Steel Still Profitable:
The Gaston Gazette Business
By Ashley M. Gibson
Gazette Business Reporter
GASTONIA-Profit margins continue to rise in the millions for a local sheet metal fabricator that got its start in a garage more than a half-century ago.
Herman Reeves Sheet Metal Inc. reported sales of more than $3.5 million in 1998, with sales increasing by 10 to 15 percent annually.
Continued growth is a good sign for the company built on demand from a booming textile industry in the 1960s. Herman Reeves' break came when the federal government ordered mills to clean cotton dust from the air using metal air-cleaning duct systems.
With many Gaston textile plants disappearing over recent years, company officials sought other markets across the country to stay alive.
"We've tried to improve our identity through advertisements and we've gotten into other markets like filtration," said Mike Clagg, second-generation president of Herman Reeves. "Although a lot of stuff is going to Mexico, we need to fight and be competitive with the highest quality products at the best prices to maintain our niche in the market place."
Many Herman Reeves' sheet metal ductwork products go nationwide, and the company has completed projects in Mexico for Rubbermaid.
"We've installed air filtration (systems) over in Iran two times, and once in a California prison," said Don Jones, the company's general manager.
Company founder Herman Reeves moved to Gastonia in the early 1950s after serving in World War II. The Alabama native took a job with the Jenkins Metal Corp.
For 15 years Reeves toiled, learning how to create machinery guards, card holders and other light duty sheet metal objects in his own garage. In 1962, he decided to open his own plant in a run-down machinery shop across the road for the new plant's address at 1617 E. Ozark Ave. Reeves, 83, still visits the business every day before retiring to the golf course.
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