Our own Kathye Herrera spoke to members today about the business she and her husband, Doug, own – TechFab, Inc. in Morenci. She said she was excited to talk about a topic she really enjoys and loves. It is a small fabrication business. The business was started about 25 year ago, she said, and they originally employed 5 fulltime employees but due to a major customer of theirs closing their doors, they went through a series of layoffs unfortunately. Some of them they do employ but only part time. Doug primarily does metal fabrication from either pre-engineered prints or designs he does himself. He is skilled at flame and arc welding, paints and ships his products.
Doug started to learn the trade in his Father’s business when he was 14 years old and later became a Journeyman and learned the entire process. Sometime after she met and married Doug they decided to start their own business. Their goal was to “produce a top quality product with aesthetic appeal and low cost ratio”, she said. Kathye very unabashedly said that her husband was “one of THE best metal fabricators in the business but not such a good photographer”! (If you could have seen the pictures of his work on her Powerpoint presentation today, you would certainly agree).
Tech Fab’s first official job, Kathye said, was to design and fabricate a staircase for a new press box at the high school football field along with screens for the windows. An article came out in the local newspaper about the work Doug did and he was aptly named – The Man of Steel! Morenci High had a blind student at the time. The trophy cases were on the wall in the halls and the blind student had trouble bumping in to them so Doug designed and built stainless steel legs that were artistic and prevented the young man from hitting them when coming down the hall with his cane.
Other projects at Morenci High included bollards for the loading dock, cover for generator, screens to cover press box windows, baseball markers, fabricated special stainless steel covers for ticket booth at the football field, fabricated new stainless steel door on freezer in cafeteria and more. Doug prefers to work with stainless steel, Kathye said.
Tech Fab was the main fabricator for M & S in Hudson as an outside contractor for over 15 years. The jobs ranged from simple repairs to major work that would take a month or more to complete. Among the products Doug produced were: Oil pans, Computer stands, conveyors, parabolic chutes, hoppers and many others. Yet another customer of Doug’s was the Lenawee County Jail and among those projects he did were: stainless steel kitchen repairs (designed, fabricated and installed), stainless steel grating and wall repairs to prevent separation.
At the Maurice Spear Campus Doug fabricated and installed stainless steel floor in freezers; for the City of Adrian Doug designed and build the stainless steel columns at Comstock Park and rails at the Adrian Public Library. At Adrian College Doug designed and made the Herrick Chapel Cross, the fire Pit at Docking Stadium, canopies and handrails at Peelle and Jones Halls, heat exchanger at the Arrington Ice Arena to melt ice scraped by Zamboni and many, many other projects too numerous to mention.
Among his other customers were (and some still are) Cargotainer, the City of Morenci and Legends Mfg., McMurray & Son of Maumee, Precast Concrete of Blissfield, Thomas & Son Painting, Michigan Building Specialits, Roberts Tool-Tecumseh, Morenci Laundromat, K & K Tractor Pulling, Clinton Art Center, the Sauce and Whirpool. Whirpool, Kathye said, was currently their main customer and requires Doug to travel to either Findlay, Clyde or Marion, Ohio.
Kathye showed a picture (at right) of the gentleman from their church who, she said, believed in her husband years ago when they decided to start their own business. This person, knowing they were looking for a place to set up shop, offered them a facility on his property they could use rent free in exchange for any help he might need down the road. That was 23 years ago, she said, and all the rest was history! The sculpture Doug designed and made for our club at the Hospice Peace Pond was made in his memory.
Kathye closed by saying: “Tech Fab is a small mom and pop business that has been in business for almost 25 years. There have been many ups and downs as in most businesses but we have persevered. Doug’s creativity, skill, honesty and hard work ethics have made the difference. I am impressed more each day with his work and am proud of all that he has accomplished”. Kathye passed around a scrapbook showing a vintage automobile (buggy) Doug and John Johnson designed and built that often appears in local parades.
It certainly goes without saying, doesn’t it, that Kathye and her hubby sure have a successful business and that Doug is one talented guy!!