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  • self employed welders

    hi again been a while.in regards to coalsmokes post(union/non)i am also trying to start a business and other than pipeline work is ther other options?i am in the operating engineers(not working)and am a welder in a shop(steel workers)but this company is not a good place to be and i think there is going to be a layoff soon.i am not certified and never needed to be,been there 3yrs,turned 50 this year and i am fed up.i the 49ers o/e union doesnt have any rigs or really use any welders except for the mechanics truck and i am not a mechanic.so i was wondering what else i could look into.i have not worked in the 49ers since 03 when i got layed off.decided to try welding as i had done a little at home and i was tired of driving trucks.miss the big money though!anyways thanks and sorry for the ramble,i just hate to have to strat all over at another co. shoprat happy new year?

  • #2
    If you have a area of welding skill that you are good at this would be where I would start.
    For instance if you are good at welding steel with stick then it would be hard to overlook a mobile welding/repair set-up.This is wanted everywhere, people always want you to come to them. I have always felt that I could litterally go anywhere and make it just by going in and talking to people and leaving my card with them. I let them know that I picked them for a reason and felt they was the type of customer I was looking for. I also let them know that I would not quit stopping by unless they gave me work or told me to get lost. Also I let them know that if they didn't like it (my work)it was free! (no takers yet)
    I come along behind a string of bad welders in my area that gave us all a bad repution...It was hard to get my foot in the door, but people talk! If your HONEST and you show up ON TIME, that may factor in more than you know.
    Be ready to starve and work long days and nites ...it just depends. Know how to do more than 1 thing.
    I work in a area where we have at least 5 large companies mfg pontoon and other aluminum boats. There are literally thousands of good tig welders in my area and yet I get all I can handle (in season). Those guys have job mentality and I am more of a free spirit. I sorta never did feel "right" working for somone else as I was raised in a family business and was groomed for it...my dad arranged jobs for me to do on my own. This did not really work on my first 2 sons tho so far...it depends on the individual. Only time will tell if you are that kinda guy. If so then you would prolly make it shinen' shoes as long as you love what you're doing and there is a need or you know how to create one.
    I borrowed 10 grand for equipment and ended up paying it off early and am thinking about doing a similar thing again...I need some new things to depreciate. The risk never goes away...you never get rid of that but you can run off customers in a heartbeat!!

    www.facebook.com/outbackaluminumwelding
    Miller Dynasty 700...OH YEA BABY!!
    MM 350P...PULSE SPRAYIN' MONSTER
    Miller Dynasty 280 with AC independent expansion card
    Miller Dynasty 200 DX "Blue Lightning"

    Miller Bobcat 225 NT (what I began my present Biz with!)
    Miller 30-A Spoolgun
    Miller WC-115-A
    Miller Spectrum 300
    Miller 225 Thunderbolt (my first machine bought new 1980)
    Miller Digital Elite Titanium 9400

    Comment


    • #3
      self employed

      thanks fusion king i did try this once before but i didnt really have a ny idea where to find some work.living in the city there didnt seem like much work for a rig outside of the unions so i sold my bobcat250 then went to work where i am now and then sold my mm250/spoolgun and my plasma(needed the money)but i kept my dynasty300dx and would like to find tig work for it even if its after work until i either get layed off or can go out on my own.i would buy another mig and plasma if i can justify it i kinda just jumped without a plan.i know what you meen about working for someone i never really liked it and my dad was self employed and now i think is my time to do it or lay it to rest.but either way i gotta get out where i am now cuz low pay and company policy doesnt sit well with me thanks again and have a good year i welcome any imput positive or negative.i wondered about mobile tig work?

      Comment


      • #4
        That (mobile tig on aluminum) is 98% of my biz. Too bad you sold your stuff, it is what I've been using doing just that with for 10 yrs straight. I get bored/upset from time to time due to the seasonal part of my biz so I find regular jobs from time to time that lends to my craft. Right now I'm building ambulances at a fire truck mfg doing tig on aluminum. I'm working on making my beads perfect and speed. I don't make beans there but it's a regular paycheck and beats McDonalds.
        You may wish to include stainless as well. I have chose to avoid it mainly cause around here it's mainly restaraunt work after hours. It does pay great too I'm just lucky enuff to get all the boat work I want and the hours fit me better.

        www.facebook.com/outbackaluminumwelding
        Miller Dynasty 700...OH YEA BABY!!
        MM 350P...PULSE SPRAYIN' MONSTER
        Miller Dynasty 280 with AC independent expansion card
        Miller Dynasty 200 DX "Blue Lightning"

        Miller Bobcat 225 NT (what I began my present Biz with!)
        Miller 30-A Spoolgun
        Miller WC-115-A
        Miller Spectrum 300
        Miller 225 Thunderbolt (my first machine bought new 1980)
        Miller Digital Elite Titanium 9400

        Comment


        • #5
          thts sounds like the kind of work i am looking for yea i wish i wouldnt have sold the welders but i can always get more.i do mostly stainless at work more mig than tig but i have been buying scrap stainless from work and practicing vert. up and overhead at home with the dynasty i dont really get much out of position practice at work on tig,mostly benchwork.hows the bobcat for tig alum.i was going to get the wc for mine until i saw the price!oh well.how would be the best way to get into the resturaunt stuff?congrats on being able to do it your way!

          Comment


          • #6
            What ever you decide to do don't make the mistakes I have.
            If you have to buy material, get at least a 25% deposit. When the job is complete get a check no 30 day invoice. After your customers have shown a good payment history then you can invoice them with 30 days to pay if you want. If they don't accecpt those terms they are planning to take longer than 30 days to pay or didn't intend to pay you at all.
            Been there, done it & now I have to go back to work for someone because of it.
            Just my .02 worth
            Bob Kraemer/Licensed Electrical Contractor

            Miller 330 ABP
            Tree Mill W/DRO
            South Bend Lathe
            Tennsmith Brake
            Tennsmith Shear
            Beverly Throatless Shear
            JD/2 Bead roller
            O/A Torch
            Drill Press
            Grinders, Belt Sander Etc!
            And more hand tools than I know what to do with

            Comment


            • #7
              Chances are in a kitchen they would have whatever you needed powerwise to run your Dynasty. Sounds like you may have all you need and maybe you could get going before the lay-off because of the different hours.
              A bobcat is ok for me welding under a boat etc. but compared to your Dynasty the quality is not near as nice. Besides It's a pain stringing leads in and out. If I was doing that line of work I would consider that machine anyhow. You will still need all the normal equip of course and will need to rig up shields etc for safeties sake....people just don't care for grinding dust in their omeletes!!(unless they're on this forum!!)
              In my area we only have a couple of guys that weld in that specialty and the restaraunt owners tell me they are always looking for someone else better. All you would have to do is make up cards and start meeting people...after a while you'll get a feel for it.
              Don't let your dream pass you by esp beings you already have that Dynasty.

              www.facebook.com/outbackaluminumwelding
              Miller Dynasty 700...OH YEA BABY!!
              MM 350P...PULSE SPRAYIN' MONSTER
              Miller Dynasty 280 with AC independent expansion card
              Miller Dynasty 200 DX "Blue Lightning"

              Miller Bobcat 225 NT (what I began my present Biz with!)
              Miller 30-A Spoolgun
              Miller WC-115-A
              Miller Spectrum 300
              Miller 225 Thunderbolt (my first machine bought new 1980)
              Miller Digital Elite Titanium 9400

              Comment


              • #8
                I started Clark Contracting…Fat Fab December 31 2003.
                The majority of my work came from fixing metal buildings (new construction) the customer was the building manufacture. Most of the things that I fixed were changes needed for our area due seismic needs or they just plain made it wrong. Cheaper to have me fix it then send it back or send someone all the way to Alaska. The rest of the work is hand rails,(new and old) new construction welding, (bar joists, bridging, decking) new ******** of small buildings and modifying of existing buildings. Race car fab, and Aluminum boat repairs.

                I started with a 1984 Ford F250 with an old Ranger 8 and several hundred feet of 1/0 lead, an O/A cutting torch, and a grinder.

                Thinks brake and the guy with the fab skills and welder are always going to be needed. Every new commercial building needs welding. Most all custom homes (in Anchorage anyway) have moment frames. I forgot, one of my best new customers in 2006 a local commercial laundry.

                The work is their
                Good Luck.

                TJ
                TJ______________________________________

                Comment


                • #9
                  oh yea shoprat..what they said...esp Bob cause trust me no money not funny! I make everybody pay me when done. The only ones that have got me so far I let owe me...dumb!!

                  www.facebook.com/outbackaluminumwelding
                  Miller Dynasty 700...OH YEA BABY!!
                  MM 350P...PULSE SPRAYIN' MONSTER
                  Miller Dynasty 280 with AC independent expansion card
                  Miller Dynasty 200 DX "Blue Lightning"

                  Miller Bobcat 225 NT (what I began my present Biz with!)
                  Miller 30-A Spoolgun
                  Miller WC-115-A
                  Miller Spectrum 300
                  Miller 225 Thunderbolt (my first machine bought new 1980)
                  Miller Digital Elite Titanium 9400

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Bob Kraemer View Post
                    What ever you decide to do don't make the mistakes I have.
                    If you have to buy material, get at least a 25% deposit. When the job is complete get a check no 30 day invoice. After your customers have shown a good payment history then you can invoice them with 30 days to pay if you want. If they don't accecpt those terms they are planning to take longer than 30 days to pay or didn't intend to pay you at all.
                    Been there, done it & now I have to go back to work for someone because of it.
                    Just my .02 worth
                    everybody does it at least once or twice before they learn
                    suppliers what there money period..and I dont work for free I was twice now I work on the same princeable as the grocery store with a twist 20 - 30% NOW
                    I do have a min $19.95 + harpers cut.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I don't know who you guys are working for that you ask for and get money up front, or recieve payment at the completion of the job but in 14 years of self employment (in construction) I've never worked for a contractor that would even consider any of the above.
                      If I walked into any of the construction companies we do work for and ask for money up front they'd throw out my bid/quote and show me the door. Same thing with asking for immediate payment. I live within the same billing cycle as everyone else in the construction market.
                      And I've never understood why anyone would want to let the customer buy material. That's giving away money plain and simple. I bought well over 100,000 lbs of iron last year (not last year now, but in '05) and made money on every ounce of it. Why give money away?
                      I guess it would be kind of nice to work in a field where payment was recieved upon completion of the work but anyone contemplating welding in construction had better be prepared to be paid like every other sub.

                      JTMcC.
                      Some days you eat the bear. And some days the bear eats you.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        The good thing about welding is you can hit alot of markets if you want to.You dont have to be just pipe or equip. repair or structural, you can work in different markets if you want.If I was to start my shop over I would do ornamental iron at the home builder level. The jobs dont ever get too big,the work is simple and your equipment needed is minimal,insurance is cheap.On most ornamental jobs the common deal is 50% upfront.I know the railing and fence work is nothing to brag about welding-wise, but it makes good money.For larger industrial jobs I dont want to carry the cost of a big fab job so I usually have the contractor order the steel and I just charge for hours.If you do good work and live in an area that has a good economy you should have no problem.I have managed to stay busy ever since I started working for myself by covering a few key markets -small pipe jobs-mobile stainless and alum.-equipment repair-. But I still think the fast and ez money is mid-level ornamental.You dont need certs,the market is everywhere.Get some cards made up, put a small machine on your truck and you may even get some jobs before you can leave the home depot parking lot.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I have a med sized frame job coming up in a week or so. I had the materials delivered and paid for a couple of weeks ago. First time I separated it like that. I did it like that so I could save some money with a year end sale. The customer had no problems paying for material on the ground. Now, all I have to do is frame his building.


                          My customers are a mix of pay upon completion and pay when they are ready, usually 2-4 weeks. Someone I do not know will be a pay upon completion. I try not to take up front money. Most contratctors won't do that anyway, so why try?

                          There are lots of jobs out there besides pipe. Try to find a niche that no one else does and go to town...if no niche, find something that isn't as supported by other weldors. In the mean time, have a backup plan and take all you can get. It will take a while to get your name out there. Until that happens, don't be too picky.
                          Don


                          '06 Trailblazer 302
                          '06 12RC feeder
                          Super S-32P feeder

                          HH210 & DP3035 spool gun
                          Esab Multimaster 260
                          Esab Heliarc 252 AC/DC

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Coalsmoke View Post
                            IMHO, it is financial russian roulet for a new business owner like myself or shoprat (if he chooses to be) to fund a large portion of my liquid capital into a single customer's plan. Plans change, sometimes they change a lot. If my stainless customer decided to change the material thickness from 3/16 to 1/4", what would I have done with 40 some odd custom sheared pieces of plate

                            I could have potentially made $450 profit on the $15,000 I dealt with in materials last year, but boy if one key customer stiffed me and changed their mind leaving me hanging holding their materials bill, it would have put me in a real tight spot.

                            I don't even know where to start. this is very elementary information. But I'll try.
                            1.) You don't "fund" a customers operation by selling them materials, you make money. I don't know how much simpler to make it, You make money by marking up the material, you make money by charging for your time to order and handle the material, and you make money by charging a fair amount for having your money tied up for the expected amount of time between when you pay for the material and when you tre paid for the material.
                            And personaly I would mark up $15,000 in materials a minimum of $2250.
                            Your mindset is similar to what I hear all the time from people considering throwing a welding machine on the back of a truck. They ask over and over this-How much do those welding machines cost? Like Pile Buck says, and I tell them this- It doesn't cost money, it makes money. It's a money making machine IF you have work for it. If you don't have work for it it becomes $10,000 yard art.
                            Another thing is that no contractor I deal with is going to be willing to order, track, pay for materials on a bid package. That's what they want me for.

                            2.) People can change their mind, and change their materials all they want, that just makes me more money. I'm not stupid enough to order iron without a contract. A contract can be (and for me often is) as simple as a Purchase Order. A PO is considered a legal contract and will stand up in court. Once I have a contract in my hot little hand I order materials and the contractor is legally obliged to pay for those materials. Any changes in labor or materials now go on another legal form called a Change Order.
                            Even the smallest of customers know and understand what a PO is.
                            So, your "40 odd some custom sheared pieces of plate" would be paid for by the contractor as originally agreed upon in writting, and if he wanted a different size, color, flavor, you would quote that as a seperate agreement on a change order.


                            JTMcC.

                            I understand that lots of people work in different environments than mine and things are done different in other fields, but that is how it generally shakes out in my world. I don't intent to imply every field works out like mine does.
                            Some days you eat the bear. And some days the bear eats you.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Coal I agree with JT, in my line of work for me “change order” was a very big ticket. Any changes in the written contract is a “Change order”. Here is a perfect example. Whenever one of my foremen were in the process of driving a pile. The instant the pile moved, (hit something) the foreman would take a mental note of the elevation, and time of day. Most of the time they would have to radio the surveyor because the numbers are out front. If the pile moved out of location, via the surveyor, and the foreman couldn’t beat if back into location, by running the risk of breaking or damaging the pile. They would shut the hammer off. Call me on the radio. If I liked the owner I would give instructions to my foreman on what to do, or even go out to the rig to see if I could bring the pile back into location. If I didn’t like the owner I would march into their on site office and asked them what they wanted done with “their” pile. Now remember above I said mark the time of day. Form that moment we were all on the owner’s payroll. This is a fact of life in the pile driving industry! The dirtiest, and most expensive word an owner could ever hear is “obstruction”

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