17612 Elgin Road, Poolesville, Maryland 20837, United States
Morningstar Welding has been a family owned business operating in the same location of Poolesville, Maryland for over 110 years. "The Shop", a family moniker, is the oldest continuously run business in the town of Poolesville. The Morningstar family, however, has been in the metalworking business for over 168 years with beginnings in Frederick County, Maryland circa 1850. Morningstar Welding credits their longevity to their commitment to craftsmanship, hard work, and business practices based on honesty and integrity. Morningstar Welding was formally known as Morningstar Blacksmith Shop. Murrel "Mike" Morningstar opened his shop at 17612 Elgin Road in 1908. The original building was a weatherboard building later rebuilt in 1947 to a cinder block building which is still in use today. Murrel was the town smithy and mainly based his income on farrier services, wagon and wagon wheel building. Murrel had a 9 foot square forge with a hand blower that son, Dick, would operate for him. Dick recalls as a child having to stand on a box to crank it! Murrel worked ten hour days six days a week in front of a forge and anvil. He rarely had to go off his property as the horses and wagons were brought to him. It was a hard life, but his home was located on the property, so he never was too far from his family. He died in his shop on July 22, 1954 of a heart attack at age 69. Murrel was well respected by all and an integral part of the Poolesville and surrounding areas community his entire life. His anvil still remains on the property as a symbol and testament to this man and his trade. Murrel discouraged Dick (Richard) from entering the blacksmithing business. Not only was it a hard life he instructed Dick, it was a dying industry becoming one for horse racing and pleasure riders mainly. Dick saw an opportunity in the welding business and his sister, Dorothy, bought him his first welder in 1952. This welder is also a surviving family relic on the shop property. Dick was self-taught and began primarily working on farm equipment when it was suggested he take his business on the road and enter the commercial construction business. With a name change to Morningstar Welding, in 1960 he bought his first portable welder and entered the lucrative world of erecting buildings and high-rises. He was known to travel as far as Ocean City, Maryland but mainly worked within a one hundred mile radius of Poolesville. Morningstar Welding participated in the building boom in the Maryland, DC, and Northern Virginia region. He subcontracted with the largest construction companies of the tri-state area. Dick, however never forgot the farmers and locals and always made time to fix and repair the odds and ends that came into the shop at all hours (undercharging many times, if at all). Dick's accounting practices were epically antiquated as he remembered the day and put down his jobs in a spiral notebook at 10:00 at night. Being a family business, his sister, Bet deciphered his notes and sent bills and then later his wife, Nancy, became the bookkeeper. He billed local farmers once a year with no interest. It was an "old school Poolesville" business practice, and it worked beautifully. Gerry, his brother, a Rockville city engineer, also participated in the business pricing jobs and reading blueprints. Morningstar Welding did experience growth, and Dick brought in employees, including his son Patrick, who taught the trade, fair business ethics, and the rewards of hard work to local and not so local boys. Dick, like his father, worked 10-12 hour days 6 days a week for well over half a century, Dick and wife Nancy enjoyed retirement in Florida until his death on April 1, 2014. In 2006, Dick handed the reins over to Patrick who continues the family business tradition today. Doubtful a day goes by that an old timer does not mention the integrity and work ethics of Murrel or Dick for which grandson/son Patrick carries this torch and continues this legacy. He has grown Morningstar Welding into a six truck and twelve employee operation with wife, Karri, as a full time office manager and son Kyle, as our project manager. Their 40 foot x 80 foot building houses all the latest and greatest metal fabricating equipment. "The Shop" today does a lot of in-house fabrication and site installation, but Patrick also caters to the walk-in locals. He has expanded the business and finds himself less behind the torch and more behind the desk. Patrick is the fifth in a line of generations who engaged in the business of iron and steel whether blacksmithing or welding. When asked how it feels to be part of a continuous 168 year family tradition he exclaims "Look how far we've come!"