Arnold Quality Metal Works
Posted on October 29 2020
Zach Arnold has been in the fabrication business for a long time. Seventeen years, to be exact. In February 2017, he decided it was time to set his sights on a new challenge—running a business. This is how Arnold Quality Metal Works in Logan, Utah, got its start. I had the pleasure of speaking to Zach on October 2nd, 2020 and got the story behind his company.
To describe Arnold Quality, we’ll use Zach’s own words: “We are a high-end, non-ferrous, commercial construction metal fabrication welding shop.” And for the layman: “We do a lot of shiny handrails.” Shiny handrails is an understatement. If you look at some of the customers Arnold Quality has completed projects for you'll understand why the highly visible end-product requires so much quality and effort. They've performed work for the Salt Lake City International Airport, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Utah State University, among many other clients. With several signature jobs such as these under their belt, Arnold Quality’s growth has been rapid, especially recently. According to the company’s founder, Zach Arnold: “(Our growth has) been kind of like a hockey stick where it started off slow and then kind of took off and is kind of like a rocket ship now.”
Especially now, running a successful business is a daunting task. To do so, you need to have something that sets you apart from the competition. For Arnold Quality these attributes are ambition and ingenuity. Arnold Quality stays busy by taking on jobs that others won’t, “We find a lot of success in taking on projects that other people can’t or aren’t willing to do. We take on projects with short deadlines, with high quality standards, we’re not afraid to say yes and figure out how to do things.” This thinking, of course, comes with its own set of unique challenges. Taking on projects with short lead times can cause frustration since there is little room for error. Arnold Quality thrives in these situations, which is a big reason why they have seen so much success. “(Our customers) value the fact that we focus highly on ingenuity. We are problem solvers,” owner Zach Arnold told me, “we say ‘hey, we’re going to figure this out and get it done,’ and then we do.
I asked Zach if he could give me an example of a project they’ve done that encapsulates what an Arnold Quality calls a signature project. “We did a few of them last year. We just finished up building almost a mile of brushed stainless guardrails for the Salt Lake City Airport … When we got that project, it was just me as the company.” (You read that right. Zach took on a mile of brushed stainless-steel guardrails for the Salt Lake City Airport when his company only had one employee: himself.) “By the time we were done there was 11 of us on the team. So, throughout that project we grew by 1000%. And then we also ended up getting involved in the 11th hour on some Mormon Temple projects and doing some really high-end bronze railing for three different temples. So those were some pretty interesting experiences where there were a lot on unknowns, and learning on the fly, and just getting it done.”
For most people, the stress that either of these projects would have caused is something to avoid, but Zach Arnold doesn’t see it that way. “If you set huge, massive, unrealistic goals, it forces you to huge, massive, unrealistic actions to try and achieve them.” The goal that Zach is talking about is his ultimate vision for his company. “(Our mission is) to be a billion-dollar company. We want to have 40 facilities across the United States with vertically integrated businesses. So, I would like to get into logistics, welding supply, metal supply, welding gases, gloves—basically anything that has to do with our what our bread and butter is: welding and fabrication. Everything under that supply chain we’d like to incorporate under our own umbrella. The mission of our company is to be the recognized authority of premium quality welding metal fabrication on the planet.” With that goal in mind, suddenly the “huge, massive, unrealistic action” that Zach took when he took on the Salt Lake City Airport job with just one employee, seems like a calculated move rather than a knee-jerk decision.
I think we could all learn something from Arnold Quality’s philosophy. In the words of Zach Arnold: “Dream big; it takes the exact same amount of energy to dream small as it does dream big, but the opportunities and possibilities that come from dreaming big are so much better than those that come from dreaming small.” This outlook sounds great, but what about those of us who want to be the best that we can be as welders, managers, and workers in the fabrication industry? “I would say find a good shop where you can work and learn from people who have experience. You know, I’ve been doing this for 17 years now, so I’ve been in the industry for a long time. I started in welding school, I worked at a bronze grinding place, doing whatever--running saws. I worked my way up through, I learned how to do all the welding processes. I pushed myself to get better every day. Every bead I would lay down, I would try to make it better than the last one, and that has been a constant progression for over a decade. So, put in the hard work, keep after it every day, don’t be a bum.” Whether you’re hoping to one day run a billion-dollar fabrication business or simply want to become a great welder in your own right, the ambition to always improve will get you a long way.
Currently, Arnold Quality is staying plenty busy. That is thanks to their insatiable appetite for continued growth and producing quality work. “We’re in a sprint constantly. We’re always trying to get better, constantly trying to improve, constantly implementing new systems and processes to try to make things run smoother, to plan for scaling the company. With explosive growth, basically, the best we can hope for is to channel it in one direction, so it is like a rifle barrel, rather than having it like a bomb, where it explodes in every direction, and the energy just dissipates. We’ve got a long way to go; we’ve got to focus the energy of this explosive growth. That’s what all the systems and processes are about.”
What is in the immediate future for Arnold Quality? “We are also branching out into miscellaneous metals as well as structural so that we can offer all section 5 metals for commercial construction.” And in the long-term future? “We are here to create a positive global impact. So, for us, it is more than just, you know, welding and building things, it’s also about creating a positive impact for, first off, our team, and second off our community, and then from there just expanding as we grow. As we grow and make more money, we have the ability to reach further and help more people, so ultimately that’s what this is all about.”
Interested in learning more about Arnold Quality Metal Works or seeing some of their work? Check out their website here.
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