Cooper Iron Firm Spurns Cookie-Cutter Technology
Company loyalty and longevity are rare commodities among employees today, but during its 40 years, OIK Industries of Cooper Township has found the right mix to keep workers on the payroll and carry on a legacy of quality for its customers.
OIK is owned and operated by Dennis, Dave, and Tim Scheffers, sons of founder Rudy Scheffers who died in 1996.
Master craftsman of ornamental metalwork Bill Pestoor, 69, and draftsman Andy Oviedo, 65 are among the company’s longest working employees. They are both “retired now” and still working 35 to 40 hours a week.
Pestoor, a native of the Netherlands with big, strong, calloused hands and well-worn steel-toed shoes, first learned blacksmithing as a 14-year-old apprentice in his father’s shop in his native land. He emigrated to the United States in 1957 and came to southwestern Michigan, as had many Dutch immigrants before him. In 1968 he heard about the new business and began learning ornamental metalwork from Scheffers.
Ornamental metalwork is an ancient craft prevalent in French, Italian, Spanish, German, British and American buildings and homes. The twists, scrolls and flares in metal are used in stairs, gates, rails, handrails and gazebos.
OIK, founded in 1962 as Ornamental Iron of Kalamazoo, changed its name in the 1970s to OIK Industries, a more industrial-sounding name, says co-owner Tim Scheffers.
The company had first produced about 90 percent of its products for home decorating, but during the 1970s, home styles changed to feature more wood pieces.
The company then switched its focus to industrial products like stairways, railings and factory catwalks, and became a metal fabricator of wrought iron, aluminum and all types of steel.
During the last 10 years, ornamental metalwork has come back into vogue – and Pestoor couldn’t be happier because it allows him to work with his hammer and anvil.Next Page