In 1962, Mom and Dad borrowed money, mortgaged the home and bought a small 70 year old, 10 employee steel woven wire and miscellaneous iron fabrication shop. I worked at Memphis Wire and Iron Works when not in school and every Saturday. Dad even worked on Labor Day and July 4th the first year and took me along. Fortunately, holiday working ended pretty soon and Mom didn't allow working on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Woven wire products were more than half the volume at that time at Memphis Wire and Iron Works. We had a crimping machine and a hand fed loom. Most of my shop experience was weaving wire, framing panels and doors, before I went into drafting (T square, protractor, triangles and thank goodness for Smoleys!
The company shifted to more misc. fabrication in the 70's. I remember being active in the "Memphis Ornamental Iron Association". My Dad, Jim Stafford Sr, George Keeler (Keeler Iron Works), James Francis (Metal Vent Doors), Abe Sauer, (Tennessee Fabricators), John Gililand, and others worked very hard to secure and renovate an old Marine hospital on the Mississippi River to be today's National Ornamental Metal Museum. I remember meeting the Legends in our business, Leon and Evelyn York, Bill Merry, Ernest Brown, Bill Gasperini, Brooks Davis, Stan Lawler and others when they often came to town. I actually changed jobs and worked for an ASME Code Vessel and Heat Exchanger fabricator in 1976. In those 19 years, I learned a little more about engineering design, welding procedures, Post weld heat treating, radiograph, etc.
I returned in 1995 and Dad had taken the company well into commercial and industrial misc.steel fabrication. The woven wire is a a very small part now, mostly infill for railing. The last few years, we have fabricated mostly building stairs and rails, misc. structural for commercial buildings and grating stairs, rails, caged ladders and misc. structural for large industrial projects. One sequence alone consisted of 5.6 miles of angle handrail, 100 tons of steel stairs, 1 mile of caged ladders on a recent project. We were one of 3 misc. fabricators on the same project. Sandra and I married in 2010. She is a retired (35 yrs) purchasing manager for power boiler company, Babcock and Wilcox. She knows a little about steel and helps me part time. Dad, (91) still comes part time, helps out and makes sure the "Iron Works" is still working.
Please check out our website - www.mwironworks.com