INDIANAPOLIS — At Hammer MetalWerks in Indianapolis, cutting metal is a family affair. Erin Hammer and Derek Hammer are married, and they own the business that provided lighting equipment and services for the film, video and production industry.
"Every major television commercial that's been shot in Indianapolis in the last 20 years, we've been a part of it in some way,” said Derek.
Then COVID-19 came to America and like many businesses, the Hammers faced closure and layoffs.
Erin said, "When COVID-19 hit it basically closed the industry down." She said, "You know, all of our employees are like family and it was pretty heartbreaking when that happened because we had to let everybody go."
However, that temporary cessation in work, cultivated innovation.
"We need to be able to work and we needed to get people back to work, and we needed to have some income,” said Derek.
To get back to work, the Hammers pivoted their production to COVID shields and the manufacturing of metal needed to hold them up.
"We started designing what we call 'clear block sneeze guards,'” said Erin. Those 'Sneeze Guards' are essentially plastic shields used to help protect people during the pandemic. Now they're used in nursing homes, at the Indiana State Library, and many other places.
"We've got them in dental offices, and we've got them in schools, and they are literally coast to coast,” said Erin.
More information | Hammer MetalWerks website
After that, Hammer MetalWerks re-opened and branched out. Now the company has a new focus on Fabrication and Coating.
"Being able to take something from concept to completion is a very unique thing in the industry in and of itself,” said Derek.
Erin said, "We now have a full powder coating system with a conveyor line, so we can do 1000 parts a day per shift."
That means they can take a sheet of metal and make it into anything customers request… with cutting, welding, rolling, drilling and more. It's a lot of work! Erin said, "We actually have more work than we can handle. So, we need to bring other people in, and it's been probably one of the best things in a long time."
Derek said, "It's really awesome to be able to be even thinking about that."
Looking ahead, the Hammers hope to hire more people in the next few months. He said, "Because right now we are just sort of scratching the surface of what our capabilities will probably be ten years from now."
While some products are new, like a powder coating system, the Hammer's determination remains tough to cut through.
"I wasn't mentally and emotionally easy, I wasn't physically easy,” said Erin "when you put your nose to the grindstone, and you work through things and actually comes out pretty well.”