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Special Reports

Fabricator with a cause

By Lisa Rummler

October 2009- When sparks fly at most fabrication shops, they tend to illuminate rather drab colors, such as gray, brown and beige.

Anyone visiting Phoenix-based Maricopa Metals Inc., however, would've seen a lot of pink last spring.

That's when the structural and miscellaneous steel fabricator wrapped up a project with the Pink Heals Tour(formerly the Pink Ribbon Tour), which takes firefighters, police officers and community leaders on a cross-country journey in pink fire trucks to raise funds for the fight against breast cancer and increase awareness of the disease.

The 2009 tour began Sept. 12 in Las Vegas, and it will wrap up Oct. 31 in Scottsdale, Ariz., with more than 30 stops in between.

Maricopa Metals designed and fabricated two stainless steel ribbons that accompany the fire engines on a specially designed trailer.

The smaller of the two ribbons is painted pink and is 40 percent the size of the other ribbon, which is 10 ft. tall and sits atop a base that's 1 ft. tall, 5 ft. wide and 9 ft. long.

The entire ribbon assembly weighs almost 3,000 lbs. and took about 540 hours to complete, according to Gary Heidemann, vice president of Maricopa Metals.

New territory
Heidemann says he had never met Dave Graybill, founder of the Pink Heals Tour, until about a year ago but that Graybill's passion for the cause quickly inspired Maricopa Metals to get involved.

"He had heard about us through the grapevine, and he came in with the wild idea of making this pink ribbon to throw on a trailer and drive around the country to raise awareness of breast cancer," says Heidemann. "He basically had a vision in his head, and we had to put what was in his head down on paper."

After creating the 40 percent model, dubbed "Mini Me," Maricopa Metals began work on the large-scale stainless steel ribbon.

"It went into fabrication, first the base structure, then the ribbon skeleton, and finally the stainless steel skins were cut and welded in place," says Heidemann. "The last step [was to take] the ribbon to the polisher, where it [received] a swirl finish on the faces and on the base and a mirrored polish on the edges."

Maricopa Metals then went to work on the trailer that holds the ribbon. First, it was stripped, then new supports were added.

"[After that], the ribbon base structure was attached, new tubing and diamond plate replaced the old wood, and new fenders were attached--along with a sheet metal skin around the sides for visitors to sign during the journey," says Heidemann. "Then the trailer was completely sandblasted, primed and painted pink."

The final step entailed a trip to a mechanic's shop, where the trailer received four new tires, wheel bearings, brakes, a wiring harness and lights.

"We also backlit and front-lit the ribbon with pink lights and pink LEDs underneath the base itself," says Heidemann. "It plugged into the vehicle and illuminated that also. It turned out far better than we all planned or imagined because we got more ideas as we were building it."

All the materials, supplies and labor for the ribbon assembly were donated by Maricopa Metals and its business partners, and the total value is estimated to be $100,000.

The right stuff
In addition to building stainless steel ribbons for the Pink Heals Tour, Maricopa Metals has made a name for itself as a respected structural steel fabricator.

The company serves mainly general contractors and offers structural and miscellaneous fabrication of beams, columns, roof frames, mezzanines and stairs, among many other products.

Maricopa Metals' capabilities include welding, shearing and sawing. Equipment in the shop ranges from a fully automated burn table to a CNC automated beam line to several hoists and cranes.

Founded in 1963, Maricopa Metals is the oldest surviving structural steel fabricator in the Phoenix metropolitan area. It has remained true to its roots over the years, and Heidemann attributes the company's success and longevity to his parents, Patricia and Roy.

"They're a couple of the most intelligent people I know, and they have incredibly strong morals and values," says Heidemann. "We have a reputation of being an honest, family-owned company with a lot of integrity. We're proud of what we do, and we do the best we can at everything we do." FFJ

Sources

  • Maricopa Metals Inc.
    Phoenix
    phone: 602/437-0276
    fax: 602/437-0281
    www.maricopametals.com
    e-mail: info@maricopametals.com

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