September 13, 2005
Being a good welder often means more than on-the-job performance. Whether it's volunteering to help others or otherwise giving back to one's community, these welders are examples of so many who take their time to give of themselves on the job — and outside the office.
When Mike Krupnicki first started working at his family's welding supply company, he kept it a secret.
"When people asked me what I did for a living, I told them I was anything but in the welding supply business. I was embarrassed to say I was in the welding industry," said Krupnicki, president of the now second-generation Mahany Welding Supply in Rochester, N.Y.
He felt this way mostly because of the shop's urban location and the way he felt it looked: dirty and uninviting.
So after Krupnicki earned his M.B.A. degree, he had to decide whether to stick with the family welding business. Eventually he pledged to make the store—and the industry—something more people would be proud of.
"I proposed that we build a new, upscale facility—one people want to come in, one that draws people in because they want to see what we're doing," he said.
And he did. As part of the new facility's look, Krupnicki filled the store with functional metal sculpture made by area artists.
"People would get inspired and say, "I want to do that,'" Krupnicki said.
This led Krupnicki to begin offering metal sculpture classes in the facility's training center, classes he describes as 50 percent educational and 50 percent entertainment. Krupnicki said these classes are an extension of his desire to improve the image of welding, one person at a time, in his community.
In two years 800 people have taken his classes. Although he doesn't know if he's influencing more people to consider manufacturing as a career, he does know, from his students' reactions, that he's improving the image of welding.
"We are shattering the myth that welding is this dirty, black magic requiring low skill," Krupnicki said. At the end of one of his classes, one student even said, "You make welding chic."
"Our entire staff is energized toward creating a buying experience for customers that celebrates welding," Krupnicki said. "We keep it clean, fresh, interesting, and interactive — like Disney World for adults."
Krupnicki is just one of the welders whom thefabricator.com has been privileged to learn about, just one of so many who give their all to improve the welding industry and their communities.
Sometimes giving one's all comes down to just having good values.
This is the case with Mike Geiger according to Richard Rowe, a welding instructor at Johnson County Community College, Overland Park, Kan. Rowe taught Geiger as a high school student and later hired him. To Rowe, Geiger's character and welding abilities make him a standout welder.
"He was so good at doing the job that I was able to return to teaching and let him run the shop for me when I was in the classroom," Rowe said of Geiger. "When I would go out on job estimation, I would always take Mike along. He could do math in his head faster than I could with a pen. In all of the years, he was an honest employee who would always stay late to finish up a job or come in early to get one started."
Geiger worked part-time for Rowe at Metal Craft Products, left to work full-time in structural steel after graduating high school, and eventually returned as Rowe's foreman.
Geiger credits Rowe for keeping him in the welding industry.
"I learned everything from him, so everything I do is based on him," Geiger said.
When Rowe decided to return to teaching, he sold the business to Geiger. Since then Geiger has worked with 10 welders in his shop, imparting his knowledge and values - - a combination that has always impressed Rowe.
"One summer we were so busy that customers were coming in and getting all kinds of repairs done," Rowe said. "He [Geiger] said he did not have time to go to the cash drawer during the day and went home with quite a pocketful of cash, unknown to me because I was out on the service truck at another job. The next morning I sat amazed and watched as he emptied all of his pockets that were filled with money. He had bills and change in his shirt pockets, both front pockets, and rear pockets.
"I knew he could have kept every cent and I would never have known," Rowe said. "That day he earned my respect and trust. He is the most honest and dedicated welder I have ever known."
Although there's not enough space to devote to all the welders in the world who help others every day, following are several noteworthy examples.
Quintin Hill, Asbury Park, N.J. Welder and mechanic Quintin Hill learned to cook from his father and shares his passion for cooking with not only his family, but also with his wife's clients. His wife, Tomika, is a home health care aide, and she routinely takes her husband's dishes to the people she assists. Barbecued ribs with homemade barbecue sauce, collards cooked with ham hocks, fried chicken, and smoked turkey are just some of Hill's culinary delights. Source:Asbury Park Press, Asbury Park, N.J.
Bruce Charling, Morgan Hill, Calif. Marty Rice, a regular contributor to thefabricator.com, e-mailed thefabricator.com about Charling, who he feels is a welder "who's got it together." Charling said in an e-mail to Rice that he's so passionate about working with steel that he's happy to repair and fabricate items for friends and colleagues just for fun.
Mike Trask, Rogue River, Ore. Mike Trask paid his community back in a big way for being there for him after a sheet of steel fell and landed on his right hand in 1999. The community helped him and his wife pay for his medical bills by organizing fund-raisers, so after he healed, he became involved in building a sports field and stadium at Rogue River High School. Trask spent eight months of his time to help build and fund the sports facility. Source:Mail Tribune, Jackson County, Ore.