Crafting Success through Shaping Metal
Specialty Metal Fabricators LLC is a custom metal fabrication facility that has been operating in Portland, Oregon, since May of 2000. Founder Doug Metz, a veteran sheet metal worker for the last 38 years, had a vision for an architectural job shop to do work on high-end buildings and he built his business from the ground up to become just that. Starting with just three employees, Doug’s team currently consists of two dozen individuals, from artisans to support staff. They bought their current building in 2009 to keep up with their continuing growth.
As a union shop, SMF provides fabrication and installation services for metal projects throughout Oregon and Washington—as well as across the country—from small standard fab jobs to highly specialized orders. “Clients come to us and say, ‘this is what we want built,’ and we create it for them,” said Doug. “We take any work from a $75 job that comes in the door to projects that run into the millions of dollars.”
SMF’s experienced team have a versatile skill set and are equipped with cutting edge fabrication machinery, enabling them to complete an incredibly wide range of projects in a variety of metals: stainless, aluminum, copper, brass, bronze, cold rolled and hot rolled steel. While the company has been very successful over the last two decades, the owner attributes it all to the quality of his people. According to Doug Metz, “Success is a result of the team at SMF.”
While the people at Specialty Metal Fabricators feel they are just a “small shop in Portland doing their thing,” their portfolio begs to differ. While never neglecting their mom-and-pop clients, SMF has done work for most of the major general contractors in Oregon and many that are outside of the state.
Some significant projects SMF has worked on include:
- A monument and placards at the Old Youngs Bay Bridge in Astoria, Oregon.
- The clock in the Rotary Plaza in Tigard, Oregon, a suburb of Portland.
- Monuments in Florence, Oregon.
- Decorative metal work for casinos in Washington.
- The CityCenter project in Las Vegas, Nevada.
- The Truckee River fish passage, the nation’s largest horizontal fish screen, constructed at the Derby Diversion Dam near Reno, Nevada, to support the recovery of threatened Lahontan Cutthroat Trout.
- A particular feather in SMF’s cap is the diamond-shaped stainless-steel stand for Marcus Mariota’s Heisman Trophy that they fabricated and erected at the University of Oregon. The 4′ high, eight-tiered stand is polished to a mirror finish and took a team of four workers just over 200 hours to create, deliver, and install.
- The most notable accomplishment of Specialty Metal Fabricators may well be their elevator door track system that they designed in 2000. The largest consultant firm took notice within the first three months of production and two decades later SMF’s system is used by contractors for elevators across the United States.
When potential clients ask Doug Metz what Specialty Metal Fabricators can offer, he smiles and replies, “Don’t let me tell you what we do, let me show you what we do.”
The RMT Connection
Specialty Metal Fab has had a productive relationship with Revolution Machine Tools almost from RMT’s onset. “We bought a sheet laser from Kyle in 2015,” Doug Metz recalled, referring to RMT founder Kyle Jorgenson. “We were one of the first customers for a piece of equipment that size. The laser has ran flawlessly for five years —it is completely flawless and never has a glitch.”
Seeing the performance of the laser gave Doug some insight into the quality of RMT’s products, so he started to buy more and more of their machines. “I see the reliability,” he said. “RMT’s design background, their knowledge, their service and dependability—that’s what made me decide to switch all my business over to them. All my main equipment is now RMT equipment. Plus, if something breaks, they will come and take care of it.” Speaking of RMT’s owner, Doug says, “Kyle has become a dear friend. He’s like family, and I trust the guy.”
That trust was put to the test one day when Kyle called Doug and told him that he was loading up a truck to send to him, adding, “You’re gonna like it.” Perplexed, Doug responded that he didn’t order anything. Kyle assured him that if he didn’t want it, he could send it back at Kyle’s expense. Because of his experience with Kyle, Doug kept an open mind. What arrived was an RMT sander, and Doug put it into production right away and never looked back. On a previous visit, Kyle had noted several SMF workers sanding parts by hand and knew he could provide a solution that would save Doug time and money, and he was right.
Besides the sheet laser and the sander, other RMT brand equipment SMF bought include a mandrel bender, a press brake, and a state-of-the-art tube cutting laser, perfect for decorative work. “It’s dependable,” Doug said of the equipment, adding that his motto at SMF is threefold: People, Process, Product. “I have the people,” he said. “If I improve the process, I perfect the product.” Doug sees his partnership with Revolution Machine Tools as a key component of SMF’s ever-improving process.
Doug put his relationship with Kyle Jorgenson into perspective by recounting an incident when he was in dire straits. “I had an old press brake that had a ram that just came down on its own. I called up Kyle and said I need a press brake ASAP. He told me that he had a 12′ B-Genius 270-ton brake that was headed to a trade show that he would reroute to me. Kyle knew he couldn’t get one to replace it in time for the show but sent it to me anyway. At that point it wasn’t about business, it was about taking care of a customer.”
Serving Customers, Large to Small
Both Specialty Metal Fabricators and Revolution Machine Tools share an important value between them—absolute dedication to taking care of their customers, no matter the size. Even with all the high-ticket opportunities that constantly come knocking, SMF never turns away the little guys. “I’ll still do the $75 jobs,” Doug said. “I had a guy mentor me when I was young. He told me to never turn down the $75 job—it might turn into $20,000 down the line.”
SMF’s customers have come to know the worth of working with them, from their competitive prices to their timely manner in completing even the most rigorous jobs. No matter the requirement, the staff at Specialty Metal Fabricators LLC have the knowledge, enthusiasm, and commitment to complete painstaking projects with outstanding workmanship time and again.