A visit to Doughty Steel was like a step back in time for Governor John Hickenlooper -- his mother's family once owned the oldest family-held steel fabrication company in the United States.
He shared several memories while touring Doughty Steel en route to a town hall meeting in Montrose last Thursday.
"Ours is also a family business," said Scott Doughty, who is a partner with his brother Wayne. "Our dad, Melvin, started the business in 1935 in an old adobe blacksmith shop in Eckert. We moved to Delta in 1956 and have gradually added on and added on."
The original building and much of the equipment was donated to Pioneer Town in Cedaredge, and used to set up an old blacksmith shop.
At the shop on Highway 92, the manual machine shop is still fully operational, but Doughty Steel is also expanding its use of computer-driven lathes and mills to deliver precisely cut/drilled components in just minutes. The shop's press brake and computerized lasers ensure precise cuts regardless of the configuration and thickness of the finished piece. When it comes to assembling the components, Scott said Doughty Steel is fortunate to have several highly skilled welders on staff. The final step -- plating or powder coating -- is done by firms in Delta and Grand Junction.
Wayne Doughty oversees another aspect of Doughty's operation -- crane rentals. He had to miss the governor's visit because he was setting up one of Doughty's five cranes in the Meeker area.
Scott said Doughty cranes were recently used to set the girders for the Highway 92 project at Stengel's, as well as the girders for the bridge carrying Union Pacific trains across the Gunnison River in Austin.
Water tank fabrication is another big part of Doughty's business. Scott Doughty pointed out how the steel plates are squared and rolled in the spacious shop. The tanks are erected and painted on site.
In 2007, Doughty Steel entered the Jeep after-market parts business with the purchase of Mountain Off Road Enterprises, or MORE. Skid plates, motor mounts, dead pedals, bumpers, brackets and more are manufactured on site and shipped to wholesalers across the country. Jeep enthusiasts can purchase products directly at www.mountainoff
road.com. Scott said about a quarter of MORE's business is retail through the website.
"When you're in a rural area, you do a little bit of everything to make it," Scott told the governor.
"That's the rule of the jungle," Hickenlooper responded.
The governor says he enjoys visits to local businesses like Doughty Steel, DIP Manufacturing and Amarna, which he toured on a previous visit.
"Seeing numbers on sheets of paper is not the same as seeing who's doing what. It's always very illuminating," he said.