Specialty items keeps operation busy
Three generations of Smiths have been working for Smith Steel and Supply, a Leavenworth County company that got its start in the garage of Jim and Dorothy Smith nearly 40 years ago.
In January 2003 Jim and Dorothy's son, Dale, bought the family business and has been running it with his son, Dallas, ever since; continuously expanding their client basis and expanding their product line.
The business, five miles west of Lansing, makes everything from hay handling equipment for farmers to a suit of armor.
Years ago, someone involved with renaissance festivals asked the Smiths to create a suit of armor from his own design.
Although most of these small specialty items are not the main breadwinners for the Smiths, it keeps their 12-man operation busy.
"A lot of people from Kansas City come up with unusual household items or unusual yard ornament items," Dallas said.
Although the company is still prospering, the increased price of metal has had some negative affects, but Smith Steel and Supply is doing what it can to work with the situation.
"We've just been cutting margins as much as we can," said Dale. He said his clients will pay what they need to for his products, but he doesn't want to start increasing prices to cover the increased cost of metal.
"Customers are going to pay one way or another. I try to absorb as much as I can wherever I can," Dale said.
Dallas also said he spends a lot of time shopping around so he can get the best prices.
For this extra work, Smith Steel and Supply is rewarded with many long-term loyal customers.
"We try to treat people as good as we can. We try to treat them as we would like to be treated," Dallas said. "I've been quite pleased. We've done very little if any advertising, and I've managed to sell on both the East Coast, West Coast, Canada and Alaska, all by word of mouth. I feel that's quite an accomplishment."