LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — Larry and Andrea Mosher work together full-time creating and engraving hand-made items to sell in their store in Lafayette.
The couple moved to Acadiana from Missouri in 1995 and made it their home. Larry Mosher worked off-shore as a commercial diver for years, but they were looking for a business they could build together that would keep him home more.
They looked into being franchisees of a Subway restaurant, working in Amazon delivery or pulverizing firearms for law enforcement as GunBusters.
Nothing quite fit though, until Larry saw a video of someone engraving guns with lasers.
He talked with a friend of his who has a gun shop, and the Moshers bought their own laser and went through training in San Antonio.
From there, Rugged Ironworx LLC was born, and Larry hasn’t gone back offshore since.
“I said, ‘We’re going to do this all the way or not at all,‘” Andrea Mosher said.
Today they have three different machines — one to engrave wood, leather, glass, and stone; another for guns, metal and polymer; and then a plasma cutter to cut shapes out of metal.
They started the work out of their home, but quickly realized they needed a separate space. The building they found and liked was bigger than they needed, so they turned the extra space into a store, where customers can find personalized travel mugs, tomahawks with patriotic etchings on the blade, and crocheted baby blankets.
“Having a store wasn’t in the plans, but we had the space,” Andrea said. “It just evolved.”
A lot of their engraving work is fixing or adding to items folks bought elsewhere, like adding a birthdate to an urn or personalizing pet urns.
They’ve engraved big and small, from the inside of wedding rings to saw blades to a large brass bell for a man retiring from the Navy. That project was a special one for Larry, a veteran himself.
Some projects have come with a little more celebrity, like recently engraving some props for a movie being filmed in the area and a gift from Congressman Clay Higgins to President Donald Trump.
These examples only reinforce the demand for custom gifts, which is what drives the Moshers’ work.
“I was just tired of Wal-Mart gifts — things anyone can get,” Larry said. “People want custom.”
That’s why they create wooden and slate cutting boards engraved with a family member’s handwritten recipe, plus wooden cubes and leather photo frames featuring a baby’s birth weight, length and other stats.
Married 14 years, the Moshers bring different strengths to the business, including skills honed in their past.
His time as a commercial diver comes in handy not just in the actual welding, but also in solving problems, like building a rig to hold the brass bell at the right angle to engrave its rounded edges.
He does a lot of the woodworking and welding, while Andrea helps with designs, crochets and knots fabric and yarn into decorations, Christmas ornaments and plant hangers.
“My mom taught me when I was about 10,” she said. “We used to do all that kind of stuff.”
Her hands are moving, creating new products as she rides to and from work with Larry.
“We get along really good,” Andrea said. “I love working with him.”
“Not everybody can do it,” Larry said. “We see things differently. It works well.”
They’ve enjoyed working together and getting to meet new people through the store, but it can be tough helping customers find that right gift, they admit.
And then there’s the demands of running their own business. They work just about every day, even when the store is closed, even at home, and they haven’t been on vacation in the two years since they opened their store.