Minneapolis wrought iron expert discusses his trade
"I've been in the family business as long as I can remember," says Roberts, whose grandfather started Anchor Iron Co. in 1953.
"As soon as I learned the alphabet, I was helping my mom file paperwork for the company. I enjoy providing a unique and custom product and seeing the customer truly satisfied."
Q: What services does your company offer?
A: We manufacture custom wrought-iron products - deck and step railings, fencing, spiral staircases, flower boxes and interior railings. We also do some repair work, but we mainly manufacture new items.
We have a book that pictures standard styles or designs we've done before like the Mission design and the Washburn railing - with a top and bottom channel and spokes.
A customer can just point to the picture, but if someone comes in with a specific design, we can make it for them.
Q: Why should people consider wrought iron?
A: There's a timeless quality to ironwork since it's been used for hundreds of years. There are a lot of options - as far as design and fitting into the style of the home. There's also the durability factor. Wrought-iron pieces can last for 30 years to a lifetime.
It's a low-maintenance product, but on occasion, it can require touch-ups. We leave paint with the clients - so over the years they can brush the paint on as needed.
We use a painting process to coat the ironwork, so almost any color is possible. The standard black is the most popular.
Q: How do you charge for your pieces and what's included in the cost?
A: It's really specific to each job. The design, layout and size of the job factor into the cost, and installation is included. A simple section of yard fencing could be a few hundred dollars, while an entire yard fencing can be up to a few thousand dollars.
Q: Have you seen an increase in business lately?
A: We're extremely busy, and it's always been a relatively popular product. People have realized the versatile nature of ironwork. For a while, people thought it was typically the same style, but now they understand they can capture their individual taste.
We deal with everyone from clients who want to make their front steps safer with a railing to people doing remodeling projects to those who are building a new deck. In the last couple of years, we've seen more work for remodels.
Q: What's the most popular job you do on a regular basis?
A: The most common are front-step and deck railings. We also do a lot of interior railings as that's becoming more popular for staircases in newer homes and remodels.
Q: What's the most memorable job you've done?
A: We did the ironwork for a home that was featured on HGTV's "Curb Appeal." We fabricated and installed the front storm door, the railings for the front steps and a decorative gate at the bottom of the sidewalk. It was a fun project and great to be able watch our company and family members on TV.