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West Sheet Metal Company

In Partnership With: SMWIA 

Valuing workers’ voices and skills on the job

At a Glance

Founded in 1983, West Sheet Metal Company fabricates and installs sheet metal duct work for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning.

Headquarters
Sterling, VA

Website
N/A

Industry
Sheet Metal

Union Employees
57 sheet metal workers

Total Employees
60

Annual Revenues
$10 million

Outlets
1 sheet metal shop in VA

Started out of owner Allen William “Willie” West, Jr.’s garage, West Sheet Metal Company has built its business and reputation from the ground up. The company installs and fabricates heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems for high-profile clients like Lockheed-Martin and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

“I’m most proud of staying in business,” says West. “We’ve always prided ourselves on our good relationship with customers, and they return to us because they know we’re reliable.” He correlates this customer satisfaction to his committed, engaged employees, who have never registered a grievance or major complaint in the company’s history.

West attributes the company’s success partly to the benefits provided by a partnership with the Sheet Metal Workers International Association Local 100. Since he started the company, all of his employees have been members of the union. In fact, he completed a sheet metal apprenticeship of his own in 1973, and still carries his union card. Not only do his employees have fair wages, a direct benefit retirement plan, and health care, they also get the advantages of top-of-the-line training through their local union.

As new technologies for the sheet metal industry emerge, West knows he has something his competitors don’t: confidence that his workers can get the job done without complex supervision. “You have to be willing to understand that you are going to have some higher costs going in for your labor, but I think you get a better quality of people and the operation of your company is easier. You can turn your jobs over to your foremen and project managers and feel comfortable they’ll complete the task.”

In the spirit of valuing what unions bring to the table, West Sheet Metal supports the Employee Free Choice Act. Meeting with the staffs of Virginia’s senators, West urged lawmakers to support this worker-friendly legislation. As he puts it, “People should have a voice in the situation of their employment, so they can raise their concerns.”

Countering critics of the Employee Free Choice Act, the company has spoken out as a successful small business that grows and competes thanks to a strong labor-management partnership.