Cook’s Welding celebrates 30 years
SILVERTHORNE – For 30 years, Cook’s Welding in Silverthorne has put steel into Summit County.This week, the company is celebrating three decades of work after its founding in 1974 by Vicki and Rich Cook.Although the business may not be familiar to many Summit residents, most likely everyone has seen the company’s work. Every ski resort, every Main Street, many houses and even the Eisenhower Tunnel bear steel from Cook’s Welding. The Cooks’ projects range from solid steel I-beams for heavy construction to the slick steel rails at the Silverthorne skate park. Broken bed frames, handrails for stairways or even home decorative items are regular fare for them. They built the first snowmaking equipment in the county for Copper Mountain, and later Keystone.
“The key to any great business is having good people,” Rich said. “We would like to thank our employees over the last 30 years.”Rich first planned to move to Colorado from Idaho with his best friends from high school in 1969. “When it came time to get in the car and go, I was alone,” said Rich, who had $68 to his name. “I bawled half the way.” He worked various trade jobs in Fort Morgan, and later that year, he married Vicki.They moved to Colorado together the day after their wedding in their Idaho hometown. Rich was a welder by trade and dreamed of living in the mountains and owning a business. Vicki was more practical, “I just wanted to get off the family farm,” she said.Summit County was very different when they came. The Eisenhower Tunnel had yet to open.
“I was disappointed, Breckenridge was a little dirt town,” Vicki said. “Frisco barely had a stop sign.”Today it looks like what I was expecting when we first came,” Vicki continued. Business was rough at times. Neither Vicki nor Rich had any business training when they started. When profits were slow, the couple started as many as six side businesses to supplement their income. Radiator repair, a dog kennel and storage units are all ways the couple stayed afloat. In the early days, Rich was the job boss and Vicki kept the books. She drove the long route to Denver and collected the bills. She once spent five hours trying to collect payment from a construction company. When it was clear the owner was not coming out of his office to see her, she found a back door to his office, waited for him there, and got the money. Later, another contractor had not paid a $14,000 bill.
“Our bookkeeper told us we would have to close the shop,” says Rich, “I told him, ‘I need something more positive in my life, you’re fired today.'” A few days later, the check came through. “Rich, he’s the one who has made it work,” Vicki said. “He pulled 12- to 16-hour days and did pipe thawing on top of that. He’s a workaholic.”Slowly, business improved and the company grew. According to Vicki, the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 stunted growth in all the local construction trades, but the Cooks have seen a recovery in the last six months. The Cooks are thankful for what Summit County has done for them and their six children, all born and raised in Colorado. Riley, their youngest, drives the delivery truck for the business.Justin Epperly can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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