By Eric Peterson | Aug 29, 2022
Contract welding and metal fabrication; whitewater gear
When Gavitt's career in specialty drilling equipment segued into an office job, something was missing. "I was looking to get my hands dirty," he says. "I started Alloy Metalworks because my salaried position was now an office position."
It follows that Gavitt started contract welding on weekends. "It was something I knew how to do, it was something I enjoyed, and I missed it. . . . That ended up taking off."
After six months, Alloy Metalworks became Gavitt's full-time job, with an emphasis on machinery repair and custom fabrication. "For each customer, it's a little different," he says. "The majority of it is refurbishing worn-out equipment. That's a lot of it. Taking a part that's been destroyed and making a new one, that accounts for some of it, as well as taking new material to beef up or customize existing equipment."
Auger drilling equipment is the core market, and the company has also found steady work in tree-trimming and sawmill machinery. Gavitt says that his experience has proven a good match for these markets, and that Alloy Metalworks capabilities can be difficult for customers to maintain in-house.
Alloy Metalworks is currently housed in an 1,100-square-foot space, with a pair of mobile welding trucks for offsite jobs. "In the shop, we have a variety of welding and repair equipment," says Gavitt. "Most of it is geared toward auger drilling equipment."
Under the same umbrella is Alloy Outfitters, manufacturing boat frames and other rafting equipment. "I do whitewater sports for fun," says Gavitt, noting it's now about 10 percent of the business. "Basically, friends and family asked me to build them raft frames."
But he focused on industrial work because the whitewater manufacturing "is a bit more logistics-heavy" than contract repair and fabrication jobs. "We got overbooked doing raft frames," he explains. "Right now, our target is to keep it in that 10 percent range."
Growth has been "up and down," says Gavitt. "There was definitely some uncertainty in what I wanted to target when I started. I had the bread and butter, and I think it was working well enough, it was letting me experiment, but I definitely created some challenges for myself."
Challenges: Balancing growth with investment in capital equipment to offer turnkey repair services to a broader market. "At this point, one of the challenges is just reinvesting in the equipment I need to position ourselves to have a competitive advantage," says Gavitt.
Innovation -- in tandem with manufacturers trying to control the repair of the equipment they make -- is another hurdle for Alloy Metalworks. "Things are getting more technologically advanced and also harder to work on, but there seems to be an intentional push by manufacturers to have not just the manufacturer model, but a service-based model," says Gavitt. "They are less amenable to equipment owners trying to do it themselves."
Opportunities: "I'm building this foundation, this pyramid of capabilities," says Gavitt. "I think growth is going to be most driven by being able to service existing customers as well as possible . . . and then scale that."
With an AWS D17.1 certification, Gavitt says aerospace is another target market in the longer term. "We've got some welding certifications relating to the aerospace industry, but it's going to take a while to get traction there."
Needs: Gavitt says he sees a need for a new space in 2023, and hopes to have a company-owned facility in the next five years.
Alloy Metalworks also needs bigger and better machining equipment. "I'm working on expanding our machining capabilities so that we can provide more precise repairs on parts that require that," he says.