History of Ballard Sheet Metal Works Inc


At the turn of the century Ballard was booming. The area that Captain W.R. Ballard had reluctantly taken in settlement of a debt came to life when it was discovered that it could supply Seattle (burned out in the Great Fire of 1889) with badly needed shingles and lumber. More than 20 sawmills lined the placid shores of Salmon Bay and everyone needed sheet metal work, blowpipes, dust collectors, and metal roofing.

In 1907 two sheet metal workers from Renton, commuting to Ballard each day on the interurban, decided to start their own firm. Oscar Simpson, a 24-year-old Scotch Irishman from Indiana and a friend, Oscar Ranes, formed Ballard Sheet Metal Works. That same year Oscar Simpson's first son Harold Simpson was born.

From their first shop at 5114 Ballard Avenue near what is now the Washington Ship Canal they made their rounds and served the mills. By the mid-teens the mill work had slowed but the fishing industry was beginning to grow and the firm began building fuel tanks, water tanks and providing other metal work for Alaska fishing vessels.

In 1919 Oscar Simpson bought out Oscar Ranes and moved the company to a larger facility which is now the historic St. Charles Hotel building, one block south of the company's present location. In the 30's Oscar Simpson died and his son Harold assumed management of the firm. By then the business had changed. The mills had closed but the fishing industry had continued to grow. Harold Simpson shifted the emphasis of the business to the area's small shipyards such as the old Sagstad Shipyard and the canneries of Alaska. This portion of the business has continued to grow through the years. During World War II Ballard Sheet Metal fabricated and installed ventilations systems and other parts for the U.S. Navy.

In 1957 Donald H. Simpson (grandson of the founder) graduated from the University of Washington and joined his father in the firm. They worked together until Harold Simpson died in 1971. Donald H. Simpson assumed control of the company at that time. Today the fourth generation of the Simpson family has assumed control of the company. David B. Simpson and Douglas A. Simpson are now operating the business and Donald is in the process of retiring.

Ballard Sheet Metal Works is a complete job shop but has always specialized in the marine and industrial fields. The company has also become very well known for the fabrication of high quality stainless steel range hoods and counters for residential use.






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2007 Ballard Sheet Metal Works Inc. ~ Ballard, Washington USA

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