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Bullitt County metal art business sells work worldwide

Jul 23, 2023

BROOKS, Ky. — A career change at any age can be a hard road to navigate, but two employees at a metal studio in Bullitt County have found their niche while helping a small business gain customers from around the world.

On the edge of Bullitt and Jefferson Counties, sparks fly as Johnathon Stroud makes a clean cut through steel.

"This right here is a 750-watt fiber-optic laser," Stroud explains.

Stroud is the laser operator for Knob Creek Metal Arts in Brooks, Kentucky. The business is tucked away on a quiet paved road near Jefferson Memorial Forest. Eight years ago Stroud made a clean break from his former job.

"I was a chef before this and I was working two jobs and 80 hours a week," Stroud recalls.

The change was a tall order at first, as many of his former coworkers were intrigued by his new career at a metal arts studio.

"Well, they were trying to trade me steaks for metal art and I was like that's not a bad idea but I still have to pay for the metal though," Stroud smiles as he reflects on his early days at Knob Creek.

All these years later, the Stroud is right at home slicing through 14-gauge carbon steel. Steel that becomes anything you want it to be.

Brian Segars is the manager and designer at Knob Creek Metal Arts. Segars says the small business was founded 25 years ago and has always kept a small staff with mostly local customers throughout the early years. Then business ramped up with a meteoric rise of orders.

"Probably 2010, 2011. It really took off," Segars said.

Around that time Knob Creek Metal Arts was featured on the landing page of the on-line retail site Etsy.

Segars has worked here for about 6 years and, like his cohort, Segars was on a very different career track.

"I actually have a degree in architectural design but actually did work in railroad signaling," Segars said.

Segars says of all designs they make, their most popular are custom-built book ends.

"A lot of people wouldn't expect with electronic books," Segars said.

Segars says orders have shipped to 80 different countries around the world to customers which include best-selling authors, famous TV show hosts and a bulk order to Harvard Law School. Other items include custom signs, small and large, yard stakes and decorative wall art.

"Pretty much anything anybody needs that can be cut out of steel. We can do it," Segars said.