November '19

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NOVEMBER 2019 THE SHOP 121 the rest of the crew to hone their craft and become masters at welding and mechanics. CUSTOM PROJECTS A typical customer at WelderUp is any- thing but typical. With such a diverse clien- tele—from construction company owners to big game ranch owners and everything in between—the one common factor is that they all want a one-of-a-kind hot rod or rat rod that will make people stop and stare. When a customer comes to WelderUp ( with a project, it starts with the basics—sedan or truck, lifted or on the ground, etc. Most customers then typically leave the overall design and execu- tion up to Steve Darnell. His approach is to get to know each cus- tomer, so he can tailor a design to their specific interests. He then keeps his hand in every aspect of the design to ensure his concept becomes a reality. That heavy attention to detail, of course, is time-consuming. WelderUp typically works on just two projects at a time, and builds about 12 cars a year. STAYING PRODUCTIVE IN THE VEGAS HEAT As part of its day-to-day operations, the WelderUp team works more than five months out of the year in sweltering Vegas temperatures that typically range from 90 to 115 degrees. Given that the shop doors stay open and the fabricating machines put off tons of heat, keeping the work area cool has been a challenge. "I'm in the shop 75% of my time," Dar- nell says. "I want to be comfortable and, as a shop owner, I need it to be cool enough for my guys to be safe and productive." After years of using regular industrial fans that simply pushed hot air around the shop, Darnell turned to Portacool portable evaporative coolers in 2015. The evaporative coolers use water, ambient air and special- ized evaporative media to provide cooling. Over the years, he has added several coolers of varying sizes for use throughout the shop. "We couldn't make it in the shop without Portacool," he says. "These evaporative coolers are quiet, efficient, easy on my power bill and we can move them wherever we need. They are an important piece of machinery in my shop." STAYING GROUNDED Fame has certainly found WelderUp. The shop now has a showroom full of self- branded merchandise thanks to its cable television notoriety, and even offers guided shop tours daily for fans. As a company, WelderUp is always changing and evolving. The key, Darnell reveals, is to constantly push boundaries while staying true to yourself. "The shop is family, 100%," he says. "We're reliable to each other and to our customers, because we truly treat them like an extension of our family. Together, there's nothing we can't do." A diverse customer base comes to the shop looking for unique hot rods or rat rods that will make people stop and stare. (Photo by Mike Morgan Photography) WelderUp typically works on just two proj- ects at a time, and builds about 12 cars a year. (Photo by Mike Morgan Photography)

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