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After 12 years of development, ClinchFence takes off

Jackson — After 12 years of prototype development, Fenceworks Inc. introduced its ClinchFence process in 2004, and sales last year reached $900,000, according to Steve Strickland, vice-president of sales and marketing.

“This year, we should double or triple that $900,000, make $1.8 million to $2.9 million,” Strickland said. “This depends on the weather. Bad weather causes construction projects to be delayed.”

Strickland indicated that sales of the ClinchFence system are not just in the Southeast but have “spread out all over.” He cited the installation of the ClinchFence system in 100-year-old Pointe Stadium in Johnstown, Pa., where ornamental fencing was added to the gate area.

“Of all the available fences, they wanted ClinchFence. This says something about what they think about our project.”

The ClinchFence introduces a new fastening system that dramatically reduces labor costs and installation time. The patented system eliminates exposed fasteners and the need for on-site welding, making installation a “breeze” and “much less expensive.”

“The clinch is a ‘cinch,’ and the result is a handsome, cost-effective product for both installer and end user.”

One North Carolina fence dealer, Gary Scott, said that toughness and low maintenance are what attracted him to ClinchFence. Scott had installed ClinchFence across North Carolina. Other fences were damaged, Scott said, but he has yet to be called back to repair a ClinchFence installation.

In the Southeast, the ClinchFence system has been installed at the University of Alabama, Mississippi College and the Mississippi Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Clinic. A particularly good market for the system has been fence contractors working on government contracts. And the ClinchFence is being sold in Home Depot.

With the ClinchFence system, modular panels snap into place using sleeves that completely conceal the stainless steel fasteners and are then secured by “clinching” the sleeves. The pricing includes all panels, posts, sleeves, blocks, fasteners, finials and caps.

Fenceworks offers several styles of ClinchFences, and the latest is the high-security perimeter PalisadeFence, which features a tamper-proof bolting system. PalisadeFence is delivered to the site in individual components so that it can be installed to suit ground contours of up to 12 degrees while still keeping pales vertical with minimum gaps between the ground and the bottom of the fence.

The genesis of Fenceworks was Ironworks Unlimited Inc., which was founded by Pat Pigott in 1981 and served the architectural metal industry for a decade. (Ironworks is now dormant.)

In 1992, Pigott started working on an automatic manufacturing process for making steel fence systems featuring modular panels that he named ClinchFence. Pigott had determined that the main cost of fences resulted from manufacturing and installation, and that if the turnaround time for both was reduced, the result would be a better quality fence that could be offered to fence contractors at attractive prices. The ClinchFence process made this possible.

Fenceworks is still located in the old Ironworks Unlimited building on South Street. The firm was planning to move to a new location on Farrish Street, but Strickland said approval of a new convention center across the street from the proposed location changed their plans.

“We didn’t want to make a long-term investment at that location, which will be more valuable to other people. Now we’re looking into a location where we’ll build from scratch.”

The present location is 14,000 square feet. Because of the automated manufacturing system, Fenceworks has 12 employees.

The most important way to attract customers, Strickland said, is the Fenceworks listing in the “Fleet Catalog.”

“If you’re not listed in the catalog, you’re not going to get specified. You have to be in the catalogue.”

Strickland said that Fenceworks also increases business by building relationships with architects, developers and contractors, and that “we offer them affordable quality.”
He mentioned, for example, a Jackson architectural firm, McKilroy, Ward and Associates, and added that the company is beginning to reach out to prison groups, port authorities and airports, “any entity that wants higher security.”

Pigott was the innovator, the architect of a dramatic new fencing system, and while contractors were enthusiastic about Frenceworks and ClinchFence, the banks were not. Pigott became frustrated because he needed funding to purchase new machinery in order to increase the Fenceworks production.

Over some years, Pigott and Strickland had become acquainted and, one day, Pigott revealed his dilemma to Strickland, who was a financial consultant. Strickland devised and executed a successful plan to raise the needed capital by issuing bonds.

The third member of Fenceworks’ team soon came on board — Davis Warren. His strong point is operations and Strickland and Pigott call him “the problem solver.”

Contact MBJ contributing writer at George McNeill at mbj@msbusiness.com.

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