story and photos by Roy Hill
Recent developments have the owners and employees of Advanced Welding in Rudy calling the Hogs.
Specializing in the manufacture, repair and servicing of pressure vessels since 2000, Advanced Welding added a unique speciality in July 2010 as the officially-licensed producer of University of Arkansas branded metal work, including metal art, barbecue grills and furniture.
“It took quite a while to get the license,” said Bill Adams, director of sales for Metal Arts Advanced Welding. “We can do indoor and outdoor furniture, custom tables, artwork, signs. We can do just about anything as long as we have a picture of it.”
One of the biggest selling items right now is an LED-lighted receiver hitch cover shaped like a Razorback.
The more the Hog football team wins, the more fans want Razorback-themed products. Their products are available at the new University of Arkansas bookstore on Garland, the Promenade Mall in Rogers, the Northwest Arkansas Mall in Fayetteville, the Hog Heaven store, “and in stores all over Arkansas,” Adams said.
Advanced Welding employs 15, but the surge in Razorback-themed merchandise has them making plans to add employees and expand the business.
“Sales are forcing us to expand,” said Adams. “It’s all because of the sales. We’re getting killed on Christmas sales, and we’re probably going to add a second shift, shortly. The first quarter sales, we sort of got in mid-stream. The second-quarter sales just exceeded our expectations, and the fourth-quarter sales are looking to top that.”
Adams points to his designers as key to the expanding sales.
“We’ve never had a design turned down by the Collegiate Licensing Company. We have to submit designs to them and once they sign off, we start making them. We’re really behind because of the high demand.”
Jerrod Berkebill of Chester showed off a 3-D Razorback head door knocker that’s still in the early design stage.
Even though the Razorback merchandise has boosted the company, Advanced Welding still touts its original mission as key to its success.
“We’re R, S and U code stamp certified,” said Adams. “That means we can repair, service and manufacture. There aren’t many companies that have all those because of the expense required to keep the stamps. We have accounts with companies like Tyson and Schlumberger Oil.”
Advanced Welding welders continue to work both locally and abroad.
“Our guys travel to do welding all over the county and out of the country because of our certifications. Our guys are going up to Alaska to weld about twice a year.”
They plan to expand the welding part of the business as well as the Metal Arts division.
“We’re looking to put in tooling in the future for the Metal Arts,” said Adams. “And we’ve got plans to build a huge building for welding, with big overhead cranes. That way, we can bring the huge cookers and pressure vessels we work on to us.”
Advanced Welding also has plans to begin producing products connected with area high schools. Bill Adams showed receiver hitch covers and license plates bearing the mascots and colors of Alma High School, Springdale Har-Ber, and Northside High School.
“Tim Renaud, our owner, is big on community involvement,” said Adams, “The high schools aren’t licensed like the colleges and universities. What we’re going to do is make the products and wholesale them to the schools and let the schools sell the products and make some profit.”
Adams pointed to plans to expand the production of CLC-licensed college merchandise beyond the University of Arkansas Razorbacks.
“The CLC wants to ensure product quality, sales projections, and a market for the products,” said Adams. “At the end of next July, at the end of our one-year license with CLC, we can go after four other schools. The CLC requires us to stay in-state and prove those accounts before we’re allowed to go outside of Arkansas.”
Adams says Advanced Welding’s exposure at Razorback football games is increasing their custom work, too.
“We do events like football games to push our products,” said Adams. “We have fans from other schools ask us if we can do products like that for their teams. It’s all about what the customer wants. We’ve had customers literally sketch out what they want on a napkin, and we can bring it in and design it. We can do any design in metal. We’re generating a lot of sales just by word of mouth.”