Leader in Marine Craftsmanship
Wilmington Iron Works

432 West C Street

Wilmington, CA 90744


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Year Established 1920

Hard Work, Family Values, Quality Service

The History Behind Wilmington Iron Works

Walter Charles Richards, "Wally", was born in Watsonville, California. Early in his teenage years, Wally left home for San Francisco to serve an apprenticeship at the Union Iron Works Company. He rose swiftly through the ranks and became the youngest chief engineer to ever serve at that time.

While often away at sea from his wife and young family, Wally was given the opportunity to visit many ports of call. One such port left an important impression on him: the burgeoning Los Angeles Harbor with its bustling marine economy and dire lack of local ship repair facilities. Wally saw great potential, and so, in early 1920, he gathered his small family, which included seven-year-old Walter Charles Richards, Jr., ("Walt"), and two-year-old Edwin and moved south to Long Beach.

With the help of a few investors that Wally would eventually buy out, he purchased a small plot of land on "A" Street in Wilmington. A two-roomed shop was built to house the business, and Wilmington Iron Works, (named in tribute to the Iron Works where he learned his trade) was born. On March 1st, 1920, the doors were officially opened.

The shop stayed in its original location for ten years, and then moved to its current location on "C" Street in 1930. By the late 1940's, Wally handed operations control down to his two sons, Walt and Edwin, under whom the company incorporated in 1956. Walt came to run the company on his own, and in 1970, his son, Walter Charles Richards, III, ("Rich"), was working under him. Rich assumed control shortly after, in 1976. Rich was at the helm for nearly forty years, until handing the company off in 2012 to his son, Ryan Charles Richards ("Richie").

Though it started as strictly a marine-repair business, Wilmington Iron Works has always emphasized its machine shop capabilities. In fact, WIW now has one of the most versatile repair and fabrication facilities in the Los Angeles and Long Beach Harbor region. What was once a tiny two-roomed shop is now over 23,000 square feet of commercial space spread over an acre of property.

Inevitably, much has changed in the world since 1920. But through the years, Wilmington Iron Works has remained an unfaltering legacy of hard work, family values, and quality service.

March, 2014 marked our 94th year in business, and as Wilmington Iron Works moves steadily towards its centennial, we are looking forward to the future, while proudly celebrating our past.

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