Clare Sanchez, an intern at Ace Welding & Fabrication, LLC in Sacramento from Madisonville Community College, searches for a nose piece on a skull and beard metal design Tuesday inside the shop.

David Peyton and Troy Johnson were working as field superintendents at KCK Welding, LLC in Madisonville when they decided to venture out on their own to form their own business in February 2021.

“The writing was on the wall that they were going out of business,” Johnson said. “They hadn’t shut down when we left. … There just wasn’t a good feel.”

But, at first, Johnson didn’t think it was ideal to try something by themselves.

“(David) said: ‘Hey, what do you think about starting up a welding and fabrication company?’ And with … COVID (going on), I said: ‘You’re crazy,’ ” he said.

In the past two years and starting off with $50,000 without loans, Ace Welding & Fabrication, LLC in Sacramento — where Peyton is owner/CEO and Johnson is general manager — has prospered.

“In ‘21, our growth rate was at about 8%,” Johnson said. “In ‘22, it was 14% and so far in ‘23 we’re right at about 15 to 16%.”

The business, which provides services such as precision metal cutting, fabrication metal forming, aluminum welding, stainless welding, and demolition and scrap metal, includes a team of about 12 to 13 employees that are “highly qualified and motivated professionals (that) are all experts in their field.”

One of those employees includes shop foreman Brian Hancock, who celebrates his one-year anniversary with Ace this month.

He worked in the coal mines with Johnson before deciding to work for himself for about three years. Eventually, Johnson gave Hancock a call about helping with management and organization of the company along with providing knowledge in welding and fabrication.

Hancock said the job has helped him with building new skills.

“My fabrication skills (are with) building cars, trucks and Harleys so it’s a little bit of my realm,” Hancock said. “So now I read (blueprints); I pretty much organize all the scheduling for all of our builds, order all the metal and I deliver stuff, too.

“Just everything and anything that needs to be done to keep our (employees) busy and gainfully employed in the shop.”

Hancock said the company uses both “World War II-era machines” that “still runs” and “built to last” while also having modern technology and equipment to be used.

Choosing to set up shop in Sacramento was intentional.

Johnson said at KCK, “all of their work was done out in the field” and while there was a small shop on-site, it didn’t include enough space for necessary equipment such as cranes.

He also said the location was “a center hub” of the business’ clientele in Owensboro, Rockport, Indiana, along with doing business in cities like Louisville and even Chicago.

“(It was) the building that really sold us,” Johnson said.

Johnson said the growth and success of the business is because of keeping promises and helping those in need such as work for rock quarries and coal mines.

“We always do what we say we’re gonna do,” he said. “In the workforce out there and in the public, every company that we do business for (are) short (on) employees; and so they end up contracting with somebody.”

Even on the holidays, Johnson said the company comes through.

“We had an incident … over Christmas,” he said. “Everyone was off (and) we had a customer call in and say: ‘Hey, we’re in an emergency situation. We’re down.’ And guess what? We started calling employees and they said: ‘Sure, we’ll come in.’ And we got them back up and running.

“That just builds a partnership with your customers that’s hard to find nowadays.”

Johnson said the employees are just as important and vital as management.

“We’re like family,” he said. “We all know each other. We all have a history with each other. When we started the company, … we asked every employee to take ownership in the company because you have to be good stewards with the (equipment), you have to take care of the equipment, you have to take care of the trucks ….

“We’re a small group. We’re a tight-knit group and we’ve got a bunch of great employees.”

With celebrating the company’s second-year anniversary in February, Johnson is optimistic about what the future holds.

“I’ve enjoyed it,” he said. “I think that we will continue to grow.

“I’m glad we’re here and we hope to be here for a long time.”

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