WESTERN CHAIN LINK FENCE COMPANY HISTORY
In 1921 John (Scotty) McLaughlan, Sr. and John McLaughlan, Jr. moved from Scotland to southern Utah, where Scotty worked at a mine for several years. Scotty suffered a major accident working in the mines and was transported to a hospital in Salt Lake. They said he would never be able to walk again. Much to the doctors surprise he walked out of the hospital weeks later. He was unable to return to work at the mines from the injuries he sustained. Scotty decided to stay in Salt Lake to pursue a business with his son, John Jr. This was late 30s early 40s. Scotty and his son John Jr. started doing residential fence jobs and were buying parts and such from Sears Roebuck Company. One day Sears asked Scotty and John Jr. if they would be interested in doing some farm fence jobs for them (1946). By this time Scotty was getting older and from the injuries couldnt help out much anymore. But John Jr. had two sons of his own Gerald (Jerry) and Robert (Buzz) and was getting to the age where they needed a job. So he agreed to take the fence jobs Sears would give him. After a couple of years of doing fence jobs for neighbors and referrals as well as commercial jobs from Sears they decided to go legit.
WESTERN CHAIN LINK FENCE COMPANY started in 1948 by John McLaughlan and wife Mildred with the help of Scotty and sons Jerry and Buzz. They started on 349 Lucy Avenue in Salt Lake City (John and Mildreds house). They lived next door to Howard and Hilla Bennett. They used part of Howards yard for material storage. This is also how Jerry met his wife Dolores, daughter of Howard and Hilla. They started with a wheelbarrow and a small pickup truck. They didnt have enough work to stay busy in the slower seasons so they all had second jobs in the beginning.
They moved in the winter of 1954 to the corner of 1300 South and 200 West (300 W. now). They bought two properties here. They lived in one and used the other for the business. The trade mark of WESTERN CHAIN LINK FENCE COMPANY was filed on February 8, 1954. In 1962 they were running out of space. So they moved down the street to 337 West 1300 South. In August 1964 they sold the property to Master-Halco (Our Supplier) and moved to 1735 South 900 West. John and Mildred McLaughlan rented the yard and back room for an office. Thru the 50’s, 60’s and early 70’s Jerry showed the most interest in the business. (Buzz was more into inventing and designing various things for all different kinds of businesses.) In the late 50’s Jerry and Buzz designed and built the first cowboy for the top of our sign out of pipe and wire. In the early 60’s WESTERN CHAIN LINK FENCE COMPANY traded work with Young Electric Sign Company to redesign and build the cowboy that stands on top of our sign today (which also became our trademark logo). Buzz and Jerry were very good at inventing things. Buzz designed and built the first pipe bender for Master-Halco in Salt Lake. Jerry designed a pipe notcher (he called it Jaws III because it would notch 1-3/8, 1-5/8 and 1-7/8 fence pipe). Jerry also invented two different types of slats. One was Privacy Plus the other Missing Link. Missing link was the only one that took off. On March 7, 1995 he received his patent for Missing Link. Jerry and Buzz were always trying to modify or design new tools for the fence industry. Buzz was very creative and loved designing and building new stuff, he wasnt too interested in the fence business though.
In 1974, John and Mildred retired and Gerald (Jerry) McLaughlan bought out the company. He rented the back office of the house and property from his parents. In 1975, Gerald and Dolores purchased the property and turned the home into an office. Plans were then drawn up to construct large shops in the back. In June 1978, WESTERN CHAIN LINK FENCE COMPANY became a corporation. In the early spring of 1980 work began on the new shops. We continued to grow slowly thru the 80’s. Gerald and Dolores had 4 children (Steve, Jerry (J.R.), Laura and Daniel). Steve, Jerry and Daniel worked in every position at the company. They installed, sold and managed thru the late 60’s to the mid 90’s. In 1989 Gerald bought the property and house next door to expand the yard. In August 1990 the D.B.A. WESTERN FENCE COMPANY was filed with the State of Utah. In 1993 Daniel resigned as Vice President to buy a Fence Company in Idaho (Haddons Fencing). J.R. took over as the Vice President of WESTERN FENCE COMPANY. The company was growing faster than ever. After 31 years of wear and tear on the old house and shops, plans were made to design a new building. In late ˜95 they had architects start plans on a new facility (A two-story office building with large shops).
In 1996, the third generation, Jerry (J.R.) McLaughlan, Steve McLaughlan and Laura Nelson, bought the company and property on 1735 S. 900 W. from Jerry (Gerald) McLaughlan and wife Dolores McLaughlan. Shortly after buying the company and property they started construction of the new facility. It was completed in spring of ˜97. After 7 years of ups and downs the company was in financial trouble. The property on 1735 S. 900 W. was sold in April of 2003 to pay off venders and a line of credit. Steve McLaughlan resigned as Vice President and 33.3% owner. Now it was just Jerry McLaughlan and Laura Nelson as owners of WESTERN CHAIN LINK FENCE COMPANY. We moved to a leased building located at 6020 S. 300 W. in Murray, Utah. With the financial trouble as well as trying to relocate our operation it was just too much. Sales had dropped by 50%, and the company was in worse shape than ever. At the time Jerry had two sons working there (Jason and Jared). Jason and Jared had worked in all aspects of the business as well. By September 2003 we just couldnt survive any longer. We had hardly any inventory, no cash and were behind with every vendor. Meetings were held to discuss shutting down the company. Jason McLaughlan said he would like to buy the company for the bad debt. Jerry and Laura agreed.
On September 23, 2003 Jason McLaughlan (fourth generation) and Allen Le La Cheur (silent partner/investor) bought the company and paid off the bad debt as well as the prior equipment loans. Laura Nelson retired and Jerry McLaughlan stayed on as a Salesman.
By 2004 the company was back on its feet. We started a snow removal division in the winter of 2003/2004 which was really helpful for the slow times. In 2005 plans were made to renovate the offices to include a new tool store. In January of 2006 construction started on the remodel, by March we started stocking the tool store with merchandise. Also in 2006 we started to get more involved in custom iron works. New equipment and machines were purchased. In April of 2007 Jason McLaughlan bought out his partner Allen Le La Cheur to become the sole owner of WESTERN CHAIN LINK FENCE COMPANY. The company was bigger than ever and was growing fast.