Gregg Westra retiring from pipe fabrication business

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WAUPUN — Gregg Westra, owner of the local pipe outfitter RWI Pipe Fabricators, announced he is retiring from the business that he has worked at and operated for 44 years.

Started locally by Gregg’s father, Robert Westra, RW Contractors was originally an underground construction company that was located in downtown Waupun, before shifting into the piping business in 1980. It officially changed its name to RWI Pipe Fabricators in 1995, after several years of exclusively doing piping work.

Gregg himself joined the company while young and eventually bought out the company stock when his father retired in 2002.

“I have been part of the company since the beginning,” Gregg said. “I was a sophomore in high school when my dad started in 1978. In between, I went to Madison Business College, got an associate degree in business administration, and after that I started full time.”

The business moved to its current and final location in the Waupun Industrial Park, their current facility being the first building to be constructed there.

“I’m a Waupun company that most people in Waupun have no idea that I’m out here or what I do because all my product deals with outside contractors and goes everywhere else,” Gregg said.

While the company wasn’t a particularly visible one in the Waupun community, it provided piping for municipalities all over the state of Wisconsin, with distribution also going into Illinois, Michigan, and Minnesota.

Notable locations that pipe from RWI was supplied to over the years includes Lambeau Field, Miller Park, and Camp Randall Stadium. It was also used in several local water treatment plants including Waupun, Brandon, and Watertown.

“We have a number of contractors who have utilized my services over the years, and we’ve always tried to provide quality and fast turnaround on their product, which helped them finish their jobs in a timely fashion,” Gregg said. 

“Before I retired, the last piece of pipe I made I delivered to my first customer that ever bought a piece of pipe from us 44 years ago. They’ve been a loyal customer all this time.”

At its peak the business had a total of five full-time employees and several part-timers, but due to changing market conditions the business had downsized to only Gregg and his wife Jackie over the years.

“It’s been over 44 years in the piping business so it’s time to retire,” Gregg said. “It’s kind of like being a little lumber yard competing with Home Depot—the big guys have taken over the market and it’s slowed down for us, so we decided it’s time to get out of the industry.”

Gregg officially retired last Friday, and is currently working on cleaning up shop in preparation for selling off equipment in an online auction in the coming weeks.