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Home | DALLAS / FORT WORTH | Spotlight | Spotlight - Nathan and Elisa "E" Lane, Owners, Fast Lane Metalworks and Kitchen Kandy

Spotlight - Nathan and Elisa "E" Lane, Owners, Fast Lane Metalworks and Kitchen Kandy

image Husband and wife and business owners Nathan and Elisa “E” Lane are personally and professionally welded together.

DALLAS/FT WORTH - Teamwork definitely makes the dream work for newlyweds Nathan and Elisa “E” Lane, owners of custom metal fabrication company Fast Lane Metal Works and handcrafted hood range business Kitchen Kandy. The welded-at-the-hip couple is so in sync, they finish each other’s sentences, rarely spend a moment apart (even when motocrossing!) and hope it always stays that way.

 


How did you meet?
    E: I grew up in Fort Worth, but went to school in Waco. He’s from Tyler, but also went to school in Waco. However, we didn’t meet until 2011 when we were adults. Isn’t that funny?
    Nathan: She was walking her dog … well, it’s my dog now …
    E: It was my dog until it met him and it fell in love with him. Now, he’s like the dog’s favorite person …
    Anyway, Nathan was riding a big red Dooley down the street. It was love at first sight for sure.

How long have you been married?

    E: We actually got married last October. We had it at a ranch outside of Waco that belonged to a friend of ours. The first part of it was a “moto-wedding” morning, where everybody got to go in the back pasture where there was a track, although I was forbidden to ride by my mother because I might break my neck. We had the wedding right at dusk, outdoors with the fireflies. It was a wonderful day.
    My father and Nathan – the metal men in my life – made both of our rings, so that was very special for me. Nathan wanted to make our rings. He got some timascus metal, which is like Damascus metal that they make samurai swords with, but timascus metal is layered metal with titanium; it has a sort of rainbow finish. My dad is a trained machinist in the Navy, and he machined the blanks for Nathan and then Nathan did the finish work.
    The stone is aquamarine. This represents us as husband and wife – fire and water. He’s the fiery one and I’m very tranquil and calm. I think that’s why we work well together.

How did you each get your start in the construction industry, and how did you start working together?
    Nathan: It’s in my blood. I learned how to weld when I was about 9 years old, helping my dad work on his hot rod.
    I’m also a third-generation mechanical engineer, and grew up building things. I went to college and I was supposed to be an engineering major. Everybody warned me about how difficult it was, but I was bored out of my mind! Math’s kind of my thing; I had all of my textbooks read the first week of school. I figure things out pretty easily, and I like to problem solve. I started the business about 15 years ago in Waco, doing general metal fabrication and design work.
    E: I went to school for graphic design and I also worked in construction in the demolition industry. Because my father was a machinist, metal was one of the things that I really loved. And then I met Nathan …
    Nathan: About two years ago, we were about to get married and I wanted us to be a “mom and pop”–type business. I thought the vent hoods would be great for her to do.
    E: I was working out of state doing demolition work and sales, and he said, ”Just come home, and let’s do this business together.” The vent hoods are my area; I do design and sales.

Any nerves about starting your own business, Nathan?

    Nathan: I didn’t really know any different. My dad started his own business when I was in the second or third grade, and then my parents got divorced. Anytime I was with my dad, we were working. I knew at a young age; I didn’t know what I was going to build, but I’ve always known I was going to build things for a living. Even if I didn’t have to work, this is absolutely what I would do; I would build things.
    E: Nathan was always a little entrepreneur and had all different kinds of businesses.
    Nathan: I sold Mom’s Christmas cookies …
    E: He made paintball guns …
    Nathan: I had a couple of paintball fields and some stores when I was in high school. I’ve been a business owner longer than I haven’t. When I was 15, my dad gave me $500 and a spare bedroom in the house and told me to do something. But that’s how I learned. I learned how to swim by my dad throwing me off the dock. I learned how to ride my bicycle with training wheels for an hour at my birthday party, and then as soon as the birthday party was over, the training wheels came off.
    E: He learned trial by fire.
    Nathan: My dad was always like, “You figure it out, quick!” There’s no delay; it’s sink or swim.
    E: But it was good for him. It’s intimidating what some people ask for at work, but he’s not intimidated. He’s always like, “I’ve got this.”

What qualities does E bring that makes the business successful?

    Nathan: She makes me happy, and that’s huge. I grew up in that environment as a little kid tagging along with my dad and I wanted the same environment.
    E: He wanted a family business, and I think me coming in made that come true. Also, he’s a very creative person with a flood of ideas all day long and I think I help channel some of that. I’m very much a support.
    Nathan: She helps keep me balanced. I’m an only child, and being at the intensity that I am in my house, my shop and environment, it’s like “I am King Almighty!” It is “The Nathan Show!”
    E:
I am very calm, very patient, very soft-hearted, more of a gentle person, and he’s just really fiery! But it’s a good thing, because he is just very motivated and excited about things.
    Nathan: Yeah, I don’t need sleep!

How has the business progressed over the years?

    E: It seems like the past few years, we’ve focused our efforts …
    Nathan: But nowhere near as fast enough as we should. A lot of it is we were in Waco – don’t get me wrong; I love Waco! But I think a large part of the reason we aren’t where we should be is because of the limited resources there, finding workers, finding the talent. There’s just more talent here in Dallas, and it’s much easier to find employees.
    E: We’ve been traveling for years just building our clientele. It made sense that we needed to be here. This is where the majority of our really awesome work is. Dallas is more our speed. The minute we felt the energy in Dallas when we came here, we said, “Wow, we need to be here.” For years, people were asking us why we weren’t here!
    Nathan: What kept us from moving here earlier was not knowing how we were going to move the shop. But finally, we just decided to keep the shop in Waco and open the design studio at 2146 Irving Blvd. in Dallas.

How has it worked out, having the shop in Dallas?
    Nathan: It’s been great. Our showroom is an experience. People can come in, see the materials and samples, pick out what they want and we can design it. There will be some guys in the back building hoods, and next year we hope to have a full-size fab shop.
    We do something a little different. We take metal work and we add a little design, so that it is more polished and refined. I think we do a good job of connecting the two worlds. The designers sometimes can’t really convey to welders what they want and with us, they don’t have to do that.

What do you do in your free time?

    Nathan: What free time? We normally are working out of the office from Tuesday afternoon to Friday mornings. Usually Sun-day and Monday, I do Waco and then come to Dallas. Although, we are actually going on a vacation this year. She tricked me!
    E: I used to be travel agent. We’re going to Mexico.
    Nathan: She called me and said we were going on vacation. I was like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, we don’t have the time,” but I guess I sort of agreed to it or something.
    E: Our downtime is really just for motocross. He was a national champion as a kid and we travel all over the state.
    Nathan: At first, she came to the track and was just taking pictures. Then she saw this girl ride by with her ponytail…
    E: I just like a pretty outfit! He’s more impressive than I am. I just do little jumps; I have a Honda 150 and he rides a PTM 450.
    Nathan: Even if there was more time, there is really nothing else we would rather do with it. Some of her favorite tracks are in Austin. I grew up on the road, so I’m like yeah, we can go riding this weekend. If it takes four hours to get to the track, it takes four hours to get to the track. That’s just part of it.
    E: I want to have time to take our little RV to travel to a couple of states to do moto. That would be fun.
    Nathan: There are only a couple of times that I have gone riding without her since she started riding, and I totally miss her at the track, like, where’s my little “ripper?”

What’s a “ripper?”
    Nathan: That’s what I call her, and it’s what we call those little kids that are just flying through the air on their bikes. They’re little rippers! Most of the time, the women practice with the kids …
    E: But I like that …
    Nathan: But I ride with her. I’m like security, a bouncer so that when a kid is running up on her, I’m there telling him to stay away from my wife!

That’s sweet! What is it like to work together and spend your free time motocrossing together?
    E: I can’t see us ever doing it any other way. At first, I was kind of nervous working and motocrossing together, because he’s very intense; he is the boss at the shop. But more and more, we love it. When we’re not together working, we miss each other. We’re a team, and we work off of each other when we’re bidding and doing our design work. When we’re not motocrossing, in the evenings we’re back at the shop coming up with ideas. It’s what we love. We just live, breathe and eat metal! I think we live that life and we like to enjoy every ounce of what we do.
    Nathan: We have a very unique situation. We spend 22 hours a day together.
    E: And we don’t ever get sick of each other! I don’t know. Maybe someday we will, but I don’t think so.

What do you hope the future will bring for the two Lanes?
    Nathan:
The next plan is to have Dallas as the design studio, keep a central fabrication facility, and then almost open these up like Kinkos where people can come in and say, “Hey, I’ve always wanted this. Can you build this?”
    E: I hope we can get our business to a point where it’s a little more manageable – we’re so slammed at work – with a little more staff. And, of course, we’d love to have a family. I have two children from a previous marriage who are grown, but we would like to have a child together.
    Nathan: It doesn’t matter what our child does, we’ll have a company that if he or she wants to build guitars or drums, we’ll be able to help them design it!
    Fast Lane Metalworks offers custom architectural metal fabrication, finishing, in-stallation, product development, CAD and creative design. Kitchen Kandy offers custom designed and handcrafted range hoods. –mjm


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Author Info

Melissa Jones-Meyer dfweditor@constructionnews.net