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Skills give firm regional appeal

For more than 90 years, the Waters family has been operating a metal fabrication business in Rocky Mount.

Waters Brothers Contractors Inc. started out as a family owned roofing and sheet metal fabrication company in 1921. But the company has evolved into one that provides a wide range of specially cut metal products for industries throughout the region.

Roger Waters started as a shop helper with his grandfather, William Evander Waters, the company’s founder.

In 1967, Roger Waters teamed up with his now late brother, Jim, and late cousin, Gordon, to buy the business from his grandfather.

Since then, it has evolved into the company that it is today.

The company has expanded from using hand-operated equipment and welders to a new lineup of computer-controlled, laser-cutting equipment. The laser cutters are uncommon.

“They are not in every shop,” Roger Waters said. “This is my second laser, and we’ve been in the laser business for 12 years. We just put the water-jet (cutter) in. It cuts with water. The laser cuts with light beams and gases. They are both high-precision machines.”

The company takes on a lot of challenging projects, Waters said.

“We take on a lot of projects a lot of people don’t want to mess with,” he said. “I’ll do most anything. A lot of times, we’ll take a job and don’t really know how to do it until we get into it. We just try to do as good of a job as we can do.”

Q: What products or services do you provide?

A: Metal fabrication. We do a lot in the parts business. We laser cut and we water-jet cut, and we sheer and form metal. Our customers include the food, pharmaceutical and agricultural industries. It’s a good cross section of industrial businesses.

We do a lot of stainless steel parts for people in the Triangle area. We do a lot of custom-fabrication work for different pharmaceutical plants. We did fabrication work for the (Burt’s) Bees lip balm company in Durham. (We produce) a lot of parts for manufacturers making new equipment. Our customer base is pretty broad.

Q: Who are your key leaders?

A: Roger Waters, owner, and his cousin, Scott Waters, shop foreman and manager.

Q: How many people do you employ?

A: 10.

Q: When were you established?

A: In 1967, I bought the company from my grandfather. I was working for him at the time.

Q: What’s your business philosophy?

A: Give our customers as good a product as we can give them, as economically as we can, and we don’t proclaim to be cheap. But I expect a lot out of my people, and they do a really good job.

Q: What makes your business unique?

A: It’s just experience we have. There’s a lot of experience here in the shop.

Q: What changes do you expect for your company in coming years?

A: I think our (sales) volumes will pick up. Our volume has been down a little last three or four years, but we still have not suffered any cash-flow problems. I guess one of the main reasons is we don’t have any debt.

Q: Why did you pick Rocky Mount as a place to do business?

A: This is where I’m from. I was working for my grandfather.

Q: How has your company grown in the last several years?

A: We haven’t grown a whole lot in the last several years, but we’ve been able to maintain our volume. It has been pretty steady for the last three years, which is unusual for most people.

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