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Where It All Started—Stainless Works

Where It All Started—Stainless Works
Written by Ainsley Jacobs
Photography courtesy of the manufacturer
Although Stainless Works now manufactures its industry-leading stainless steel exhaust systems and headers for many different makes and models, the Ohio-based company was founded with a focus on Ford Thunderbird and Chevrolet Corvette applications.
From 1980 through 1985, Ron Fuller worked as a shop teacher at Kenston High School in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. “He always had an interest in high-end collector cars and started doing automotive restoration and exhaust system fabrication on the side,” said Jason Snyder, Vice President of Stainless Works. Fuller officially started his Classic Auto Works, Inc. in 1985, but when another local company went out of business a few years later, he took over what they were doing, too.
Originally, Rick Rallings had created R&S Stainless where the primary products were Thunderbird and Corvette exhaust systems. In the late 1980s, Rallings sold his business to Don Whitman, and Whitman changed the business’s name to Classic Stainless. By 1995, though, Whitman filed for bankruptcy. “Fuller had a relationship with Classic Stainless and, in 1996, he and a partner purchased the assets and rebranded as Stainless Works,” Snyder explained.
Fuller invested in some state-of-the-art technology such as an Addison mandrel tubing bender, six-axis Romer measuring arm, and more. Stainless Works was now able to produce parts with precise fitment and outstanding quality. Wisely reinvesting the company’s profits back into the business to add even more machinery including tube welders, robotic TIG/MIG welders, tube threaders, CNC press brakes, powder-coating equipment, and more, Fuller expanded Stainless Works offerings to include thousands of products for hundreds of primarily V8-powered, American-made vehicles.
With an emphasis on muscle cars helping Stainless Works secure a stronghold in the automotive aftermarket, Fuller’s leadership and innovation spurred him to create a website in the 1990s. He hired a sales team, partnered with Summit Racing Equipment, and added newer applications in addition to classic muscle cars.
Over the years, Stainless Works grew considerably and even spawned two new brands. “Reaper Off-Road focuses on vehicle armor for trail and off-road applications while MetalFab Group is a contract fabrication company building parts for a variety of industries,” stated Snyder.
Originally, Fuller had operated Stainless Works out of a 30,000-square-foot facility on the same property on which he lived in Chagrin Falls. Eventually, though, the business outgrew the space and was relocated to a 50,000-square-foot building in Streetsboro where it currently houses a team of roughly 60 Stainless Works employees — half of which are highly skilled fabricators. 
Stainless Works has stayed true to its old-school approach on design. “We do have tools for 3D scanning but prefer to fabricate everything by hand so we can better understand the experience that the installer or end user will have in order to improve it,” Snyder shared. “The craftsmanship put into our products, the artistry of our welds, and the strength of each piece is our pride.”
Although Fuller has officially retired from daily operations, he is still involved with Stainless Works, and his son, Greg Fuller, has taken the reins of leadership while continuing the company’s trademark Made in America heritage.
Offering proven horsepower increases through pre- and post-dyno testing of vehicles, Stainless Works’ products have helped countless drag racers achieve their elapsed time goals all around the globe. “We want to deliver the components that competitors need and are flexible in how we build our collectors and flanges and bends so that everyone can assemble their dream,” added Snyder. For the NMRA and NMCA, Stainless Works delivers precision, passion, and performance to help go rounds.

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