The Pursuit of Perfection
with Simply Fabricated
by Lori Williams
“Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work,” said the great philosopher, Aristotle. For Cody Hawes, the owner of Simply Fabricated, it’s a maxim that rings true every day. His passion and never-met-a-challenge-he-didn’t-like attitude have grown his imagination, creativity, confidence, and subsequently, his company to be a leading choice for custom metal fabrication and aesthetic architecture in the Central Oregon area. For Hawes, creating a masterpiece out of a pile of raw steel is an incredibly satisfying feeling. Located in Bend, SimFab provides Central Oregon’s contractors and homeowners with quality steel fabrication and metal workmanship ranging from structural steel to stunning metal architecture.
Growing up on a farm meant that Hawes was raised with hard work, long hours, and numerous welding techniques, and the kid who really thought he was going to be an artist when he grew up really did become one. From the age of 15-21 Hawes worked side jobs building utility trailers, and then moved on to Fortune 500 metal fabrication companies, compiling huge accolades along the way. But his entrepreneurial heart and bent brought him back to Bend to eventually pursue his own company of dreams. “I realized my creativity wasn’t going to be manifested through pen or brush, but rather the fabrication of steel,” he says. Those days on the farm taught him invaluable skills that have taken him on a long journey to where he is artistically at the top of his game.
The team at SimFab works with a wide range of material, but Hawes especially enjoys working with mild steel, also known as low-carbon steel, as it’s very versatile. They’ve designed and built large modern outdoor patio lamps with stainless-steel tops and mild steel bases. Currently, they’ve got 500 feet of aluminum handrail in the works – they build a ton of railings – and also a custom gate with copper inlays covered in a rich patina, with rivets that look as if the frame is bolted together, to be installed in a Spanish-style home. Explains Hawes, “We’ve been working with Corten steel for quite a while now, and it’s gaining more popularity in decorative architectural elements as well as structural engineering. It rusts in such a way that it puts a protective coating around the material as an oxidizing finish, or powder-coating that actually protects the underlying steel and slows the rate of future corrosion. A lot of our clients like Corten in yard remodels incorporating planter boxes, firepits, and retainer walls.”
In one recent project, SimFab covered with steel cladding a wall surrounding a built-in fireplace, then applied a technical chemical wash to the steel, which produced a charcoal, smoky-rubbed patina. Hawes is one of the few in Central Oregon to execute this complicated patina technique, which is not easily replicated. “It was a high-profile and exciting project, and very rewarding to see all of it come together,” says Hawes. “I’ve done a handful of them, and have several more in progress.”
“We’ve never been unable to complete something, and always figured out a way to make it work.”
–Cody Hawes, Owner, Simply Fabricated
Custom is king and whenever Hawes gets the request to “just do whatever” from a client, it’s an exciting chance to prove that his creativity is worth their trust. “We’ve never been unable to complete something, and always figured out a way to make it work,” he says. Like when they collaborated to reinvent the large empty space under a deck to become a wine cellar, built to look like an old collapsed mine shaft with beams fallen, broken, and lying askew. Recreated in metal, the ‘beams’ beautifully cradle the wine bottles. Two large boulders under the deck were left purposefully in place to complete the design. Hawes created his own challenge with the idea to build a hidden door in the mine shaft wall, which actually leads to an old mechanical room. “That was probably one of our most exciting yet tedious projects, with a lot of on-site work, but it was definitely worth it,” he says.
As for other projects, SimFab has built a number of glass and steel frame doors, the latest one being a revolving door. Also popular with clients are their steel ‘basket weave’ patterned gates and walls. Simple, yet flashy and elegant, they serve multiple design functions, either for privacy walls or a lattice for vines. Behind the reception desk at PureCare Dental in Bend, they fabricated floor-to-ceiling steel panels, that look like a patchwork quilt and are unevenly off-set from the wall. Each panel has a different swirling epoxied finish of wide-ranging hues from stormy greys to the warmth of rust, and all the vintage bronze and blue-green shades. It’s just another rich aesthetic palette from an imaginative and accommodating team. Hawes says that the sky is the limit and that it’s a good thing he’s never content, because then he’s hungry – hungry to produce and create ever more artwork.