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Iowa family bonds over metalwork business

August 5, 2018

PEOSTA, Iowa (AP) — Rob Trilk bonds with his sons over the grinding of metal and the glow of a welder.

The Trilks started a metal fabrication business out of a shop at their rural Peosta home a few years ago. What started as a hobby for Rob Trilk now involves all three of his sons — Garrett, Lukas and Keegan.

“I don’t know if I would trust anybody more,” Rob Trilk said.

19th BLVD offers custom-made metal furniture, signs and other unique crafts. Examples of its work can be seen at Jumble Coffee Co., 7 Hills Brewing Co. and The Dungeon.

Rob Trilk said the company operates under a new Dubuque County zoning permit created about one year ago.

Through a violation notice, Trilk initially learned that his home-based business wasn’t allowed in Dubuque County. So he and county officials devised a new permit allowing a variety of home-based small businesses, the Telegraph Herald reported.

The Dubuque County Board of Supervisors signed off on the program in July 2017.

Supervisors Chairman Jay Wickham said he felt a connection to that effort, as he founded software firm Cartegraph in his basement years ago. He was glad the board could find a way to help new entrepreneurs.

“I just wanted the availability to allow a pathway for those that wanted to use their home for a home-based business within their existing zoning,” he said.

Rob Trilk, who has worked in construction for several years, said his sons grew up in his workshop and learned how to use tools at a young age.

The origins of the business trace back to a custom longboard that Garrett made for Rob. From there, the two started working on more projects together.

Rob Trilk said he and Garrett, 21, who is studying industrial design at Iowa State University, collaborate on ideas and designs. Rob primarily handles welding and cutting. Lukas, 18, cleans up cut marks and handles finishing cleaning, and Keegan, 16, does raw material cutting and other “grunt” work.

“I basically do what my dad tells me,” Keegan Trilk said.

Rob Trilk said he likes the small scale of the business, which allows the family team to take a lot of time and care with projects to ensure they’re perfect. Most of the company’s business is from word-of-mouth.

Family members agreed that working together has made them closer. Keegan and Lukas said they enjoy being out in the shop more than they would working a typical after-school job.

“It’s not like a huge business that I’m just another person to,” Lukas Trilk said. “I have a say in stuff. I have an opinion on designs and stuff like that.”

Unlike their older brother, Lukas and Keegan Trilk aren’t planning on seeking a related career. Lukas plans to become a firefighter and Keegan is interested in wildlife biology.

But Lukas, who starts at Kirkwood Community College this fall, said he still will be home often to help with the business.

Rob Trilk said working together on the business gives his sons useful technical skills and improves their confidence.

Family matriarch Carissa Trilk said she has enjoyed watching the bond grow between her husband and their kids and marveled at the creative work they’ve done together.

“Everything is a piece of art,” she said.


Information from: Telegraph Herald, http://www.thonline.com

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