The Roanoker - January/February 2017 - 39
MANUFACTURING COVERS A LOT OF
GROUND in the Roanoke Valley. It includes everything from building big metal things to brewing beer,
from publishing magazines and newspapers to making
clothes and cosmetics, from constructing homes and
businesses to myriad other undertakings.
The Roanoke Valley's manufacturing community
has, generally, toiled mostly under the radar, with
companies wildly different in every way creating
goods, jobs and wealth for our community, the state,
nation and world.
Following is a look at a few good ones: solid companies that grow annually and contribute to the quality
of life in the Roanoke Valley.
CLARK BROTHERS WELDING
David Clark calls himself "a natural entrepreneur"
for good reason. Clark learned the basics of welding, which would become his vocation, while working
on his family's farm in Iron Gate. After high school
in 1998, he opened a one-man welding shop in a
900-square-foot building and he was off.
He moved into a larger building in Covington in
2008 and bought the assets of Roanoke Welding in
2013-hiring its workers and growing from 4 to 11
employees. His working space grew to 46,000 square
feet. He's at 17 full-time employees at Clark BrothTHEROANOKER.COM
ers Welding in the Norwich section of Roanoke now
and is looking at steady-if unspectacular-growth
over the years.
"I'd love to do 50 to 80 percent growth a year," he
says, "but that's unrealistic and unsustainable. We've
had an average of about 25-32 percent a year and even
that can be daunting."
His business has evolved from small welding jobs
to big contracts with electrical companies, transformer manufacturers and the like, repairing and making
heavy equipment. His company even designs parts
upon occasion and it still accommodates small jobs.
Success is a matter, he says, of going out and rustling up business. "When I go out," he says, "I come
back with something. It may not be a big or long contract, but it is basic. I'm convinced there's opportunities for manufacturing out there."
While this was going on, Clark took note of his lack
of formal education and enrolled at Dabney Lancaster
Community College in Alleghany County, then with
the move to Roanoke, shifted to Virginia Western. He
earned his associate's degree in five years and transferred to Virginia Tech, where he won his bachelor's
in business administration in 2005.
In 2010, he hired Laurel, his wife of 17 years away
from her natural profession (dietitian at hospitals) as
his bookkeeper and his younger brother, Chad, who
"I'd love to do 50 to 80
percent growth a year,
but that's unrealistic and
JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 | 39