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Arctic blast

image Mimi and Keith Ingalls

AUSTIN - Keith and Mimi Ingalls were desperate to escape New England’s arctic weather. So when Keith’s dad retired and sold the fencing company that employed the couple, they chose to start a similar business in a sunnier climate.





    “We were just looking for a warmer place that we wouldn’t only experience on vacation; we wanted to live somewhere in the south,” Keith explains. “We went across the whole southern part of the country – from Florida to California – and Texas was the nicest spot. We arrived in Texas 12 years ago and started Arctic Fence Inc. in 2007.”
    With a recession on the horizon, Keith immediately identified municipal work that would prove recession-proof, and it turned out to be crucial to the company’s success.
    “That took me all over Texas, especially to small towns in the middle of nowhere that a lot of companies wouldn’t go to,” he says. “Many companies in San Antonio are not going to drive three hours west to a small town and do a little $4,000 to $5,000 job, but we did and we set ourselves up to do that. We still do that, and we take a camper instead of staying in hotels. We do a lot more than municipal work now, but it helped recession-proof us during that time.”
    Since then, business has been hot. Arctic Fence Inc. installs private, chain link, vinyl picket and ornamental fencing for commercial and residential projects in the greater central Texas region.
    “We are the largest fence contractor in Hays County, and it also extends to Caldwell County,” Keith says. “From backyards to prisons, we do it all.”    
    To do it all, the couple depends on their staff of up to 15 installers, which they hope to add to soon. The need is urgent, as the Ingalls act as the company’s sole managers, estimators, salespeople, and order takers.
    “My wife and I work a lot; we own the company and run it,” Keith says. “I’m the vice president and I travel all over the state doing most of the commercial work. Mimi is the company’s president and is the master of all trades! She handles all of the residential business, orders the materials and runs the residential crews. She does commercial estimating as well and has everything prepared for when we put the numbers together. She does all of the bids and payroll and is the master bookkeeper.”
    “We’d like to grow, but we’re having a hard time because the economy is so strong that we can’t find enough help,” he continues. “Growth has been tremen-dous; we’ve had growth every year, but the last four or five years have been really rapid. This last year has been our biggest year. Since it’s just the two of us here, I sometimes shake my head when we look at the volume at the end of the year and ask, ‘How did we do that?’ Then we just go out and do it again.”
    Work continues to heat up for Arctic Fence Inc. The company is close to completing one of its largest projects to date: Springs at Sunfield, a new apartment com-plex in Buda. The Ingalls hope to do another project soon with the same developer.
    The couple does stay busy, and prefers to stay warm at the same time. In addition to working in the Texas heat, Keith and Mimi spend their limited free time enjoying outdoor activities.
    “Mimi and I like to go to rodeos and ride Harley Davidsons,” Keith says. “We bought a large camper to pull our Harley Davidsons, but we don’t do it much as we don’t have a lot of free time. We do like the Caribbean and we get down there whenever we can.”
    Life continues to be a blast for the Ingalls, who enjoy the work, hobbies and weather they craved since their days snugly wrapped up against the New England chill.
    “We have loved the freedom of being able to be self-employed and do what we love to do,” Keith says. –mjm

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Author Info

Melissa Jones-Meyer dfweditor@constructionnews.net