EVS Metal is pleased to publish another installation in our series of spotlight articles highlighting our metal fabrication employees and their departments. We hope these help illustrate EVS’s capabilities as a manufacturer and precision sheet metal fabrication company, and the value our people bring to the table each and every day.
This week, we’re speaking with Mike, an award-winning welder from EVS Texas.
Welding for Metal Fabrication: Q&A with Mike, Lead Welder, EVS Metal Texas
EVS: How long have you been with EVS, and how long have you worked in metal fab overall?
Mike: I have been with EVS since April 1st, 2013, so 6 going on 7 years and have been the lead welder for over 4 years. I have been in the fabrication industry for over 12 years. I have worked at 3 different shops, and have owned my own welding business for a couple of years. Now, I have a small shop at home where I weld some crazy sculptures and do repair work on some interesting cars, motorcycles and whatever else comes my way.
EVS Metal: How did you become interested in a career in the metal fabrication industry?
Mike: That is a good question. About 14 years ago, I made some poor choices that could have seriously limited my career opportunities. However, I ended up getting a job at a little welding shop in Elgin, Texas. I was instantly intrigued by the whole fabrication process and the idea of building things. I quickly began learning how to build custom gates, entrances, handrails, and whatever else came into the shop.
EVS: Describe your career trajectory — how did you start, any specific education/training/experience, what different positions have you held etc.?
Mike: My career has taken some twists and turns over the years. I have been an orbital welder (worst job ever), tire salesman, technical writer, bartender, car salesman, finance & insurance specialist, and welder. Looking at it as a whole all of those different jobs have given me a well-rounded skill set.
EVS: What do you like most about your job?
Mike: Hmmmm…. I love working on the new jobs that come in and figuring out the weld sequence, and then training someone to weld them. Training new welders is awesome too. Seeing them learn, develop their craft, and take on new jobs is incredible. I also like interacting with the customers that come through the welding department. Some of our newer customers have taken an interest in working with the weld department on developing their parts, which makes the job a bit more interesting.
EVS Metal: What does a typical day at EVS look like for you?
Mike: A typical day will start with checking on the new welders and how they are doing on their assigned jobs, checking to see what jobs are ready for weld, assigning jobs, repairing parts that have come back from other departments, chasing down parts for jobs, talking with engineers about new parts, estimating weld times and weld difficulty on new jobs for Bob (V.P. of Manufacturing), talking to our production manager, John, about workflow and what is needed by our customers, training new welders, ordering gases and consumables, and doing a bit of welding myself.
EVS: How would you describe EVS’s company culture?
Mike: A big family with laid back, supportive parents. We are allowed to lot of freedom at EVS as long as we produce quality parts on time and efficiently. Bob (V.P.) has an open-door policy which is great. It allows each employee to voice his or her concerns. As for me, they have been super supportive of my artwork, sculpture competitions and of me pursuing my degree over the past couple of years.
EVS: What do you look for in co-workers?
Mike: I look for people who remain teachable. That idea was instilled in me by the man who taught me how to TIG weld and I try to instill it in my crew. It doesn’t matter if you are the best welder in Texas, if you aren’t teachable, we don’t want you. It sounds harsh, but we would rather have a “good” welder who wants to learn, than a great welder who knows it all. Eventually, that “good” welder will be a great EVS welder, because he or she will learn the process it takes to weld some of the very complex parts we build, which have taken the company years to perfect.
EVS: Are there any special welding processes available at EVS that are fairly unique for the industry?
Mike: No, we generally only use two processes, which is GMAW and GTAW. The difference is the way we use them, especially GTAW. We have recently started to use a positioner for some parts, Pulsed GTAW for controlling heat input on others, and looking at how we can increase the quality of our welds without increasing weld times.
EVS: What has been the most complex challenge you have encountered in your position?
Mike: Becoming the Lead Welder after only being there a short time has been a challenge. There were guys that have been there for a lot longer than me when I got the position. That was a bit difficult. Introducing new ideas, techniques, and working with a lot of different personalities has been a challenge. I have made some mistakes along the way too. It has made for an interesting past 4 years.
EVS: What has been your most rewarding project at EVS?
Mike: That is a tough one… as of right now, it has been for a company that builds incredible 3D printers. The project requires big stainless steel weldments, with critical surfaces on flanges and airtight weld requirements. We are using more pulsed GTAW, positioner welding and working with material thicknesses we are not used to. We have one weldment that is less than 20 inches by 20 inches square but has several feet of welding in it, with two but stainless steel plates, some tubing, and a super surface critical flange on top. This job really requires us to think about every weld, the shrinkage produced by the weld, the order and direction of each weld, and a grocery list of other variables. I love that it makes me think critically about what and how I am welding.
EVS: How do you see the metal fabrication industry growing or changing over the next few years? How do you see EVS Metal changing to accommodate/address these things?
Mike: I think the industry is becoming more demanding. As the industry grows and becomes more complex it will demand better-trained people, more advanced technology and processes. At EVS we are already working to meet those needs with a new laser that cuts cleaner and faster, automated press brakes, welders with multiple certifications based on customer requirements, better tracking software, automated welding cells, newer more advanced welding machines, and starting to talk to local trade schools to recruit the next generation of welders, CNC machinists, etc.
EVS: Anything else you’d like to share about your department/responsibilities/position?
Mike: I would work with a great bunch of people at EVS Texas. My job has had its ups and downs but I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. Over my past six years at EVS, I have had the support of the company and the people in it, which has allowed me to earn my degree in welding technology (I graduate this week!), compete not once but twice at the state and national level for metal sculpture, as well as grow into my position at EVS Texas.
EVS Metal is an American precision metal fabricator headquartered in Riverdale, NJ with locations in NH, TX and PA. Our machinists and operators utilize the latest technology to cut, bend and finish stand-alone items as well as parts for integration or assembly into more complex products. EVS Metal’s four ISO 9001:2015-certified locations comprise over 250,000 square feet of vertically integrated manufacturing space and feature the most modern equipment available, from lasers and CNC machining centers to automated powder coating lines.
We serve a diverse customer base across North America, providing a range of services from ITAR-compliant, quick-turn prototypes to high-volume production runs. Request a personalized metal fabrication quote online or call 1-888-9EVSMET to speak with a specialist today.