Only in modern times has the function of science and the form of art been separated. To create great works, be they artistic or mechanical in nature, both are required. This merger between the analytic mind of a Navy-trained engineer and the artistic creativity of an artist’s spirit lays at the heart of SF
“I want to be like Kelly Johnson,” Ron says. “I want to build some of the world’s finest things.”
Kelly Johnson was a world-renowned aeronautical engineer whose team of experts broke known barriers of what an airplane can accomplish. Ron is equally inspired by doing great work, but also building a team of passionate people determined to build great things. Talking with Ron about SF Metalworks projects, one also hears another word interwoven among the technical precision required for projects: Beauty.
“If it’s metal and beautiful, we make it,” Ron says, revealing his inner artist.
The right people for the job
Ron’s rare combination of expertise, technical precision and artistry not only informs the work SF Metalworks produces, but the people who work there.
Andrea is an example, an artist trained as a blacksmith who came to SF Metalworks through a recommendation.
“We had a chat and looked through my portfolio, it was a really nice chat actually,” Andrea said. “We had a walk around the block and talked about what kind of visions we have and about our art and where we see ourselves doing in the future. It was quite an inspiring conversation.”
Ron hired her, because he said, “she had what it takes — passion. If you’re willing to work hard, willing to learn and want to make great things, I’ll work with you.”
Andrea counts the time working in SF Metalworks as critical to her career development. When she and her husband moved back to Toronto, she opened her own art shop using the skills she acquired working with Ron.
“Working with Ron was a complete shock. He gave so much in his attention and willingness to teach, but also in his uncompromising focus on quality. A single scratch could mean two more hours of work,” she said. “This appealed to me, because I wanted to know it was put together well and works well, and Ron’s work is extremely high end. It was a great learning curve to work in that way. It demanded a lot from me.”
Even the company’s lead designer/draftsman, UC Berkeley trained Sunay Rajbhandari, embodies this important synergy between artist and technician.
“I love him like my own family,” Ron says. “He has this artist in him, and he’s never had an outlet before. I want to build whatever he can design.”
The admiration is mutual, Sunay says, who is never surprised by the energy his boss brings to work every day.
“Ron has so much knowledge and experience,” Sunay says. “It’s a bummer there’s not six of him.”
This striving spirit permeates the shop and its clientele, according to Ron.
“I love it when we build something with the direction and cooperation of people where it’s going,” he says, “It’s something that will last as will our ability to do this in a sustainable way.”
Building a company spirit that lasts
With the recent move to Colusa County, SF Metalworks expanded its production capability and tapped into a local market of
“We sell the confidence that all the details — the design, the engineering, the craftsmanship, the expertise — all these critical details are in one place,” Ron says.
The expanded shop also affords SF Metalworks the space for new state-of-the-art equipment, which means greater control over the entire process from start-to-finish. Sunay says the company can turn the raw materials of any type of metal into something personalized and unique.
“We put a twist on things you see in every house,” he says, “but with detail that’s one-of-a-kind.”
One-of-a-kind. It’s a phrase heard often around SF Metalworks that is more than words. It’s the embodiment of a unique business, doing high-end work with this powerful combination of precision and artistry. It’s also this foundation of people, these bonds among the staff, their ongoing relationships with clients and Ron, the man who leads it all, which is at the root of what makes the company exceptional. Andrea said she often thinks back to that sense of community and accomplishment during her time at SF Metalworks.
“I thought everyone in the shop supported each other very well, Ron included,” she says. “I enjoyed seeing some really beautiful products leave that shop. I was impressed. Always.”