The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa


September 8, 2012

Smitty’s celebrates 60 years

FULTON, Ill. — Sixty years ago, Clifford Smith started a welding service outside of Fulton in Garden Plain, Ill.

Today, his son, Gene Smith, is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the shop the only logical way: by working hard on his next project.

Working on a railing and stairs he was commissioned to put together, Smith said he didn’t even realize until about a week after the official anniversary (Aug. 1) that the shop had turned 60 years old.

“We’d been planning on it all year, ramp up some advertising, getting stuff out to people and doing a little bit of this, that and the other,” Smith said. “We were busy getting ready for everything and it was like Aug. 8 and I said, ‘wait a minute, I forgot Aug. 1 was my anniversary!’ So I guess maybe it’s not hard to believe. You just don’t think about it.”

Smith himself is celebrating his 30th year in charge. Prior to becoming owner of Smitty’s, Smith said he found it difficult to stick with one job.

“Growing up, I was in here off and on, and even when I was real little, I think my mom brought me a little seat with wheels to roll around on and I would roll around the floor,” Smith said. “As I got older I would sweep the floors, wash windows, put stuff away and stuff like that. After a certain time, (his father) started teaching me how to weld. I guess just watching all the different things he did was kind of interesting because I worked in factories when I was younger and at one time worked in John Deere. It just didn’t interest me doing the same thing over and over again. All in all, pretty much every day is something different.”

Finding the right job to keep his interest was not the only problem for Smith. After three decades of being in business, he’s also faced the problems the economy has faced; meaning he’s lived through three recessions.

Still, the shop remains and business is as strong as ever despite Smith being the only employee there, which can tend to be overwhelming at times.

Being an independent business, Smitty’s has also had the challenge of trying to get ahead of the competition by offering services not yet seen at some of the bigger welding shops.

He said he still works on trailers every once and a while but it’s not the specialty area it used to be. He has since been working on railings. Though it may be difficult for Smith to imagine a day where he’s not in charge of this place, at age 58, he said he’s getting closer to retirement. At this point there’s no one in line as the heir apparent but Smith hopes someone will come and take the place over when he’s ready to leave.

Text Only
  • 4-24-14 Dutch Days Preview Photo Dutch Days: 40 years and counting

    FULTON, Ill. -- A spring-time staple will return for its 40th consecutive year. The community will come together once again May 2 to celebrate Fulton's heritage at the 40th annual Dutch Days Festival. Dutch Days committee chairwoman and City Alderwom

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Officials: Future bright for Thomson prison

    FULTON, Ill. -- After more than 12 years of waiting, a long list of broken promises and millions of dollars worth of idle investments, the future is looking a little brighter for the Thomson Correctional Center. Following a $166.3 million federal bud

    April 24, 2014

  • 4-23-14 1B-photo, ethan jones Jones has eyes set on prize FULTON, Ill. -- Ethan Jones has all the confidence that he can become the Three Rivers Conference Player of the Year in baseball. "I just need to work hard, show up everyday and just play the best that I can every game so I can help my team win," Jo

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-22-14 2B-Photo, Fulton baseball Morrison wins twinbill at Fulton FULTON, Ill. -- As Fulton baseball coach Kyle Miller put it after losing both games to Morrison on Monday, the losses were tough to swallow, but all the Steamers could do afterward was tip their hats toward the Mustangs. Morrison won 1-0, then 11-4

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • City of Fulton will retain marina control FULTON, Ill. -- For at least one more year the city of Fulton will retain control of a municipal marina despite one local businessman's request to gain partial ownership. During a City Council meeting Monday, local boat repairman Donnie Saiter's requ

    April 22, 2014

  • 4-22-14 1B-Photo, Fulton softball Fillies take control vs. Fulton FULTON, Ill. -- While Fulton's softball team is figuring out the small things, Morrison is continuing its tear across the Three Rivers Conference. Morrison continued its dominant season Monday by defeating Fulton 9-0. Morrison scored in five of the s

    April 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • Day helps Fulton clean FULTON, Ill. Ever wonder what to do with old electronic devices or household appliances that no longer work? Well, Fulton city officials also pondered that question, which is why they created Fulton Recycling Day. From 8 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Fulton

    April 21, 2014

  • Hot start, strong finish FULTON, Ill. -- A day after a struggle at the plate, Fulton found a dozen runs during the third game of the Fulton Invitational softball tournament against West Carroll to end the day. The game went four innings, and the Steamers used all four of the

    April 21, 2014

  • 4-19-14 1B-Photo, Fulton catch HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL Hall halts Steamers FULTON, Ill. -- Fulton knew it had its hands full heading into Friday's baseball game against Hall. After all, the Red Devils entered the game with an 8-1 record, and they had momentum after blanking Rockridge the day before. Fulton fell to Hall 5-2

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • Fillies one-hit Fulton Herald Staff Report Ackerman throws no-hitter for Erie/Prophetstown Fillies one-hit Fulton

    April 17, 2014