Voice of the Modern Manufacturing Economy Since 2013

Flawless Steel Welding

by Eric Peterson on January 9, 2018, 01:41 pm MST

www.fsw-denver.com

Denver

Founded: 2011

Privately owned

Employees: 25

Industry: Built Environment

Products: Steel fabrication and crane services

Owner and CEO Victor Garcia has scaled his company from mobile welder to manufacturer of steel structures for big projects on the Front Range.

An ironworker by trade, Garcia found himself out of a job during the Great Recession. "I was with a company I finally wanted to stick around with, and they went out of business," he says. "There wasn't a lot of work."

So Garcia says he decided to "jump in and do my own thing" and start Flawless. He began with a $3,000 investment in a welding rig and a pickup truck and put ads for a "mobile welder" on Facebook and Craigslist.

No job was too small. "I had family to support," says Garcia "I once met a lady at Sloans Lake to weld her lamp. I was just a welder running around, and one thing led to another."

That's one way to put it: In less than seven years, Flawless has grown from a one-man shop to a 25-employee operation with six overhead cranes, a structural saw, and an impressive portfolio. After more than doubling for three years, revenue topped $3 million in 2017. Instead of welding lamps, he's running a company that manufactures steel structures for big-box retailers and multi-family housing projects all over the Front Range.

Citing contracts for more than $2 million in the pipeline, Garcia, 39, is forecasting $5 million for 2018. "That $5 million mark is achievable," he says. "I'm going to take this company as large as I can take it."

He highlights recent retail projects in Johnstown and the Levitt Pavilion in Denver as standouts for Flawless. "It's not a very big one, but a lot of people know about it," he says of the latter, a new amphitheater at Denver's Ruby Hill Park. The schedule was notably tight, but Flawless "went out there and hit it out of the ballpark. We worked day and night and the show went on."

Growing up in the La Alma/Lincoln Park neighborhood in Denver, Garcia speaks of his "humble beginnings." "I never had anything unless I worked for it," he says. His mantras are hard work and perseverance. "I stick with it,' he says. "I brought that kind of drive and vision to the company." He says his never-say-die attitude "can be contagious," he says. "We can do it, because I did it."

Adds Garcia, "I went in the wrong direction early in life, but I broke out of the cycle." Now he has a different goal: "I want to be a role model."

Through an apprenticeship program and a focus on training, he says he hopes to make an impact on his employee's lives. "Even though life can be rough, you still have an opportunity," says Garcia. "If you tighten up your bootstraps and get going, you can do anything."

Challenges: Workforce. Welders are in short supply. "That's everybody's hurdle to work over," says Garcia, noting that he expects to hire about 10 new employees in 2018. "There's no way out of it."

Flawless' strategy revolves around training and a three-year apprenticeship program. "It takes a lot of time and a lot of money, but I have no other options," says Garcia. Most new hires are referrals from existing employees. There's an upside to training in-house: His welders don't bring along bad habits. "It's coming together," he adds. "It takes time."

Opportunities: Upcoming civic projects at Denver International Airport the National Western Complex represent an opportunity to take Flawless to the next level. "I'm trying to explore my options," says Garcia.

Needs: "We're in need of more space," says Garcia. Flawless currently leases its 15,000-square-foot shop in central Denver, but he says he'd like to buy a 20,000-square-foot shop with a two-acre yard. "If I can get a reasonable price, I would love to stay in the heart of Denver," he says.

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