words: Roger Labas, photos: Ron Salzer
Ron Salzer has been building bridges for the last 21 years throughout the Southeast United States. Bridge building began as a playful deviation from his successful architectural ironwork business- designing and fabricating gates and railings for North East Georgia lake properties- and developed into an all- consuming passion and demanding niche business. He faced a steep learning curve but with the assistance of structural engineers and inclusion of previous skills from both his prior land development business and construction experience during the 80s and 90s in Asheville, he was off and running.
Ron has over 270 completed projects in eight states from LA to VT; from trail bridges to 70’ free span bridges accessing private estates and subdivisions. His clientele includes small municipalities, universities, developers, utility companies, and private homeowners with one customer (now a friend) requiring seven bridges for their property.
By day’s end when projects are near home or weekends when projects take him on the road, he retreats to his sculpting studio for less structured play. Ron creates most of his work in steel and iron although welcomes commissions in virtually all medium. A recent commission from the Audubon Society was to fabricate and install a “Chimney Swift Tower” which he completed on short notice for an open house event last summer in Piedmont Park in Atlanta.
Sculpting has been Ron’s avocation since he was first introduced to working with iron by a blacksmith in Idaho, just west of the Tetons, in the early 70s. He has enjoyed creating works of art, furniture, and whimsy ever since in the United States and by invitation for a private showing in Cuernavaca, Mexico and private practice in Munich, Germany.
Four Rings…Two years ago, his wife, Charlene, was ready for a new car. Aside from comfort, ergonomics, economy, and performance, her primary consideration was a fold-down back seat for the dogs’ daily drive for their hike. After a 6-month market search and a 3-hour “test” drive, there were no second choices to the Audi A3 e-tron. The e-tron has exceeded their expectations.
Charlene’s typical month will average 1,200 miles. Her first drive of the day is an approximate 25 mile round trip to the trails for her hike with their dogs, Zoro and Sally. By the time Charlene is ready to go out again, the Audi is fully charged and again in the evening should they go out together. The electric function of the e-tron supports at least 80% of her driving with a typical fill-up at the gas pump every 2-4 weeks of just 5-10 gallons.
Shortly after Charlene’s love for the e-tron became evident, Ron sculpted her an Audi sculpture thinking she would likely place it on the fireplace mantle or a shelf above her desk where she writes 5-6 hours a day. She fully appreciated his effort and played with what area it would look good the most but ultimately decided (if it didn’t offend Ron) she wanted to give it to Rey, their sales specialist at Audi Greenville because, “He was so nice, patient, and helpful.”
The total experience at the dealership was and has been extremely pleasant and easy from walking in the first time through the purchase and two services. The only thing that would make the Audi experience better would be an R8 loaner for the few hours during a vehicle service *looks in Rey’s direction*.
Especially for Audi Club North America: Ron has graciously offered a very special limited reproduction edition of this unique Audi sculpture, fabricated by hand from parts of bridges from around the USA. He will offer no more than twenty-five pieces, serialized just for Audi Club North America. There will be an option of two different finishes (burnished shown in the header photo) and any typical industrial enamel of your choice. The pre-issue price will be $365 for the first ten pieces. Afterwards, the price will rise to $450 with the very last piece reserved for auction at Audi Club’s National Event this year in Washington D.C. Ron regrets that specific number requests cannot be reserved as the issue is on a first-come first-serve basis. Shipping is not included. Please contact Ron Salzer at [email protected].