He is a mechanical engineer who loves the money side of business.
She is a self-professed nerd with a Ph.D. in structural engineering.
Both are Air Force veterans who fell in love while serving in Osan, Korea, got married and recently combined their talents - and money - to buy one of Colorado Springs' most well-known steel fabricating and ornamental businesses: Sigma Metals.
Gary and Katherine Gaulke bought the company at 3575 Chelton Loop South at the end of September for an undisclosed price. Katherine Gaulke is listed as the majority owner, making the business a service-disabled/woman-owned company. She did not elaborate on her in-service injury or her disability, but did say the classification could help Sigma Metals win federal contracts.
She also said her designation as majority owner is more symbolic when it comes to her and her husband's partnership stake and relationship.
"We're married," she said, "and we both brought our own money to this and combined it for our future as you are supposed to do when you are married."
Katherine Gaulke, who is in her mid-30s, credits her husband for being "the real driver" behind the purchase.
"He was very smart in his research and his planning," she said.
Gary Gaulke, 38, said he would not have bought the business if it were not "a perfect fit" for his wife's structural engineering background; she taught the subject at the Air Force Academy from 2003 to 2005, then attebded the University of Maryland until 2009 to get her doctoral degree. The Air Force brought her back to the Springs in late 2009 to work at Peterson Air Force Base.
He was employed by Weston Solutions in the Springs from 2004 to 2013 where he worked on construction projects for the Department of Defense.
The two wanted their own business, specifically in the Springs, so they could be the ultimate decision makers. Now they are leading a company that was started in the garage of founder Lewie Schwartz about 30 years ago.
Brad Brunk bought the business in 2003, and the fact that it remains viable is a credit to his ownership role, which got the company through the Great Recession. Revenue were about $5 million annually when he purchased the business, which makes ornamental railings, fences and gates, as well as structural stairs and steel beams and columns. That number fell to $3 million to $4 million during the past five years, he said. Brunk was forced to cut Sigma Metal's staff and other expenses to survive. The company went from almost 35 employees to around 20 today, he said.
"It is a rotten part of running a business," Brunk said.
But the Gaulkes believe the economy is improving. They believe that one day, Denver and Colorado Springs will be linked by businesses and bedroom communities, and they want to be a part of that growth.
"To look at future projects, and say we had a hand in that," he said, "is a great opportunity for us."
Their investment in the future is also great for Colorado Springs, said Ron Chernak, president of First Business Brokers, who helped the Gaulkes buy their business. They are the "perfect example" of the type of young professionals that Colorado Springs has had trouble attracting and retaining over the past decade, he said.
Contact Ned Hunter: 636-0275.