Grant Stephens and Tim Buckner
After years of planning and waiting for the right opportunity to come along, longtime Chico denizens and metal fabricators Grant Stephens and Tim Buckner (pictured) have finally found the space they need to open up their metal fabrication business, Old Chico Iron. The two friends had kept in touch over the years, through separate moves around California and other life events. When they both found themselves back in Chico in 2010 with a shared love of metal work, they formed a dream of starting up a fabrication business together. Stephens, a welding instructor at Yuba College, and Buckner, a welding inspector, first launched Old Chico Iron three years ago, but circumstances forced them to shut down prematurely. In August of this year, they found a new space for their second attempt at Old Chico Iron, and now they hope to be able to quit their day jobs to become full-time metal fabricators. Follow Old Chico Iron on Instagram to view their work or find them on houzz.com.
Why “Old Chico” Iron?
Stephens: We aren't ripping off a beer name; it's Old Chico because we've been here forever. My children are going to be sixth-generation Chicoans. When we moved, we knew we were coming back. We're here, we're rooted here, and we're not going anywhere. Our focus is to stay grassroots, homegrown. We aren't here to make a bunch of money or to get big. We are pretty much word of mouth and get to maintain creative control, which is exactly how we like it.
How did you become business partners?
Buckner: Well, we first met making a mountain biking trail in Forest Ranch years ago. And then, [Stephens] was the one who got me started with metal. Eventually we lived together, and stayed in touch through the years after we moved. We both wanted the same thing for our professional lives when we came back five years ago, and finally, here we are, doing what we love.
What are you currently creating?
Buckner: We just finished making the signs for Upper Park Clothing and Alpha Phi. Right now, we are working with a local design company to build a prototype of a storage shed for bikes. It's going to be a modular system that can adapt to any outdoor living space. It's a full structure that you can lock up and lock your bikes in. It will be highly weather resistant and hugely safe.
What makes you different from other local metal workers?
Stephens: The other metal guys all have their niche, and they fill it. If something comes their way that they don't or can't do, they don't do the job. We are willing to work with the client for whatever they want. We can fabricate anything, and we want to. We love talking with clients and working with them to give them the best possible product we can.