Scotsmun Steel and The Nut House, located at 510 Frontage Road West in Virden, offer a diverse array of products and services to the agriculture, petroleum, construction, and manufacturing industries.
Owner Dean Munchinsky acquired the company from his father Karel upon his retirement in 2010 after more than two decades of successful operation.
“He had sold enough steel and was ready to roll along, so I bought the business and we’ve carried on doing what he was doing,” Munchinsky said.
Acquiring the building which formerly housed Wee Willie’s Auto Sales provided more space and greater visibility along the Highway 1 Frontage Road.
“That was helpful in moving the business forward. A little more space and room to grow.”
Three full-time employees, Shae Apland, George Baker and Erin Lynch now assist Munchinsky with the day-to-day operations.
Scotsmun Steel sells over 3,000 kinds of fasteners, from nuts, bolts, screws, washers and more. Steel supplies are also available - items like angle iron, stainless, tubing, and checker plate - which can be sized and cut to the customer’s requirements if needed.
“We have an extensive selection of fasteners, and I’m pretty proud of where we are with it. I think the majority of people who use them know what we have here, but we have new people all the time coming in and being surprised at what there is with this nut and bolt shop in Virden.”
New items are added to the mix on an ongoing basis.
“We’re bringing in different kinds of products all the time. I can’t stock everything because I don’t have a building the size of a football field. If there are products that people are requiring that I can supply, then I’m happy to bring them in and stock them. That’s one of the differences between what I do and what a lot of the other fastener businesses do. We try to keep the product that people require in stock.”
Munchinsky often goes on a hunt for a specific item requested by a customer to suit a certain application.
“We face that all the time. For steel, I have three main suppliers…for nuts and bolts I have two…and then we probably have a dozen other places that we go to regularly trying to find oddball things. I like to say if we don’t have it, you don’t need it, but sometimes we’ve got to dig a little bit to find it.”
With a welder on staff, products such as corral panels, bale feeders and cattle gates are built in-house, and all related accessories are readily available. Munchinsky says this foray into fabrication work is now becoming a growing segment of his business.
“We are doing more welding all the time, building projects for people, and trying to look after what they require. We still build a lot of agricultural projects, the panels and gates and bale feeders, but we’re also doing more custom builds for people that need particular things as well. We are just getting into aluminum welding.”
The work can be a mix of straightforward and challenging.
“It’s not impossible to stick two pieces of metal together with a welding machine, but it’s hard to take somebody’s plans, what they have in their head, and build that to what they would like. I’m very proud of the work that (welder) Erin does. She has been with me now for three years. And I really like the product that we have leave the doors here.”
Scotsmun Steel’s customer base extends well beyond the Virden trading area, and even south of the 49th parallel.
“I supply manufacturing plants in a number of different areas with some specialized product. Some of our nuts and bolts we send out to Alberta, and we get special orders from different places. During the steel shortage now I’m getting messages from the United States requesting that I sell them steel down there which is a little more complicated. We get calls from a fairly wide area. We have a lot of customers from Brandon, into Saskatchewan, up to Russell and down into the states.
Like numerous other local businesses, Scotsmun Steel has been impacted by the volatility of the agricultural and petroleum industries as well as COVID-19. They have forged ahead, adapted where necessary and focused on their niche market.
“Everything that we sell is considered essential, however COVID-19 has changed how we operate. We had to do the addition on the front so that people had room to stand inside when it was wintertime. We keep it to one person inside the store because it’s pretty tightly packed in here, but people have been great in being patient with us and helping us to look after them in the current situation.”
“The oil, of course, affects everybody, even if they don’t know it. When the prices dropped out it was difficult for a lot of people, so that affected us as well. Fortunately, the business was started looking after the agricultural community, and we carried on looking after them during the oil booming years and they were good enough to stay with us.”
Outside of work, Munchinsky is well known for his performing arts prowess both on and off the stage. He has acted in, directed and co-directed several musical and drama productions in Virden’s historic Aud Theatre. While preparations for his latest project, co-directing the musical Matilda, have been derailed by the pandemic, he remains optimistic the production can be presented later this fall if restrictions allow.
“I would love to spend a little more time acting,” he said. “Currently in the COVID world we’re not able to do anything and I very much miss my people in our arts community, spending time working together and building some things that are great. We’re looking forward to the possibility of November. We’ll see. The more people that get vaccinated I think the better chance we have of seeing some of that come through, so we’re hopeful.”
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