Clearbrook Iron Works in Abbotsford held a 50th anniversary celebration attended by about 400 people on July 12.
The company began in the early 1950s, when John and Elma Hamm started making iron railings out of their home, located at the west end of Clearbrook Road on South Fraser Way. (At that time, it was the Trans Canada Highway.)
They called their venture “Clearbrook Ornamental Iron.”
They moved to a larger location in 1963 at 32459 South Fraser Way.
The business was purchased in 1969 by brothers Alvin and Henry Unger. Alvin shadowed John for the first month to learn the basic skills needed to carry on.
In 1974, the Unger brothers separated the property from the business.
Alvin moved the shop to Huntingdon and changed the name to Clearbrook Iron Works, while Henry continued on as a landlord, renting the building to Lou Isfeld for his first car dealership in Abbotsford.
Over time, the railings turned into structures, and Alvin brought in Dave and Neil Schellenberg and Ernie Kehler as partners.
The four of them grew the business, especially in the Expo 86 years.
“Many very skilled people joined in and are still part of the business, which is why our family has grown to this level of success,” Alvin says.
Neil resigned several years ago to pursue fish farming, and Alvin’s son Paul and Dave’s stepson Kyle Schuurman have bought into the business to carry on the vision into the next generation.
The company is now located at 715 Sumas Way. They design and fabricate different types of structures – everything from a small unique stair rail to a complex building project.
The business also supports many local charities, and, in particular, has been raising money for cancer research and treatment.
To date, Clearbrook Iron Works – along with staff, clients and suppliers – has raised more than $435,000, including $300,000 to the Crystal Gala Foundation.