She’s Holding it Together

Doreen Koop is a gutsy young woman with a kitchen dream.

She is an industrial engineer, recently laid off from United Launch Alliance of Decatur, Alabama, where they make parts for Delta and Atlas rockets.

Doreen decided to go into the manufacturing business in her hometown, Pulaski, Tennessee, so she could do work for her old company. She needs ISO certification before United will buy from her. She decided to build a product she knew, a high-end spatula aimed at cast-iron cooking devotees.

Her father had made such a utensil for the family decades ago, and she decided to improve upon it and find a market.
She contacted me looking for a machine to make “Chicago screws” out of stainless steel. After grilling her about the screw and the application, I became intrigued by her story.

Doreen has seven distributors lined up for her spatula, which will sell for $32. She calls it a “Williams Sonoma” type of product. She has local Amish folk cutting her oak handles and another Amish “blacksmith” doing the metalworking. Currently she’s buying her screws from Fastenal for a dollar per piece, but the engineer in her knows they should be much cheaper.

Doreen wants to make rocket parts, but the spatula now appears to be a viable project. She is now working on her next piece, a high-end fork.

If you think you can help Doreen Koop with her quest for American-made stainless steel fasteners email her at

Before I talked to Doreen, I had never heard the words “Chicago” and “screw” used together in this way.

Question: What does a “Chicago screw” mean to you?

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