Photo by Jeff Hobson

Scott Cormier’s father had an entrepreneurial spirit. He always had a side hustle, the son said, and after inheriting property in 1993, Cormier opened a storage business. 

“It started small, but when it was sold, it had over 250 units,” Cormier said. “Maybe I inherited that entrepreneurial spirit — it’s not for everybody, but many people feel the draw.”

Today, as the principal owner of Splice Welding & Design LLC in Tacoma, Cormier has been through all the typical startup challenges. “Had I known about all the hurdles and struggles I would face, I may not have made the jump,” he said. “Once I did, I was forced to react, and it was completely trial by fire.”

Cormier moved to Tacoma from Montana in 2016 to start his welding business. The blue-collar vibe resonated for him, along with Tacoma’s burgeoning economy. “The more I looked into the area, the more I realized it was a good business opportunity,” Cormier said. “I had no idea how the laws and insurance worked or what papers to file, and I didn’t know anyone, but I rented a small garage and started.”

His initial strategy was to keep overhead as low as possible while building clientele. The firm is now 3 years old, and Cormier has moved to a home-based shop. His craftsmanship also is in demand by local custom builders, designers, and architects who want a high-end, artistic metal touch for building and remodeling projects.

Successes aside, Cormier admitted it’s a constant battle of strategy on where to allocate funds. “I’m always asking myself whether I should make a marketing push or invest in new equipment, and where the best return on that investment will be,” he said. “My dad made shrewd improvements in business at the right times, so I always try to have a vision for how the company should look, and what steps I need to take now to make it happen.”

Courtesy Splice Welding & Design

With respect to product, Cormier said he’s always had a creative side, and appreciates fine architecture and design. His personal style leans toward contemporary, linear, and clean lines, but he also doesn’t get caught up in trends. “It’s easy to look back on eras and point to trends that come and go, but good design is timeless,” he said. “I try to design with the clients’ style in mind and build heirloom quality pieces that will last generations.”

Cormier cited staffing as his biggest challenge and said his hunt for the right combination of skills can pull him from other critical business tasks. “I’ve hired the manufacturing employee, the welder, and the artisan, but it’s difficult to find the perfect person,” he stated.

Cormier’s vision is modest. He wants to remain small with a handful of local employees. “We all start businesses for different reasons, and for me, it wasn’t about creating an empire,” he admitted. “It’s about the work, and if you focus on the work, the rest eventually falls into place.”