A flat deck trailer sits outside the Falcon Road shop. It’s an early Friday morning in the BX. Birds chirp to welcome the June sun that warms the shop through an open garage door.
Holly Cleveland sits at the far end of a long table. She’s spent the morning preparing for a long day in the shop. A smile crosses her face as she talks about some of her upcoming projects. She takes pride in crafting beautiful yet functional metalwork for her clients.
Through Dimension Metal, Cleveland has spent the past five years building custom railings for high-end residential properties. She does other work, she says as she gestures towards the flat deck for a truck outside, but railings are her specialty.
“There aren’t many aluminum welders in Vernon that do what I do. My goal was always to take over that niche in this area,” says Cleveland.
Cleveland excels at making complex angles appear seamless through hidden fasteners. Whether she’s fabricating ornate wrought iron, tensioning cable, or crafting elegant interior or exterior glass railings, it’s the small details that set her work apart.
“It’s important to take the time to be accurate and still acknowledge your mistakes,” she says, contributing Dimension Metal’s growth to her attention to detail and her values. “Now, I just have too much on the go so I need to hire somebody.”
Soon, she will welcome a new employee.
“I think legacy is so important when running your own business. I’ve always wanted to grow the shop beyond myself and extend the future of Dimension Metal,” Cleveland says as she rests her elbow on the table.
Warm weather radiates through the open garage door. Summer is starting in the Okanagan, and that means Dimension Metal is getting ready for its busy season.
“For the last three months, I’ve been quoting, quoting, quoting,” Cleveland says. “Just in the last two weeks, almost all have been approved.”
Cleveland looks around the shop, located in her father’s garage and smiles.
“Eight years ago, if you had told me that I’d be running my own business, I never would have believed you,” Cleveland says. “There were times in the first few years where it was touch and go. I wasn’t sure if it was going to work or not, but I had a support group around me that believed I could do it. Whenever things got tough, it always seemed to work out. I was able to just keep on going.”
She stands up and walks across the small space before crouching next to a large piece of equipment in the centre of the room. She lifts the thick rubber cable hanging off the side of the machine.
“I only have enough power to run two of these at a time,” she says as she drops the plug. “I want a bigger space, but I’ve been more focused on growing my arsenal of tools to fit a bigger shop first. I’ll make this work for a while longer if it means I can get another piece of equipment each year.”
But, with only enough power for two machines at a time, Cleveland is careful about what equipment she purchases and when.
The bigger problem that comes from her small space is planning.
“It takes time to be able to step back and be organized with eight jobs on the go and two people in the shop,” she says, her elbow once again leaning on the metal table along the shop’s eastern wall. “Sometimes, that’s hard to do. There are those nagging little things, cobwebs, in the back of your mind that need to get done. But when you finally do get them done, it makes everything so much better. It makes your little heart happy.”
Cleveland is part of a business accelerator program for women through Community Futures North Okanagan that she says helps her slow down and focus on the bigger picture of running Dimension Metal.
Through Momentum, she’s secured funding to create new employee packages and purchase estimating software to streamline the administrative process of running a custom metal fabrication company.
“It’s really easy to get caught up in the day-to-day, hustle and bustle of, ‘I have to get all this work done.’ Momentum helps me understand where I’m going with my business,” Cleveland says.
“Everybody, no matter what industry, comes across the same problems. It’s interesting to see how they deal with it. We’re all geared towards growth and just being the best boss ladies we can be.”
Are you interested in Momentum, the business accelerator for women entrepreneurs? Visit CF North Okanagan online at futuresbc.com.