In March of this year, Harris Machine and Design wasn’t quite out of business and Bear Iron wasn’t quite open but they were operating out of the same space on 10th St. in Cottage Grove.
“It was a bit of an overlap,” said Bear Iron’s owner, Bear Diriwachter. “But we’re ready and open and working now.”
The shop, that sits just across from Bohemia Park, focuses on blacksmithing—a profession Diriwachter has had his eye on since he was a child. After 20 years in Springfield, he started looking for a space to operate his business out of that was closer to his home in Cottage Grove.
Now, he’s just finished moving his machinery in and his dog Orca with her bright blue eyes and casual attitude towards visitors, guards the front office while he works.
“We do architectural blacksmithing but we will fix anything,” he said. Diriwacher makes everything from railings to gates to car parts but he’s also hoping to build a reputation as a shop open to fixing anything that needs fixing.
“There’s not another place where someone can get something small fixed,” he said. “People can bring in garden art that’s falling apart and we can fix it. If it’s broken and it’s only a $20 bill for us, we don’t care, we’re going to fix it. No job is too small.”
There isn’t a job that’s too big either. His strangest request from the community, he says, was an order for 100 manhole cover openers.
“You know, the tool that you use to open the manhole covers,” Diriwacher said. “This company ordered them and we made them.”
Diriwacher has been a resident of Cottage Grove for 10 years, making the trek into Springfield to work before renting out the old Harris building, but he says he’s fallen in love. And in the fall, he’ll be starting welding and blacksmithing classes for the community.
“I love everything about Cottage Grove,” he said. “I just, I love the community.”
It’s part of why he opted to open the welding and blacksmith shop. With the ability to weld steel to aluminum, he said he wanted to provide a place for locals to come.
“Eugene is a far way, you know,” he said. “People can get things repaired here, made here and I have steel available for sale to the public. I just wanted to do something for Cottage Grove.”