GARLAND — As sparks flew across his mask, Donnie Bass welded metal inside his shop. Each day, it’s something he loves to do.
That passion led to the creation of D&E Metalworks, which turned his dream into a reality after quitting his last job.
“There’s something different about taking a pile of metal and turning it into something,” Bass said about creating something from scratch.
Located at 34 E. Johnson St., off of U.S. Highway 701 (Ingold Avenue), the shop offers a variety of repair and fabrication services for its clients. Some of the things he worked on include trailers, pig cookers, picnic tables and lawnmowers.
“The local people here have supported me since I started,” Bass said about completing big and small jobs. “It’s going pretty good.”
He takes a lot of pride in his work and believes that’s not achieved at big box stores.
“If someone buys a trailer from me, it’s going to have nice tight welds,” Bass said.
Bass began welding at 18 and always wanted to open his own shop. For Bass, it was better late than never.
“I took the plunge and started my own business at 39,” he said.
He began working on the facility in December and put a lot of work into preparing for business. About two months later, it was ready.
After high school, he learned to weld at the Schindler Elevator Company in Clinton and became certified in the field.
“If you got a steady hand, good eye and a good teacher, you can weld,” he said. “Welding is a good trade. We should be encouraging youth to do that. It pays good and it’s a good honest living.”
After four years, Bass went to Godwin Manufacturing and put truck bodies on vehicles for the Virginia Department of Transportation. Next, he went to Wilson Manufacturing for five years.
From there, he went to Aramark Uniforms for health insurance purposes. He ended a 10-year stretch there to open D&E.
“I didn’t hate what I did, but I loved welding more,” he said. “I was at the point in my life, financially, where it was worth the risk to open the business.”
His late father-in-law, Donald Smith, owned his own timber company and it gave him inspiration to run a business too.
“The fact that he started his business so late in life gave me confidence,” he said.
Bass added that his family and wife, Erin Bass, also encouraged him. Together, they have a 6-year-old daughter, Hannah Bass.
In the foreseeable future, Bass wants to expand the facility and employees, if needed. Currently D&E Metalworks, Bass plans to work with farmers by fixing equipment necessary for them to make a living. He’s currently selling metal roofing, metal buildings and dog kennels. Bass also hopes to assist town officials with upcoming projects as well. D&E Metalworks recently repaired a dugout for one of the ball fields.
“I’m very excited about being in Garland and I stay busy,” Bass said.
For more information about D&E Metalworks, visit the Facebook page at D&E Metalworks LLC, or call 910-549-7720.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.