Welding is a romantic art form.
Anybody can weld. But not everyone can weld well.

Ray Felton

This is the passion that started Metal Tech. There was no grand plan to build a state of the art metal fabrication company, hire the best metal craftsmen and respond to calls 24 / 7 when clients needed him. There was no big wad of cash to start this business. In fact, says Ray Felton I had an insurance agent come to sell me insurance and he took out a quarter to help demonstrate how he was going to make it grow for me. At the end of the pitch by the insurance salesman he asked for the order, but my response was "I can’t afford insurance right now". The insurance agent politely turned to leave and Ray called out: "Hey you forgot your quarter". The agent replied: "You keep it for talking with me". The young Ray Felton took that quarter and bought a loaf of bread to be able to make a sandwich to carry to work the next day, times were that tight.

Limited resources did not prevent Ray from working hard. He believed in his work, he has a strong faith in God. Too often, just when I needed help, God presented the correct opportunity and I have always had a strong faith. "I’ll Try" is his motto and still drives the company and his son today. Opportunities would come; failures would come as well, but no matter what he had faith that God had a plan.

Looking ahead, I am grateful for what I have, but I am proud that Brock, my son, will build on the success and capabilities of Metal Tech’s equipment and our people. "When the client calls in the middle of the night take the call and help that customer any way you can. Always say I'll try!" says Ray Felton.

QWhat did you do before you founded Metal Tech?

RF I went to NC State for one semester then I worked in the Technical department at Union Camp for three years. After that I transferred to the Millwright department and worked as a helper for three years, then transferred to welders and spent three years there. This is where I learn craftsmanship from some of the best.

This knife was made by one of the guys I worked with by converting three blade knives to single blade knives at the request of papermakers. He was an incredible craftsman.

I went to Roanoke Chowan Technical College for cutting and welding while in millwrights. "Millwrights build things out of steel shapes and plate, repair gearboxes, drives, and work on equipment to make it run."

Ray then left Union Camp to start Gates County Metal Works full time but was invited to purchase a 20% share in Machine Shop of Murfreesboro, Inc. in September of 1974. He became 50% owner in 1984 and sole owner of Machine Shop of Murfreesboro, Inc. in 1994. Ray leveraged his house to start this business. "It was $8,000 dollars, which was a big part of the value of my home." He had worked his regular shift at Union Camp plus whatever overtime was offered and worked in his machine shop at night and weekends often 40 hours at Union Camp and another 40 at his machine shop. So when he went out on his own he knew it would be hard but believed in his work. I spent 30 years paying to have a job. Said Ray. Every time one obligation was taken care of he made another.

In 1994, we did not have the land and buildings we have today. We had too much metal, in too small of space. Our jobs were piling on top of each other. New and old steel piled up. After becoming the sole owner of Machine Shop of Murfreesboro, Ray and company cleaned up removing approximately 20 containers containing 20 cubic yards of scrap material. The local town took notice and put curb and gutter on the street along the west side of the business. Machine Shop joined the Chamber of Commerce. This relationship with the Chamber of Commerce led to his involvement in the community. We worked together to make a positive difference. Ray said he always, had a good time, being part of the town.

QWhy did you start Metal Tech?

RF Metal Tech was formed in 1997 because we needed an unlimited contracting license and it was much less expensive to form a new company than to get the license through the old company. This license meant Metal Tech could bid on larger jobs. It was an opportunity to grow!

QThis is a family business... Why is that important to your clients?

RF Being family owned means we have a great sense of pride in our business and a great sense of devotion to our customers who provided us the opportunities to grow and become what we are today. Service is answering the call at 2 or 3 in the morning. says Ray.

QSafety is important to you, can you tell me why?

RF Safety has always been very important. Early on we had an employee make a safety mistake. They were injured, but I wanted to make sure that we did everything we could as a company to prevent accidents in the future. As a matter of fact, I am very proud that we are recognized as a Safety STAR Site through the State of North Carolina. There are only 130 in the state and we have two of them. Our safety program is strong enough that NC OSHA does not make regular inspections because they know we are on top of our game. Training and record keeping are both very important.

I consider our safety program to be my biggest accomplish in 40 years of business.
Ray Felton

North Carolina Department of Labor presents the star when you are recertified. The day we got our first STAR. The town sent out a proclamation declaring it Metal Tech of Murfreesboro Day.

I have always told my employees to "Leave home right. There is no guarantee that you will come home whether it is health reasons or an accident" Safety is our highest priority and we care deeply for everyone who works for us. This is our extended family. As a company this is a very high priority.

QMetal Tech is heavily involved in the community… Why?

RF The Lord has richly blessed us with good customers and great employees that allowed us to grow and prosper. We sincerely believe He expects us to give back to the communities we serve to make them better places to live. We sincerely believe the greatest benefit of success is having the opportunity and ability to make a positive difference in our communities. I am proud of my son Brock who has continued this tradition.

QWhy should a new customer come to Metal Tech?

RF Metal Tech has a "can do" attitude, which means we are going to do all possible, within reason, to give each customer the services they need in a timely manner and at a reasonable price. Our bottom line intention is to create an experience for each customer they will want to experience again.

QIf you could only use three points to describe Metal Tech, what would you like everyone to know?

RF Quality workmanship at a reasonable price accomplished in a reasonable amount of time.

QWhat geographic area does Metal Tech serve?

RF Our normal service area is Eastern North Carolina and Virginia with occasional opportunities from Maine to Florida.

QYou have now turned the business over to your son. What are your hopes for the future?

RF Brock has his own visions for the future of Metal Tech. He has my full support as he seeks to continue to grow the business as we have done especially since 1994. Brock has a vision that has been well thought out and I fully expect him to be very successful as long as he continues to put his faith in God and be generous to those communities we serve.

QDo you have any advice for your son?

RF I wrote the employees including Brock a letter when I retired. That was my advice then and is unchanged.