Though in business for over 20 years in Seward and lately in Kodiak, Quality Marine of Alaska, which does all manner of industrial welding, was known mostly only by fishermen and others who needed to keep their vessels and machinery in working order. Wider fame came last year when the shop, owned by Theresa and Dennis Butts, made a splash on reality television with the Discovery Channel show “Alaskan Steel Men.”
“I think that it made our services more known to some of the larger corporations in the state – the Alyeska pipeline and things like that – who didn’t realize the qualifications that we had and the abilities we had to come in and solve problems right away without the bureaucracy and red tape that goes along with the oil field and the big corporate problems,” Theresa Butts said. “So we were traveling a lot. The business has been swelling since we came to Kodiak, but has really peaked in the last eight to 10 months.”
But, all that traveling and business expansion has come at a price.
“So we were looking at our time commitment becoming larger with no end in sight. So we’re kind of right at our peak right now and seemed like a really good time to transition to something else and make this opportunity available for someone else.”
To that end, the Butts’ decided to close Quality Marine’s doors and lay off their dozen employees last week – at least until they can find someone to operate their business for them:
“It really boils down to is the business is getting bigger and bigger and we’re working more and more every day at a time in our lives when we want to work less and less. We’ve spent 20 years assembling a network of really amazing welders and helpers, but finding somebody you can trust with your life’s work to start taking over for you is a whole other story.”
She said the company’s lead welders shouldn’t have any difficulty finding work, given the demand. As for herself, Theresa Butts says she’s going to go commercial fishing. She says both she and Dennis plan to stay in Kodiak.
After Reality TV Stardom, Quality Marine Douses Torch