How to Start Your Own Successful Welding Shop

So you're looking to start your own welding shop business? There's good news for you if you are. Not only did the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report the demand for welders could increase twenty-six percent by 2020, but it has also been said that welding is now one of the fastest growing professions in the country. This is because the business has shown consistent growth with every passing year and because there's no shortage in the development of pipelines, transportation projects, and new construction.

With welding being a job you can build a lifetime career on, it makes for a dependable path. However, running a business yourself comes with many obstacles. There are four basic steps to getting started:

  1. Research and plan your business.
  2. Create your brand.
  3. Secure funding.
  4. Market yourself.

You'll want to ask what skills are necessary, what schooling can help, what kind of service you want to specialize in, and how much it will all cost you to secure standards. Starting your own business isn't a decision to take lightly, so we are here to help you.

Below, we will discuss how the ideal candidate can start their own welding shop and prosper. If done correctly, a welding shop can fund the rest of your life.

How to Start Your Own Successful Welding Shop

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Even if you're already an accomplished welder, there's much more to running a business of your own than that action alone. To be successful, an owner should be outgoing and prepared for rejection. Part of the business, and any business, really, is being a people person. If they dislike you, chances are your customers will go elsewhere. You should enjoy customer service and practice your conversational skills.

Beyond being liked by your customers, running a welding shop requires a lot of start-up attention and time. You must be willing to spend many hours on contract bids and thinking up new and creative ways to do things others are not. Without a strong focus on your goals, a welding shop can quickly fall behind and get buried in debt. The way you approach the launch of your business will be reflected in how long it takes for you to break even or make a profit.

Necessary Skills

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  • Patience
  • Dexterity
  • Time management
  • Customer service experience
  • Sociable and friendly personality
  • Fearlessness
  • Creativity
  • Innovative spirit
  • Openness to new ideas, practices, and technologies
  • Ability to read and understand blueprints
  • Awareness in safety standards and practices
  • Detail-oriented work ethic
  • Strong eyesight
  • Metallurgy experience
  • Tool knowledge
  • Metal knowledge

There are many responsibilities involved in running a welding shop business, such as building your knowledge and understanding of the local laws, sales needs, and requirements to get properly started. You will need to keep up to date on policies, techniques, local market needs, sales strategies, finance and management, and changing technology within the industry. If you choose to keep your head down, customers will move on to competitors who update their processes.

Day to Day Activities

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  • Research
  • Contract bidding
  • Checking equipment durability
  • Invoicing
  • Advertising
  • Networking

There's a lot of potential in the welding industry, but you'll want to consider what kind of business you'll want to run. Your focus on general welding or something niche can be very important. For example, a general welding shop will deal with a lot of competition. However, your number of offered services is also higher, and therefore there will be an abundance of opportunities for bidding.

With a niche welding shop, your options are limited due to the tight market area. However, you can also grow at a more exponential rate due to less competition. A successful welding shop will have the ability to service an array of projects quickly and efficiently. If you're able to meet a high expectancy in quality and needs, then you will have the chance to develop lasting relationships with your employers. Repeat business is key. Commit to your work and ensure that all aspects of your business are handled correctly to reveal the new potential in the market.

Important Tips to Remember

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Although the demand for welders is high, employers still want to hire someone with training from a respected school. Knowledge of relevant practices and the latest welding technologies can put you above the competition. Even if you already weld and have been doing so for some time, you will want to get as many certifications as you can to expand your worth. For example, a mobile welding shop should feature a worker compliant in 6G E6010 open root, E7018 fill and cap, stainless 6G open root, and TIG all the way out certification. A 4G welding certification would be the most basic necessity to be successful because if you're doing things on your own, that means there's no one to turn to for help. Using mirrors and fitting into tight spaces could be necessary on the job, and without the proper training and experience, welding can quickly become a dangerous exercise.

Common Job Types

  • Pipelines, pipefitting
  • Repairs, restorations
  • Gas metal arc welding (GMAW)
  • Flux-cored arc welding (FCAW)
  • Aluminum welding
  • Plasma cutting
  • Metal fabrication
  • Oxy-fuel welding
  • Shielded metal arc welding (SMAW)
  • Gas tungsten arc welding (TIG)

There are various levels of difficulty when starting a welding shop business, depending on the service type you want to provide. Independent contracting is the safest case for someone just starting out on their own. With the right insurance and PPE, you can help offer temporary aid to local businesses and turn a profit within days. Your best bet in being successful is to find employers with a constant need. Commercial machinery can offer ongoing work for a welding shop, such as aircraft repair and remanufacturing. Providers of commercial equipment and services are held to certain industry standards and are very profitable. As a targeted audience, they can offer you jobs regularly.

How Much Will It Cost to Run the Business?

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Depending on the service type you want to offer, startup costs vary between $10-50k. A fabrication shop can cost $3,000 a month in rent. There is also the cost of insurance, tools, electronics, and PPE. Below, you will see some comparisons between the type of business and its cost to get up and running.

Equipment and Costs per Business Type

  • Independent contracting can be started for under $1k with proper PPE and insurance
  • Mobile welding can be started for between $50-100k, and you'll need a vehicle, equipment, insurance, living expenses, and advertising
  • Fabrication can cost in the millions to start up, depending on what is being built, and can take you years to break even

It is also important to be ready to hire outside help. This becomes necessary if you are working beyond 40 hours a week on projects. The longer hours you are pulling, the longer an employer waits and the more likely it is you are missing out on potential customers. Hiring others is another common cost in running your own welding shop business. You can use traditional hiring standards, look for independent contractors, or use a staffing agency. Because of the long-term financial commitments that come with traditional hires, we do not recommend that practice. Below, you will see the benefits of using an independent contractor or staffing agency.

Independent Contractors

  • They are legally responsible for themselves, saving you the cost of insurance and administrative fees
  • They are generally paid an hourly flat rate agreed upon in contract
  • No overtime requirement
  • Once the job is done, no unemployment benefits
  • They are typically more highly skilled and aspiring business owners themselves

Staffing Agencies

  • Helpful in short bursts
  • Temporary workers without long-term obligations

There are a variety of ways to seek the best welders to join your team. Word of mouth is probably your most trusted source, but you can also check local schools, ask welding inspectors and supply stores, read manufacturing publications, and monitor social media (such as LinkedIn). The better your team, the more you will save in administration and the more you will make in jobs worked.

You will also want to develop a business plan before getting started, which is something new owners neglect. A business plan can tell you just how much money and time will be necessary to get your welding shop up and running, and such knowledge is invaluable if you want to be successful.

The average welder salary is around $40k, but varies according to education, certifications, and experience. Location will be important in the consistency of your workload and should be considered when starting your business. Demand and pay change from state to state. For example, Wyoming, Alaska, and New Mexico were reported the highest paying states in 2017.

Earning Potential

  • Per hour rates range between $30-70
  • Annual profits can be as high as $70k, six figures is exceptionally successful

Conclusion

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In today's climate, skilled and knowledgeable welders are very much in demand. You can run a successful welding shop as long as you don't entertain the idea lightly. The pay is lucrative, and the work is steady. Whether you work independently or have a team, there are endless possibilities for growth and productivity.

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