MTI Heavy Steel Fabrication

Heavy Steel Fabrication

The business of heavy steel fabrication is not for the faint of heart. The size, speed and complexity of fabricated components continues their upward curve, as does the heat of foreign competition. But one heavy steel fabricator handles the heat: Metal Trades Inc.

Your Go-to Source for Heavy Steel Fabrication

MTI is a “go-to” source for build-to-print steel fabrications requiring skilled craftsmen and certified welders of all types of steel. Past projects have included both small and large industrial components (some more than one hundred tons), military vehicle components, and custom-built barges. Our modern fabrication facilities have 40’+ high ceilings and plenty of bridge crane capacity to enable modular construction of large assemblies indoors.

Our team has many years of demonstrated expertise in a wide range of steel fabrication applications, including:

  • Power Transformer Tanks
  • Pressure Tanks and Vessels
  • Manufacturing Fixtures for Commercial, Aerospace, and NAVSEA Industry
  • Turbine Exhaust Ducts
  • Armor Steel Components for Military Ballistic Vehicles
  • Barges

Let’s take a quick photographic tour of our heavy steel fabrication operations to give you an idea of MTI’s industry-leading capabilities. So, grab your hard hats and eye protection, and let’s go!


Metal Trades has extensive indoor fabrication capabilities, overhead crane capacity, and heavy lift equipment to move large structures seamlessly throughout the life cycle of fabrication, paint, and shipping via our Marine Railway


MTI’S BLAST BOOTH, Heavy Steel Fabrication
Metal Trades, Inc. has one of the largest Indoor Blast and Paint Booths in the Southeast, which is comprised of two booths that are 100’ x 32’ wide. We blast and prime modules and large components with ease and without concern of environmental delay.


This is an example of a Core Transformer Tank fabricated through our turnkey process. Metal Trades runs material through our processing center, makes flanges in our machine shop, forms steel with our brake press, and utilizes our small blast and paint booths (qty 2- 40’ x 20’) to paint. We use our own tractor-trailers to deliver these units to the OEMs, who then complete the internal windings before sending the units out to the field for installation.
Metal Trade offers our own transportation and therefore has the capability to mass-produce transformer tanks for our Power Generation customers who require high-volume production. We support our OEMs’ expedited schedules by utilizing our small paint booth, dedicating a crew that specializes in building Transformers for our OEMs, as well as offering multiple delivery solutions.


Metal Trades specializes in custom barge building and Marine Construction and Repair for both Government and Commercial Customers. Our Marine Railway, pier space, and deep-water access allow us to facilitate logistics to anywhere in the world with a geographic focus on the East Coast.

Experience Counts in Heavy Steel Fabrication!

That’s a brief tour and snapshot of Metal Trades’ heavy steel fabrication operations! Remember, the Metal Trades team has decades of combined experience in building complex heavy steel components. Many of our craftsmen, machinists, welders, and management staff had years of prior experience building nuclear submarine components or overhauling naval vessels. And all our welders are qualified to ABS, AWS D1.1, NAVSEA, and ASME Section 9 standards. We qualify welders onsite! Contact us to learn more about Metal Trades Heavy Steel Fabrication.

Thanks for taking the tour!

Heavy Hitter

This article was first published on:

Above: With the EdgeBreaker 4000’s intuitive touch-screen interface, operators can make adjustments or perform automatic calibration of the tools in no time.

Fabricator uses grinding technology to make deburring process safer and more efficient

December 2021 – When the late Ted Corbin founded Metal Trades Inc. in 1962, he had one piece of welding equipment and a pickup truck. Since then, the family-owned company has grown exponentially. Metal Trades earned certification as a Master Ship Repair Contractor for the U.S. Army and has an Agreement for Boat Repair with the U.S. Navy. The company developed into a multi-skilled specialist in heavy custom steel fabrication for barge/commercial marine construction and ship repair.

The company’s complex is housed on almost 50 acres, and it operates its own deep-water access point off South Carolina’s Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. Able to accommodate vessels up to 370 ft. long and 70 ft. wide, including massive crane barges, Metal Trades also supports the power generation market with parts that range from transformers and cooling units to oil tanks.

One thing that hasn’t changed over the last 59 years is the company’s relentless pursuit of quality. “No matter what product, they all have one thing in common,” says Virgil Taylor, processing manager for Metal Trades. “They are custom-made, and they are heavy. Standard solutions don’t stand a chance in the demanding industries we serve.”

Taylor, who has been with the company for 25 years, knows what he’s talking about. According to him, customers who rely on high-quality equipment have equally high expectations concerning product design and functionality.

FFJ 1221 deburring image1

Metal Trades has increased part consistency and throughput with the EdgeBreaker 4000.

Improving Processes

“We do serve a niche market, but a demanding one, that continuously asks us to push our boundaries,” says Dustin Corbin, vice president of operations for Metal Trades. “This requires us to be flexible at all times.” That means scrutinizing the company’s internal processes for ways to improve.

In 2019, Metal Trades identified a need to fabricate and deburr steel more efficiently.  The existing manual methods had become a major pain point.

“We employ well-versed welders and fitters who do a tremendous job,” says Taylor. “On top of that, once parts were oxyfuel or gas cut, the staff handled and manually deburred them. For smooth fabrication, we need to take the dross off our parts.”

The process proved to be problematic. Deburring with hand grinders kept the welders and fitters from performing their primary jobs and posed a safety risk. Metal Trades processes parts up to 2 in. thick and 40 in. wide. To mitigate the risk and reduce labor expenses, the company began looking for automated deburring support.

“We wanted to keep our welders and fitters on their jobs and proceed to fabrication without secondary handling,” Corbin explains. “After all, we aim to maintain high deburring quality for heavy parts at all times. Efficiency is our No. 1 driver.”

In 2019, a small team from Metal Trades traveled to Fabtech in Chicago. Equipment at the ARKU booth caught their attention. The company has been designing and building levelers, deburring machines and coil lines for many years. Corbin met ARKU Sales Manager Nathan Brown and they discussed the options for an automated deburring machine. After Brown demonstrated the machines’ capabilities, “it was obvious that the EdgeBreaker 4000 was a highly promising fit. I was particularly interested in the machine’s ability to deburr the top and bottom of a part in a single pass.”

In terms of process efficiency, “this was exactly what we were looking for,” adds Taylor. The EdgeBreaker 4000’s oscillating grinding drum removes burrs from plasma and oxyfuel cut parts up to 4 in. thick with repeatable results. Edge-rounding tools on the top and bottom foster double-sided edge rounding as well. This double-sided design can cut processing times by up to 50 percent compared to conventional single-side machines.

Metal Trades installed an ARKU EdgeBreaker 4000 and found the installation to be straightforward. “ARKU technicians managed the setup smoothly and helped us wherever they could,” Corbin says. “Given the facility’s layout, there was no optimal spot to place the machine, but ARKU worked with us to identify the best location for optimal operation.”

The most important aspect of the installation wasn’t space. “Training and knowing how to handle such a powerful tool are infinitely more relevant for quality,” says Taylor. “In addition to standard machine training, we make sure operators understand that thickness is crucial for smooth operations.”

FFJ 1221 deburring image2

Nick Cromer, Metal Trades steel processing lead, left, Daniel Freeman, Metal Trades steel processing specialist, Virgil Taylor, Metal Trades steel processing manager, and Nathan Brown, sales manager at ARKU Inc.

Above and Beyond

“In our industry, I encounter new challenges every day,” Taylor continues. “Sometimes, equipment is intended for certain processes but we take pride in using it above and beyond its specifications. I like coming to work without having to dread the repetitiveness of other industries.”

The EdgeBreaker 4000 is processing roughly 10,000 lbs. of heavy parts per month. “ARKU’s equipment is a real lifesaver,” says Corbin. “It takes the dross off neatly and has accepted all matching parts without major issues. For us, the improvements are mainly internal, since we’re saving rework and manual labor hours.”

The EdgeBreaker 4000 also helps to achieve good painting on the parts’ edges, which boosts corrosion resistance. One of its major benefits, though, is barely perceptible: it’s a virtually silent operation. According to Virgil, “the EdgeBreaker is one of the quietest machines I’ve ever run. Even at full capacity, except for a low humming, you can barely hear it. This is highly unusual in the industry and creates a quiet working atmosphere. Standing right next to the deburring machine, a customer once even asked me if it was running at all.”  FFJ

Community Clean-up: MTI Picking Up & Giving Back

MTI Trash Road

Why a Community Clean-up Day? Metal Trades, Inc. (MTI) has been part of the Meggett community for almost 60 years. Like any good corporate citizen, the company continually looks for ways to give back to the place we call our home and to lead the way in making our town a better place to live, work, and play.

In that spirit, MTI employees completed another successful community clean-up day on Friday, March 5th, 2021.  Team members scoured ditches, shoulders, and the roadside from Ethel Post Office Road to the end of Highway 165 at Metal Trades.

Highway 165: Target-rich Environment for Community Clean-up!

Highway 165 is the main road that travels between the town of Meggett and the Metal Trades facility. There is high traffic volume, some speed issues, and the occasional bit of littering. As a candidate for a community clean-up, HWY 165 is a target that makes sense, and one that provides bang for the buck. What’s more, it provides evidence of what we always knew – but perhaps the community did not – that MTI truly cares about the local land and water that provide us our livelihood.

Environmental Avengers, Assemble!

MTI Team

And so, on that clear, cool Friday morning a team of smiling MTI faces assembled, including Camy Swanson from Accounts Payable and Receivable, Safety Director Patti Corbin, Director of Contracts Megan Dean, Controller Daniel Reed, Human Resources Director Kristi Rowe, and Estimator Greg Crites.

Trash Composite

Armed with positive attitudes and upbeat tunes, our band set about their task, dancing down the highway and filling their trash bags for the entire morning. Together, our team picked up an impressive amount of trash (10 bags!) along Highway 165. All agreed it was an extremely rewarding and productive session.

MTI Team Wider

Environmental Leadership by Example

With our longstanding presence in the community, MTI has a duty to lead by example. We will continue to demonstrate our commitment to environmental stewardship. We will continue to positively impact our community. And together with the Town and its people, MTI will continue to do its part to keep Meggett clean. If you have questions or suggestions to help us achieve our goal of environmental leadership, please contact MTI today!

* * *

MTI is committed to making this a regularly scheduled event. The Town of Meggett is planning the next community clean-up on Sat April 17th. We are planning to attend to show our support and commitment to keeping our community beautiful.


US Army Shipyard Support Contracts: MTI for the Win!

Metal Trades, Inc. closed out the month of January 2021 with two major IDIQ/MATO awards from the US Army Watercraft Sustainment Maintenance (AWSM) Program, which is managed by the US Army Contracting Command- Detroit Arsenal (ACC-DTA). The shorthand, straight-to-the-point details announced that:

MTI was awarded two of the three zones that were competed to Industry to include:

  • Zone 1 (CONUS Support) for a ceiling value potential of $255 million over the next 5 years, and
  • Zone 3 (OCONUS Support) for a ceiling value potential of $155 million over the next 5 years.

It’s great news for the entire MTI family but to fully appreciate the importance of these awards – and how we earned them – it’s helpful to ponder MTI’s capabilities, spirit of innovation, and decades of service to the Army as well as the value we bring to each project.

Maintaining the Army’s Brown-water Navy

Fun fact: the US Army fields more boats than does the US Navy. Known as “brown water” boats, they ply shallow waters such as rivers and coastal channels. Many of the boats in the brown water fleet were designed and built for a 40 year lifespan and a good number of them are approaching or have passed that milestone.

How does a boat remain relevant and effective throughout a 40-decade lifespan and beyond? Superior design plays a part, but expert maintenance is critical. Every three years, these boats must return to a shipyard for regular on-condition cycle maintenance, or OCCM.

US Army Support Contracts

MTI: Comprehensive Marine Maintenance

Metal Trades, Inc. is one of the Army’s most trusted OCCM providers, and has been for over 25 years. We have dedicated an entire business division to maintaining and overhauling government boats. MTI is an incumbent on the contract to service certain boats such as the LCU (Landing Craft Utility.) In fact, we lead the field in number of LCUs overhauled at 120 and counting.

OCCM is comprehensive, top-to-bottom service. When boats come in for refit, MTI pulls it into our railway/dry dock. We overhaul the engine. We pull the drive shaft. We replace propellers. We check all electrical systems. We repair and paint the hull.

These are only some of the routine steps in our overhaul process. But it’s the non-routine aspects of OCCM where MTI truly adds the kind of value that keeps the Army coming back.

Capability, Craftsmanship, and Continuous Improvement

First, as we reported in our last edition, MTI’s railway and machine shop are large, capable, and continuously improving. Metal Trades is a turnkey facility, able to anticipate and meet customer requirements from the everyday to the extraordinary. Ours is also a team that does it right the first time, so quality warranty claims are truly rare.

Second, knowledge and experience. Our team includes craftsmen with decades of experience in marine electrical and machining, whose knowledge is sought after throughout their fields. Their intimate familiarity with these boats and their components has led to some impressive maintenance feats.

Innovation through Reverse Engineering

Technology, mission requirements, and threats evolve. 40-year-old components become obsolete, spare parts impossible to find. Not a problem for MTI; our team can easily reverse engineer and fabricate the part required for the system to perform its task as designed. Moreover, our familiarity with the system allows us to question whether the 1980 way of doing things is still the best way. If not, we innovate. In fact, some of our retrofit solutions have become the new standard for these systems, making MTI an official OEM provider.

For these reasons, Army designs and equipment scheduled for retirement are being tasked to keep sailing, because MTI craftsmen and innovations make it possible to do so!

Supporting the Mission, Protecting the Warfighter

MTI is proud to win these IDIQ/MATO awards, as we have won them in years past. But we are not complacent. These are awards we covet and compete for because they help us stay in business and keep craftsmen employed. They allow us to keep doing a job we love. And they enable MTI to fulfill our primary mission: delivering reliable, superior functioning boats to help our warfighters do their jobs and come home safely.

*     *     *

Did you know MTI also provides COMMERCIAL craft maintenance & repair services? We invite you to take a look at our capabilities, then give us a call!  

MTI 2020 Year in Review

MTI 2020 – what’s the story? Metal Trades Inc. is like most companies; the calendar flips to a new year and we look back on the past 12 months. We take stock of the big wins, the little ones, and the bumps in the road. When the stats and trends are fully digested, we might pen a report like this one. Pretty standard stuff in a typical year.

Of course, this was anything BUT a typical year! The story of MTI’s 2020 was one of thinking on our feet, adaptation, and soldiering through. Despite the obstacles, though, we got our share of wins. We’d like to tell you about some of them now!

Pandemic Plan: Keep the Lights On and the Employees Healthy!


If we had to choose MTI’s major accomplishment in 2020, it would be the way we adapted and survived in a vastly altered COVID-19 landscape. As a manufacturer, an essential business, and a DoD contractor supporting critical power grid infrastructure, MTI had to find ways to keep our people safe and to keep working. So we invested in plexiglass, disinfecting fog machines for the facility, thermometers for standard daily temperature checks, and masks for our employees. We also strengthened our onsite cleaning protocols as well as facility access protocols.

Of course, our employees played a huge role. While on the job, our employees had to learn how to get the job done while practicing social distancing.

We have had full support from our team and they have done a great job practicing all COVID precautionary measures that we have implemented. Their team spirit didn’t falter!

Thankfully, due to our substantial workload and minimal COVID cases, MTI was able to retain the majority of our workforce and currently we are increasing our manpower in several skilled trades.

CMMC: Becoming a Cyber-Certified and Compliant Contractor!

When Ted Corbin first parked his welding truck on a job site in 1962, he never could have imagined that someday his company would be cramming for advanced cyber security certification from the DoD. But that’s the price of success!

In January 2020, the DoD introduced the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) standard.  Basically, this ensures that DoD contractors have the proper measures in place so that their electronic documentation is safe from espionage. There are levels of certification, each more intense than the last.

This year, MTI set its sights on Level 3. Getting there would require an investment of time, talent, and money.  So we were gratified to win an SCMEP (South Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership) SC-Cybersecurity Assistance Program Grant! We have put a lot of focus on updating security and compliance with CMMC to certify to a Level 3 and this grant award propelled us into the process by focusing on a Gap Assessment and policy updates. We are currently working with our managed IT Service Partner to implement the new program.

MTI 2020 Capital Improvements: The Tools to Get the Job Done!

Picture of Grove Crane Delivered

The client asks, can you do the big jobs? The complicated jobs? Multiple jobs at once? In our business, success means answering ‘yes’ to these questions.

And it means maintaining a railway that is constantly growing and improving, gaining new capabilities and equipment to handle whatever the client throws at us.

In 2020, MTI was awarded a MARAD Shipyard Grant Awardee for three Skytrak Telehandlers and a 55 Ton Grove Crane. With this new capital equipment, MTI’s expert team of riggers and handlers are able to execute big, complicated moves like never before.

Additional updates and upgrades around the Metal Trades facility include:

    • Railway (dry dock) upgrades and reinforcements
    • Increased fabrication capability- new, larger door on Fab Building allows for larger-scale components and structures
    • Machine Purchases- New 160 Ton Kobelco crawler Crane (Big Bird), Edge Breaker 4000 Deburring Machine, Kinetics K5000 Processing Machine
    • Approved for Zoning Request for a potential new building.

MTI intends to keep our Drydocking and Transfer System filled with numerous ships and barges on land at one time to keep our guys busy with simultaneous repairs on multiple vessels. That means competing for every contract out there, and that requires maintaining a facility with capabilities that are second to none!


MTI 2020: Looking Back, Looking Ahead

MTI 2020 Year in Review

“2020: may we never see another one like it.” It’s a popular sentiment, and one we share. But we also have to look back with some pride at the way MTI adapted and carried on, thanks to the efforts of the folks in the office, the shop floor, and the railway. Together we celebrate our shared successes and we begin 2021 in a position of strength.

In fact, Metal Trades, Inc. closed out the month of January 2021 with two major IDIQ/MATO awards from the US Army! We will tell you all about those in our next edition. There’s nothing like celebrating the New Year with new opportunities. Now, let’s get to work!

Metal Trades Delivers Construction Barge

Shipbuilder and Heavy Steel Fabricator Metal Trades, Inc., located on Yonges Island, SC has announced the launch of its largest-ever built new construction barge.

This barge is 370’ x 59’ x 14’. It is designed to hold a total of 18- 60 foot rail cars capable of carrying cargo for up to 2298 Long Tons for New York New Jersey Rail, LLC (NYNJR), a short line railroad and wholly-owned entity of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Metal Trades’ first-ever tug is a nimble little boat that will deliver

It’s a little 850-hp pushboat with a big job. It’s also the first tug its shipyard has ever built. 

Capt Cooper, under construction since December 2015 at Metal Trades Inc., soon will serve North Carolina’s Bald Head Island as a vital link for supplies residents need in their daily lives. The existing boat’s crew is eager for the safer and more reliable replacement they will use to navigate the 4 nm across the Cape Fear River.

Pushboat a first for Metal Trades

In the 55 years since Ted Corbin found Metal Trades, Inc., Yonges Island, S.C., the family-owned company earned a well-established reputation for ship repair and building barges. The company marked a milestone when it launched its first newbuild twin screw pushboat, the 50’x24’x5.5’ Capt Cooper for Bald Head IslandLimited, LLC.

Metal Trades, Inc. (MTI) is a family owned business located just south of Charleston, South Carolina operating with deep water access on the intracoastal waterway. We have been in business since 1962 and have extensive past performance in Heavy Steel Fabrication, Manufacturing, Machining, Vessel Construction and Vessel Maintenance and Repair for both commercial and Government customers.

” J.E. Corbin, Jr. founded Metal Trades, Inc. in 1962 with a pickup truck, a welding machine, and years of metal fabricating experience. Since that time MTI established a solid reputation for its multi-skilled work force and strong commitment to high quality.”


Request for Quote or Information