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Amaral Industries Is Quietly Successful in Bellingham

Sep 24, 2020 06:00AM ● By Marjorie Turner Hollman
Amaral Industries, owned by Eduardo and Alaine Amaral, has been working quietly in Bellingham for the past 23 years, producing fine metal railings and other custom metal work. They were featured last year in the Home & Property section of Boston Magazine:
The couple met while in college at UMass Amherst, both art majors, both specializing in sculpture. “I started working in steel in college, and it felt good,” Eduardo explained. After college, Eduardo found himself driving past the mill buildings on Maple Street in Bellingham and always loved the architecture of these old structures. He had begun creating custom metal fabrications in the basement of his and Alaine’s home in Millis, and one day Eduardo stopped and asked the owner of the mill about renting shop space. Eduardo noted, “He gave us this chance. We started out with 1500 square feet, and now we have expanded to about 3000 square feet, still in the same location.”
We asked how they were managing with the challenges of doing business in the midst of a pandemic. Their response was heartening. “We are quite well,” Alaine said. She handles the administrative side of their work. “We are very lucky, very grateful. We closed for two months. Although we are technically part of the construction industry, we are a small shop, and because of concern for the safety of our workers, we closed the shop for two months. We were able to take advantage of the PPP Loan program, and we are managing.”
It turns out that the Amaral Industries was ahead of its time in how it interacts with clients. Alaine explained, “We have no retail space, and for most of our jobs, people send us photos. We send estimates by email, so keeping a distance from our clients was not that much of a transition for us.” She continued, “In fact, people are home and thinking about taking care of home improvements. If people are lucky enough to have jobs, they are wanting to take care of things they did not have time to take care of before.”
Their shop is about 60% wrought iron railings, with 40% high-end custom metal work. Eduardo noted, “We probably could have stayed open last spring, but safety is #1 for the whole state. We took a little hit, but our work is not so essential. We have contact only with the guys in the shop. We are keeping ourselves isolated from outside work as well. Our clients have been great, and patient.”
Alaine pointed out, “I am immuno-compromised, so I moved to working from home, and we’ve adjusted. Everyone is masked up.”
Installations continue at their clients’ homes, mostly in towns in and around Bellingham, and in toward Boston. Eduardo noted, “We have to close the shop when we do installations, so we don’t take on work that is too far away.” Most of their work is intended for outside use. “What’s different is that clients used to invite us in when we got there, or after we were done. It’s strange not finishing a job with a handshake (or starting the job either!).”
When asked what has kept them going all these years, Eduardo responded, “Persistence. It’s easy to get discouraged. I use creativity every day, making something.” He concluded, “I used to hear years ago, ‘I love to do local business,’ but it seems to have fallen out of favor. People seemed to take local businesses for granted. Right now, I think people realize that their neighbors are hurting. We’re fine, but other businesses are really struggling. People want to stay local, to give local companies business. We like doing business around here.”
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