Chris Marshall started his fabrication career helping his dad build a brush guard for his '92 S-10 Blazer. At the age of 14 or 15, his dad was buying up cheap tools to fix and resell, and it snowballed from the brush guard to a roof rack to projects on his own 1991 Explorer.
Chris says, "I started working on projects for friends and trying to learn everything I could. Over the next ten or so years I worked as a landscaper, a structural steel welder and a parts runner for an auto parts company all while doing fab projects in my dad's garage on the weekends. I wanted to end up with my own "official" fab shop. Well the landscaping business I was working for was drying up fast and I needed to come up with another job asap. My wife and I were settled into our house, she had a good job, it seemed like a great time to start a business. So almost 3 years ago to the day I opened up shop and started doing what I love for a living!"
MarsFab Offroad, in Harrisburg, NC, is a shop that specializes in off-road fabrication.
Chris says he's worked on everything from lawn chairs to bulldozers. He admits it is hard work. His advice to someone interested in getting into the business?
"Don't start a 4wd shop because you want to be the owner of a big company and make millions... Do it because you have a passion for the sport. I've learned that in this industry we have some of the most loyal customers. Do you and them a favor and take pride in what you put out on the trails."
Chris takes great pride in his work, and with good reason.
"There is no better feeling than posting pictures online of something I built and everyone saying how cool it is or how awesome it turned out. That makes it all worth it!"
Current projects in the MarsFab shop include his own S10 project ('98 on tons with coilovers, small block, tube chassis, 39s), his 'ever-evolving' Toyota truggy ('90, 5.29s, 4.7s, 38s, links), the #66 ECORS YJ of Chris Brower, aka Snappy, a CJ3A, the #713 ECORS Cherokee and a chair prototype for a large furniture company.
What has been your favorite project?
"I'd have to say my favorite project would be the #713 ECORS Cherokee. Mike Hitchcock (amajeepman) came to me a few months ago and asked me to build a roll cage for his Cherokee to race in A class. After bending maybe 2 tubes I realized that if I was going to put my name on this thing I better give it everything I can. So for the next 3 months I tried to make it as competitive as I could. Building that Jeep has been great for business and I got to really stretch my legs on it. It included tube work, sheet metal work, aluminum work, suspension and many other things that I don't regularly get to work on. Plus I was pretty much given creative freedom to do whatever I wanted on it."
That's not your only ECORS endeavor, though, is it?
"Snappy contacted me a while back about finishing up his B Class Jeep for him to have it ready for the race in Auburn, AL. Snappy had some great builders work on his Jeep before I ever touched it. I just hope that I can do those guys justice by finishing it the best that I can. My work on it includes front and rear fenders, sheet metal work, mounting all the lighting, finishing the cage, a rear tire carrier, mounting seats and the fuel cell, and many, many other small things to get it ready to race. After Snappy's Jeep is done I would love to have my name on a C class rig also. Keep your eyes out for another build soon!"
(The Snap-on guy needs some tool Bling.)
Chris is definitely one to watch... he truly does amazing work. We wish him (and Mike in the #713 MarsFab Cherokee) good luck at the GAP this Saturday!