8 suggestions for launching a welding company
Rae Ripple, a metal artist/business owner, Rush Kane, a welder/business owner, and business entrepreneur Nick Bezates have experienced life’s highs and lows, from losing jobs to becoming successful company owners to even appearing in Netflix series.
Stephanie Hoffman, welder, American Welding Society (AWS) representative, instructor, and owner of UnderGround Metal Works, spoke with the three to provide expert business startup advice to aspiring business owners—many of whom were young couples—on one topic: How does one start their own welding business?
“A good account is worth its weight in gold,” your father or mother could remark. “What are the shopping patterns of the target demographic?” or “Keep your insurance up to date.” Those words and ideas are significant, but here are eight unconventional advice from welders who pursued their ambition of becoming their own boss.
1. Create and Invest in Your Brand’s Identity
A vital initial step is determining your brand’s identity. How do you want your brand to be perceived? What emotions do you want customers to have after using your product or service?
Because of the nature of her firm, Hoffman puts a high value on this suggestion. She not only has a custom fabrication company, but she has also just opened a custom fabrication and welding school.
“I wanted to position it to be representative of myself,” Hoffman, whose school is headquartered in Forked River, New Jersey, added. “I wanted to provide a bespoke, high-quality welding instruction with my vibe—something they could grow on at their own pace.” A solid welding education does not have to cost $30,000.”
Hoffman’s instructional environment is one-of-a-kind, with sessions limited to five students, five moveable welding stations, and décor that reflects her personality, even down to the whole sleeve of tattoos.
“I was investing in what I wanted my brand to be, which was an investment in why people would come to my school,” Hoffman said.
Kane, who co-owns Salt Lake City-based Kane Industries with his wife Shan, agrees.
“I want my goods to be recognized as premium, top-tier items.” With everything I release, I want my items to exude an image that is as amazing as they are. I want you to look as amazing as you feel on the inside.”
Kane creates all of his welding PPE items in-house, starting with his pull-on welding sleeves.
“The Arc Defense sleeves, a pull-on, UV-blocking sleeve, were our initial product.” “It comes in any size you need, exactly like a store-bought jacket,” Kane said. “They’re made of a pretty fascinating fabric that I spent a lot of time investigating, trying to discover the exact fabric mix and weave structure that is the most protective, longest lasting, and physically pleasant to wear.”
2. Be Prepared for Difficulties
While this may seem straightforward, most ambitious company owners aren’t planning for difficult situations—everyday events often force them to prepare for tomorrow. This was the situation with Ripple, which was forced to pivot as a result of the epidemic.
“No one is going to want to purchase art when nobody is working,” said Ripple, owner of Rae Ripple LLC in Big Springs, Texas.
“Everything came to a halt. Everything ceased to function. So I devised a strategy to reinvent myself. I had just purchased a CNC, so I began producing business signs to generate money.”
The epidemic presented a difficult situation for most, but Ripple was able to go ahead because to her inventiveness and business judgment.
“Even if you’re on a high, you’ll crash, and you need to be prepared for it,” Ripple added. “Don’t place yourself in a position where you’ll be crippled.”
The economic downturn has also made material pricing more problematic, necessitating additional forethought on Hoffman’s part.
“Before you set a price on anything, you have to look at your market and conduct research,” Hoffman added. “Right now, there are significant variations, and you must take that in mind while pricing a task.” You may request a deposit, but by the time you receive it, materials have increased by 20%.”
“You can’t think short term as a company owner,” she continued. “You have to worry about your financial account in five years, not simply your salary this week.”
When the epidemic interrupted the supply chain, Kane learned to anticipate the unexpected.
“I experienced shipment delays, which resulted in a two-month standby period when I didn’t have a product,” Kane said. “You must investigate alternatives, such as forms of transportation.” There are alternatives, and they may come at a cost.
“Because I’m a manufacturer, it’s critical for me to create strong connections with the suppliers and manufacturers with whom I do business,” he continued. “It’s a symbiotic relationship.”
3. Never Give Up
The power of resolve and thought over matter cannot be underestimated, especially when it comes to self-sufficiency.
“The most difficult aspect is choosing to establish a company and then doing it totally and uncensored,” Kane added. “Your worst-case scenarios are simply that: hypothetical. None of it is true.”
Kane was laid off from his previous job owing to COVID-19. However, the furlough turned out to be a gift in disguise, paving the door for his 15-year goal of starting his own business.
“It was a terrifying, high-risk circumstance,” Kane recalled, “but you have to confront the danger and your concerns.” “We didn’t realize it at the time, but it turned out to be one of the finest things that had happened to us.”
Hoffman said she never forgets the “endgame,” but she also understands the importance of being enthusiastic about her profession and knowing the significance of thankless effort.
“Take those projects you don’t want to undertake,” Hoffman said. “It’s an investment in yourself that leads to more high-paying employment and projects you like.” Begin small. We all want to get there, but you have to work for it. “I’ve never turned down job.”
Ripple considers errors to be “redirections,” rather than failures.
“Every time I felt I was failing, I was really being guided into something new or to where I was intended to be,” said Ripple, who featured on Netflix’s “Metal Shop Masters” alongside Hoffman. “It’s difficult, but it’s also a chance.”
Ripple takes a practical approach to never giving up. Her work is her world, and earning a livelihood as an artist required devising an effective and fair method. Ripple’s finale, like Hoffman’s, required time.
“Use the weekends to create the life you desire, and the week to accomplish what you’re meant to do,” Ripple said. “I had kids, bills to pay, employment, and other responsibilities throughout the week.” On weekends, I would create art, study my skill, and make blunders that redirected me.”
4. Obtain Certification
Losing his project management position became a driving aspect in Bezates’ unshakable resolve to achieve.
Bezates and his father took some time to collect their thoughts before bidding on several modest contracts. Starting small, having credentials, and working hard, he claimed, made all the difference.
AWS 6GR D1.1, D1.4, and D1.5 (carbon and 588 weathering steel); American Society of Mechanical Engineers IX carbon and stainless, aluminum and stainless mobile capabilities; and crane operator certification from the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators are among Bezate’s certifications.
“Being AWS-certified helps you get a foot in the door and get started,” said Bezates, owner of Beaver Creek, Oregon-based welding, fabrication, and excavation services firm Bezates Construction LLC. “You’ll be able to find job.” Be ready to conduct minor repairs on heavy equipment or agricultural equipment as well as other odd jobs for a period. I began receiving calls from bigger contractors with whom I had previously dealt, and things began to spiral.”
5. Make Use of Every Available Tool
While financing equipment may be necessary, employing tools you already own is sometimes disregarded. Ripple learned her trade by borrowing tools from a neighboring business after hours.
“I’d cut things for him or do stuff in the shop for him, and he’d let me use his equipment after work,” she added. “He had a scrap pile, so I’d make stuff out of it and sell them on social media.” I could eventually afford a plasma cutter.”
Ripple attributes much of her success in metal work to social media.
“I changed my degree in college and wanted to go into welding, but women weren’t really in the sector, particularly in West Texas in the oilfields,” Ripple said. “I decided to train myself, and I probably studied every YouTube video ever made on welding and fabrication.”
6. Make Your Name Known
As part of developing your brand, identity, and following, social media is a powerful instructional and promotional tool. Most small company owners utilize social media, and they will almost certainly attribute some of their success to the platforms.
Bezates uses Instagram to exhibit his work and equipment, and he maintains his LinkedIn page up to date.
“You’ve got to get your name out there,” he said. “Contractors will not contact you if they don’t know what you’re doing.” Upload images of your creations. Distribute business cards, conduct cold calls, and reconnect with industry connections. Reach out and let them know how you can assist them with your work.”
“It’s been dubbed the most Instagrammable welding school ever,” Hoffman remarked of her institution.
Meanwhile, Kane Industries has benefited from years of persistent social media self-promotion.
“I’ve spent over ten years establishing my social media profile and constructing my own portfolio of my work,” Kane said. “No one knows my fan base like I do. Nobody will do it better than me.”
“Social media may look quite different in five years, but it has revolutionized my whole life,” Ripple continued. “Even if people think what I’m doing is foolish, I’m producing art, and people are seeing it.” They see beautiful things and they watch me suffer, but they remember me and my work.”
7. Interact with and observe others
Each panelist felt that interacting to and learning from other industry company owners is very beneficial, particularly while still employed.
“You may be working for a grouchy welder at a shop someplace,” Bezates noted. “Shut up and watch him work because he has figured everything out.” He’s been there and done the errors, so pay attention and learn from him.”
Bezates also learnt through seeing his father at work.
“My father has some welding expertise but isn’t a trade welder,” he said. “He has building experience and an engineering mind.” My father taught me problem-solving skills, such as how to take on a project, break it down, and make it work.
“Talking with other small company owners and men like myself, and seeing how they tackle challenges and take on tasks, gives me perspective.” You’re always curious to learn how someone else solved a situation similar to yours. So many small company owners are in the same situation.”
Kane saw the benefits of being a member of the “community in this field” early on and continues to respect his relationships.
“I was creating contacts and establishing myself in the sector for 15 years,” Kane said. “By borrowing outstanding ideas from others, we may collaborate to build something really amazing.”
Hoffman is also a veteran of the United States Army, and she utilized her expertise and contacts to acquire startup information.
“With my company and working for the American Welding Society, I sought advise from professionals in the field,” Hoffman said. “They want to assist since many of them have been there.” They want to understand the experience you’re providing for others and suggest strategies for you to differentiate yourself.”
8. Be Truthful
When you’re new and attempting to overcome obstacles, being honest might be difficult, but it’s always the best option.
“I began a company at the worst possible moment,” Kane said. “There were delivery issues, and my goods were out of stock.” I dislike pre-orders and pre-payment. I wanted to be open and honest, so I listed availability on my website. If a buyer purchased something and the shipment cost me twice as much, I retained the goods at the estimated price. I want repeat consumers who anticipate a constant pricing.”
Kane observes that, as a manufacturer, money plays an important role in the relationship.
“I don’t want to take advantage of [manufacturers] by attempting to obtain the lowest price.” If that is my goal, they will reduce labor expenses. “We don’t agree,” he continued.
Bezates’ building expertise is diametrically opposed to Kane’s.
“You have to recognize your worth and value and be honest about it,” Bezates remarked. “If I come in and finish a project, but you want more work done, it will cost more.” Make a note of any additional costs and be realistic about the timeframe. You must be prepared to say no if required, particularly if you are the underdog on the job.
“The greatest answer is to be upfront and honest.”
Ripple’s reaction is straightforward: “I simply keep being myself.”
What’s the Long and Short of It?
Business ownership entails both dangers and benefits. Students attend Hoffman’s school from Texas, Washington, and California. Kane extended his product range, collaborated with OTC DAIHEN to build a new welding equipment, and founded Weld Labs, a continuing education company, with partner Nate Bowman, known as weld scientist on Instagram.
Meanwhile, with the acquisition of a 4,000-pound truck-mounted crane and two spider cranes, Bezates has boosted business and workplace safety while decreasing workload stress. Ripple also began public speaking and just published a children’s book.
“I want to be proud of who I am now,” Ripple remarked. “I want to keep pushing ahead and producing.” I’m not going anywhere.”