Wednesday, March 15, 2006

May Company

That May Company store represented the beginnings of a huge change in the drywall industry, though we didn’t know it at the time. (1965?)

When we began the project, we were using what were called “nailer” studs. These studs, formed from two pieces of metal and crimped together for create a nailing channel, had been used by lathers for some time. And the lathers still disputed our right to use the studs, but that was the least of our problems. We had to install shelf bracket supports within the wall itself and that meant that we had to weld these “Garcy” unit to the oddly shaped and flimsy studs. It was very frustrating! Days went by while we tried all sorts of solutions. The schedule was slipping. Then, someone…I don’t remember who, placed a few pieces of track on the side of the Garcy unit and then slipped that assembly over the side of a nailer stud. It held. Track, the U-shaped piece of metal that the studs sat in, was a material that we had in abundance. We began to cut up pieces of it and quickly assembled a complete wall of studs and shelf supports. Everyone was impressed, including the engineers from the May Company; they had been fighting this problem for quite some time. They called in the manufacturer of the studs to look at our solution.

After a few days of study, the manufacturer came up with some improvements on the idea and a new product was created, the screwable stud. They began manufacturing it for us on this project and although it was originally intended just for use with the Garcy units, it was soon being used for lots of other applications. In time, about 2 years, it became the standard stud for all drywall framing.

But I wasn’t interested in those things at the time. I was interested in welding. Here was a whole new field of interest for me and I was soon as much of an expert at it as any journeyman. And the layout work that I had been doing with Alex was also a skill that few journeymen possessed. Pretty soon, Alex was using me to direct some of the work…an apprentice “foreman”, and that didn’t go over very well with some of the journeyman.

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