Business and brewing

Something’s brewing at Heartland Awning & Design Inc., Omaha, Neb. When he isn’t engaged in business development, overseeing design operations or making sales calls, company vice president Steve Moyer spends his free time—limited as it is during this busy season—“designing” his own beer recipes. He’s recently joined the rapidly growing ranks of do-it-yourself beirmeisters.

“I’m kinda getting into micro-brewing,” he says, admitting that while his partner in the operation is always pushing to try different flavors, he’s much more a single-taste guy. “We’re working on all-grain stuff, starting from scratch on nearly everything we’re doing.”

“Working from scratch” might also describe how the 45-year-old got into the fabrication business, a seeming far cry from his initial goal of working as a conservation officer or something of a similar calling. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biology, but says the “realities of the job market kicked in,” and with the demands of supporting a young family, he had to find employment where he could.

“It’s a common tale in our industry,” he says. “People gravitate to this business because they’re creative, talented people, and they just get channeled in this direction.”

A bit of modest self-flattery, perhaps, but talent and creativity are long-recognized hallmarks of the fabrication business. “I just had a knack for it,” Moyer says. “Wherever I’ve been, I’ve been pulled in this direction. It’s just a really creative industry, and you get to see the fruits of your labor all over town—and the country.”

Serving the industry

Heartland Awning offers fabrication work of all kinds, but specializes in fabric-and-metal sun-control products—shades, architectural elements and related products for both residential and commercial properties. “We also do a lot of other fabric things,” he said, “such as marine fabrication, fabric graphics—the whole gamut.” Most of his customers, though, are “design-and-build” professionals.

Started in 1999 with the goal of serving that professional market, the company currently has about 10 employees, all of whom are “cross-trained” in every area Heartland offers. “We’re trying to keep as lean as we can be,” Moyer says.

He cites the company’s 12-plus years of IFAI membership as a positive. “We are participating members,” he says. “Whenever they reach out for information for articles, we’re happy to participate. We’ve learned a lot over the years. It’s a great organization that’s getting better all the time.”

Kids, sports, the outdoors

When his children were younger, Moyer says, he was heavily involved in coaching youth sports. Now that they are in high school, “I have no coaching responsibilities for the first time in a long time. Now I get to just watch a lot of youth sports,” he laughed. He also enjoys the outdoors and tries to get in as much kayaking, hunting and fishing as time allows.

“And I’m starting to do some traveling, and attending sporting events whenever the opportunity presents itself.” It’s a relatively short drive from Omaha to Kansas City to see the Royals play baseball and the Chiefs play football.

Leaving a legacy

Moyer seems to have a good handle on what his professional legacy might be. “Solving problems is something I’ve always enjoyed,” he said. “So much of our business is getting customers who say ‘We built this building and now we have a problem. How can you help us solve it?’ We want to be those kinds of problem solvers.”

By Jim Tarbox, editor of Marine Fabricator.