cheap imports, especially those from China” bandwagon. Last June, NOMMA members struck up a conversation (on the members-only online discussion forum referred to as the ListServ) about the challenges of competing with products of less quality, as well as products of comparable quality. Interesting questions were raised. For example, would faux and inferior railings actually be good advertising for people who produce finer work, as it would be easy to compare quality? Would someone who is willing to purchase the cheap stuff be a potential customer anyway? Could the faux products that are on the market be a good thing, as they boost interest in ornamental iron? And, how do we best 22

compete with products that are similar in quality to our own? Below, several NOMMA members offer their responses to these questions and some solutions to the issue. Robert Walsh R. Walsh Gate & Railing Pepin, WI Key point: Focus on your ability to design a site-specific, artistic product.

“I am really torn on this subject,” says Robert Walsh of R. Walsh Gate & Railing. “For years I was ticked off about the imports. But now, I am starting to relate it to the hot rod industry. Steel bodied old cars are so hard to find and expensive that it has raised a whole new industry of fiberglass reproduction bodies. What that has done, is provide old looking

For your information



Featuring comments by n Robert Walsh of R. Walsh Gate & Railing n Mike Boyler of Boyler’s Ornamental Iron Inc. n Rob Rolves of Foreman Fabricators Inc. n Tom Kervin of Kervin Bros. Ornamental Iron Inc. n Dan Donavan of Allform Welding Inc. n Rick Nelson of Ornamental Gate & Fence n Roger Carlsen of Ephraim Forge Inc. n Tom Zuzik Jr. of Artistic Railings Inc. About the author Peter Hildebrandt has been a contributing writer for Fabricator magazine since 2005. He writes about science, technology, industry, and history for a variety of trade publications.

Fabricator n January / February 2011


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No. 6000-XBT



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affordable hot rods to the masses. And, it has given the hot rod thing a mega-boost in interest. The purists however, are reinforced in their interest, and still want the steel bodied cars, and if I were interested in that field on either end, the fiberglass reproductions would be wonderful advertising for me, as they make the movement larger.” Walsh has found in his forge that the solution to competing with imported forged products similar to his own is a shift in focus on what he sells. Rather than touting hand forged, he promotes ironwork that is completely site specific, original, and architecturally appropriate. “I cannot afford to spend my time forging many components that are simply more cost effective to purchase. Where we can compete is in artistic areas. Each area of this country and each home has a specific look, and I can design for a given home, a site-specific look that is original in concept, (hopefully artful), and appropriate.” “Nowadays, instead of a blacksmith’s shop being outproduced and undersold by machine made goods as they were during the industrial revolution in the 1800s, forge shops are now being out-produced and undersold by imported products and foreign labor rates,” says Walsh. Just as the craftsmen of that era countered by starting the Arts & Crafts Movement (hand made). In his own small way, Walsh is “marketing in their footsteps. We’ll see what happens.”




Mike Boyler Boyler’s Ornamental Iron Inc. Bettendorf, IA Key point: Use the power of planning ahead as offensive and defensive strategies.

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Mike Boyler, owner of Boyler’s Ornamental Iron, and his two brothers have a nine-man shop. One of the issues Boyler feels strongly about is the importance of keeping an eye on trends and new products on the horizon in order to help plan responses to competing products, no matter how good we are at our craft. “Quite a few years ago at one of the NOMMA conventions, one of the presidents had a guy come in and speak as a keynote speaker on this wonderful new process he had invented, and how it was going to revolutionize the ornamental iron industry,” says Boyler. “He proceeded to stand there in front of some 600 iron fabricators and tell them how his product was going to put them all out of business. It turned out that it was all a put-on in order to illustrate how quickly industry can change, and how you need to be more proactive in paying attention to what’s going on in the world.” Boyler is the person who began the recent online NOMMA member discussion on competing products. He wrote about how he recently received some literature about a new faux iron railing product. He responded to the company’s mailer for more information and received a price sheet, dealer application and information about production and the products available. Apparently, customFabricator n January / February 2011

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ers can design anything they want, and the company will put their engineers to work on it and get the piece made in about two weeks. “It’s interesting to say the least,” says Boyler. “But there is a large part of the population who get products for status, not necessarily because they are high quality, but because those items look like they are higher quality. For those individuals, we will not be able to compete with something such as a faux iron railing product that comes along. “The ListServ is full of stories about problems and people undercutting others’ prices, but it all boils down to the fact that there are some people who want quality; it makes a difference and they are willing to pay for it. They’re able to recognize quality, able to tell the difference, and they are discerning.”


The discussion ensuing after Boyler posted his comments harkened back to the fact that perhaps these individuals are not their clients to begin with, so nothing really has been lost. “We operate at a certain level of quality and this quality demands a certain price. No matter what we do, we won’t be able to get the people who aren’t willing to pay that price for our products as we make them now,” says Boyler. “If you are not willing to change your quality or your methods then you really haven’t been harmed by a product like this because it’s really answering the needs of the people in the stratosphere under those clients you sell to. “The fence portion of the ornamental iron industry has pretty much gone to the wayside except for the high end and custom stuff for the same reason,

except that it’s not plastic; it’s Chinese metal of some kind rather than faux iron. We’re still selling fence but just not too much of it because we service a different part of the economic population.” Be proactive when being undercut

The closest Boyler has come to dealing with competing products involved the introduction of individual ornamental iron pickets to the railing and construction industry via building supply companies. Quite a few years back, millwork companies servicing builders, selling them woodwork, casings, and wood railing parts, also started selling them ornamental pickets as part of their line. These had different finishes and a limited number of different designs to insert into the railings. In an instant, ornamental iron shops were circumvented. Boyler witnessed some of his medium to low-end builders leaving his business because they could go to the building supply company, where they’d bought their housing finish package, and get pickets too. “I found those contractors weren’t picky as they’d use the same design over and over again — much like what happened in the 1960s when we were selling railings in tract housing — always with the same look and design.” Boyler investigated and about 10 years ago started offering his builders customized pickets. His employees go out and do field dimensions for them, cut them to length, and prepare them. Finishing can be done with a faux finish that the building products companies don’t produce. The pickets are delivered to the job site ready for the carpenters to install. Boyer’s shop has even been willing to alter the way they prepare these pickets for each individual carpenter, including accommodating installation preferences into the stairs. “We retained some of our builders, particularly the high-end builders and still service them with these individual pickets. These were railing jobs we would not otherwise get. At least we were doing part of them, if not the whole job. But this enabled us to keep a certain portion of that prodFabricator n January / February 2011

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uct line and business by adapting and changing tactics. We were willing to compete with them to a certain extent. And they choose us because we provide a service and more variety in the product line.” Rob Rolves Foreman Fabricators Inc. St. Louis, MO Key point: If your customer is a building professional, you may fare better.

Rob Rolves, who’s been working with Foreman Fabricators for 20 years, doesn’t believe any one competing product, like faux railing, could take down their shop. The firm tends to dwell in the commercial construction world where new products go in front of an architect rather than a homeowner. “Fortunately, architects are better educated on this kind of stuff than the average man on the street,” says Rolves. As far as the faux railing goes, it will have an impact on NOMMA members, Rolves believes. “Many of our brethren work on primarily residential properties, and I can see people trying out this product. Depending on how it performs it may be a permanent problem or it may prove to lose its luster quite quickly,

Rolves says. “Maybe those who are threatened could push the learning curve by buying some and putting it through testing to see how it stands up against a railing made from components from R & B Wagner or Julius Blum, or a forged rail, or whatever they’re making. If they can show a customer how the faux railing came apart out in their yard, and their own rail is standing tall, well, that might be the kicker.” Tom Kervin Kervin Bros. Ornamental Iron Inc. Portland, OR Key point: NOMMA members who focus on multi-unit residential or commercial products will likely be affected.

Tom Kervin of Kervin Brothers Ornamental Iron Inc. agrees that faux railing could impact some NOMMA members. A lot of NOMMA members depend on apartment and multi-family residential projects, which are not high-end custom work. “If we are flooded with cheap foreign goods, it makes the construction of a profitable business more difficult. Those products also drive down the price points of all other even remotely similar work. So then the good fabri-

cators start to trim margins, and the race to the bottom is on. It may prove a troublesome trend.” Dan Donovan Allform Welding Inc. Sequim, WA Key point: Comparisons help clients appreciate the difference.

Years ago, Dan Donovan of Allform Welding Inc. experimented with lowcost, two-piece plastic cover shoes on a job, a simple small handrail at the front door of a middle-class duplex. The customer, an elderly lady, said that they looked like plastic, cheapening the quality craftsmanship exhibited in the rest of our work. “We quickly replaced the cover shoes with cast iron, and haven’t used anything but cast iron cover shoes since, although we have offered them as a cost-savings option to some customers,” adds Donovan. “Once the customer sees the difference between the plastic and the cast iron, they choose cast iron cover shoes, or no cover shoes. The relatively small cost difference becomes not so important. That is the essence of the difference between cheap and quality: a lot of little things that change a product to suit the customer.” Rick Nelson Ornamental Gate & Fence Mead, WA Key point: Let the client see a comparison of products.

(951) 737-2480 28

Comparing products produces good results for Rick Nelson of Ornamental Gate & Fence. “The easiest way to sell quality in the hand rail area is to simply show people the molded cap rail sample and also a piece of pipe. They usually choose the better one after they get to feel the difference. “Another thing I enjoy doing is show­ing people the inside of a low, low, low cost gate operator and then explaining to them that this little tiny motor the size of a couple of spools of thread is what’s opening your gate,” adds Nelson. Fabricator n January / February 2011

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“Then I show them the pad mounted operator and the size of the motor and gear reducers. They get the picture real quick. I just wish there was a way of emphasizing the importance of buying local and made in USA products and how it will help our country.” Roger Carlsen Ephraim Forge Inc. Frankfort, IL Key point: Be committed to educating clients.

Roger Carlsen of Ephraim Forge Inc. believes that educating the general public on the difference between plastic iron and real quality iron is helpful. Because of the upper-end nature of his clientele he’s not trying to compete with any outfits producing and selling faux iron railings or fencing. “I don’t bargain with anyone on the price,” explains Carlsen. “With 35 years in the business I feel experience is something you have to pay for.” Carlsen points out the impor-

tant role NOMMA takes in advancing education of clients. He chairs the NOMMA Education Foundation. He sees NEF’s purpose as helping not only with the education and growth of their membership, but also the education of their clientele whether they are architects, individuals, homeowners, businesses, or designers. “They need to understand the idea and concept of quality ironwork versus mass-produced ironwork. They need to be aware of the differences in going to a box store for, say, a fireplace set they will be replacing in a year, versus what we offer and which will probably live longer than our client.”

Key point: Educate those who specify products.

that by educating those who specify our products and products like ours, our industry will benefit. “This is where NOMMA can help improve all our businesses: by educating the architects and designers on how to specify quality metal products over imitation garbage. “We need to educate the masses of architects and designers on quality metal fabrication; this way during the design and budget phase of the project, our products are getting their due, rather than being reduced to a per foot line item. Without that change in thought and our members forcing the designers to change their thoughts, [we] will never have a product of worth, no matter how simple the straight baluster pattern is or ornate it is. Quality products priced by the foot are nothing more than peanuts in a jar; their only value is based on a bottom line of how many.”

Tom Zuzik Jr. of Artistic Railings Inc., often represents NOMMA and our industry at code hearings. He believes

Join NOMMA and help educate our customers and other building professionals (

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Shop Talk

CNC software For your information


Learn how to love it because you can’t thrive without it.


What you’ll learn n Why not using CNC software puts you at a disadvantage. n Why you won’t get proficient in CNC software in a week. n Why you don’t need to immediately master all of the tools that the software provides. n Why it helps to understand the differences among software packages that help to automate the following processes: design, manufacturing, and fabrication. About the Author Leon Drake has been in manufacturing for 31 years, specializing in mechanical and electronic engineering. He is chief engineer for Dynatorch, a supplier of brushless servo motor powered, industrial quality, CNC plasma gas cutting equipment. CO NTAC T

Leon Drake Dynatorch 3530 Starnes Dr. Paducah, KY 42003 Sales (877) 260-2390 Support (270) 442-0560


You don’t have to learn all of the tools in your software toolbox at once. Learn only the ones you need now, and then you’ll want to learn more.

By Leon Drake Let’s face it, software is a dirty word for most of us. It offers such a broad range of uses that

it is a bewildering landscape, one that can put you at the top of your business or ruin you altogether. It is that very danger that keeps many of you away from it altogether. The bad part is you cannot win by not playing. Not having software to aid you in your business, handicaps you in today’s markets. Keeping your books on paper is so poor of a choice that most tax preparers will charge you extra to sort out your paper trail at the end of the year. That charge would probably exceed the cost of the software. Most software requires some setup to understand how your business will use it. In almost every type of software, there are far more options than you need. Simply put: do not use what you do not need, and use what

you do need. You are not forced into using (or learning) everything it can do. An hour with an expert can easily get you started in bookkeeping and with some short trial entries, you will be better off right away because at any moment you can see who owes you and where you stand. Your invoices will look professional (not a barely readable post-it note). Your accountant will no longer avoid your calls. Thus, the cost of such software is quickly recovered. Now on to the real meaty stuff. If you are reading this publication, you probably spend more time with a hot piece of steel in your hand than a keyboard (or mouse). And you may prefer pencil and paper for beginning to design a product. But how do you show your designs to the client? Paper sketches are quick and easy for the artist (particularly when you are in front of the client). They may be all you ever need. But if you intend to Fabricator n January / February 2011

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grow or replicate a product more than once, you will benefit greatly from some software. You can design, save, and re-create an item with a fraction of the effort. This is also known as “profit,” as you can make more product in the same amount of time. The first obstacle to overcome is yourself. When you see someone using CAD drawing and design software you probably think, “That is too complicated for me. I can’t do that. Too many buttons and such...” Let me ask you this, how long did it take you to learn to weld or use a press brake without scrap? More than a day I’ll bet. You also started out with simple welds and 90 degree bends. Any talent requires practice and some time. You will NOT learn to do it all in a week. The secret is you don’t have to. Most programs use a mouse for the majority of control. The buttons are short programs that do things. Think of it like this. You are starting a new job today. A toolbox has been provided for you already setup. Chances are it’s not setup the way you like it. No two are the same. You are looking for a simple regular screwdriver. You open drawers looking for it. You find a huge variety of tools but no screwdrivers. Frustrated, you say, “All I want is a darned screwdriver.” Someone opens the top drawer and there they are. How did I miss that? Simple oversight. Quickly you see that you use most of the tools in the top two drawers only. The rest are special purpose tools. Well. That’s the point. The program will have far more tools than you will ever use. Don’t try to learn them all right away. Simply ignore the ones you don’t need. After you get comfortable with the basic tools, you will start to experiment and discover many hidden treasures that you wish you knew about earlier. Now you are the expert you saw in the paragraph above. Others look over your shoulder in amazement and you become the God of software. You will tell them, “It’s not that hard,” just like when you lay down a perfect bead and the same thing happens. Remember that software is usually sold per seat, that is one per computer only. NOT a home, office, and buddy copy. Sharing is prohibited and getting caught as either the lender or borrower is equally illegal. Enough said on that. Most have some kind of security including the more popular dongle, which is a small USB key that unlocks the software so you can use it. DO NOT LOSE the key! Dogs and cats like to chew on them. Usually this small device is not replaced unless you send back a bad one. The result is you have to re-buy the software at full price. Software for fabrication business

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Regarding software you can use in a metal fabrication business, know that to start with, you do not need to know computers. That’s for programmers. All you need to learn is your program. There are three basic stages to software application in a metal forming shop. 1-Design. This includes sketching or drawing programs. Also called CAD (computer aided design). 2-Manufacturing. This is called CAM (computer aided Fabricator n January / February 2011

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You do not need to know

manufacturing) and turns drawings into programs. 3-Fabrication. This is the CNC machine that cuts the parts.

computers. That is for

1-Design CAD is a huge market. You can get sketching, drawing (flat 2D), or modeling (3D) software. Costs escalate with complexity and start from Freeware on up into $25,000 per copy. Those little disks can be mighty expensive until you consider the investment in time and effort that went into creating it. Sketching is the most common and can start with PC PAINT that comes on any Windows computer. There are many others like Corel or Cutting Shop that will allow you to draw in a nonspecific dimensional world. Lines don’t have to intersect accurately; circles and shapes have relative scale but no exact placement or dimensions in terms of taking this drawing and synthesizing it into a precise cut list, but the drawings are useful for roughing out a design much like on paper. You can howev-











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er also add textures, colors, text, and more to give the appearance of the finished product. So this would be good for showing a client (and impressing them). Changes are simple and quick. When done you can save the design for the future or print it out for the client. You can also make several variations using the original as a basis and re-save the modified design with a new name. In addition, you may want the function for vectorizing included in the sketch package or else obtain that function separately. The vectorizing function allows you convert scanned images into the lines and arcs that are used in CAD. In every case however, you WILL have to edit and clean these drawings



programmers. All you need to learn is your program.







35 Year Industry Vet Joe Weber


up to make them useful. There is no single solution that does not require editing after conversion. The program should allow you to save drawings in DXF (drawing exchange format) so that they can be imported into other programs like CAD and CAM. If you are going to use the drawings as a basis for actual parts, you will need something a bit more accurate. CAD is the way to do layouts and drawings of whole assemblies or parts. Parts can be added into a drawing to create an assembly or an assembly can be broken into parts. Each may be saved separately allowing re-use on another design. Line types and colors may help as well as layers. You can turn each layer on and off to help define the whole assembly. Layers can also be used to show marking versus cutting lines (more on that later). The main point of CAD is that each line, arc, circle, etc., is an exact item placed in an exact location. A circle 2.5 inches in diameter is exactly that size. Lines must meet at an intersection exactly. The program has snaps to help align items. Usually, you start with a rectangle or a horizontal line and build from there. Corner fillets and more are quick and simple. Don’t start out all worried about paper size, layouts, templates, and such. Just start drawing with lines, arcs, and circles. That’s 80 percent of CAD. The rest are special purpose tools. The industry standard is “AUTOCAD”. There are a huge list of alternatives. Any list will not include everyone but I will toss out a few: IntelliCAD, EasyCAD, ProgeCAD, TurboCAD, FreeCAD, DeltaCAD, and so on to near infinity it seems. Check prices and you will again find a wide array. You can now easily create drawings you can send to others for fabrication including dimensions, notes, bend lines, and more. All of these will save in DXF format for easy import to the next step. 2-Manufacturing CAM is where you take a drawing of a part and turn it into a program. You only need this if you have a CNC machine in the shop. Small metalworking shops are quickly finding that CNC plasma cutters are getting very affordFabricator n January / February 2011

able. Starting at around $10,000 these machines do a mountain of work fast and accurately. Parts look clean and can be repeated with a few button presses. A main advantage is no layout work is required. Place a plate on the table, load a program, and go. CAM programs will take your DXF file and add offset for the width of the cut (kerf) as well as lead in and lead out lines. Depending on the level, they can place the parts on sheets either manually or automatically (called nesting) and then output cuts in order in a G code program that CNC machines understand. This step allows you to save material placing parts in a nest and get more parts per sheet. Metal ain’t cheap folks. These programs can also use layers to send marking and cutting command to the machine. Since the machine has accurate positioning ability, the lines and text will help with identification, bending, or assembly with no layout needed. The ability to recreate parts fast and with little human interaction is a huge payoff. Large and complex designs are possible combining parts and sections into assemblies. The software allows you to see in scale exactly how parts will or will not fit together. Here, a note about 3D modeling is in order. These programs cost more usually starting in the $3,500 range. They allow full solid models to be built combining parts into assemblies that can be rotated, exploded, and even moved as if live. They require more time to learn but in the metalworking world, they can give you an edge with complicated designs. These also are useful for doing sheet metal parts as they can be drawn in 3D, add holes, flanges, and more and then be unfolded to a flat pattern instantly for cutting or fabrication. Inventor and Solidworks fall into this category.

You can design, save, and re-create an item with a

fraction of the effort.

makes job shop work available to you. Anything you draw once, can be re-cut again with minimal effort. Combining CAD, CAM, and CNC plasma can all be done for $15 – 30,000 in machines and software. This used to be well over

$100,000 but performance and prices are now down to where a 1- to 20-man shop can pay for the automation. You will need to devote some time to learning but in a week or two you will be amazed at what you know already. The worshippers will begin to gather at your feet, amazed at your new found powers. PS: If there are terms you do not understand or wish for more information, simply web search these terms and you will find plenty of references.

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3-Fabrication If you add a CNC machine to this system you have a complete flexible fabrication facility. From a quick bracket to a sheet full of artistic designs, you can open up a large market of work to your front door. The ability to take drawings and cut them also January / February 2011 n Fabricator

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The design of the curved staircase above gives the impression of a single continuously wrapped piece of steel. It is made from laser cut, wire brushed steel that was then blackened and waxed. M. Cohen & Sons Inc. President Allen Cohen is part of the third of four generations of Cohen metal workers.

Member Talk

Success in succession n

A spotlight on M. Cohen & Sons Inc. reveals how the secrets of their continued success are based on each generation’s faith in the next.

By Rachel Bailey For many NOMMA members the prospect of succession planning is an

important issue. How does one ensure the success of his or her business after turning over the reins? Award winning NOMMA member and icon of the industry, M Cohen & Sons (aka The Iron Shop), seems to have figured it out well. Grooming the fourth generation now is Allen Cohen, president of M. Cohen & Sons, and grandson of the business’s founder Max Cohen. “I don’t think that we ever had a grand scheme plan,” Allen says. “I think that most people in small businesses are trying to survive to the next year and the next job. It becomes ten days; it becomes 5 years.” Despite his modesty, in a recent interview Allen offers some advice to NOMMA member shops. It seems the keys to succession and success are: 1) first of all defining it; 2) then doing your absolute best to achieve it; 3) all the while keeping your ego in check so that you can truly pass on the business to your successors. Company history

M. Cohen & Sons was initially established in 1932 by Max Cohen, who had previously worked for Samuel Yellin in his Philadelphia shop. After Max passed away in 1958, his sons David and Philip took over and eventual38

Fabricator n January / February 2011

lation, and design. Allen’s father Philip was president until his passing in 2007. Allen then became presin Today, M. Cohen & Sons facilities encompass About M. Cohen & Sons dent of the custom side of 130,000 square feet and employ 220 people. n Before forming M. Cohen & Sons in 1932, the business and his cousins Max Cohen worked for Samuel Yellin. (David’s sons) Ron and Howard 2010 Top Job Awards n In the 1970s, M. Cohen began producing a n Gold Interior Ferrous Railings line of spiral stair kits that could be purchased continued to oversee spiral pron Silver Stairs Complete and installed by homeowners. Today “The Iron duction and sales. Shop” is a world-leading producer of spiral stairs. n Silver Forged Driveway Gates Today M. Cohen & Sons n Max had two sons: Philip and David. Philip employs 220 people full time. was president until his passing in 2007. Philip’s CO NTAC T About 90 percent of them are son, Allen, now president, runs a part of the engaged in the manufacturcompany devoted to custom work. David’s sons, Allen J. Cohen ing process, and the firm’s core M. Cohen & Sons Inc. Ron and Howard, oversee the spiral production 400 Reed Rd. and sales. products are still stairs and Broomall, PA 19008 n In 2008, three generations of M. Cohen & handrails. (610) 544-7100 Sons joined forces with three generations of Most recently, the firm Samuel Yellin Metalworkers. ed a new custom 30,000 square foot facility to their existing ly moved their expanding business out now one of the leading producers of 100,000 square feet of manufacturing of the city and into a western suburb spiral stairs in the world. space in Broomall. The new building of Philadelphia called Broomall. The Allen joined the family business is dedicated to specialty design and company continued to fabricate handfull time in 1971 while a student at St. old world forging, and offers plenty of crafted railings, fences, and gates, but Joseph’s University. Like his father, room for the firm’s new partnership also began producing a line of spiral uncle, and siblings, he started workwith Samuel Yellin Metal Workers and stair kits in the 1970s that could be ing in the shop young and gained his such talents as Chris Tierney and Robpurchased and installed by homeownskills through hands-on experience in ert Davis. Talk about going full circle. ers. This became The Iron Shop and is welding, fabrication, finishing, instalAllen’s son, Brian, a 2001 graduate of

For your information


January / February 2011 n Fabricator


the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, holds a BA in metal arts and oversees the new custom facility.

In the 1970s M. Cohen & Sons started producing spiral stair kits. This product line became what we all know now as The Iron Shop.

Defining success

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For Allen, success is being the best at what he does, but not necessarily being the best fabricator in his shop. “I’m a guy who likes to make stuff, and I enjoy the challenge,” he says. “If you’re priority is to be the fabricator then you should be the best fabricator you can be. But if you equate success with size, then you can’t be the fabricator.” Allen explains this concept with an old story about his father, Philip. “When he was a kid he used to make a lot of cellar doors,” says Allen. “He would go out in the morning and measure the cellar door, they would come back, they would shear the plates up, they would weld it together, and at night they would install the cellar door. It would take three guys a day to do the cellar door, and then he would go out the next day and sell the next cellar door. “But you want to overlap all those things,” Allen says. “You want one guy selling, one guy measuring, one guy fabricating, one guy installing, so that instead of being linear, it becomes vertical so you can do more tasks, you can make more money, and you can grow. “You have a lot of people who want to work by themselves with a couple people. And they are content selling the job, making it, and then resting, and then selling the next job. I’m not so sure that the size is what makes a company better in this industry. It depends on what your goal is. Yet, “you can’t build your back log of jobs if your head guy is fabricating and selling,” explains Allen. “The responsibilities have to be delegated. Somebody has to be selling, visiting customers, soliciting for new business. You can’t wait for people to find you while you spend all your time fabricating because selling is a full time job. If you want to build a backlog, you have to sell.” Being the absolute best

According to Allen, what he wanted was to simply do his best. “I never thought about doing anything else,” he Fabricator n January / February 2011

says. “What I wanted to do was appears to be the efficiency of just be the absolute best at what the shop. The NOMMA NorthI do. And that’s pretty much east Chapter recently took a what has driven me in any tour of the shop and many of us aspect of what I’ve done. commented on how organized “A lot of us have a short and clean the shop(s) look. Of attention span, and in this busithe 130,000 square feet of proness gratification comes reladuction space, there are nine tively quickly. Usually a project buildings, and each are deditakes six months to a year. You cated to a particular phase of see the thing through till the production. This rampart wall consists of 200,000 pounds of rock setting on end and 99 percent of the time blackened steel shelving encased in anti-reflective sand blasted However, while Allen it comes out pretty good. There’s glass. The unit is back lit. believes that having the right a lot of gratification to do things person in place along each step you thought you couldn’t do.” away from new things and over anaof the production line is ideal for runPart of M Cohen & Sons’ success lyze rather than take the opportunity. ning an efficient shop, he says the most seems to be in taking manageable Why not take the chance and see how important things is to back check as risks. it works out? If opportunity is there much as possible. “What I think is the best thing I figure I’m smart enough to work it “The thing that kills all of us are about this business is that there are out. You have to take risks to expand mistakes. A job can take a little lonopportunities presented to people your capabilities.” ger, but a mistake can make you have all the time and a lot of people shy Another part of his firm’s success to do it all over. That’s the difference

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between making money on a job or not. You go to install, it doesn’t fit, you double up work all along the line. Back checking drawings and back checking fabrication – that’s the way you run an efficient shop.” “Assuming that we run our shop efficiently, which is always questionable,” he says with a laugh, “we still always strive to make things better.” And that seems to also explain the recent merger with Samuel Yellin Metalworkers. “The opportunity was there to merge with Claire [Yellin]. We had a bigger facility; they had some unique talents. We thought it would be great to combine these two for the recent economy. “Philosophically, one is always looking for talent. When everybody was busy the talent was around, but it was almost impossible to hire talent if you didn’t train it yourself. So as the economy turned and things became harder there were more people in the market.

“We are always looking for more talent. The opportunity came up, and we seized the moment. The better your people are the better your product is,” says Allen. “If you’re one person you can only be as good as you are. It you’re two people you can be as good as the combined effort.” Keeping ego in check

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As for the firm’s success with succession, Allen believes a lot depends on the size of the ego of the person who passes on the knowledge and control of the business. “My father forgave very little when it came to work and life, but he loved to teach people and he loved to impart his knowledge,” Allen says. “He let us do what we wanted to do with the business and experiment. He never said no. He figured the worst would be that the job would fail, and we’d learn something.” According to Allen, his father also recognized the value of respecting the vision of the next generation, even if it was different than his own. Allen tries to do the same. “If you are selfless enough and want things to really be passed on then there is a possibility for a smooth transition,” he says. “You hope that before you die or pass away you’ve incorporated your knowledge, and the child can take it to the next step. There’s no point in repeating history and wanting your child figure it out on his own. You want to use each generation as a building block to the next so everybody doesn’t have to start at ground zero. “If I am successful at what I do, and I can teach my child everything I know before he is the age that I am, then theoretically he can be better than I was. That would be the goal. “I don’t have the same eyes as my father had,” Allen continues. “We looked at things differently. But I think it’s more just how you think things should look at the end which drives quality.” Referring to his generation, which runs the shop now, Allen says, “We always approached things as though it were ours. It is our family, so it was always a part of us. It is much more than a business and really defines us as who we are and always has.” Fabricator n January / February 2011

Gallery of 2010 Top Job Award winners The Ernest Wiemann Top Job competition recognizes outstanding metalwork fabricated by members of the National Ornamental & Miscellaneous Metals Association. Award winners are chosen by members who are present at METAL­ fab, NOMMA’s annual convention. Before the winners are announced attendees of METALfab attend the Top Job Gallery where entrants discuss their entries and the challenges they conquered during fabrication. Gold, silver, and bronze awards are given to the top three entrants in each of 16 categories, and awards are presented during the Saturday night awards banquet. Mitch Heitler Award for Excellence The grand finale of the awards banquet is the presentation of the Mitch Heitler Award for Excellence, which is the highest craftsmanship honor given by NOMMA. It is chosen from among the gold winners by a panel of judges. Mitch Heitler, the award’s namesake, was an industry visionary who helped found NOMMA in 1958. The 2012 contest Applications for entering the 2012 contest will be available in July 2011. But it’s never too soon to start thinking about which of your top jobs you’d like to enter. For information, contact NOMMA ( The following gallery presents award winners for the categories of Driveway Gates (not forged), Stairs Complete, and Structural Fabrication from the 2010 contest.

January / February 2011 n Fabricator

Category Driveway gates not forged All driveway gates with less than 5 percent custom hand forgings, to include castings.

Gold Wiemann Metalcraft Tulsa, OK The most challenging aspect of this project was handling such large heavy sections without damaging them or the finish. This gate was designed by the project’s architect and consists of one bi-parting, 16' wide x 6' tall curved, sliding cantilevered drive gate. Fabrication included a full-size mild steel mock-up to test the curved cantilevered operation of the gates. The curved gates were designed to follow the radius of the matching fence. FAAC gate operators and curved drive track were utilized for this design. All work was fabricated from solid #316 stainless steel bars and copper plate. All work has a #7 polished finish for a seamless appearance. All stainless steel was pre-polished from the vendor and sent directly to the machine shop for milling and cutting prior to assembly. Approximate labor time: 1,100 hours. 43

Gallery of 2010 Top Job Award winners Silver Rod Iron Rod Odessa, TX These gates were designed by the fabricator. The owners lived in the country and wanted the fence and gates to blend in with the countryside, so Rod Iron Rod used floral type leaves and flowers with a few butterflies. The gates were made with 2" x 2" iron square tubing frames. All of the designs were made from .065 x 5" OD tubing. The finish is black satin with a blackened bronze faux paint. Each gate weighs approximately 320 lbs. Approximate labor time: 60 hours Bronze Emerald Ironworks Inc. Woodbridge, VA This grass gate is 100 percent aluminum. The fabricator started by building the frame from custom-extruded, ribbed aluminum tubing. For the grass and cattail interior portion, the firm worked with an artistdesigner, who started with small-scale line drawings of the artwork. Emerald Ironworks worked closely with her to ensure that what she drew would work, both in terms of feasibility and structural impact. Her artwork was scanned into AutoCAD, and then carefully traced as arcs. This allowed the files to be read by the waterjet machine. After water-jet cutting, the rear layer was welded into the frame of the gate since the frame and the rear layer were to be powder-coated the same color. The front layer was powder-coated separately, rainforest green, and then mechanically fastened into the gate frame. Approximate labor time: 250 hours 44

Fabricator n January / February 2011

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Gallery of 2010 Top Job Award winners Category Stairs Complete Majority of the stair and rail to be of metal construction.

Gold Construction Services Inc. Decatur, AL The enormous challenge on this project was fabrication and finishing of the main stringer, which was plasma cut, welded together, and mechanically hand sanded to achieve the architecturally exposed finish. The stringer weighed in excess of 12 tons! The stair, designed by an architect, is a single plate stringer 5' tall and 2" x 4" thick. The stringer supports the stair and rail and also acts as the inside guardrail. The treads, risers, and landings were fabricated from ¼" steel plates which cantilever out off the main stringer. The finish surface on the stair treads is European Beach Wood. The rail posts were fabricated from ¾" x 2½" L-shaped steel. The ½" thick, low iron, glass is supported by ¾" x l" steel bars and machined stainless steel standoffs. All grab rails are type 304 stainless steel rounds attached to the stair by 3/8" steel rod. There are ¼" type 304 stainless steel 1-line rails at the bottom of the stair. Approximate labor time: 5,000 hours 46

Silver M Cohen & Sons Broomall, PA This cantilevered, suspended steel stair appears to float between the curved and straight glass guardrails. There are no visible structural supports. It is made from blackened steel that has been oiled. This stair was fabricated in its entirety in the fabricator’s facility and transported to the job site where the curtain wall had to be removed to facilitate installation. The design was a collaboration of the architect and M. Cohen Sons’ president. Approximate labor time: 1,000 hours

Fabricator n January / February 2011

Gallery of 2010 Top Job Award winners Category Structural Fabrication Structural fabrications only, and not specifically classified elsewhere.

Bronze Big D Metalworks Dallas, TX This project for an office space consists of a 180 degree steel stair with laminated glass treads and curved glass guardrails, stainless steel handrails, as well as approximately 70 linear feet of segmented balcony glass guardrails, and curved stainless steel handrails. The stringers were fabricated as built-up box stringers with rolled vertical plates and cut top and bottom plates. The glass treads are supported on the ends of the treads only, making perfect alignment of stringers a necessity. Hidden support steel was part of the contract and had to be coordinated between several trades so the segmented balcony rail standoffs would perfectly align with the glass after the millwork installation. All stainless steel was finished to a #4 brushed finish. This project was completed on-time and under the estimated hours. Approximate labor time: 1,830 hours January / February 2011 n Fabricator

Gold Myers & Co. Architectural Metals Basalt, CO This project consists of a steel trellis that fits into a compound roof area, roughly 20' x 40'. The large tubes were fabricated from ¼" plate and each one is a different angles parallelogram, so that the top and bottom surfaces are in plane with the titanium roof surface. That’s a lot of compound angles! The main structure tubes are 24" plus or minus x 4" and the infill is ¼" x 12" cold rolled flat bar. There is an internal conduit and J box system for lighting with double structural stiffeners at each main connection. Along the roof side, there is a built-in, heated gutter system. The finish is an automotive quality fine metal flake acrylic urethane. Approximate labor time: 2,020 hours


Gallery of 2010 Top Job Award winners

Silver Precision Custom Metals Inc. Tucker, GA This exterior glass and steel canopy for a luxury hotel at the Inner Harbor located in Baltimore, MD, was completed in 2007. The original architect’s specifications called for using pre-engineered spider fittings that mounted on the glass above the fabricated steel structure. Since Precision Custom Metals was asked to value engineer the project, the firm was able to machine its own stainless steel fittings for much less than the cost of the specified parts. Although this structure appears symmetrical, the embedded plates were as much as a foot off of alignment. This required the fabricator to do an exact survey, enter it into CAD, and spread out the adjustment over the full span of the canopy. This left very few common parts including the glass panels. The fabricator then used CAD files to water-jet cut plywood to exactly what the glass panels would be so that assembly of the canopy could take place on the shop floor, and everything could be fit and adjusted before any glass was cut. Consequentially, the installation went smoothly, just one day, which was important because Precision Custom Metals had to shut down one lane of a city street for the crane. Approximate labor time: 1,885 hours 48

Bronze Auciello Iron Works Inc. Hudson, MA The biggest challenge of this project for the new Chinatown Park in Boston was to minimize the distortion caused by welding and galvanizing. One of the signature features of Chinatown Park, a tribute to the numerous Asian immigrants that have settled in the Boston area, is a contemporary steel gate. It weighs 39,000 pounds and is 50' in length by 15' tall. Constructed of 5/8", ž", and 1-inch plates (all welded construction), it towers over the entrance for visitors to walk under. Galvanized and finish-coated red, the gate complements other Asian elements throughout the park. Approximate labor time: 500 hours

Fabricator n January / February 2011


January / February 2011 n Fabricator


Biz Side

How to use check-the-box regulations to your benefit For your information


What you’ll learn n How taking advantage of check-the-box regulations can help some businesses save money by allowing flexibility regarding the type of entity used for tax purposes. n An overview of the distinction among S and C corporations, partnerships, and LLCs. n What to watch out for with check-the-box regulations when dealing with multi-state tax planning. n Why the check-the-box regulations also give individuals and families considerably more flexibility in planning for the long-term transfer of wealth. About the author For over 25 years, Mark E. Battersby has been providing professionally prepared editorial features, columns, White Papers, and reports for magazines, journals, newsletters, and websites on the news and developments within the ever-changing tax and financial arenas that impact small businesses.


By Mark E. Battersby Facing a troubled economy and with tax law changes in limbo, tax

planning is difficult to say the least. Fortunately, the courts recently validated the so-called “check-the-box” regulations that allow many ornamental and miscellaneous metalworking businesses to choose the type of entity used for tax purposes. That’s right, regardless of how they were formed or operated, many within the metalworking industry can select the type of business entity they wish to use for tax purposes. Not only can a partnership choose to be treated as a corporation, separating the partners from the business, the members of those increasingly popular limit liability companies (LLCs) can choose to be treated as either a corporation or as a partnership for tax purposes. Unfortunately, an incorporated metalworking business cannot take advantage of the check-the-box rules and everyone will require professional advice when choosing the best entity. But the flexibility provided by the check-the-box regulations is an invaluable planning tool. What are check-the-box regulations

Years ago, when the income tax laws were first developed, there were two types of business entities, i.e., corporations and partnerships. When new types of entities came into existence, rather than creating a new law to specifically deal with the new type of entity, the Internal Revenue Service would try to determine if the entity was more corporate-like or more partnership-like and force the entity into one hole or another. The check-the-box regulations completely eliminated the former arcane tax rules that historically governed partnership status in favor of Fabricator n January / February 2011

a simple elective (check-the-box) system. The current check-the-box rules now permit single-owner entities to be ignored for federal tax purposes, creating planning possibilities using these “see-through” entities.

tax level of the corporation. Limited liability companies (LLCs) continue to grow in popularity as a choice of business entity. The combination of limited liability, ability of members to be actively involved in the management of the business, passthrough tax treatment if partnership treatment is elected, and lack of many of the restrictions imposed on S corporations have made it a very attractive form of entity.

tion. Thus, an entity that is a partnership or limited liability company under the laws of the state in which it is formed may elect to be taxed as a regular C corporation or as an S corporation under the check-the-box rules. Most metalworking businesses Distinctions of S and C can now choose whether they will be Corporations, partnerships, treated as a corporation or as a passand LLCs through entity such as a partnership. Very popular with small businessThe check-the-box rules also allow es, S corporations, partnerships, and metalworking shops to disregard LLCs are known as pass-through entitheir business entity status for federal ties and have been around for some How to use check-the-box income tax purposes. :tri-state-quarter page.qxd 12/19/07 9:44 AM Page 1 time. The idea behind a pass-through to your advantage Under the default classification sysentity is that the entity doesn’t pay any Under the check-the-box regulatem of the check-the-box regulations, taxes. Instead, the income and losses tions entities formed under a corporaa domestic single-owner entity is taxed are passed through to the shareholders tion statute are automatically classified as a sole proprietorship if the owner or partners and reported on their peras corporations and may not elect to be is an individual or as a division if sonal tax returns. treated as any other kind of entity. Partthe owner is a corporation, unless the A metalworking or fabricating nerships that are publicly traded are entity specifically chooses to be taxed business operating as a regular C cortaxed as corporations unless 90 percent as a corporation. poration pays a corporate level tax. or more of the gross income consists The single-owner entity would Any payments made to shareholders of qualifying passive-type income. not have to file a separate tax return, are taxed again on the shareholder’s Fortunately, metalworking busirather, it would simply report taxable personal tax return. Obviously, avoidnesses operating as other entities are income on Schedule C, Profit and Loss ing the corporate tax can produce allowed to elect corporate status on from Business, as a part of the owner’s PROOF 45-3454-ACF-121807-V2 substantial savings, depending on the AD Form 8832,-Entity Classification ElecForm 1040.

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For some time now, metalworking businesses have made use of so-called “hybrid” entities, such as limited liability companies, to take advantage of certain domestic and international tax breaks. These hybrid entities have both corporate and non-corporate characteristics: they can enjoy the liability protection of corporations but are not necessarily taxed as corporations. Under the check-the-box rules, metalworking businesses can avoid having to carefully structure hybrid entities to realize these benefits. Under the check-the-box system of classifying business entities for tax purposes, unincorporated shops or businesses that aren’t trusts and that aren’t mandatorily classified as corporations, may choose their federal tax classification. That means an orna-

mental or miscellaneous metalworking business with multiple owners can choose to be classified as a corporation or partnership or to retain the current classification of their business without making an election. Single-owner entities may elect to be classified as corporations, or may choose to have their status as entities separate from their owners ignored. A single-member limited liability company that doesn’t elect to be treated as a corporation check-thebox regulations is considered to be a “disregarded” entity for federal tax purposes. As such, its activities are treated in the same manner as a sole proprietorship. In other words, the disregarded entity is ignored and its property and activities are treated as those of the owner of the entity.

Recent vindication of check-the-box regulations

In 2005, the Internal Revenue Service proposed regulations that would treat single-owner entities that are disregarded as entities as separate entities for employment tax purposes. Today, the final regulations state that for employment taxes related to wages paid on or after January 1, 2009, a disregarded entity is treated as a corporation (i.e., as a separate entity) for purposes of employment tax reporting and liability. A business entity that we’ll call New Practice Solutions was a singlemember LLC with Jane Jones as its sole member. She treated the LLC as her sole proprietorship on Schedule C, Profit or Loss from a Business, on her tax return. She did not elect to have the LLC treated as a corporation for federal income tax purposes.


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After New Practice Solutions failed to pay employment taxes for several periods in 2006, notices of lien and intent to levy were sent to Jane Jones. Later a notice of determination sustaining lien and proposed levy were sent to Jones. Jane Jones contended that only the LLC, New Practice Solutions, was liable and that the check-the-box regulations (at least those applicable to employment taxes paid before 2009) were invalid. She asserted that the LLC was the employer liable for the taxes. She also argued that the amended regulations, which reverse the effect of regulations applicable to the periods at issue, showed that the prior regulations were unreasonable. Rejecting Jane Jones’ argument that the LLC had to be treated as the employer liable for the employment taxes and that the check-the-box regulations were invalid, the U.S. Tax Court ruled that collection against Jane Jones could proceed. Recently, the First Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the Tax Court’s ruling, validating the check-the-box regulations. Multi-state tax planning

The check-the-box regulations offer planning opportunities and create potential pitfalls in the area of state and local tax planning. See-through entities may permit effective combinations in states where combination is not otherwise available. Naturally, not all states follow the federal entity classification rules. California, for example, does not follow the federal tax treatment of single-member unincorporated entities and instead treats such entities as corporations. Similarly, Florida and several other states continue to subject limited liability companies to entity-level taxation. The hot-button issue of “nexus” (namely the questions of who is conJanuary / February 2011 n Fabricator

ducting business within a state) is determined under principles having nothing to do with the federal checkthe-box classification rules. Thus, the form of organization of an unincorporated business will often continue to have state and local tax ramifications. Other benefits

The IRS and the U.S. Treasury i ssued the check-the-box regulations because prior regulations had become unnecessarily cumbersome, complex, and risky. The classification of a business entity affects how the IRS assesses tax liability, including how a company is taxed under various international provisions and treaties. The check-the-box regulations are also helpful when it comes to gift and estate planning, as well as certain aspects of personal federal income tax planning, even with the current uncer-

tainty. The check-the-box regulations give individuals and families considerably more flexibility in planning for the long-term transfer of wealth. For example, the regulations permit more management alternatives and opportunities to continue entities even upon the bankruptcy or death of the managing member. Single member entities are also quite useful for trusts, private foundations and public charities, as well as for facilitating real estate transactions such as like-kind exchanges. Naturally, any metalworking business operating as a corporation as well as those desiring to retain the tax treatment previously claimed, need not take any action. For all others, now that the check-the-box regulations have once again been validated by the courts, they offer potential tax-savings. Phone: (800) 285-3056

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18 Great Reasons To Join NOMMA

A NOMMA membership provides a great value for your dues — you’ll get a wide array of benefits and tools that help your business. Four Easy Ways To Join: 1) Call Liz Johnson, our member care manager, at (888) 516-8585, ext. 101. 2) Email: 3) Download an application form from our website (click “Join Now!”) and fax to: (888) 516-8585. 4) Join online (click “Join Now!”) - Benefits of Membership NOMMA provides an excellent value for your membership investment — 18 benefits!

☛ Knowledgebase - Access hundreds of documents, including back issues of Fabricator, TechNotes, and Fabricator’s Journal.

☛ Member Kit - Upon joining, you’ll receive a kit containing a sampling of NEF publications and sales aides.

☛ Chapters - If you live in an area covered by a chapter, your dues also cover chapter membership. Chapter meetings feature demos, shop tours, and time for networking.

☛ Subscriptions - Receive a free subscription to O&MM Fabricator and NOMMA Newswire, our monthly email newsletter. ☛ Free monthly webinars - Focusing on business, shop, and technical issues. ☛ Vendor Discount Program - Receive discounts from a growing number of participating vendors. ☛ Awards Contest - As a member you’re eligible to compete in our annual Top Job competition, which recognizes outstanding industry work. ☛ Free Smartphone App - Now you can access the member’s area from your handheld device. ☛ Discounts - Reduced price for all NEF publications, videos, and events, including our annual METALfab education conference and trade show. ☛ Online Tutorials - View past NEF webinars, as well as print and video tutorials. ☛ ListServ - A great place to get your questions answered and to receive the latest news and information. ☛ Insurance Program - Obtain a free safety manual and receive bulletins on hot topics.

Membership Categories / Pricing Fabricator Member ($425) - Includes 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. Supplier Member - Firms that produce or distribute materials, machinery, and accessories for the industry or provide services that may be used by the industry. • Nationwide ($595) -Operating on a nationwide or international basis. • Regional ($465) -


☛ Affiliation - Receive a NOMMA member decal and certificate to proudly display in your front office. As a member, you show the world that you subscribe to NOMMA’s Code of Ethics. ☛ Member Locator - Make it easier for architects, designers, and consumers to find you, either by state or ZIP code. ☛ Technical Affairs - A portion of your dues supports our advocacy work with code bodies, standards organizations, and government. ☛ Mentor Program - Get connected with a seasoned craftsperson to help you develop both your professional growth and business. Additional benefits: ☛ NOMMA Education Foundation (NEF) - The foundation works to provide education and research services for the industry. NEF projects include education classes and training videos, support for chapters, research, scholarships, grants, etc... ☛ METALfab is our annual education conference and trade show. This is your opportunity to receive quality education and see the latest products and technology at our trade show.

Operating within a 500-mile radius. • Local ($375) - Operating within a 150-mile radius. Affiliate Member ($310) - Affiliate membership is limited to teachers, educational institutions, and nonprofit organizations that do not engage in the fabrication of ornamental or miscellaneous metal products, do not provide products or services to the industry, but have a special interest in the industry. American Express, VISA, MasterCard, and Discover accepted. As a NOMMA member, you agree to abide by NOMMA’s Code of Ethics.

Fabricator n January / February 2011

Biz Side

Shoestring marketing For your information


What you’ll learn n Make every opportunity for delivering great customer service count. n Your business card can be an effective tool. Make sure it’s sharp and use it! n Free publicity is easier to get than you think. Send your newsworthy items to local and industry-related media outlets. Do it! 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.

January / February 2011 n Fabricator


7 Tips to build business on the cheap

By William J. Lynott This is a difficult time for most NOMMA

members. Today’s economy is rippled with uncertainty. One day, consumer confidence is up and things look promising. The next day, bad economic news casts a pall over the outlook. In uncertain times like these, it may seem natural to pull in your horns and take shelter until things look more promising, but that’s exactly the wrong thing to do. The economy may look cloudy, even dismal, but there are still potential customers out there. Right now, your smartest move is to ratchet up your marketing efforts while your competitors are slacking off. When the smoke clears, you’ll be stronger than ever and your competition will be wondering what happened. Here are seven ways to help build your shop’s business on a tight marketing budget:

1 Leverage customer service

Take action on something that most of your competitors only talk about: customer service. The metalworking profession is a people business; you sell your products to people, not to objects. All of the Harvard Business School expertise in the world is no substitute for an understanding of that basic business principle. The most effective, least expensive marketing technique for any NOMMA member is an uncompromising commitment to customer satisfaction. As you know from your own experience, it’s a pleasure to do business with a firm that keeps customer satisfaction at the top of its priority list. Making certain that every one of your clients goes home with positive feelings about you and your organization will turn those clients into walking advertisements.


Here are some newsworthy story ideas about your business Employee news

Many neighborhood papers run columns dedicated to residents of the community. Such things as hirings, promotions, and special awards are ideal candidates for submissions to these columns. Another area of interest is employees who have unusual hobbies or who have performed public service to the community. Changes in your business

Most newspapers are anxious to run newsworthy items about local businesses. Any time you make a change in your business whether it’s a change in your key staff, remodeling or expansion of your shop, or relocation to new premises, you have an opportunity for some free publicity. Your own activities and accomplishments

Don’t be shy when it comes to publicity for you or your business. If you’re involved in community service, invited to speak to a local service club, have an unusual hobby, operate your business in an unusual way, or take interesting buying trips, don’t hesitate to grab a spot on the free publicity bandwagon. To get free publicity for your business, you have to seek it actively. The media isn’t going to come looking for you. While it isn’t necessary to have a contact in the local press to get your share, it doesn’t hurt. That’s another reason to put networking to work for you.

2 Harness the power of the telephone

Independent studies consistently show that the telephone remains one of the most underused business tools. In one study, researchers called 5,000

Yellow Pages advertisers to say, “I saw your Yellow Pages ad. How much does your service (product) cost?” The responses clearly indicated lost opportunities. More than 78 percent didn’t bother to ask for the caller’s

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name. More than 55 percent took eight rings or more to answer. According to the researchers, many spoke so rapidly that the caller had a difficult time understanding what was said. Less than 10 percent answered the phone in a way that made the caller feel welcome. To harness the power of the telephone as a marketing tool, you and your employees must regard every ring of the telephone as a marketing opportunity. Here are three simple steps that will help create that profitable first impression: a) Always try to answer the phone by the second or third ring. Taking too long to answer creates an impression of disorganization and lack of interest. b) Speak slowly, clearly giving your name, your business name, and a phrase like, “How may I help you?” c) Most communication experts agree that a smile on your face translates into a smile in your voice. Some business owners place a mirror next to the phone so that they can see the expression on their own face when they answer.

3 Use cross-promotion

NOMMA members are ideal candidates for cross-promotion, an inexpensive and effective way for non-competing businesses to help each other. Here’s how it works: John, a printer, works out a cross-promotion arrangement with Laura, a metalworker in the same town. Each agrees to display copies of the other’s business brochure at their business. The cost? Nothing more than the cost of printing. Combinations for cross-promoting are limited only by the participants’ imagination. Cross promotion may include such tools as window signs or posters, discount coupons, or personal referrals. How many businesses in your community are candidates? Probably many. Why not take the initiative and suggest a cross-promotion program with your favorite business owners?

4 Put networking to work for you

People prefer to do business with people they know. If you need a plumber, an attorney, or any professional, Fabricator n January / February 2011

whom are you most likely to call? A stranger from a listing in the Yellow Pages, or someone you know? Perhaps a neighbor or the friendly fellow you met at last week’s Rotary meeting? Service organizations such as Kiwanis, Lions, or Chamber of Commerce are populated with entrepreneurs and professional people, and most are as anxious to meet you as you are to meet them. Writing in the November-December issue of Fabricator, NOMMA Past President Doug Bracken suggests that you start with your existing relationships: your banker (who can give you a good reference and the names to call on), your accountant (who can tell you who has been busy), your welding gas supplier (who knows everyone who works in metal and who is busy), your neighbors in the industrial park, and your friends and colleagues within NOMMA of course.

size as a 30-foot billboard viewed from a distance. And a good business card contains more useful business information than many full-sized billboards. Use every opportunity to get your card into the hands of anyone who may be a prospect. Don’t wait for someone to ask for your card. Ask for the other person’s card, take the time to look it over, and then present your own.

7 Grab your share

of free publicity

Advertising professionals know (but usually won’t admit) that free publicity is generally more effective

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5 Capitalize on your flexibility

In good times, it’s easy to stick to the tried and true, i.e., the most profitable and most familiar projects. In times like these, flexibility could be your most valuable asset. As Bracken points out, you should consider expanding into new markets such as awnings, stainless, glass railings, and other heretofore unexplored territory. “The learning curve is painful, even daunting,” he says, “but it may allow you to hang on until things improve. And, when things do improve, your business will be poised to expand with new products.” To keep you and your staff busy and avoid layoffs, it may be necessary to take on jobs at rates that don’t satisfy your usual standards of profitability. But, on a temporary basis, less profitable work is better than no work at all.

than the best paid ads. Most prospective clients will be far more receptive to a simple news item about your business than a typical advertisement. So, how do you go about getting a piece of the free publicity pie? First, you need to learn what makes a good story. Then you need to learn how to sell it your local news media. Your news item doesn’t have to be of monumental importance to gain a free spot in the media, it just has to be “newsworthy.” That simply means there is something about you or your business that the public might find interesting (see sidebar, page 56).

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6 Get more mileage

from your business cards

Business cards are among the most inexpensive yet most underused shoestring marketing tools. A carefully designed business card functions like a miniature billboard. Held at arm’s length it registers in the viewer’s eyes as apparently the same January / February 2011 n Fabricator


For your information


About the Book Smart Growth: Building an Enduring Business by Managing the Risks of Growth, published by Columbia Business School Publishing, 2010, ISBN: 978-0-2311505-0-7, $27.95.

Biz Side

3 Growth risks and how to cure them Editor’s Note: This excerpt and overview was provided by Dottie DeHart of DeHart & Company Public Relations. What do Lehman Brothers, AIG, Merrill

Lynch, Washington Mutual Savings, Arthur Andersen, Starbucks, and Toyota all have in common? All went gunning for business growth but instead ended up with self-inflicted wounds. Each of these companies pursued the wrong kind of growth for the wrong reasons. If you are considering trying to grow your business to beat the economic pressures of the down economy or are caving to the popular “grow or die” influence of Wall Street, Ed Hess asks that you think before you grow. “Most business executives accept without question the belief that growth is always good, that bigger is always better, and that the healthy vital signs for a public company include growth that is continuous, smooth, and linear,” says Hess, a professor at the University of Virginia’s Darden Graduate School of Business and author of the new book Smart Growth: Building an Enduring Business by Managing the Risks of Growth. “The problem with those presumptions is that there is 58

no scientific or business basis for them.” Hess, a leading authority on business growth, knows this to be true because he’s conducted extensive research of his own with both public and private companies. Based on his research, Hess has found that the hard data shows that above-average, long-term growth (five years or more) by public companies is an exception, not the rule, occurring in less than 10 percent of the companies studied. “For the vast majority of companies, growth is often pursued in a way that brings with it as many risks of failure as chances of success,” notes Hess. “Combine unquestioned strategic presumptions with bad judgment—and sometimes a fair share of greed and arrogance—and the results can be serious or fatal to the viability of a business.” 3 self-inflicted wounds

What are some of the self-inflicted wounds premature growth can leave on your company? Hess outlines a few:

1 Growth can create

In recent years, many companies have grown themselves to death — or at least to extended hospital stays! — by following the popularly held, Wall Street-backed grow or die strategy. Professor Ed Hess provides research-based advice on growth to encourage readers to reconsider what they know about growth as a business strategy. About the Author Professor Edward D. Hess is the author of Smart Growth: Building an Enduring Business by Managing the Risks of Growth. He has spent over 30 years in the business world working for companies such Warburg Paribas Becker, Boettcher & Company, The Robert M. Bass Group, and Arthur Andersen. He is the author of eight books, over 40 practitioner articles, and over 40 Darden cases dealing with growth systems, managing growth, and growth strategies. Prior to joining the faculty at Darden, he was adjunct professor and the founder and executive director of both the Center for Entrepreneurship and Corporate Growth and the Values-Based Leadership Institute at Goizueta Business School, Emory University. CO NTAC T

Edward D. Hess Darden Graduate School of Business 100 Darden Blvd. Charlottesville, VA 22903 (434) 982-2170

new business risks. Growth is a business strategy that can require investments in people, equipment, Fabricator n January / February 2011

The ups and downs of growth in our industry By Rob Rolves

There is certainly allure in being able to ramp up sales overnight and have a much larger bottom line. But it has its dangers. Anyone in business for any length of time knows that it’s never easy at any size. The debt issue is probably the largest obstacle. When times get tight like they are now, one is extremely happy to not have to be paying off an equipment purchase or merger fees since it’s tough to get enough work to cover overhead. That’s why we’ve just kept a steady budget on advertising through direct mail, and we’ve invested in making our website effective. We try to be active in associations where our customers are at, so that we have chances to meet them.

What is considered healthy growth is somewhat subjective. Growth is about investing, and there are some who feel it’s a waste of time if it is not aggressive. Others just don’t want to lose principal. The same applies in growing a business. One has to determine what he can live with. I subscribe to a rational of organic growth and believe in being as debt free as possible. I like to advertise and stay visible. At Foreman Fabricators we do this in an effort to retain as many accounts as possible so that each year we’re Rob Rolves: doing work with a few more clients than we had Have proper the year before. infrastructure in

Do you have someone to answer the phone?

It’s probably best to have the proper infrastructure in place before growing too much. And that is an investment that can keep companies from growing. Getting calls from new clients is great, but it doesn’t do any good if there isn’t place before growing too much. someone to answer the phone (ehem, see ShoeGame changers Rolves is an active string Marketing, page 55), or return their calls, However, while slow and steady growth member of requires the least amount of management and or show up at a meeting scheduled with a new, or NOMMA and Vice offers the fewest surprises, a large step or leap even old client. We have vendors do those types President of Sales of faith can sometimes be a real game changer. of things to us, and we quickly separate from at Foreman Fabricators Inc., A new piece of equipment could drastically them. Likewise, it’s frustrating to contact a comreduce costs or open a new market. An acquisi- Saint Louis, MO. pany through their website and never receive a tion can change a company quite quickly. response. It’s akin to publishing a toll free phone We have considered purchasing other businesses number and then not answering the phone when it rings. that have gone for sale or that had approached us about Times are tough right now, so talking about growth buying them out. We have not found a good fit yet, but may seem taboo. But, if the shop is slow you might as doing the research for those opportunities has been well stay busy by repositioning for growth when the time enlightening. is right. raw materials, space, and supplies. As these cash outlays occur before new revenues kick in, many businesses find themselves exhausting their cash reserves—a risky tightrope to walk. “Starbucks is a great example of a company that learned this lesson the hard way,” says Hess. “Previously the poster child of a successful, wellrespected business, a new executive team decided that continuous, quarterly store expansion was necessary to prove to Wall Street how committed the company was to growth. Aggressive plans did indeed increase the number of new stores being opened each month, but many were in unprofitable locations that eventually had to be closed. The result was bad press, a diluted customer value proposition, and, equally troublesome, the sudden need to take on massive and unprecedented January / February 2011 n Fabricator

short-term debt. A change in senior management and a public mea culpa showed that, in the pursuit of growth, Starbucks had instead weakened itself as a business, at least for a time.”

2 Growth can force you into the

big leagues before you are ready. Growth can match companies up against more experienced players before they truly know how to handle the competition.

3 Growth can strain

your operations. Growth can pose huge challenges for your people, processes, controls, and management capacities, resulting in quality problems and the increased potential for damaged customer relationships and diminished brand perceptions.

“Toyota learned this lesson the hard way,” says Hess. “The company maintained an unbridled pursuit of growth over the past decade or so even though it was already a market leader in quality and dependability. It wanted more — to be #1 in sales. That shift in mindset set Toyota down a path where controls were stretched beyond capacity. The results: massive recalls, hundreds of lawsuits, and a damaged brand. Even Toyota’s current CEO has acknowledged that the company’s problems can be traced to growing too quickly.” Hess’s solution for overcoming the risks associated with growth is a concept he calls Smart Growth. Smart Growth accounts for the complexity of growth from the perspective of organization, process, change, leadership, cognition, risk management, employee 59

4Ps of Growth 1 Plan for growth before kicking the strategy into gear. Think about how growth will change what you need to do. What new processes, controls, and people will be needed at what cost? 2 Prioritize what changes or additions to the business have to be made to accommodate the growth. This is a way to make the essential investments first, so as not to deplete cash reserves before new income starts rolling in. 3 Processes must be put in place to ensure there are adequate financial, operational, personnel, and quality controls for a bigger business. These are like dams on a river: if the water starts flowing faster and with more volume, those dams need to be reengineered to handle it. 4 Pace growth so as not to overwhelm yourself, your people, and your processes. Growth can be exciting, but it is also almost always stressful. If you underestimate the need for effective change management, and for a phased approach to implementation, you increase chances for failure.

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engagement, and human dynamics. It recognizes that authentic growth is a process characterized by complex change, entrepreneurial action, experimental learning, and the management of risk. It is a strategy that requires companies of all sizes to follow what Hess calls the 4Ps of Growth (see sidebar): n Planning n Prioritizing n Processes n Pacing. The tools and rigorous governance methods outlined in Smart Growth can help companies along all four parts of the process. For example, Hess’s Growth Decision Template can help leaders analyze, illuminate, and devise a plan to manage their growth risks. Hess also advises all public companies to conduct an annual Growth Risks Audit to review the stresses that growth is placing on the organization, its people, and its processes. Avoiding conflict of interests and striving for objectivity are critical. This annual Audit should be conducted by a senior multi-disciplinary team made up of members who are not rewarded for producing growth results but are rewarded instead for preventing growth risks from creating serious damage to the business. “CEOs and Boards of Directors face a unique kind of challenge when it comes to planning for smart growth,” says Hess. “Sometimes the right decision when it comes to growth is not to pursue it, but it takes a special kind of team to make that decision when shareholders and analysts are clamoring for higher returns each quarter. But smart growth is possible. Successful high-growth companies — such as Best Buy, SYSCO, Walgreens, and Tiffany & Company — have grown through constant improvement in their organizations’ DNA, executed by a highly engaged workforce in a positive learning and performance environment. “What’s important to remember is that the goal is not necessarily growth,” concludes Hess. “The goal is continuously making your organization better. When you achieve that, growth will happen naturally in due course. That’s the way to achieve smart growth.” Fabricator n January / February 2011

METALfab 2011

New Orleans, LA • Mar. 16-19 The conference and trade show JUST for you — the ornamental and miscellaneous metal fabricator Think Bourbon Street, beautiful metalwork, great food, and endless things to do. Now think education, product demos, trade show, shop tours, and networking. METALfab and New Orleans are a match made in heaven! Plan now to attend METALfab 2011, the industry event of the year. We will be going full-steam from Wednesday night, March 16 until Saturday evening, March 19. The following is a checklist of important things to know: ✔ Save money. Register by February 22. After that date, prices go up $100. ✔ Book your hotel by February 22 to ensure the special $169 room rate. Call the hotel at (800) 305-6342 and ask for the “National Ornamental & Miscellaneous Metals Association” room block. ✔ Become a member and get member rate. When you register at the non-member rate you automatically become a NOMMA member with full privileges and benefits. ✔ SPECIAL DEAL. An AutoCAD seminar and lab takes place on Wednesday, March 16, prior to the evening METALfab kickoff. Cost is $295 for members/ $395 for nonmembers. Once you register for the AutoCAD class a full convention registration is only $150 more! ✔ For the latest updates, check the NOMMA website regularly. You can also download a registration form or register online.

Shop Tour Update On Saturday, we are boarding buses and making a visit to three outstanding shops: Boes Iron Works Inc., located in the heart of New Orleans, is a traditional style ornamental fabricator that also provides erection and crane rental services. A fourth generation business, Bevolo Gas & Electric Lights is probably best known for crafting the Original French Quarter light. January / February 2011 n Fabricator

The company produces a line of high-end copper lighting that can be seen on homes and businesses around the world. During the tour, attendees will be treated to a lantern assembly demo. Manufab Inc. of Kenner, LA is a state-of-the-art shop that specializes in custom steel fabrication and architectural and miscellaneous metals. This shop visit was a big hit when we visited the facility during METALfab 2005. 61

Demo Classes on the Show Floor On Thursday, a series of classes and demos will take place on the trade show floor. These sessions provide an opportunity to spend time with exhibitors and receive a first-hand education on various products. If you are a trade show-only attendee, this is a great opportunity to experience the types of education programs that are offered at METALfab.

Thursday, March 17, 2011 Sessions take place in Hall G of the Morial Convention Center, 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. 10:00 a.m.–11:00 a.m.

Grinding, Polishing and Finishing Join Chris LePore (American Fabricator Supply Co.) on the show floor for a demo on hand power tools and abrasives available for grinding, polishing, and finishing steel, stainless steel, aluminum, copper and brass. He will also demonstrate tools designed for linear, pipe polishing

and weld removal on different structural shapes and the most productive way to accomplish the desired finish.

ets; Hex Head Cable Tensioner for Vertical Cable Railings; LED Bracket Light and more.

11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

1:00 p.m.–2:00 p.m.

New Products from Wagner Tony Leto and Steve Engebregtsen (The Wagner Companies) will highlight features and demonstrate how to use their most popular new products including PanelGrip® and the PanelGrip® Plumbing Tool; Slip-Fit Brack-

Ornamental CAD detailing tips and tricks Dave Filippi (FabCAD Inc.) will demonstrate how CAD can be used for quickly developing gates, rails, and fences. Also see how CAD can develop design elements like forged scrolls and other intricate designs. Gilders Paste David Wareham (King Architectural) will demonstate the use of Gilders Paste for finishing.

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Stainless Steel Finishing Join Metabo Corp. for a demo class on their new INOX (stainless steel) finishing tools for finishing wide flat surfaces, long narrow surfaces, pipe and tubular applications, and finishing fillet welds as well as a new line of Pyramid Abrasives especially for stainless steel. Finish levels can range from mill finish to high reflective finish depending on customer requirements. MT150-A Multi-Purpose Ornamental Bar Bending Machine Eagle Bending Machines Inc./ Carell Corp. will do a demo class on our MT150-A Multi-Purpose Ornamental Bar Bending Machine. Fabricator n January / February 2011


Nationwide Supplier Members 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 Artist Supplies & Products (800) 825-0029 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

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) 919-87-844-7477 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 Elite Architectural Metal Supply LLC (847) 636-1233 EPi

(262) 786-9330

ETemplate Systems (919) 676-2244 EURO-FER SPA ( 011) 390-44-544-0033 FabCad Inc. (866) 427-2454

BFT U.S. Inc. (877) 995-8155

Feeney Inc. (Feeney Architectural Products) (800) 888-2418

Big Blu Hammer Mfg. (828) 437-5348

Gates That Open LLC (GTO) (800) 543-4283

Julius Blum & Co. Inc. (800) 526-6293

Genova Imports LLC (972) 395-8199

Bridgeton Drafting Co. LLC (856) 205-1279

Geo. Bezdan Sales Ltd. (800) 663-6356

Byan Systems Inc. (800) 223-2926

Glasswerks LA Inc. (800) 350-4527

The Cable Connection (800) 851-2961

The G-S Co. (410) 284-9549

Cadd Connection (541) 967-7954

Hartford Standard Co. Inc. (270) 298-3227

Carell Corp. (251) 937-0948

Hayn Enterprises LLC (800) 346-4296

Carl Stahl DecorCable Innovations (800) 444-6271

Hebo/ Stratford Gate Systems Inc. (503) 722-7700

Century Group Inc. (800) 527-5232

Hendrick Mfg., Perforated Metals Div. (800) 225-7373

Cleveland Steel Tool Co. (800) 446-4402 Colorado Waterjet Co. (866) 532-5404 CompLex Industries Inc. (901) 547-1198

January / February 2011 n Fabricator

Heritage Cast Iron USA (918) 592-1700 House of Forgings LLC (866) 443-4848

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 King Architectural Metals (800) 542-2379 King Architectural Metals - CA (800) 542-2379 King Architectural Metals - MD (800) 542-2379 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 Marks U.S.A. (800) 526-0233

Overseas Supply Inc. (866) 985-9885 P & J Mfg. Co. (419) 227-8742 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 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) 653-8568

McKey Perforating (800) 345-7373

Transpacific Industrial Supply Inc. (909) 581-3058

Metabo Corp. (281) 948-2823

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

Mittler Bros. Machine & Tool (800) 467-2464

TS Distributors Inc. (800) 392-3655

Multi Sales Inc. (800) 421-3575

The Wagner Companies (888) 243-6914

NC Tool Co. (800) 446-6498

Wasatch Steel Inc. (888) 486-4463

New Metals Inc. (888) 639-6382

West Tennessee Ornamental Door (866) 790-3667

O.K. Foundry Co. Inc. (804) 233-9674 Ohio Gratings Inc. (800) 321-9800



New Members

You’re Invited To ....

We are pleased to introduce our newest members. We encourage our new member firms to “jump in and get involved.” New NOMMA Members as of December 31, 2010. *Asterisk denotes returning member. Arc Angels Inc.* Dunedin, FL Bill Coleman Fabricator

Marks U.S.A.* Amityville, NY William Sporre Nationwide Supplier

Bohnert Sheet Metal* Miami, FL Skip Marvel Fabricator

Meta Designs Salt Lake City, UT Ryan Lewis Fabricator

The Chamberlain Group Inc.* Elmhurst, IL Pat Evans Fabricator

New Line Engineering Ltd. Kells, Co. Meath, Ireland Darren S. Sheridan Fabricator

CompLex Industries Inc.* Memphis, TN Ken Argroves Nationwide Supplier

O.K. Foundry Co. Inc. Richmond, VA James O’Neil Nationwide Supplier

E-A Enterprises LLC* Forest Hill, MD Mark Nelson Fabricator

Paramount Steel Inc.* Houston, TX Steve Lee Fabricator

Elephant Iron* Santa Barbara, CA Peter Grim Fabricator

Premium Metal & Iron Works LLC Pewaukee, WI Jeffrey Knauf Fabricator

Gator Custom Fabrication* North Augusta, GA Martin Cochran Fabricator House of Forgings LLC* Houston, TX Manuel Vela Nationwide Supplier Ivoryton Ironworks* Ivoryton, CT Paul A. Kotowski Fabricator Joslyn Fine Metalwork Inc.* Smyrna, NY Steve Joslyn Fabricator Lee Ironworks Inc.* Port Charlotte, FL Jeff Lee Fabricator Louis Hoffmann Co.* Menomonee Falls, WI Bryan Hermus Fabricator Manufab Inc.* Kenner, LA Rick Ledet Fabricator


METALfab 2011 METALfab offers outstanding industry education and features the only trade show specifically for our industry. • Develop your shop and business skills. • Give your staff top quality education.

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

Rafael J. Nido Inc. Group* San Juan, PR C.R. White Local Supplier Savannah River Forge* Augusta, GA Mike Ivey Fabricator Sculpt Nouveau* Escondido, CA Ron Young Fabricator Venezia Iron Works* Brooklyn, NY Pat Parrella Fabricator

See You There!

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

Waukegan Steel Sales Inc. Waukegan, IL Donald E. Robison, Sr. Fabricator Webster Mfg. Co.* Macon, GA Randy Webster Fabricator Wilson Railing & Metal Fab. Inc.* Park City, IL Steve Albert Fabricator Fabricator n January / February 2011

What’s Hot? n Business Briefs Marks USA custom locksets chosen for prestigious Visionaire condos Marks USA Custom Lockset Division was chosen to provide security — with style — at The Visionaire in New York City, adding to its prestigious list of condominiums that have chosen to use Marks Grade 1 Mortise Locksets. Marks USA’s custom lockset design matches the architectural form of The Visionaire, located at the southern tip of Battery Park City, a 92-acre community with 35 acres of open park space bordering New York’s Hudson River. The Visionaire was designed by architect Raphael Pelli, of Pelli Clarke Pelli, who envisioned streamlined contours, and focused on how The Visionaire was perceived from within, while optimizing natural light and the river and city views. Contact Marks USA, (800) 5260233; ABANA holds successful election The ABANA election closed on the original scheduled date, the ballots were counted, and the results have been certified by the elections committee chair, George Mathews. The successful candidates are Gerald Boggs, Lance Davis, Ray Nager, Amy Pieh, and Linda Tanner. ABANA wishes to thank all of the candidates and all of the board members who are not continuing into 2011 (Len Ledet, Rome Hutchings and John Yust). Contact ABANA Central Office, (703) 680-1632;

January / February 2011 n Fabricator

Industry News

Wagner increases aluminum sales A post-holiday tale of creative thinking The Wagner Companies has found a unique and fun way to increase sales. In the fifth year of production, Festivus Poles®, an aluminum tube used as a centerpiece for those who celebrate the Seinfeld inspired holiday of Festivus, are responsible for 15 tons of aluminum sales for Wagner. “When we decided to start manufacturing Festivus Poles here in our Milwaukee manufacturing facility in 2005, we expected to sell a few, get some publicity, and have some fun,” says Wagner Executive Vice President of Sales Tony Leto. “Since the introduction, we have sold over 6,500 Festivus Poles.” Festivus Poles are available in three sizes: A full-size floor model, a shorter table-top version, and a newly added mini Festivus Pole which is part of Festivus In A Box. “While the 6-foot Festivus Pole remains very popular, we found that many people didn’t have room for our larger Festivus Pole and were interested in a smaller version for use in their office or as a center piece at their holiday dinner,” says Leto. “Festivus in a Box provides a simple solution while providing all the accoutrements and

information someone would need to celebrate the ‘holiday for the rest of us.’” The Festivus Pole is the centerpiece of the Festivus celebration made famous in a December 1997 episode of the television program Seinfeld titled “The Strike.” In that episode, the fictional Frank Costanza, played by Jerry Stiller, tells of how he invented the holiday when his children were young and he found himself in a department store tug-of-war with another Christmas shopper for a doll. “I realized there had to be a better way,” Frank recounts. Leto explains how in December, 2004, he read an article in the New York Times by Allen Salkin that touched on how the fictional Festivus was starting to take hold in various parts of the country. “The specifications noted for Festivus Poles were certainly something we could meet, so I registered the domain name for possible use later,” Leto says. “It has been a fun project for us since it is a step away from the architectural and industrial metal products we would typically produce.” Contact The Wagner Companies, (888) 243-6914; www.

Mike Tarrant named CML USA, Inc. Ercolina© manufacturer’s rep CML USA Inc., a manufacturer of tube, pipe, and profile bending and metalworking machinery (Davenport, IA), is pleased to announce that Mike Tarrant of Tarrant Industrial Marketing (Athens, TX) will serve as Ercolina’s new Manufacturer’s Representative. His territory will include Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana. Contact CML USA Ercolina©; (563) 391-7700;


What’s Hot? n

Business News

Free digital copy of 2009 IECC available Free digital copies of the International Council’s 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) are now available thanks to funding provided by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The 2009 IECC is expected to produce approximately 15 percent in residential energy efficiency gains compared to its previous 2006 edition. The goal of this initiative are homes and commercial buildings (including schools and hospitals) that consume less energy and help the environment by reducing emissions and their collective carbon footprint. The funding for this free download is part of DOE’s initiative to meet nationwide energyefficiency goals through its Building Technologies Program and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The IECC is the national model energy code of choice for states, cities, and counties (that adopt codes) and is referenced in federal law determined by Congress through the Energy Policy Act of 1992. It is the only energy code serving as the basis for federal tax credits for energy-efficient homes, energy efficiency standards for federal residential buildings and manufactured housing, and state residential energy code determinations. The 2009 IECC is the target building energy code that all 50 Governors agreed to achieve compliance with under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The free download of the IECC is available at: Contact: ICC, (888) 422-7233x4212;

Business Briefs Online version of new ADA now available The Justice Department has posted an official online version of the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design (2010 Standards). It provides the scoping and technical requirements for new construction and alterations resulting from the adoption of revised 2010 Standards in the final rules for Title II (28 CFR part 35) and Title III (28 CFR part 36). The Department has also compiled guidance on the 2010 Standards from the revised regulations for Titles II and III. This explanatory information from the regulations addresses the scoping and technical provisions of the 2010 Standards. The direct link to the 2010 ADA Standards is: 2010ADAstandards_index.htm. Editor’s note: Thanks to Tony Leto of The Wagner Companies and Tom Zuzik Jr. of Artistic Railings Inc. for providing this story. ICC elects new Board of Directors The ICC elected new board members last October. Board members serve a term of three years, and do not serve for more than two consecutive full terms. The officers include James L. Brothers (President), William (Bill) Dupler (Vice President) and Ronald E. Piester (Secretary/Treasurer). Additionally, Jeff Whitney was elected to serve as a Sectional Director on the Code Council Board for the region that includes Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and Mexico. This is Whitney’s second term as a Board of Director, but his first term as Sectional Director. Contact ICC, (888) 422-7233;


Fabricator n January / February 2011

What’s Hot? n


Event Briefs Basics of Bronze Foundry Work February 13–17, 2011 Led by Carl Kriegeskotte. Beginner and up. Contact New England School of Metalwork, (888) 753-7502; www. newenglandschoolofmetalwork. com. 3-Day blacksmithing classes February 18–20, 2011 Led by Gordon Williams Beginner/intermediate. Other upcoming 2011 classes: March 11–13; April 8–10; May 6–8. Contact Pieh Tool Company Inc., (888) 743-4866; www.piehtoolco. com.

FENCETECH/DECKTECH’11 in Las Vegas February 8–10 FENCETECH/DECKTECH’s combo fence, security, deck, and railing trade exhibition is back in Las Vegas, NV this year, February 8–10, 2011. Presented by the American Fence Association (AFA), the show combines industry experts, educational sessions, new installation techniques, and new materials and products. More than 4,000 attendees and 300 exhibitors are expected to gather at Mandalay Bay for the event. Seminar tracks in legal, materials, operations, and sales are designed to offer information for every role within a company, from installer and administration to sales and executives. Deck and outdoor demonstrations highlight best practices and improved ABANA

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installation techniques. New to the show, a series of Access Control Demos will demonstrate new technology and best practices in gate operation. For those who seek to be recognized for their knowledge and professionalism, the Certified Fence Professional (CFP) exam and the Certified Automated Gate Operator Installer (CAFOI) will also be offered. On Monday, the annual AFA Golf Tournament takes place at the Desert Pines Golf Course with a 12 noon shotgun start. It is sponsored by AFA’s host chapter, the California Fence Contractor’s Association. Contact

Restoring the Past. Building the Future. Questions? Call Peter H. Miller, President: 202.339.0744 x 104. Or email

January / February 2011 n Fabricator

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What’s Hot? n


NE Chapter tours the Iron Shop and watches demo of steel forging The Northeast Chapter met at M. Cohen & Sons (aka The Iron Shop) for an early November meeting. After attendees introduced themselves, the group discussed upcoming business including a weekend trip in April to the National Ornamental Metal Museum in Memphis, TN, having t-shirts made by the Chapter for METALfab 2011 in New Orleans, LA, and an upcoming American Institute of Architects (AIA) meeting that was held in Teaneck, NJ. Rich Dantoni of Julius Blum and Jay Shah of Architectural Iron Designs joined Chapter President Keith Majka of Majka Railing in discussing the importance of maintaining communication with the AIA. After the business meeting M. Cohen & Sons owner Allen Cohen gave everyone a tour of the firm’s extended facilities, which consist of several shops. Chris Tierney of Samuel Yellin Metalworkers, which now is partnered with M. Cohen & Sons, demonstrated forging steel utilizing the coal forge, hand and power hammers, anvil tooling, and hot chisel work.

Attendees of the November 6, 2010 NE Chapter meeting enjoyed a live forging demonstration by Chris Tierney.

The focus of this demonstration was on moving mass and layering detail in order to achieve a more complex design. The design was a copy of an ornament from the Yellin Collection. Contact Keith Majka, Majka Railing; (973)247-7604 majkarailing@

Florida Chapter throws a Hot Shot party On November 13, 2010 the Florida Chapter held their meeting at Hot Shot Welding, in Largo, FL. Hot Shot Welding provided a tour of their facility, showcasing a number of interesting projects. Owner Stephen Aretz smoked a whole hog and gator tail on site, and the group enjoyed entertainment by Jimmy Griswold and his band. Demonstrations and discussions covered stainless steel TIG welding, stainless steel polishing, spiral stair fabrication, and electrostatic painting. 68

Attendees of the November 13, 2010 Florida Chapter meeting viewed live demonstrations of stainless steel welding.

Contact Britt Gordy, Liberty Aluminum Co.; (239) 369-3000; bgordy@

Events NE Chapter honors Sam Paresi The Northeast Chapter honored Sam Paresi from Julius Blum & Co., Inc. for his life-long dedication towards the betterment of our industry on January 22, 2011 in Seaford, LI, NY. Paresi is one of the founders of the Metal Museum in Memphis, TN and has consistently offered diligent service to NOMMA. Contact Keith Majka, Majka Railing; (973) 247-7604; Chesapeake Bay (proposed) Chapter focuses on insurance At a January 22, 2011 meeting in Gambrills, MD, the proposed Chesapeake Bay Chapter held a luncheon and discussion on Insurance for the Metalworking Industry led by Pete Moscker, Moscker Insurance Agency. The group also discussed the election of officers, fundraising, and ideas for 2011 meetings. Contact Patty Koppers, Koppers Fabricators Inc.; (240) 286-8029; Upper Midwest Chapter holds holiday gathering and workshop On January 22 the Upper Midwest Chapter met at Mueller Ornamental Iron in Elk Grove Village, IL. After a short business meeting, shop tour, and discussion, attendees designed and created items to be donated to the NOMMA Education Foundation for auction at METALfab 2011 in New Orleans, LA. Contact Mark Koenke, Germantown Iron & Steel Corp.; (262) 6772530; NOMMA members and guests are welcomed to any chapter meeting! Check the NOMMA website (www. for the latest updates.

Fabricator n January / February 2011

What’s Hot? n


Mortise Lock enables the lock handing to be reversed without removing the lock cover. Panic Devices have dead-locking latch bolts that minimize forced entry and offer a low cost solution to life safety requirements. Panic devices also feature a full-length touchbar, corrosion-resistant, stainless steel heavy-duty gage as a standard, and a full complement of free-wheeling lever trim is available in a wide range of architectural finishes. Finally, Marks’ Door Closers are designed to represent the latest in door control technology and exceed the demands of today’s building standards with features like full range spring power adjustment to

Safety enhanced architectural hardware Marks USA

To help meet the needs of the growing security hardware market for ornamental and miscellaneous metal fabricators, Marks USA has expanded their product offering of architectural hardware. Marks USA is calling this expansion a Triple Play, and it includes Locksets, Panic Devices, and Door Closers. The firm’s AUTO-REVERSE 5 Series

meet ADA barrier-free accessibility requirements. Contact Marks USA, (800) 526-0233; www. Safer 6" angle grinder Metabo Corporation

The new WP11-150 Quick 6” angle grinder from Metabo has an added safety feature, a non-locking paddle switch for safer tool operation. It also features an extra high cooling capacity, a 9.6 motor with 1,100 watts of power, 29 inch-lbs

of torque, a no-load speed of 9,000 rpm, and a ratedload speed of 6,500 rpm. The angle grinder also offers a dust protective system designed to extend the tool’s service life by shielding the motor. The WP11-150 Quick features an encapsulated on/ off switch, auto-stop carbon brushes, double-lipped labyrinth sealed bearings, epoxy coated field coil windings, and weighs just 5.9 pounds. Contact Metabo Corporation, (800) 638-2264; www. Angle roll bending machine Carell Corporation Carell Corporation introduces the 310HV4 Angle

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Roll with 6-inch pipe and 6-inch angle bending capacity. It is a 3-driven rolls, double initial pinch, fully hydraulic Universal Roll Bending Machine with independent hydraulic adjustment of both lower bending rolls and hydraulic powered rotation of all three rolls. Lateral guides are hydraulic powered in all three axii


(6 directional movements). Tooling for angle iron leg-in and leg-out is standard. The 310HV4 is equipped with an articulated overhead pendant control arm to allow for maximum operator mobility and safety. The 310HV4 weighs 20,500 pounds. Contact Carell Corporation, (251) 937-0948; www. Automated positioning system TigerStop TigerStop announces its release of TigerRack, a new rack and pinion driven automated positioning system. It’s the newest addition of Metal Tough™ TigerStop products, and attaches to

Contact TigerStop, (360) 254-0661; www.tigerstop. com.

a cold saw, punch press, ironworker or any machine needing linear positioning automation. It can also be used as an automatic pusher or as a material stop. TigerRack is built to withstand the heavy-duty use of metalworking environments and provides solutions including reduced set up time, increased accuracy, and productivity for nearly every application from structural steel to ornamental metals.

Depressed center grinding wheels Norton Brands by Saint-Gobain

Norton recently expanded its Charger Plus and Gemini lines to include new INOX contaminant-free wheels. They contain less than .01% iron, sulfur, or chlorine to help prevent rust and con-



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Fabricator n January / February 2011

What’s Hot? n


tamination of stainless steel. According to the manufacturer, a high ratio of zirconia alumina blended with aluminum oxide on the Charger Plus increases the life compared to standard aluminum oxide wheels, while its performance to price ratio lowers total grinding costs. Saint-Gobain has also expanded its Norton Metal line of aluminum oxide and silicon carbide with more competitively priced options and has upgraded its highperformance NorZon Plus Wheels to provide higher cut rates and longer life. Contact Saint-Gobain Abrasives Inc., (508) 7954435; www.saint-gobain. com.

Pipe sander and grinder CS Unitec Inc.

For surface finishing applications on pipe and hand rails, CS Unitec’s new PIPE-MAX combination weld seam grinder and pipe sander are designed to render weld seams invisible and to produce satin to mirror finishes on stainless steel, aluminum, and highquality metals. With a 14.5 Amp variable-speed (950 to 3500 RPM) electric motor, the

tool deburrs, grinds, and polishes closed and open pipe constructions from 3/8-inch to 12-inch diameter and weighs 11.25 pounds. The PIPE-MAX features a continuous sanding belt speed adjustment (from 33 to 100 ft./sec.) to accommodate the pipe material, as well as a continuous belt tightening adjustment to suit the pipe diameter. Contact CS Unitec Inc., (800) 700-5919; www. Hot air drying system Malcom Company Inc. Malcom Company Inc. introduces Hot Air Knife Systems for drying machined metal, cast, or stamped parts to prevent

corrosion and prepare them for subsequent processes (faster than compressed air). The systems can be custom-configured with one or more hot air blowers, specialty deflectors, air nozzles (or tunnels), and various control options to blow up to 1,000°F heated air at pressure up to 4.5 psi. The

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systems are available for new and retrofit applications. Contact Malcom Company Inc., (800) 289-7505; Portable plasma cutting system Lincoln Electric Company Lincoln Electric’s new Tomahawk™ 375 Air is the first in a line of new plasma cutting systems designed for

on-site maintenance, service tasks, small construction sites, HVAC work, demolition, and rental applications. It includes an internal air compressor, eliminating the need for an external air source, and it can be used anywhere 208 or 230 volt single phase 60 Hz power is available. The Tomahawk features continuous output control to focus the plasma arc for up to 5/16 inch recommended, 3/8 inch maximum and 1/2 inch severance cut thicknesses and is designed for cutting mild steel, stainless steel, and aluminum. Contact Lincoln Electric Company, (888) 355-3213;

Tool system for press brakes Cincinnati Incorporated Cincinnati Incorporated introduces its new Quick Tool Change System for Proform and Maxform press brakes. It is designed to allow for faster setups and to eliminate bad bends due to improperly seated tools. The factory-installed power clamping system bolts

directly to the ram and is integrated into the machine’s hydraulic system. This feature eliminates the need for an external pump. The Quick Tool Change System is available for use with American style upper tools with standard safety tongues, and lower tools with half-inch wide tongues and with all major die manufacturers with self-seating tooling. The system automatically self-seats V-notched American style upper tools. Standard tools without Vnotches will clamp without self-seating. Contact Cincinnati Incorporated, (513) 367-7100;





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


 Pg Company*


70....Kalamazoo Machine Tool..................................

52...Alloy Casting Co. Inc...........................................

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

33...Architectural Iron Designs

70....Laser Precision Cutting....................................

71....Atlas Metal Sales.............................................

23...Lawler Foundry

45...Big Blu Hammer Mfg.

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

41....Blacksmiths Depot ..........................

15....Mac Metals Inc...............................................

60...Blue Moon Press....................................


34...Julius Blum & Co.

56...Metabo Corp.............................................................

24...The Cable Connection................

52...NC Tool Company

39...Carell Corporation...........................................

54...NOMMA Membership..........................................

35...Chicago Metal Rolled Products Co.....................

3......NOMMA METALfab................................................

13....Colorado Waterjet

4......NOMMA Sponsors.................................................

66...CompLex Industries

42...O.K. Foundry Co. Inc.....................

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

29...PLASMA CAM Inc..........................................

31...D.J.A. Imports Ltd...........................................

72....DAC Industries

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

39... Eagle Bending Machines Inc....


53...Eberl Iron Works

19....Scotchman Industries...................................


40...Sharpe Products....................................

21...FabCad Inc...............................................................


27...Feeney Inc.............................................................


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

37...Sumter Coatings


13....TACO Metals Inc..............................................

72....Hougen Mfg. Inc..................................................

67...Traditional Building.......................

60...International Gate

51...Tri-State Shearing & Bending................................... 718-485-2200

76....The Iron

69...Universal Entry Systems Inc......................................800-837-4283

57....Jansen Ornamental Supply Co..............

62...Vogel Tool & Die Corp.....................................

71....Jesco Industries Inc. ....................................

7......The Wagner Companies

Contact your O&MM Fabricator sales representative Sales Manager Jim Gorzek Direct 815.227.8269 Mobile 815.985.4089 Fax 815.484.7730 jimg@

AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, ID, KS, LA, MO, MS, MT, NE, ND, NM, NV, OR, OK, SD, TN, TX, UT, WA, WY Tony Arnone Direct 815.227.8263 Toll Free 888.394.4362 Fax 815.484.7758 tony@

January / February 2011 n Fabricator

CT, DE, MA, MD, ME, MI, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VT Sean Smith Direct 815.227.8265 Toll Free 888.394.4362 Fax 815.484.7760 seans@

FL, GA, IN, KY, NC, OH, SC, VA, WV Michael J. Lacny Direct 815.227.8264 Toll Free 888.394.4362 Fax 815.484.7749 mikel@

IA, IL, MN, WI, Canada Amy Hudson Direct 815.227.8237 Toll Free 888.394.4362 Fax 815.484.7777 amyh@



Metal Moment

Book Review

Thumbs up for new welding instruction book Welding for Dummies By Steven Robert Farnsworth Wiley Publications, 2010.

The prose is clear and spare, with a stripped down, practical approach. He doesn’t waste time on material that would be largely academic. Instead he stays with the By Jeff Fogel stuff most helpful to most people. His discussion of metals, in the beginning is a good Wiley Publications has astutely gauged the example. It tells you exactly what you need to market with its latest primer, Welding for know, without getting bogged down in comDummies. When cities are relaxing ordiplicated metallurgy. Any esoteric content is nances to allow roof top chicken coops and confined to the occasional sidebar, which he gardens are displacing pools as the new refers to as garnish; the book is the entrée. suburban chic, you know there’s a trend Dividing the world of welding into three going on. The socio-economic stars have realms — TIG, MIG, and Stick — he moves aligned and there’s a full press movement in orderly fashion from how to select a weldafoot for self-reliance. ing system and equipment, to how to use it. And every road to self-reliance must pass through metal There is a thorough discussion of the pros and cons of each fabrication. As the book’s author, Steven Robert Farnsworth system, and Farnsworth commendably resists any temptation puts it, “I can’t imagine a world without welding.” toward personal bias. He combines TIG and Stick welding Farnsworth is a longtime welding instructor, and it shows. (pointing out that, after all, one can even use a TIG machine There is a patient, orderly quality to the book, much like a as a Stick welder). MIG gets an entire part to itself. Another well used school curriculum. Part combines plasma cutting, oxy- work, and trickier projWelding for Dummies is for beginners. But it’s for beginects such as pipe welding. And in keeping with the eminent ners with a plan. Sure, the book has dilettante appeal, but practicality of the book, the Part of Tens contains lists and I suspect there will be more readers who need to — rather illustrations of problem welds and how to avoid them. Each than want to — learn weldlesson shows how to practice ing. Not to mention those what’s been learned, and who have an eye on a for additional hands on second career. This may experience there are several explain the fairly lengthy simple projects. discussion on the advantagThere are times when the es of AWS certification in book seems redundant. It’s the last part. not. Each time the reader That’s not to say that an is introduced to new mateExcerpt from page 294, Part VI: The Part of Tens: Undercutting. experienced welder won’t When you weld more than one pass on a joint, undercutting can occur rial, the author recaps the find this book useful. Never between the passes because the molten weld is already and takes less previously learned material; heat to fill, yet you’re using the same heat as if it were cold. It’s mind the emphasis on a proven method for better basics. It’s laden with useful actually a very serious defect that can ruin the quality of a weld, long term retention. It’s old especially when more than 1/32 inch is burned away. If you do a pass information and will serve school, but very effective. and notice some undercutting, you must remove it before you make as a good reference book. I wish the book had more your next pass or you risk trapping slag (waste material — see the Besides, everyone can illustrations, and in the Part following section) into the welded joint (which is bad news). The only good thing about undercutting is that it’s extremely easy to spot after use a refresher on basics of Tens where he does use you know what you’re looking for. from time to time. illustrations, I wish he had Like all the Dummies used photographs. books, Welding for Dummies is organized into sections But this is the first edition. I suspect there will be imcalled parts, the last of which is always titled the “Part of provements. This is a practical book by an author that clearly Tens.” Each part bundles several chapters of related subjects. loves the subject. I’ll give Welding for Dummies a four-outThe Part of Tens is always a compendium of lists of ten items, of-five electrodes. including references, further reading, or links. Welding has six parts, throughout which the reader is frequently referred Jeff Fogel is a Fabricator contributing writer. See page 18 to chapter 3 of part 1, the section on safety. for his latest piece on plasma cutting. 74

Fabricator n January / February 2011

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