Solid Form is a custom metal fabrication shop in McMinnville, Oregon. Their work spans from structural to ornamental and everything in between — like winery catwalks or distinctive spiral staircases. Their competitive differentiator is at the intersection of form and function: they deliver projects that are both engineer-grade and vision-driven.
The skilled trades have been feeling the pressure of a shrinking talent pool for a while now. With Baby Boomers retiring at a rate of 10,000 people a day, this has been a topic of national conversation for the better part of the last decade.
Deven Paolo, President of Solid Form, sought a new way to approach this growing crisis — by closing the gap between business and education. Solid Form needed a way to amplify this message to partners, prospective employees, and the community at large.
We had the big idea — we wanted to encourage employees, parents, companies, and educators to address the skilled trades crisis in a new way. It’s about forging your own right-fit career path, not following a prescriptive template. But we needed help getting that story out.
Solid Form has made direct investments in the future of the industry by establishing an educational endowment fund. Founded in 2017, the fund supports local trade students through scholarships, covering all hand tools and gear they’ll need for a community college welding program as well as additional support for supplies and tuition.
In support of this fund, we helped Solid Form launch a custom crush pinot noir called Rising Together, the sale of which raised enough money for seven student scholarships in a matter of months. The wine was announced at Solid Form’s first annual unconference, where we brought together tradespeople, educators, and community leaders to discuss the talent shortage in a unique format.
We also worked with Deven to introduce this revolutionary idea on the TEDx stage, exposing his big idea to a broad new audience.
For me as a business owner, I don’t get that type of interaction a lot with people. I have mentors, I have a peer group, but someone to bounce ideas off of and have thoughtful responses is something I really value. It isn’t just someone on the outside who doesn’t give a shit what we’re working on, they’re able to frame their comments around what they know we’re trying to do. We feel like their most important client.
In addition to all this great external work, Kinesis also helped them bolster their internal team by developing custom training programs, employee growth maps, and an organizational structure that allows everyone to chart their own path forward based on their unique strengths and ambitions.
All of these activities are supported by a visual identity that fully expresses who Solid Form is and where the company is headed. Inspired by mountain climbers reaching incredible heights, the new Solid Form brand alludes to the company’s commitment to ingenuity and working together to build a better future.
By becoming an industry leader around this big idea, Solid Form has garnered a reputation in the community that goes far beyond metal fabrication. As a result, they are able to broaden the conversation and establish entirely new kinds of partnerships — all of which still support Solid Form’s continued growth goals.
Since championing the trades is also of interest to commercial contractors, this has also fueled sales opportunities for Deven and the team, making it a win-win strategy on multiple fronts. Not only are they securing more projects, but better ones: their average customer spend is up 64%, and average project size up 49%.
Having a clear mission and values is really something. People in our community know our mission statement now — I talk to them at parties and they bring up ingenuity. Clarifying that stuff has made it so easy to roll out to our employees. We use it as a management tool, to help us answer questions… it’s brought clarity to how we do things. That’s huge.
Kinesis is proud to work with a company like Solid Form — a purpose-driven organization compelled by more than just what they do every day. We are thrilled to continue to support them in their big idea, including making the successful unconference and wine launch a recurring event. Building a future where everyone can forge their own right-fit career paths? That’s an idea we can all get behind.
Kinesis is so in tune with us and our business that they really feel like a part of the team. Everybody understands what we’re doing and what we’re trying to accomplish, and that’s what makes the experience unique. You’re going to get out of it what you put into it. It’s like working with a counselor. If you’re not willing to put in the work on your end, it’s not going to be meaningful or effective. It’s not just a mission unless you’re willing to live it.
If Kinesis sounds like the partner you’ve been looking for, let’s talk.
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