Tucson’s IMS is metal made easy

Lonnie Johnson, store manager at Industrial Metal Supply Co. in Tucson, holds laser-cut metal décor items at the store at 3757 E. Columbia Street. (Tom Leyde/Contributor)

It’s a Mecca for metal heads, but not the hard rock variety.

Industrial Metal Supply Company has more varieties of metal in more varieties of sizes and shapes than most people can imagine.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary in Tucson, the company, at 3757 E. Columbia Street, is an interesting place to visit, even if metal isn’t on your agenda.

There’s aluminum, steel, stainless steel, copper, brass, silicon bronze, bearing bronze, zinc and lead. And each one is available in a plethora of forms. IMS also offers specialty metals.

Among them are cast iron, expanded sheet metal, threaded rod, ingot and shot, painted sheet metal, strut channel, tread plate, tool steel and U-edging.

“It’s your one-stop shop. It really is,” store manager Lonnie Johnson said.

IMS doesn’t do any fabricating, but it does offer cutting, bending and welding.

“If you’re trying to do a project, we have every part you need,” Johnson added.

IMS opened its Tucson store in 2012, the sixth of seven stores. Others are in Phoenix, Riverside, San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange County and San Jose, California. The company was founded 75 years ago as a scrap metal company by the father of current owner Neil Sherman.

IMS Tucson has grown rapidly in a decade. It’s started with a 28,000 square foot facility and 12 employees. It now employs 19 people and has 45,000 square feet of space.

Johnson has been working in metal for 17 years. “I love it. It’s a great company,” he said. “We really care about safety. ... It’s all about the employees first.”

Besides those working at the store, in both retail and metal work, IMS has sales and customer representatives. “We have so many repeat customers,” Johnson said. “We pride ourselves on really clean products.”

IMS customers include Tucson-area industries as well as DIYers, artists and hobbyists. One of the favorite areas of the store for hobbyists and artists, Johnson said, is the remnant area, where they can purchase metal pieces by the pound at a discount. “Lots of artists come in here,” he said.

Among the services IMS offers customers are cut to size, hi-def plasma cutting, tube laser services, water jet cutting and metal shearing and sawing service. A recently purchased industrial shear machine can cut through metal as thick as 6 inches like butter, Johnson said.

If you are building a metal fence, check out the fence, gate and rail section. Here you will find:

• Wrought iron parts and accessories.

• Holleandar SpeedRail.

• Aluminum slip-on fittings.

• Stainless steel railing components.

• Weld-on railing components.

• Tube and pipe gate openers.

• V-groove wheels.

• Gate hinges.

• Anchors.

• Fasteners.

• Guide rollers.

For home décor there are a wide variety of laser-cut ornamental items in the shape of suns, moons, fish, cowboys, cowgirls, motorcycles, trees and animals, including horses. IMS has metal shooting targets as well.

The retail area of the store carries welding equipment, safety equipment, tools, paints and patinas for coloring metals.

Customers can pickup their metal orders or have them delivered. IMS also will store metal for customers in its warehouse until they are ready to use it.

“If it’s made of metal, we like to think that we carry it,” Johnson said.

Industrial Metal Supply Co.

3757 E. Columbia Street, Tucson