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Metal cred

image L-R: Melinda Fiebig, Stan Voelker, Ralph Reinhardt and Steven Voelker

AUSTIN - Stan Voelker remembers the moment he realized that maybe he had started the wrong kind of business.

 

 

 

 

 

 

    “My business partner Ralph Reinhardt and I both worked for the Texas National Guard; he was a helicopter mechanic and I was a vehicle mechanic. A friend of ours started welding with us – and we had five metal buildings to build – so on July 1, 1978 we decided to set the world on fire,” Voelker recalls. “We were all excited until we started digging a hole, hit hardpan and had to use our hammers to dig in the dirt. We thought ‘Oh, man, we screwed up! We screwed our lives up! We’ve screwed our families up! We’ve made a huge mistake!’”
    Fortunately, the hardpan was no match for the men’s hopes, and Voelker Welding and Construction started gaining steam.
    “We kept going,” Voelker says. “It was hard work, and we worked hard in those early years, my goodness! We just jumped in. I think we ought to be thankful to our parents for teaching us work ethic; I think we’ve made a living for 40 years because we don’t mind working hard.”
    Their hard work has paid off for the company, which in four decades has taken on both commercial and residential work.
    “As welders, we started doing the pre-engineered metal buildings,” Voelker says. “In the 1980s, we got into custom homes. Ralph now does a good portion of the metal end of it. I built my own house and enjoyed it, so I do the custom homes end of it; that’s how we’ve divided up the business.”
    Voelker still finds it hard to believe that his company is in its 40th year, but he knows the reason for its staying power.
    “I think it’s the service we offer,” he says. “Why would you let a big, dumb-looking sucker like me build your million-dollar complex of metal buildings or your home unless you know about my service? We’re going to take care of you from the day we start to the day we hand you the keys and after.
    “We’ve built schools, nine fire stations around the area, Travis County Emergency Services District 11 and 12, the wedding facility Villa St. Clair and Southern Style Spices. In 40 years, you get a good name, and we’ve stayed really busy,” he adds.
    Voelker says his six employees have also been key to the company’s success. His son, Steven Voelker, joined the business in 2010, and CFO Melinda Fiebig has been with the company for nearly 40 years.
    “Everybody is good friends in the company,” Voelker says. “We have outings and do all kinds of fun things. Every Friday night, Melinda’s family and our family eat pizza together.
    “We also do a bunch of charity,” he continues. “We’ve been involved for nearly 40 years with the Rodeo Austin. We have a buyers group called ‘Papa Cluck and the Cluckers’ and we have given close to $750,000 over the years to kids. We are super stout in terms of the 4-H and FFA around the area, hiring kids, giving away raffles and giving scholarships to kids at Manor ISD every year.”
    At this point in his life, Voelker says he’s ready to give his biggest prize to those
who have helped build the company.
    “My partner and I would both like to ease out of this and let Melinda and Steven take it and run with it,” Voelker says. “I have another son, Scott, who is in the construction industry and I had kind of hoped both of those goober boys would get together and make this thing go, so I’ll let Steven see if his older brother wants to get into it with him.”
    In the meantime, Voelker is enjoying this milestone.
    “We don’t have plans to celebrate in a big way,” Voelker says. “We had a remodel of our office for our 30th anniversary and invited all of the vendors and clients and had a big deal. We’ll wait until our 50th anniversary!”
    Subcontractor Voelker Welding and Construction is located in Manor. –mjm


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Author Info

Melissa Jones-Meyer dfweditor@constructionnews.net