ENID, Okla. — Emme Hughes, a welder and owner of EH Metal Works, has a penchant for providing an old-school work ethic that defies her age.
Hughes, 20, and an Enid native, has owned EH Metal Works for two years, and first learned welding from her grandfather, Ted Shepard, who taught her the importance of providing quality work over quantity.
“My Paw-Paw and I have always been best friends since I was born and I always followed him around,” Hughes said. “He owned a welding and fabrication and powder coating shop, which is now S&S Coatings, because he got bought out. I grew up in that shop, been raised around it and it’s just something that’s natural to me. I’m very thankful that I’ve been raised around very intelligent people that are willing to help.”
Through EH Metal Works, 5212 E. Market, Hughes does a lot of custom welding jobs. Her work ranges from small- to large-scale projects. She has produced cattle guards, custom bar tops, custom signage for businesses, events or individuals, as well as parts for tractor and race car repair and many types of welding repair work.
She said if she doesn’t have an answer for something, she can ask her grandfather who “has all the answers.” Hughes said one of her favorite things about her business is the wide variety of projects she works on, as she routinely gets a request for something new.
“Pretty much, you can just send me your logos, or you want this big butterfly or something, anything you want, I can design it and then present it to my customers,” Hughes said. “It’s not pigeon-holed at all. It’s a very large customer base, from large companies to just anyone that wants something like maybe a gravestone heads, memorials and stuff like that, church crosses. … that’s one of the things that I love about my business is that it’s so universal.”
Hughes said her focus on everything she produces is that it is the highest-quality product possible before moving on to another project.
“Everything that I do is to where I would want it to be. If I’m not happy with it, then nobody’s going to be happy with it,” Hughes said. “But my standards are very high with my work and I don’t let anything leave unless I’m satisfied with it. And if the customer’s not satisfied, then we’ll stop and punt, back up and figure it out. And if it’s not something that they want, I want them to be able to come back to me and say, ‘Hey, I’m not satisfied with this,’ and I’ll make it right.”
Hughes said her main goal with EH Metal Works is making a difference in the community and that showing high-quality metal work can be found in Enid. Being a young woman in the welding field, Hughes is proud of her opportunity to show people that anything is possible to accomplish.
“I just love to be able to show others that you can do anything you set your mind to,” Hughes said. “Being able to be that difference in Enid, and hopefully other places eventually. It just makes me feel good just to be able to show people that it’s possible and you can do it, and if you ever need help you can call me and I can help you through it. I understand that I don’t really have any women to turn to that do what I do because it’s not very ‘normal.’ But trying to normalize it is definitely something that I’m working on.”
Hughes said she would like to expand her business into new territories, and one thing that could allow her to do so is backing from the Enid Regional Development Alliance for a grant through the Community Development Block Program. Hughes applied for a grant to purchase a fiber laser cutter, which would allow her to pursue a contract to produce aircraft parts for an aerospace company. Hughes said she will find out if she received the grant in the coming months.
“I was able to get that backing to be able to apply for that grant,” Hughes said. “So we’ll see. … in the middle of the summer I’ll know if I got it or not. It’s going to be very intricate cuts. I can cut something that is super tiny. With the one I currently have, I’m super limited.”
Among her many talents, Hughes has raced cars since she was 9 and has now raced for more than a decade. She said she competes each weekend, and it has become to her what football represents for many each weekend.
She also is involved in producing artwork, and is set to work with Kelly Tompkins, of Hive Appeal, to create artwork that will be placed along the Enid Trails system.
“Kelly Tompkins and I are really good friends. She’s awesome and a great artist,” Hughes said. “We have worked together on this new art project where we are building art pieces for the trail that are really going to bring people to Enid to come see them. So it’s going to be big projects of artwork. … anything you’d walk past and go, ‘Wow, we have that?’ Artwork is definitely something I love to do. Bringing those moments to life is what I love about it.”
Hughes is also doing some metal work at Pheasant Run Golf Course, which is currently undergoing renovations.
Being involved in the community is another goal for Hughes, as she is part of the Enid AM Too AMBUCS, and wants to be involved in the community as much as possible.
“Being able to support those softball games or those cheerleading teams, or sponsoring a race car,” Hughes said. “Being able to do those things is my goal. Being able to give back, because anything I make, I want to give, I’m a giver. So being able to help the community is my goal. I’d just like to say thanks to the community for all the continued support and work.”
For more information on EH Metal Works, visit the business’ page on Facebook, or visit ehmetalworks.com.
Article by: Tanner Holubar, Enid News & Eagle 3.5.23