Weld My World - Welding News

West Valley Welding Closing

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The economy has proven to be a difficult time for everyone. Small businesses have found it particularly challenging to keep afloat and many have been forced to close their doors. One such business is West Valley Welding, located in Sebastopol, California.

West Valley Welding has been in business for nearly three decades. Started in San Jose in the 70s, the company moved to Sebastopol in 1981. The company had a workforce of 18 when it was at its peak, but at the time of closing employed only six people. The economy and competition from welding and metal fabrication shops outside the area has forced the closing of the company. Another problem are shops that function without paying for insurance or license fees and tend to not have a legitimate storefront. The work these shops do is often of poorer quality, but people tend to buy from them because they are also lower in price.

Founder Bob Hirsch is particularly heartbroken. A cancer patient, Hirsch retired ten years ago and has leased the company to three different businessmen before his son finally took over running the company. There simply is not enough demand for the company to stay in business, and for everyone in Sebastopol there are reminders of better days. West Valley Welding is responsible for nearly all the handrails, guard rails, and other structures such as gates. Even many of the buildings have metal that the company either welded or fabricated in some way.

In its time, the company provided a great deal for the community. The volunteer work done by the company built the teen center which eventually became the community center. The company also helped high school students develop the skills they would need for the working world when they graduated. They worked with students who took regular classes and were interested in learning welding as well as those who were developmentally disabled.

Many of the people in the community have benefited from West Valley Welding's services. Not only has the company helped to train teens in a trade, but they also have done work for the wineries, farmers, contractors, and many others. With the closing of the shop comes the end of a legacy, and there are no other shops to take its place in the area.

Hirsch wishes someone had been willing to take over the company before it had to be closed, but that didn't happen. An online auction is being held in order to liquidate the company at www.westauction.com. Anyone who may be interested in leasing the welding shop once it is vacated for their own shop or another purpose can call 707-483-6228.


Ed C.


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