How To Start A Small Welding Business – Jay Netter of Netter’s Welding & Fabrication has completed projects for companies like Coborn’s and Xcel Energy from his two-man shop in Avon. Video by Vicki Ikeogu. Follow on Twitter @Vicki or on Snapchat @vicki_ikeogu.
AVON — It’s the loud clang of a band saw cutting through metal bars. The sizzle and crackle of hot metal melting together. Soft sounds of a local country music station playing in the background.
How To Start A Small Welding Business
For Jay Netter and Ron Schackmann, those sounds are the sounds of a steady workload and rapidly approaching deadlines. And most importantly, money.
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For the past 24 years, Netter has built the reputation of his two-man business, Netter’s Welding and Fabrication, from a repair and portable welding shop to custom fabrication for luxury properties.
“We’ve done a little bit of everything,” Netter said. “We try not to get too many eggs in one basket. We do a lot of custom things like stairs and handrails. And we do some repair work on different pieces of equipment like fuel tanks and trucks.”
That reputation has earned the store, 20154 Morningstar Road, work with several big-name companies and architectural firms throughout Minnesota.
“We’ve done a lot of things for Xcel Energy and their nuclear plant in Monticello,” Netter said. “We had to put together a box to hold the control rods and we had to build special scaffolding.”
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“I don’t know if I would have become a welder if I hadn’t taken three years of welding in high school,” Netter said.
After high school, Netter studied welding at St. Cloud Technical & Community College. He graduated from the program in 1979.
Netter said he bought some equipment and opened a small shop in Avon. After closing that business, Netter did welding work for other companies including Blattner Energy in Avon.
Throughout his years of welding for others, Netter never gave up on his dream of being an entrepreneur.
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In 1992, Netter once again became a business owner. With a small store north of St. Joseph, Netter used his experience and knowledge of local businesses to secure jobs.
“I did a lot for Granite City Ready Mix (now part of Knife River Corp.),” Netter said. “I built boilers in their factory and worked on trucks. I did a lot of portable work for them.”
After hiring Schackmann and moving his shop to his home in Avon, Netter said contract work for the companies began to slow. The two-person shop turned to another welding path: decorative design.
“We did a job for (a client) at Watab Lake,” Netter said. “And the railing went up from there. We were getting calls from architects from Minneapolis to work on some big houses.”
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“The biggest thing I’ve noticed is that there’s a social shift,” he said. “We don’t know how to get kids interested. And a lot of the experienced guys are retiring.”
“If they can’t fill positions, they can’t bid on many jobs,” Netter said. “And if they can’t get the job, it’s not good.”
Schackmann said there are many quality welding jobs in the area that will hire the right person right out of high school and train them.
“You can’t teach welding from a book in a classroom,” Netter said. “You have to show people the right way. Welding is very practical.”
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Both Schackmann and Netter agree that welding is a career that has provided a steady source of income.
“It’s a job that will always be here,” Schackmann said. “Some businesses disappear, but there always seems to be some sort of welding going on. It’s a good profession to get into.”
Netter’s Welding and Fabrication specializes in repair, welding and custom fabrication work. Reporter Vicki Ikeogu got an inside look at the two-man operation as Jay Netter and Ron Schackmann completed the railing work for Coborn’s new store in Isanti. Watch the video at .About: I’ve been working for , now I just do stuff. // follow me to see what I’m up to: https://www.echoechostudio.com More about audreyobscura »
Metal has been worked by humans for thousands of years. Over time, the techniques and technology used to produce and shape metal goods have been driven by innovations in science and technology.
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Before we dive into some of the technical processes available for welding metals together, let’s first take a moment to define a weld. A weld is a fabrication process that joins materials, usually metals or thermoplastics, by fusion. Fusion materials are significantly different from other types of lower temperature metal joining techniques such as welding, which do not melt the base metal.
Welding is the fusion of two pieces of metal to create one solid continuous piece. All welders work on the same principle: A gas torch or electric welder is used to generate precisely directed heat to melt the material, and a filler material is inserted by the operator to complete the fusion.
With time has come innovation and accessibility, and now we’ve come as far as you – yes YOU! – can learn how to weld easily. Let’s begin!
This class is designed for those who are completely new to welding. Throughout this course, amateur metalworkers will learn ideas and tips on how to become skilled welders, ready to take their manufacturing craft to the next level.
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I learned how to solder in college when I took an advanced sculpture class while building my thesis project. I mainly learned Oxy-Acetyl welding to do very fine wire work. To this day, I think Oxy welding is my favorite technique, but it is not practical for every application and not as fast as MIG.
I learned MIG welding when I learned how to repair bikes in Reno, and my neighbor gave me the gun on their 110v flux-cored welder and said, ‘Ok, now you’ve done it.’ I explained that I had never used a MIG welder before and they turned to me and said, “It’s like using a really hot glue gun.” That phrase quelled any fear I had of doing a bad job and I found myself confidently wielding the torch within 20 minutes.
I have taken on large construction welding projects and done structural welding on sculptures that have traveled the world.
In short, I’m not a professional or an expert, but I’m self-taught, experienced, and can provide you with a great path to getting you metalworking and welding in no time.
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MIG welding can be safe as long as you follow some important safety precautions. Welding metals requires that we protect ourselves from the many dangerous aspects of the trade with safety equipment to prevent burns or blinding.
An auto-darkening welding helmet protects our eyes from the light generated by any form of arc welding, but allows you to see when the torch arc is not active. Auto-darkening helmets are useful if you are doing a series of welds and don’t want to hastily remove the helmet to see what you are doing between welds.
If you work in a community shop with lots of people, shielding others from seeing the arc by using a welding screen. The screen protects potential viewers from being blinded by the arc.
Having your skin covered is critical. Once you start grinding and welding, hot sparks and molten metal slag can shoot in all different directions. We protect ourselves by wearing heat-resistant leather and natural fibers; synthetic fabrics melt instead of burn, meaning they melt and burn on the skin, yikes! But honestly, a leather jacket is really hot to wear for any extended welding project. If you’re like me and heat up quickly, you can try a welding apron with a long-sleeved flame-resistant cotton shirt.
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Most of the time, I wear overalls that are rated for welding use. They cover my entire skin and I can tuck my sleeves into my gloves when I’m welding, or easily roll them up when I’m grinding. This cover will not only protect your skin from the heat produced by welding, but it protects your skin from the UV light produced by the welder’s arc.
Like your welding clothes, you’ll want to wear very sturdy work shoes that don’t have synthetic materials that can melt. Good work boots or even canvas slides are fine – just no running shoes.
If I’m going to be welding for more than 15 minutes, I’ll also put on sunscreen. I’ve occasionally gotten sunburn on my neck from the small gap between my skin and my helmet, but the SPF 110 seems to do the trick.
When you are welding, you will grasp and run your hands and forearms along very hot metal. For this reason, we use MIG welding gloves. Beware, MIG gloves are the most uncomfortable gloves in the world. They should fit loosely so that if they get too hot, you can quickly drop them from your arm to the ground.
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Wearing a grinder visor protects your face from flying particles while you are using a grinder. If you are working to grind paint, or any other type of metal
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