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A Different Type of Craft
Pipefitter Scott Whitaker may not craft spirits or beer, but those who do certainly benefit from his craft all the same.
After working in the field for a dozen years for mechanical contractors, in 2019 Whitaker opened up NexGen Mechanical Solutions LLC, a fabrication shop in Muskegon, Michigan, to serve the area’s distilleries and breweries.
“There’s an open market.” Whitaker told online news site MiBiz last year. “Craft distilling is on the rise and will be for a while. I see an opportunity to grow. It’s not just in Michigan, it’s everywhere.”
Whitaker fabricates stills and other custom components and also consults on all aspect of distilling and brewing, including process piping, steam systems, compressed air, chillers and cooling, as well as piping design, repair, and installation.
While Whitaker’s craftsmanship is used in a number of craft distilleries and breweries, readers might be most familiar with one of his clients, New Holland Brewing Co. The business got its start in 1997 brewing beer, but has since branched out into crafting bourbon, gin, vodka, rum, and even producing a line of canned cocktails.
“The selling point is our quality, customer service and design customization,” Whitaker added. “Every still has a different design. Every still is completely different”
In addition, as a signatory contractor to Local 174 of the West Michigan Plumbers, Fitters and Service Trades Union, Whitaker can call the union hall to staff up to fill orders.
“Being a union contractor works for me,” Whitaker added. “I can get certified and highly skilled workers with a phone call. It would be impossible otherwise.