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Advice on starting a welding business

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  • Advice on starting a welding business

    I am considering starting a welding business and thought I would get some advice from you guys. I started welding about a 1-1/2 years ago and have decided that Tigging aluminum is my favorite process. I called an industrial welding inspector in Memphis and got some good info on getting certified. I am going to sign out the aws code book from their office to read up on the cert process. I am meeting with my CPA in the morning to get the lowdown on licensing, taxes,LLC, liability issues etc,,. I have spent several days checking on the availability of people that can tig aluminum and I was surprised how few I could find. I called boat repair shops, auto shops,equipment rental places to see who they use and most were having to send out for repairs. The couple of people that can tig aluminum here stay very busy. I own all my own equipment and a flatbed dually. I will have to get a power supply if I go mobile but I am not sure if I want to do that. I have a full time job that allows me three days off during the week. I don't have dreams of work falling in my lap. I know I am going to have to spend some time introducing myself and passing out cards. I really want to do this. I'm sure there are things I hav'nt even considered that will catch me by surprise. I am wanting some advice. I intend to keep this a simple one-man operation. ,Thanks, Adam

  • #2
    My take

    I've been in biz for over 25 years starting with just myself. Today I have 4 additional welders 2 install guys and my office manager. Only 6 employees not counting me but we get a lot of work done. Be sure you are properly licensed, insured and are certified in the areas you will be working in. Take care of those who take care of you, be confident in your work and don't take on anything your not. Make industry friends, network yourself with your competition and always, always, always be upfront and honest with your customer. Don't sell yourself short, walk away when it smells bad and jump in when it smells good. There are many great people here in this forum that can add to my comments and help you with just about any tech questions you have. By coming here to this forum you have already networked into a great community. My last comment is: Remember, you have to eat and there may be others that depend on you as well. Keep that day job until you have so much fab and repair work you don't have time to eat.



    • #3
      Thanks Tacmig

      Thats some good advice. I have no intentions of letting the day job go. My biggest fear is some unknown that just comes up from out of nowhere and bites me square in the rear. I'm not scared just cautious. I'm really looking forward to getting with the cert guy and seeing if I can get it done. Some guys at work are of the opinion "Whats so special about getting certified?" You guys tell me. Is it a waste of time and money? It seems it would prove to someone that you are determined to produce a quality weld. Thanks again Tacmig for the advice. Adam


      • #4
        Being certified

        Being certified (depending on the level) isn't always the prime course Vs. experience. But if you are going to own your own shop it's not an option. Contractors, home owners, business owners often ask if you are certified. And as far as insurance goes you won't get coverage unless you are certified basic (CW). At least around here. I welded and attended the school of hard knocks for about 8 years before getting my basic and later my structural (by-the-way there is good money in structural) but if you don't have your cert here forget it! In my opinion and I will probably be blasted for this but, I will hire a welder that has years of experience on the job to any school grad any day cert or no cert! However, again I would recommend getting at least your basic as a credential for your customers and/or insurance.



        • #5

          Adam - you need to go down to the Small Business Administration. They will help you start up sucessfully. They are free. They also have classes you can take to understand business principals , accounting, Legal Entity, etc.. They may charge $40-50 for the class but well worth it.

          Also you need to write a business plan, you can do this with SBA's help or get a software program. A business plan is very important - if you choose to startup without one the chances of you being in business 2 years in the future is extremely low - something like 10-12%.

          The actual welding part is the easy part! Remember if it was easy to start your own business and keep all the profits- everybody would be doing it.

          Good luck - keep us informed how it goes.



          • #6
            tacmig- was just wondering what you mean by "basic CW"?


            • #7
              As far as certification goes, it depends on who your welding for. If your welding on noncritical parts it's not that big of a deal for the average guy. If you start contracting with businesses that depend on the part, a lot of the time it's required on big projects. In the end you can't go wrong with certifications. The more you have, the more you got going for yourself and you could be one up on your competitors.


              • #8
                Basic CW

                Originally posted by arrowside View Post
                tacmig- was just wondering what you mean by "basic CW"?
                Basic as we call it here, is the primary certification CW "Certified Welder". This is the basic certification level.


                • #9
                  Couple things i would highly consider would be to look into getting a welding procedure specification for the work you would be doing most (get one for regular steel too). Also look into setting up some sort of quality plan as well (kinda like the ISO systems), these 2 things will help show that you're comitted to producing quality work, it's a good thing to help get you're foot in the door.


                  • #10
                    Thanks Guys

                    You guys are great. Contacting the SBA and the qaulity plan are some good ideas. I started the LLC today and applied for liability insurance. Funny thing,,, The LLC attorney wants his busted duck blind repaired on his boat and the insurance agent wanted to know if I could repair the box blade on his tractor. Thanks again guys. Adam


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by tacmig View Post
                      Basic as we call it here, is the primary certification CW "Certified Welder". This is the basic certification level.

                      And what does that allow you to do?


                      • #12
                        I am considering the same opportunity, and was wondering in what field your most consistent clients are in?

                        I live in a very small community, lots of ranchers and do it your-self-ers, and not much industry.

                        Debating on moving, getting a job with a company, or getting my business going now in my town...

                        Any suggestions?


                        • #13
                          Tac Mig You gave some good advise, I also dont understand what basic welding cert means however.

                          Certifications are very specific. Process ( Arc Mig Or tig ) , type of Rod, size of rod, Position and cert your going for AWS - Structural, Pipe etc.
                          __________________________________________________ __________________

                          Give up the idea of just doing Tig Aluminum because its cool, Your going to need to weld whatever some one brings you, Portable Tig Aluminum only accounts for about 3% of my business.

                          Your best bet is to get a structural cert, It covers a wide range of things, a 6G pipe cert would really be great but a 3G and a 4G will cover you for most things.

                          Writing a business plan would not be high on my agenda. You need a good accountant and a good insurance man Those 2 things are very important and dont forget to put the money away to pay your taxes.

                          When it comes to insurance you are likely to have problems there, However you need 2 types of insurance( Liability insurance ) that covers you when you are doing the work and the second is ( Completed operations ) completed operations is what covers you when your done and you drive away.

                          If you have a fire while your still on the job that would be covered under liability insurance, When you leave the job and the smoldering paper finally catches and the building burns after you have left that would be completed operations.

                          Lets say you weld a hitch on a truck, When that truck leaves thats when completed operations takes over.

                          As far as the work goes Never lie, be up front and honest, Dont get talked into things that you know are way over your head, as you gain experience you can take on more critical work, If you make a mistake you need to own up to it and make it right even when it costs you money.

                          Good luck.


                          • #14
                            Great Advice!

                            Guys i have been welding since i was 16 in high school in 1991. I have always done side work and still doing side work. I have on more than 1 occasion wanted to go out on my own, but just haven't had the work flow to support my family. I currently have an Idealarc 225, Square wave tig 350, Trailblazer 250G, 30'A spoolmatic, lincoln sp 170, plasma, trackburner, 9" metal cutting circular saw, large mag drill, the list goes on. My point is i have the equipment to do it with, but i don't think I'm marketing myself properly. What do y'all think I need to do?


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