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Thread: Business Owner Roll Call

  1. #1
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    Business Owner Roll Call

    Last thread for me for the night. If you're a welding business owner, or an owner of a related type of business, let's hear about you and your business. As much as you'd like to put down is fine. This isn't for the purpose of advertising, it's so we can put facts with screen names.

    I'll start.

    I've run Applied Fabrications since April of 2006. I've always been a sole member LLC; I don't have any employees and so far I'm not regretting that decision. I'm a structural and repair welder; I don't do pressure work. My customers include local, regional, and a few nationally-headquartered companies. I did some brief work for Homeland Security as well.

    I live in an area that's got a lot of agriculture, but also some industry. I grew up on a farm, but I have very few ag customers. Most of my work is hourly, and my rates are average for my region. I'm definitely not getting rich in this business, but I'm holding my own. There are a few other guys running around with welders on their trucks, but most of my competition is from larger welding outfits. Luckily, they have constant trouble with their employees being lazy and/or doing boneheaded things, and I've gotten more than one customer from the large companies' screw-ups.

    My largest project to date began in September 2017 and ended in Sept '19, and was the setup of an American Pulverizer metal shredder installation in Harrisonburg, VA at Recycle Management. There's probably Youtube videos of it in operation somewhere if you're interested; I know the owner likes Youtube a lot. This plant was worn out and then torn down in New Zealand, shipped back to the States in unbolted and torched-apart pieces, and my job was to get it all back together again, rebuilding it as necessary. I worked in a demo'd out factory basically alone for the first year putting stuff together; you wouldn't believe the hack job that was done on disassembly. The second year I eventually got some help from another welder, and then in the last few months they brought in a few mechanics and electricians to run hydraulics and power. This was a very unusual situation...generally one man does not do this sort of thing alone; usually a crew comes and works on something like this from beginning to end. The owner wanted utmost secrecy for the first year and a half because the scrap industry is very cut-throat; that's why no pictures or mention were made and also why I pretty much disappeared from here. But it was nice to be a part of, and now if anyone asks me for references, I can point out this project and locals are immediately familiar with it.

    There is more to the plant that still has to be built, but scrap prices are in the toilet and the owner has put off further construction. Yesterday and today I finally brought my toolboxes and equipment home from there.

    What else to say? 100% of my work is mobile; I only use my shop for tool storage and truck parking. I have two trucks; an International 4900 with 33K GVW and a USDOT number, and a little single rear wheel F350 gasser for the small jobs. I've got a 10T air brake trailer and 5K and 15K forklifts. I'm set up for indoor welding with 110V and 220V single phase as well as 3-phase power sources, and I've got 3 Trailblazer 325 EFI machines for outside along with an SAE-400. I primarily run stick and Dual-Shield, but also do some flux-core and MIG as needed. I almost never get a call for TIG, and if I tried to TIG today I'd probably look like an idiot. Material thicknesses I dealt with in the last year ran from 16 ga to 2-1/2" thick. Very little SS, mostly HR steel and manganese alloy steel. Mostly 7018 and Esab 7100 Ultra, but a few hundred pounds of a mix of 8018 and 11018 as well, and some 309L.

    Tomorrow I'll be running NR211 and welding on some 1/8" thick HR. Hope to be done by lunch if I can get an early enough start.

    So there ya go, a snapshot of what I do. Hope some other business owners will follow suit.
    Applied Fabrications, LLC

    Mobile Welding / Mechanical Repair in VA's Piedmont & Shenandoah Valley

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  3. #2
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    Re: Business Owner Roll Call

    Was this a hammermill car shredder? If so I have done quite a bit of work on equipment like this, however the work I do on them is the hydraulic portion. Have done many installations of hydraulic systems from start to finish and yes a one man crew installing the shredder would be extremely rare. Also a lot of work for one man, especially since the machine basically tears itself apart as it runs. I know most of the ones I work on they run 12 to 14 hours then 10 hours of maintenance.
    Mike

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    Re: Business Owner Roll Call

    Tbone550 I feel your pain. I closed my business about 1 year ago and am now retired. I commend you on your recent project. I have worked both sides of the isle working on and with large crews and also working alone in my own business. After working with crews most of my life I found that working alone on most machine installs and mods was a very dangerous affair. I did not get hurt other than having to have a few things taken out of my eye from time to time but had many close calls. IMHO prolonged working alone is a death sentence.

    I did it for 7 years but to think of having to work alone for a life of machine install,repair,welding is beyond my understanding. There are segments of the welding trade that this would not be the case but what you do is not one of them. After being in the trade as a Millwright/welder for over 40 years I strongly encourage you to find someone to help you . I know what I am saying and it will not be easy but you need to get someone to help you.. your life will depend on it sooner or later.

    You will find that 2 good men together can do what 4 good me could do alone. Even one good man and one not so good man can do the work of 3 good men alone and much safer too.

    I have worked with men as dumb as a post but they still had 2 hands and made the work easier for me. Even if you have to hire someone as a helper and train them over a period of 3-4 years. I know it will cost you some money up front but it could make the rest of your life much better.

    If nothing else sign on as a millwright contractor with the local union and jut call the hall for a guy when you need him. For that matter even the laborers union to get a helper when you need an extra set of hands. You can request people from the hall with certain skill sets when needed too. For instance tig welding , mig welding, OSHA 40 training, fork lift certs., rigging certification, turbine training , and more. I worked half my life nonunion and the other half union. There are guys out there that can be a big help to you. I grant you that you will go through some idiots too but in the long run it would be worth it. You could even hire a small crew from time to time if you needed it. It might beat having to keep a man on your payroll when you really do not need one. Its just a thought!

    If you got an idiot out of the hall call for another man then lay the idiot off. I have done it many times. I have had men that I laid off after an hr. But the secret is to know the union contract agreement from cover to cover. There are some good men out there just make sure you treat them all with respect just as you would want to be treated. Most union contracts have it that once a guy has worked for you within the last year that you can request that person by name .

    I know you are in the Northeast and things are a little different there than in the midwest but it would be worth looking into what it would entail to be a millwright contractor. About the only place I would try to stay way from would be any NY city locals. That is all still deep mafia area when it comes to unions.
    Last edited by thegary; 04-05-2020 at 01:29 AM.

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    Re: Business Owner Roll Call

    I run a small water well drilling business have 2 full time employees an office lady and one part time help for the welding, fabrication , and repairs. I enjoy having employees. They screw a few things up but so do I. And having a bit of free time here and there is really nice. but i dont see fabrication work can pay enough to hire guys that have brain cells, and still make money for the boss. Work is slowing down a llittle with the virus but we diddnt get our winter off so maintance is way behind so its kind of a blessing. I talked to an excelet fabricator and asked him how much it would take to not always be looking for a different job he was one of those guys you tell him what you want and he figures it out. He said at 60,000 a year his wife is happy as long as he is not working overtime. I dont know about your guys areas, but here 15.00 an hour help is one step above pond scum.
    Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

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    Re: Business Owner Roll Call

    I have been in the tower business since 1986 - working for a tower contractor until 1999, then on my own as a project manager to date. I have been welding for a lot longer than that. Our company needed a certified welder to do tower mods at height, so I tested & became certified. Always used my welder & skills as a side hustle on ag jobs - farm equipment repairs, fence work, etc., & always had something going. Now I own a small farm & buy used junk equipment, rebuild it & resell as a hobby.

    I still have a few jobs a year doing welding upgrades on towers. It seems like there aren't many welders that will burn rods 700' in the air.

  7. #6
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    Re: Business Owner Roll Call

    I run my own welding business, as a sole proprietor..I have two trucks, both #20,000 gvw...Structural steel,architectural iron,industrial and marine work..i have a #4000 auto crane on one truck and everything is on reels,compressed air, air/gas,110v,welding leads. i have a 400amp diesal for big stuff, and a new trailblazer efi with all the whips and whistles and two more 275 amp gassers, a few powcons,,i carry a dynasty and a plasma,miller v12,miller v8,30a spoolmate, and every hand tool i ever need..I do just fine myself , always was a master(seems that way anyhow)I been a salvage diver, a bridge builder,i have built barges,docks ,wharfs, airports,collasiams,buildings, gates railings staircases,built and repaired just about everything that can be built and repaired..I always have work and i do pretty well for myself...experience counts and with all of my decades at this trade,i stay in good physical shape , but inevitably, i will most likely grow large and employ a crew when i am too old to break dance any more..
    face all times with a positive mental attitude,then and only then will you have done your best.

  8. #7
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    Re: Business Owner Roll Call

    Great thread and interesting reading, guys!
    :

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    Re: Business Owner Roll Call

    I just started my own LLC fabrication business at the start of this year. I'm based out of Cincinnati, Ohio and so far I haven't taken on much more than basic shelving brackets, smokers and other small projects. I've personally found it tough to find customers and the current lock down has made it challenging to try to seek out new prospective customers. I'm just a one man operation and relatively young but a lot of aspirations to learn and grow. I'm trying to see if I can make a real run of this fabrication stuff on the side as I really enjoy the occupation. I'm completely self taught with no other friends in the industry, hence my regular presence on this forum. It's cool how much knowledge is out there these days if you have a real passion to learn something.
    I need to overthink how I'm going to overkill this project.

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  10. #9
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    Re: Business Owner Roll Call

    Quote Originally Posted by WeldCrazyDude View Post
    I just started my own LLC fabrication business at the start of this year. I'm based out of Cincinnati, Ohio and so far I haven't taken on much more than basic shelving brackets, smokers and other small projects. I've personally found it tough to find customers and the current lock down has made it challenging to try to seek out new prospective customers. I'm just a one man operation and relatively young but a lot of aspirations to learn and grow. I'm trying to see if I can make a real run of this fabrication stuff on the side as I really enjoy the occupation. I'm completely self taught with no other friends in the industry, hence my regular presence on this forum. It's cool how much knowledge is out there these days if you have a real passion to learn something.
    Welcome. I'm also from the Cincy area. A bit north though, towards Indiana.

    Sent from my SM-N950U using Tapatalk

  11. #10
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    Re: Business Owner Roll Call

    I've been a sole proprietor since 2012, I worked for a fab shop for one year prior, before no prior welding experience except for hobby stuff. I was in drywall before that.

    I've dabbled in hiring employees, never had luck, one guy was just a welder, not a fabricator at all. Another guy lied to another welding shop, used me as a reference, said he was the best thing ever, another guy threatened me with physical violence, so for now, it's just me.

    My shop is about 1400 square ft.
    85% of my work is in the shop

    Have 2 fab tables, a small punch press


    I specialize in railing fabrication, as you all may have noticed. I've lost count of how many linear feet of railings and fencing I've made and installed. 1000s perhaps

    My truck is 14k gvw, a retired E450 ambulance that I retrofitted back in 2018 and just recently got it painted. Bought it for cash, now I have a perfectly set up, aluminum bodied welding truck with no monthly payment. And you all would be jealous of the license plate lol.

    Most of last year I was working for a company, salary, was making very good money, but it ended earlier this year, (mutually) ironically soon after a bad back injury. My back is starting to get back to normal, and business is booming again, thank God. It seems like I have more work now than before the virus started. I pray that it keeps going that way
    Last edited by MetalMan23; 04-10-2020 at 10:45 PM.

  12. #11
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    Re: Business Owner Roll Call

    Sorry to hear about your back, glad you are getting back to normal! Thanks for sharing your truck build pix, looks awesome.
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    Re: Business Owner Roll Call

    I started Country Metals in 6/2006. I still worked for a full time steel supplier until 4/2007, until I had enough. I worked in sheet metal, heavy steel and pipe, then to a steel supplier. I had these 3 jobs from 16 till 24.

    I went out on my own mostly because I got tired of being screamed at while doing a 5 man job by myself, and I enjoyed it as scary as that sounds.

    It has been a lot of hard work, and 80+ hour weeks for years and years. I started off doing wrought iron railings as I enjoy the start to end process. That took me a year to understand that it doesnt really pay well in my area. This started me to a new path of doing stainless and aluminum welding and fabrication as I did the same work at the sheet metal shop, but that was all alum.

    Now after almost 14 years, I now have a full fabrication shop with some very expensive and impressive equipment and currently employ 5 people, soon to be 7. I work mostly in industrial food and manufacturing facilities and I really do most of the BS fabrication, as most companies around here get equipment from Europe and California for specific lines. I do most of the installs and a lot of connect this to that stuff which most people cant handle the math for. Since the start of 2020, I have only had 1 day off and I had a total of 12 days off since the start of 2019. I consider a 5 hr day a work day, but most days are 10+. I work every Saturday and Sunday since my customers are sometimes down those days.

    It has been a very long, hard, tiring, and emotional roller coaster, but I am on my way now.

    I am planning on starting my own conveyor line for food processing and expand into other things, mostly being mechanical.


    The best piece of advice I can give anyone who wants to start a "trade" company and not a product or tech company is, make sure your customers need/want you just as bad as you need them and you will have work forever.

    And as a last note, never, ever, ever stop learning.

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  15. #13
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    Re: Business Owner Roll Call

    OK, guess I will jump in. Im Dewey and I own Fusion Welding LLC since October 2019. After years of working in other shops I finally took the plunge. Took the profits from selling my house and moved 4 hrs east and started over. Figured if I didnt give it a go now I never would. Doing 90% mobile work right now as I dont have much of a shop here but will take on almost anything that comes my way(within reason). Most of my experience is in the heavy equipment repair area though I do have a few years of heavy fab work experience (building custom motor graders). Also spent a few years building and repairing trailers and custom truck bodies. Have run into some roadblocks here but IM pretty confident I can get it going. Contemplating a NCDOT cert to do some bridge welding currently, would love to hear from some of you guys that have done similar. Also any advice about finding work? Maybe in a sector I havent thought of? I have talked to every construction company, grading and landscaping contractor and concrete/asphalt plant in the area. Those I have done work for seem to be very happy with my work, just not getting enough of the work currently.

  16. #14
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    Re: Business Owner Roll Call

    Quote Originally Posted by deweyc9 View Post
    Also any advice about finding work? Maybe in a sector I havent thought of?
    Since this is a business owner intro thread, you'll get better answers if you start a new thread...don't really want to take this one off on a rabbit trail
    Applied Fabrications, LLC

    Mobile Welding / Mechanical Repair in VA's Piedmont & Shenandoah Valley

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    Re: Business Owner Roll Call

    I'm set up as a sole proprietorship. I was doing it part time for a while back in Pa. I've had extensive experience working in junkyards and running shredders like the OP claims he assembled. At the junkyards I was welding up all the jerry rigged stuff that we needed/used. like the safety boards i put on the nonferrous line to stop people from getting hit in the face with flying alternators. I took in a bunch of scrap and cut apart a bunch of stuff I bought from the yards. Now I pretty much do the welding full time in Ohio. I got a pretty big stair project I'm working on now. I'm set up with what used to be an F250 but is now just rust with wheels under it. I got torches and an Sa200 on a trailer that I built but the Sa200 is torn apart at the moment getting rebuilt by a shop I found. So my main welder right now is a Hobart Stickmate. I think Ive done about 15 or so stair sets with it so far. Some people say that machine won't run 6010 but I beg to differ. I don't really have a shop at the moment but I do use a storage unit for "storage" purposes. I also weld things for the amish around here and some other random stuff that people break. I've done a few aluminum mig repairs but I do prefer stick welding. I've got about 15 sets of stringers to make so hopefully when the Sa200 gets done I can run a suitcase off it to finish the stringers. the only other mig machine I have is a lincoln 180HD. Its overheated on me alot this year since doing this thing full time. so I'm hoping to run mig off the Sa200 otherwise I'll be sticking to 7018 and 6010 for the stringers. Kinda slow but thats how I've built them so far with just the stickmate.

  18. #16
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    Re: Business Owner Roll Call

    Quote Originally Posted by Scrapman Industries View Post
    ....running shredders like the OP claims he assembled....
    Name:  ShredderA.jpg
Views: 355
Size:  96.0 KB

    I'm not just claiming it. This is mainly my work, aside from the paint job and the concrete. Pardon the sideways photo, this came from my phone and I'm not too literate about how to get them to post properly. But just so we're clear about my "claims" LOL.
    Last edited by tbone550; 05-22-2020 at 02:41 PM.
    Applied Fabrications, LLC

    Mobile Welding / Mechanical Repair in VA's Piedmont & Shenandoah Valley

  19. #17
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    Re: Business Owner Roll Call

    Ill jump in. I work two jobs. Ive been with the railroad since 1999 and am aiming for one more year. My full time side job is Big Creek Metal Works in Weiser, ID. All I make is custom signage, art, railing panels, and gates so cnc plasma cutting is where its all at for me. I am basically a one man shop, but my son who will be a junior in high school works for/with me when he is not in school. My wife helps out as well. Heck my 13 year old daughter and my 8 year old like to help to but that is fairly minimal at this point. The pay is exceptional. The only thing keeping me at the railroad is the retirement and insurance which is pretty darn good, especially the retirement. I work 3 to 4 days a week at the railroad and the balance of my time is in the shop. I have a 2750 sq ft shop. As for equipment I have a uni-hydro 55 ton ironworker, 8' Chicago brake, 5' brake, 6' x 12' Arclight Dynamics plasma table, 4' sheet roller, tubing roller, bandsaw, one stick and 2 mig welders all Millers. Two forklifts, one Allis Chalmers 6000 pound lift with dual pneumatics, and the love of my life behind my wife is a Hyster Pioneer 60. It is old and looks a little rough but man that thing will go anywhere. I started the business around 12 years ago. I remember when I started it was real tough, trying to sell things. I went to a couple shows but I really hate shows so I have a website and that's where all my sales come from. 98% of what I make ships out of state to every state in the union and many other countries. Ive made things for the US government and the super bowl but that was 8 or so years ago but I saw some of my stuff on their advertisements on tv so that was cool. Dang guys didn't say it was me that made it though so what the crap! haha. If I didn't work at the railroad it would be easy to do the metal gig full time. At least now that I am well established it would be. Starting out I would have starved to death if I didn't have another source of revenue. But the railroad has those golden handcuffs on me so Ill hang in there awhile longer and that's my story.

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  21. #18
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    Re: Business Owner Roll Call

    I'll chime in as well

    Born and raised on our family Canadian potato farm, I've been fixing crap I broke since I was 12. When my dad decided to build a new farm shop 4 years ago I decided to turn the old one into a welding shop. Most of the work I do is for myself and our farm, building conveyors, extending semi truck frames to be used as potato trucks, and just general repairs.

    I'm a fairly technical guy, I love diving into the nitty gritty of settings, techniques, different wires, gasses, and processes.

    I bought a Bobcat 250 to expand into some custom mobile work and do some repairs for a local roof truss company that's a mile away from me. I've built quite a few roller systems and conveyors for them as well.

    Love working for myself, really love challenging myself and learning more and more every day

    Sent from my SM-G970W using Tapatalk

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  23. #19
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    Re: Business Owner Roll Call

    Bulldog Bilt, LLC out of Tri Cities TN saying hey yall.. new to the site. ive recently took the plunge, but now realizing it was not good time. i suspect everyone is doing their part, as i am to stay safe and healthy. i am licensed trailer manufacturer. but as you all know opening any welding shop is going to get you all kinds of work. not exactly, not right off hand. things have been slow due to my main clientail being impacted by covid-19. im up before daylight, knocking on doors and trying to get my buisiness promoted. wether that be putting up flyers, passing out buisiness cards, and simply mingling with the public. im completely new to this region, the Lone Star State is home. i have roughly 20 years+ in welding/fabricating industry, can fix just about anything, also i have worked for enough idiots to know what NOT to do. i am my only employee at this time with a 4000 sqft shop. my goal is to produce 10 units per year, bringing me around 100-120k. any advice, tips, or suggestions are greatly welcome. hang in there;we'll get though this

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    Re: Business Owner Roll Call

    Coming from my first career on the drawing board, beginning as a draftsman, and ultimately as an engineering designer, I have been self employed and specialized in customizing yachts since the mid '70's. Much of this second career has been custom woodwork. Though more and more it is becoming metalworking, with the addition, in the past few years, of lathe, vertical mill, mig and tig welders.

    At 76 I still work, mostly alone, but now have a wonderful part-time helper, a young man who happens to be a certified welder. Pictured below is our most recently completed stainless fabrication, a Bimini hardtop/solar panel mount integrated into the stern rail of a 45' sailboat.


  25. #21
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    Re: Business Owner Roll Call

    I am retired sold my business lock stock and barrel.
    I Manufacturer Aircraft Hangar Doors from 1973 to 2004. My biggest month was 160,000 pounds of steel. Still hobby weld and machine

    Dave

  26. #22
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    Re: Business Owner Roll Call

    ok you asked...so here goes. Im a independent welder, I got my own rig my own tools, the welder is a Miller Big Blue 502D, and i got a compressor on the rig. I mainly use the compressor for jet arcin and running an air chisel or needle scaler to peen welds and clean slag with an air chisel or needle scaler away when im jet arcing. I do a LOT of jet arcin. sometimes 2 boxes of 3/8" carbons a day, that 502D just hums right along. Most of my work is on mining machinery, loader buckets dragline buckets dozer blades excavator buckets haul truck dump bodies and whatever else breaks or wears out. Its heavy iron, most evrything i work on is 3/4 inch thick or better, 1/4 inch is like sheet metal to me. i started doin this stuff when i was about 15 years old. This is my 2nd rig, the first one i had the welder burned up after about 10 years of hard use and their wasnt really enough work to justify buying another one, so i took the weld body off and built a hi-lift coal delivry rig out of it sold it.

    This go around i am contracted to another welding contractor, he is like a broker for me i guess you could say, he gets me the work, gives me a jingle tells me where he needs me and i go fix the next disaster. he get s the rods and wire and the fuel, i provide the oxygen acetylene and he reimburses me. about once a week i will get the fuel since i do some other work on the side, i have my own rods and wire for that. Sometimes he sends a guy out to help me.

    This works out pretty good for both of us, he has a dependable experienced seasoned hand he dont have to babysit, and i get steady work i dont have to begging for

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  28. #23
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    Re: Business Owner Roll Call

    It's always nice to read about the ambitious people out there! I have a lot of respect for business owners that keep up with it! It's not an easy task and is very mentally and emotionally demanding.

    I'll throw in my story. I started welding as a hobby in 2012, as a source of side money to pay for my hobby in 2013, then went full time with that job in 2015. I'm mainly in the "handmade/artisan" category as I make metal furniture products and displays. I got my name out there pretty early in the start of the metal furniture movement and have been very fortunate with that. Our products are featured in many high end applications, such as Google HQ, Starbucks, Grand Central Station, Dreamworks Animation Studio the LA Dodgers Stadium, our products have been featured in a couple TV shows and we've made pieces for quite a few famous people as well. I currently babysit 16 full-time employees. I've got about 11K sq-ft, I've got several semi-automatic pieces of equipment and some CNC and automatic machinery. We also do powder coating and stainless polishing in house. I really enjoy running a business, but it definitely takes its toll. I carry most of the stress home with me and I've lost too much sleep over things I can't control. But actually caring is what causes me to adapt and overcome the obstacles. Over the last year or so I've been able to set up more of a "chain of command" here which has been a huge stress reliever.

    My advice if anyone cares: "Find a job you enjoy, and you'll never have to work a day in your life" and "If you want to do well in life, find something you enjoy doing, and do it better than everyone else". The message behind both of these is make sure you enjoy what you do. If it's your passion, you'll adapt and find ways to overcome all the obstacles and you'll do well for yourself.
    John 3:16

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