Pedal To The Metal

February 27, 2006
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HOLLAND — Eric Fogg admits that owning his own business has been a bumpy ride.

But that ride is now paying off with the move and expansion of Holland Custom Metalworks.

Since 1998 Fogg has been president of Holland Custom Metalworks, formerly known as Holland Sheet Metal. Now, the metal fabrication company has moved from its 10,000-square-foot former location at

467 E. Lakewood Blvd.
into a 15,600-square-foot space at
155 Manufacturers Drive

With the new space, Fogg said the company's capacity for larger products — upwards of 5,000 pounds — has grown. The facility is in an industrial park with higher ceilings, better access and cranes — all of which are more suited to the company than the former space.

"We will certainly be able to serve our current customer base better," he said.

Fogg and his wife, Renee, bought the 54-year-old Holland Sheet Metal in 1998 after the former owner answered an ad Fogg had put in the paper. The ad basically read, "Wanted: Business To Buy."

"I was hooked in two seconds," Fogg said. "I knew from the moment I walked in the door that this was it."

Since then, the company has grown from two employees, one telephone and handwritten invoices to 18 employees and the use of computer technology. Fogg and his wife have also divided their interest in the company, with Fogg as the sole owner and his wife as the building owner and the company's landlord.

"It's been a ride," Fogg said, complete with "incredible ups and downs."

Now in an "up" cycle, Fogg said business is improving for the first time since a decline following Sept. 11, 2001

"The atmosphere for business would not allow for a profit," he said.

Though at first Fogg thought anyone would be crazy not to own a business, he said he has since reversed that opinion.

"You've got to be crazy to own your own business," he said. "You've got to be made of steel and grit."

Fogg attributes his own success to prayer and ignorance of a more profitable economic climate.

"We've been very blessed with work over the last years," he said.

Sales from 2004 to 2005 grew 20 percent after being flat for the three years before.

Holland Custom Metalworks currently has three main segments of business, Fogg said. With the new space, he would like to build that to six: five lines of products and one segment of custom work.

The company manufactures components for plastic pellet distribution systems, parts of high temperature oven fans, and unique custom work such as steel countertops, bay windows and cupolas.

Fogg said that although the component part of the work can be shipped anywhere, the custom work is primarily done for customers within a 30-mile radius.

"That kind of work needs personal contact," he said.

The custom work also allows his employees to be more creative.

"After a while you master it and it becomes a little more on the bread and butter side," Fogg said.

He said his employees and their skills set his company apart.

"We're able to take custom products, redesign how they are manufactured and make higher-quality components at a lower cost," he said.

One of the reasons Fogg said his company can have higher quality products is because they are willing to keep up with advances in the industry and change their methods when necessary.

The Holland native said he chose to stay in his hometown when he decided to expand because of the area's skilled workers, work ethic and supportive community.    

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