Jan 17, 2016

Strategy: Doug Love embraces change to remain competitive in automobile engine industry

Salt Lake City

In 1926, when the automobile industry was still young, Joseph Leonard Love opened up a machine shop in Salt Lake still operating today: Love Machine Company, Inc. The family’s specialty? Changing with the times.

For nearly 90 years, the Love family has adapted and changed with the automobile industry. Whenever the technology or customer base changed, the Love family was ready to adapt their business or even start a new one.

The Love Machine Company is now run by cousins Doug and Scott Love. Says Doug, “I grew up around the business, and as soon as I finished high school, I started here full-time. I have spent time working in every aspect of the business including machining, outside sales, and even running the front counter.”

In 1993, Doug became the third generation of his family to take over the business. Following in his family’s footsteps, Doug is keenly aware of the industry’s ever-changing nature and the need to adapt in order to stay in business.

“You can’t always do things as you did in the past,” says Doug. “You need to look for new opportunities and new products. I can’t run the business the way my father did. We have to continue to adjust to technology and invest in newer machinery,” he says.

Most recently Doug has taken the knowledge gained working for Love Machine Company and started a new manufacturing business in Salt Lake City: Steel Mills Fabricators, Inc.

“I started Steel Mills Fabricators because a customer came to me who had been looking to purchase a part for the oil industry that he could not find anywhere else. He asked if I could manufacture a specific product for him. I decided I would ‘take a leap of faith’ and start a new company. I bought a new machine, cleared out some space at Love Machine Company, and started up the new business,” Doug says.

Currently, Steel Mills Fabricators has one primary customer based out of Vernal, Utah. Unfortunately, the new company has also encountered an uncontrollable external force: oil prices.

“The new manufacturing company has been a drain on my time, and only having one primary customer has added to our risk. But it has also been a good opportunity to learn and to grow. I am confident that when oil prices come back we will have new customers knocking on our door.”

“Technology in the automotive industry has always changed rapidly, and Love Machine Company has always been able to stay up with and respond to new technology. It has been the hallmark of our business. With Steel Mill Fabricators, our problem has not been changing technology as much as wild swings in prices, something which we didn’t necessarily foresee. It remains to be seen now if this is a new ballgame or not.”

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Rachelle Knight Child writes for CompanyWeek Utah and can be reached at