Scott Mitchell is proud of the fact that he began his welding business with one welding tank, one truck and $57 in his pocket.
"I don't bank on the banks," he said. "I don't buy something if I can't afford it."
That no-nonsense business philosophy is what eventually gave Mitchell the chance to open his own shop on Bright Star Rd. in 1998. His business continued to grow over the years but he found himself turning away customers because of lack of space.
Space is a huge factor in Mitchell's business, Mitchell's Specialized Fabrication, because his company builds big things, like fabrication of field-erected storage tanks, mix tanks, silos and pressure vessels. These storage tanks can hold from 5,000 to 500,000 gallons of any liquid or dry material. The company has accounts with businesses throughout the U.S., China and Belgium.
Mitchell's had been storing their large tanks in ackward areas at their old location, partially visible from Bright Star Rd. A bit more space might make the business a lot more productive.
That's when the City of Douglasville Development Authority (CDDA) got involved. The organization's mission is to focus on business retention and expansion. The CDDA began working with Mitchell's about a year ago to assist in a plan to expand the company's current operation, diversify and hire more employees.
Mitchell's Specialized Fabrication hopes to add as many as 15 new employees in the next two years.
Mitchell met with Cindy Pocali, Executive Director of the CDDA, to determine his expansion needs and what incentives might be available to assist both monetarily and with business infrastructure.
Pocali arranged a meeting with the Georgia State Business Incentives Representative, Mary Ellen McClanahan; Small Business Development Administration Representatives, Lydia Jones and Darrel Hulsey; David Stewart of ; Dr. Karen Curtis of GA Work Ready; and Dr. Pete Snell of West Georgia Technical College.
These connections assisted Mitchell with a short and long term business plan that enabled him to purchase property instead of lease in this buyer’s market. The step-by-step plan also enabled him to take advantage of hiring employees at a higher-than-average pay scale, conduct an in-house re-training program and purchase machinery.
Today, Mitchell is in the process of purchasing a 15-acre piece of Douglasville property at Municipal Parkway and Highway 78. The property had been vacant for years. The move increased the company's office space from 3,000 square feet to 6,000. The fabrication process can now utilize nearly 14,000 square feet after having only 10,000 at their previous location.
"I love Douglas County and I love Douglasville," Mitchell said. "I wanted to keep my business here and (the CDDA) made sure I can do that. It's like a dream of mine."
In the past, flat sheets of steel needed to be outsourced for rolling. At this new location, Mitchell has been able to purchase a rolling machine and roll his own projects, as well as become the outsourcer for many other fabricators.
Keeping his employees employed year round was one of Mitchell’s priorities. With the space to purchase equipment from steel fabrication companies going out of business to rebuild for resale, he's now able to keep employees working on in-between projects.
"Every brick on this Earth was someone’s idea," said Pocali. "I'm always looking for businesses to assist and connections to be enabled. In this world, so much depends on who you know. I am networking 24-7 to find those connections for our local businesses. Nothing would make me happier than to see all our businesses, big and small, booming and our city coffers filled to the brim, supporting our infrastructure and services.”