Manager Profile: Matt Stout

The Truth about Fabrication

When Fabrication Manager Matt Stout was six years old, the best part of Christmas wasn’t actually receiving the gifts. “I’d want to take my presents apart and see what was inside of them,” he said. “How does this thing work? I love building things!” Stout’s passion for creation is at the heart of his managerial position at Porta Kleen’s Cody, Wyoming Fabrication Shop.

“I make it so the shop’s ready to go and the guys come to work, figure out which job is to go to which guy and disperse the talents of the people,” Stout said. “I try to take my guys and use them for the talents they have. Some are better at metal work; some are better at woodwork. I try to put people on the jobs that fit them best.”

Right now, Stout finds himself ordering a lot of parts and trying to switch over inventory. Quality control is another major part of being a fabrication manager. “I always follow up with every job the guys do and make sure it’s what I deemed to be up to our standards, which is very important to me,” he said. “I think everything we do in life, we ought to do it the best we can. I’m really proud of what comes out of our shop.”

Stout firmly believes the pride is in the details. “Those details make a trailer go from an ordinary trailer to something spectacular,” he said. “I think I’ve been through almost 90 trailers that I’ve done. And that’s between building dip tanks for helicopters and the sleeper units. I managed the shop when we built all 50 of those.”

In addition, Stout and his crew have built search and rescue trailers for local search and rescue teams. And they’ve built bomb squad trailers for the police department. “I’ve put together a few trailers over the years,” Stout said. “You just learn how to do it.”

Stout began with the Fabrication Shop in 2001 when it was the Special Operations Group, long before Porta Kleen acquired the company in 2022. “I’ve been managing these trailer builds for quite some time.” he said. “It was always fun working with (General Manager) Bill Sheridan and the group and to be on the ground floor of the design” of the disaster relief equipment.

Today, Stout deals with the same major challenge nearly every other manager does—finding good help. “So many people, they just want a job; they don’t want to work. They just want a paycheck, and they don’t want to try,” he said. “As a manager, put your head down and work hard. Go above and beyond what they’re expecting of you. That’s what I’ve always done.”

Stout said the Cody facility has two shops close together. Sometimes the wind blows between them past trash cans, and something will blow out of a can. It may just be a small wrapper. Six guys will walk right by it. “But then you’ll see the one guy who will stop and pick it up,” he said. “That’s the guy! It’s those little things like that.

“You see that in people. Some people will leave tools out and you can see the ones with the inclination to pick things up and put them away,” Stout said. “If they break a screw off, they’re going to take it out and fix it, not just put a plate over it and put another screw in. That’s hard to find these days.”

Stout said life since the Porta Kleen acquisition has only improved. “I have absolutely had a blast working with the people out there. The different engineers I’ve worked with, and everybody’s just been really nice. We tell stories, laugh, joke and it’s been a lot of fun,” he said. “If I had to say something changed, that’s what I’ve gained; I’ve gained engineers who can help me solve some problems and I’ve met more friends.”

It’s no surprise that in his free time, Stout enjoys building and restoring things, such as cars and other machinery, in his own shop. In fact, when he was 24 years old, he and his wife, Trista, built their own house from a kit that would arrive in pieces on trailers. “We lived in that house until about six years ago,” he said. “I sold it and built another one.”

Stout remembers building a Ford T-Bucket from scratch and restoring a 1931 Chevy Coupe that was in such bad shape that people openly doubted his or anyone’s ability to bring it back to life. “It was five years of work on that car to re-weld all the panels and chop it, do all the framework and build a motor for it,” he said. “I just wanted to see if I could save it.”

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