Edgar Gutierrez returns to his roots to lead GTZ Machine & Welding Shop, Inc.
Edgar Gutierrez, owner of San Antonio’s GTZ Machine & Welding Shop, Inc., spends his days cutting, burning and manipulating block metal and steel structures. Though he jokes that his job is “about as easy as it looks,” from Edgar’s point of view, the metal fabrication and welding process is inspiring. “The ability to make something beautiful or functional out of a material that is so simple is incredible,” Edgar says. “When I create from a piece of block metal, I’m always motivated. I get to see metal take shape.”
Edgar’s interest in fabrication and welding began at age 12 when he started working for Gutierrez Machine Shop, the fabrication and design business that his father founded in 1989 in Laredo, Texas. “I always enjoyed working for my dad. For me, fabricating metal just became what I liked to do,” Edgar says.
Unexpected Career Change
Edgar intermittently worked for his father for years; however, shortly after he married in his early 20s he changed course and began a decade-long career as a federal agent for the United States government. At the time, it made sense to Edgar to abandon his passion for metal fabrication in return for the predictable salary and consistent work routine of a government job.
Though initially he enjoyed his career as a federal agent, it proved a challenging lifestyle. Not only did he grow tired of the lack of variation, but also the occupation was emotionally draining. For instance, some of his career included work with the United States Border Patrol, where it wasn’t uncommon to witness hopeful immigrants drown in the Rio Grande.
Ultimately, Edgar felt unfulfilled working as an agent, and his passion for metal fabrication always remained in the back of his mind. “As a federal agent I never received the same satisfaction that I did when I worked for my father’s business,” Edgar says. “Nothing compares to the immense pride and sense of accomplishment I feel after creating a functional structure that will exist for years to come.”
In 2013, Edgar took a risk and quit his job to reclaim his passion and again pursue work in the construction industry.
Wasting little time, Edgar immediately re-immersed himself in the industry and became a certified welder under Welding Code AWS D1.1-2010 through the American Welding Society. By 2014, he had moved from Laredo to San Antonio, Texas, and opened his own business, GTZ Machine & Welding Shop, Inc.
The GTZ Difference
Interestingly, GTZ is the product of not one, but two Gutierrez family shops.
Just one year after Edgar’s father, Moises, opened Gutierrez Machine Shop in 1989, he opened a second branch in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, to accommodate the needs of his Mexican clients with manufacturing plants. He named the shop Servicios Industriales Del Norte and, since 1990, Moises’ company has been dedicated to tool and die making, general machine fabrication maintenance and more.
Though inspired both by Gutierrez Machine Shop and Servicios Industriales Del Norte, Edgar’s branch of the family business proves unique. As a full-service machining, fabrication and welding shop, Edgar and his team offer custom designs, fabrication and installation on commercial and residential projects for their clients. GTZ specializes in fast, quality, turnkey services ranging from structural steel erection to custom-built ornamental iron works—all at affordable rates.
Edgar explains that while Gutierrez Machine Shop is more of a classic-job shop covering most of South Texas, GTZ is geared toward welding and structural steel work and covers mainly the Texas cities of San Antonio, Houston, Austin and sometimes Dallas.
Nevertheless, to this day, Edgar works closely with those in Laredo. In fact, just recently he completed one of his bigger fabrication jobs at Gutierrez Machine Shop. “We work hand in hand,” Edgar asserts.
The Secret to Success
In just four years of business, GTZ has grown from two employees to 20 and has become one of the most capable and prominent structural steel fabrication companies in South Texas. Today, the company continues growing its diverse portfolio of clients and projects, which includes iPic Theater in Houston, the Federal Courthouse in Brownsville, Texas, the AT&T Center in San Antonio as well as a Hobby Lobby remodel in San Antonio.
“The work we do requires a high level of expertise because steel structures are vital to any construction project. I am proud that general contractors know they can rely on GTZ,” says Edgar. “GTZ is one of the best, if not the best, structural steel fabrication companies in South Texas because our diverse background allows us to complete small to large-sized projects with precision and in a timely manner.”
For Edgar, much of his company’s success is a testament to the comprehensive experience he gained while working for his father as a young adult.
“When my father first opened his business in Laredo, we completed all components of a job ourselves because we couldn’t afford another contractor,” Edgar says. “I therefore learned from an early age how to do everything, from measuring and cutting metal with precision to a thousandth of an inch to making production lines.” What’s more, Edgar not only is motivated by, but also thrives upon, the opportunity to navigate complex projects. “I love figuring out what a client wants and then creating something new to satisfy his or her preferences,” he asserts.
For instance, one of Edgar’s favorite projects thus far was also the most challenging in his career. GTZ was enlisted to assist with constructing the amphitheater in Boerne, Texas, midway through the project. The initial company hired was struggling because of the complex nature of the welds and cuts required for some of the beams. After GTZ was hired, the crew met with project architects to determine a feasible solution, and in less than 30 days, GTZ completed the job, finishing under budget. “We like to work and we enjoy problem solving,” Edgar emphasizes. “When a client needs help getting from point A to point C, we figure out point B. Typically, the harder the project, the more fun we have.”
Though Edgar and his staff have achieved so much success in just four years of business, they have big plans for the future of GTZ.
Hoping to serve as leaders and innovators in the structural steel fabrication field, Edgar and the GTZ team are embracing technology and automation to improve fabrication techniques. For instance, recently Edgar began the purchasing process for a $1.5 million system for structural steel factory automation. The system includes cutting, welding and assembly robots and is expected to exponentially increase GTZ’s productivity and accuracy. The new system is expected to be operational in Edgar’s shop by spring 2019.
The company also is adding a beam coping machine to its shop, which will automate and quicken the process of cutting copes in steel beams. According to Ocean Machinery, Inc., this machine can “cut the copes in your steel beams faster than your layout man can even layout the copes.”
“Hooked” on the industry from an early age, Edgar is living proof that when passion is coupled with hard work, the possibilities for success are endless. Though a cliché, in many ways Edgar’s life has mirrored the very transformative process that takes place before his eyes each day. Slowly but surely the pieces of his life have melded together and, well, taken shape.