Just looking at this list, you can see how interconnected these four examples are. We need roads and steel bridges to cross the Continental Divide and small businesses to fabricate components to build them. America at its best is a symbiotic confluence of healthy parts creating a strong backbone that allows us to weather all storms, including economic tsunamis.
Visitors to thefabricator.com are getting a good look at one component of America’s backbone through the Fabricator Spotlight, a feature launched in 2010 to relate the stories of small and medium-sized businesses in the metal fabricating sector.
The current business in the Spotlight is Brown Dog Welding, Mount Clemens, Mich. This two-year-old shop, founded by Josh and Darla Welton, specializes in TIG welding, "from aluminum sheet or tubing to cast aluminum to stainless or mild steel."
What makes BDW special and an even more integral part of America's backbone is its commitment to philanthropy. Josh is a metal artist who donates a portion of the money he receives for his unique metal sculptures to charities. Among his creations is a metal bra sculpture that raised "a nice sum of money for Gilda's Club Metro Detroit." This sculpture can be seen here.
Another Spotlight company is Harco Metals, Tempe, Ariz. and Fort Payne, Ala. Harco specializes in designing and fabricating metal tubular parts. How Harco came to be is an example of American ingenuity at its most astute. Owner Jay Hall previously owned a construction company. As construction entered a downturn, Jay decided he needed to start another endeavor with a better marketplace. Realizing that three of the largest global industries -- automotive, defense, and medical -- dealt with bent tubing, he launched Harco. The company continues to diversify to grow.
The very first shop in the Spotlight was Patriot Welding & Fabrication. Bill and Christen Grinley opened the New Hampshire-based shop in 2002 as a sole proprietorship that has evolved into an LLC. The shop specializes in ornamental ironwork and commercial stairs and rails.
Interesting tidbit about Patriot’s history: In 2008, the shop became a WBE (women-owned business enterprise), thanks to Christen’s diligence and hard work when Bill was deployed to Iraq in 2007 - 2008. Moving forward, Patriot hopes to capitalize on the set-asides and seize the opportunities afforded WBEs in government, defense, and contracting.
Which brings me to why I decided to write about the backbone of America. Last night, my husband and I watched "The Hurt Locker," an Oscar-nominated movie about elite soldiers in Iraq who have the highly dangerous job of disarming bombs in the heat of combat. This movie reminded me that without our military, which has served us well in so many conflicts since the founding of our country, we might not be discussing the backbone of America, and shop owners like Josh, Darla, Jay, Bill, and Christen might not have the opportunities to start their small businesses that are critical to our national health. In my opinion, the U.S. military is the very nucleus of America’s backbone.
Do you know a shop that's a good candidate for the Fabricator Spotlight? If you do, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd love to hear its story. So would our readers.
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