By Eric Peterson / CompanyWeek | Feb 12, 2018
Industry: Contract Manufacturing
Products: Welding services and repair
Before launching Imperial Welding & Repair, Alfaro worked as a welder for several contractors building power plants all over Colorado and Wyoming.
"I saw I was kind of stuck," he remembers. "What I did was take the $3,000 I had in the bank and bought a welding rig and threw it in the back of my truck. My first month I made $100."
He stuck with it, and repaired sprinkler pipes and furniture before landing a contract with "one of the biggest recycling companies" in Denver to repair heavy equipment. "That's my biggest year-round client," says Alfaro.
But he doesn't want to pigeonhole Imperial in a single industry. "I've branched out," he says. "I've repaired some gas pipe for plumbing companies. I've done some metal staircases with handrails. I've done residential handrails for a customer in Cherry Creek."
Imperial has also moved into signage and metal artwork. "I brought my knowledge from my industrial side to residential and commercial customers," says Alfaro.
The company continues to offer mobile welding services. "You name it, if you need it repaired, I can do it," says Alfaro.
Case in point: Imperial recently repaired a tank for Private Label Distillery in Aurora. It was a tricky task. "They had a hole in it, and that material's very thin," says Alfaro. "I fixed it, he was happy."
The ability to weld a wide range of materials in a calling card for Imperial. "Not lot of companies can do that," says Alfaro. "They focus on one thing and one kind of material. I can weld stainless, aluminum, carbon steel, and nine-chrome. We're a one-stop shop."
He adds, "Once you know you material and you've worked with it, you know how to approach it, and you know what you have to do in order to repair it."
Aluminum is one of the trickiest materials to weld, says Alfaro. "It burns hotter. If you don't know what you're doing, it's easy to mess it up. But since those are high-dollar materials, you can't afford to mess it up."
Word is getting out. "We pretty much doubled [in sales] last year," says Alfaro. "I'm hoping to at least double in 2018. I've got 10 bids out there. It's just a waiting game."
Challenges: Alfaro's truck was stolen in late 2017. "That set me back a lot," he says. "I lost a bunch of equipment and tools." But he didn't let it affect his work: "I had to just get it done."
Finding skilled welders is another challenge. "Where there's a lot of people who say, 'I'm a welder,' but when I try them out, it's totally opposite. Some people call themselves welders, but they're really beginners."
Or they're only experienced in one kind of welding. "I'm looking for people who can fit-up and weld, they can pipe weld, they can tube weld," says Alfaro.
Opportunities: Construction and pipeline work. "We're trying to get into steel erection," says Alfaro.
"Right now, one of the biggest opportunities I have is a pipeline job," he says of a recently bidded project involving 7,000 feet of pipe. "If we get this job or part of this job, it'd be a big jump for the company." He thinks he'd need to staff up to about 20 workers for the project.
Needs: Space. Alfaro moved Imperial from northeast Denver to Aurora in late 2017, but the company has already maxed out the 2,000-square-foot shop on the two-acre property that he bought. He is planning to erect a 4,800-square-foot steel building to accommodate future growth. "We have room to grow here," he says. "We'll be here for a while."