Bobby Gerhardt (IG: @reapermetalworks)
Name: Bobby Gerhardt
Business Name: Repear Metalworks
Location: Ogden, UT
Specialties: Handmade metal art
Tell us about yourself - what inspired you to get into your trade? And how long?
I was born and raised in Phoenix, AZ. I have always enjoyed working with my hands. I joined the US Army in 2005 and was a wheeled vehicle mechanic for 9 years. I was deployed 3 times. On my first deployment in 2007, we were cutting up metal and welding them to a lot of vehicles as armor cages. That is where I really started to get into fabricating. I was honorably discharged in 2014. I was going to school full time to obtain a welding degree. I was also working for a Caterpillar dealer at the time. I decided to start making metal art in my free time. I had taken a blacksmithing class and purchased an anvil for my garage. In 2015, I started my business. I was using a handheld plasma cutter and welder to make wall signs and displays. In 2017, I moved to Ogden, UT. I purchased an entry level CNC plasma table in order to keep up with the demand of signs I was receiving. By mid-2018, I had sold my plasma table, and shut down my operation to take care of my family. I decided I still wanted to help Veterans, so I started working for the local Veterans Affairs hospital in 2019. Fast forward to 2021. I still had my handheld plasma cutter, and my welder. I was still making small pieces of art every once and a while. As I made more and more small pieces, I decided to build a forge to make use of the anvil that was still sitting in my shop. I currently still work full time at the hospital. I do my best to get into my shop on evenings and weekends to make my art.
What keeps you motivated throughout the day?
My wife and 3 kids. Everything I do is to make sure they are all taken care of. I strive to show my kids that you can do anything if you’re willing to put in the work.
What is your favorite shop tool and why?
It is very difficult to choose a favorite. My welder and plasma cutter have been there since the very beginning. With those two tools, I can create just about anything imaginable… with the help of my angle grinder too.
What's your favorite piece that you've worked on?
I enjoy just every piece I create. Each one requires different areas of focus and challenges me to see what I can make out of everyday hardware/parts. My two favorites right now are my motorcycle helmet holder, and the small Mjolnirs I make out of bolts.
If you could have any job as it relates to question 1 what would it be and what would you do with that?
I would definitely run my business full time. I absolutely enjoy having the freedom to make what I want to make. There’s a huge sense of pride when you create something, and someone likes it enough to spend their hard-earned money on it.
What BA product is your favorite and why?
I use the 80 grit flap discs a ton! They last the longest out of any flap disc I’ve ever used.
What BA product surprised you in terms of quality - what about it set it apart from the competition?The flap discs surprised me the first time I used them. I was used to going through at least one disc per project with most other brands. I have used BA’s flap discs across multiple projects and haven’t had any issues with them. I keep a couple of more heavily used ones around as well in order to polish up projects.
What tips and tricks do you have for us that might be different or eye opening for others to try with BA product?
Once you wear down flap discs, keep them handy if you want to really make a product shine! One of my old 80 grit flap discs acts like a buffer now that it’s been used so much.
If there was one person you could collaborate with - who would it be and why?It’s a tossup between Jesse James, and Jimmy Diresta. Jesse inspires so many, and I grew up watching him on TV. It inspired me to want to weld and create things. Jimmy absolutely does the same. To be able to work and learn with either one of them for one day would be awesome!
Do you have any advice for the next generation that you wish you had when you first started?
Don’t be afraid to do something you don’t know how to do. Getting out of your comfort zone is how you grow and learn as an artist. Don’t be afraid to mess up either. You never know what kind of things you are capable of if you’re always trying to play it safe.
What are your future plans for your shop?I am going to continue to make sculptures, parts, and other things. Hopefully one day it will be enough to do full time.
Thanks for sitting with us and sharing your story with the community - is there anything you'd like to add?
Thank you for taking the time to hear my story!