Every once in a while work is good, customers are happy, and jobs come in by the truckload (literally sometimes). It’s those times when we all ask ourselves the same question over and over. “Where are all the good fabricators?”
Don’t jump to any conclusions quite yet and assume I’m saying that there aren’t any good fab shops out there. Quite the opposite actually. There’s a TON of good shops out there putting out good work. And maybe that’s the problem. I mean, I don’t know about the rest of the shops out there, but when we get a skilled fabricator….man do we try to hold on to them. The reality is that a truly skilled fabricator can write their own ticket these days, and proudly, we’ve had a lot travel through these doors only to move on to their own shops and become successful.
Right now is one of those times when work is flowing and things are good. Right now is when we find ourselves scrambling to bring in qualified fabricators to take up some of the slack on jobs that are laying stale. Right now is when an experienced welder/machinist is worth his weight in gold to our manufacturing department. The question is just, where are they? We’ve looked high and low, near and far. We’ve called trade schools like Wyotech, and even then local colleges. After all the searching I’ve come to one conclusion. All the good ones have opened shop, and the not so good ones are still learning.
I noticed that even the amount of car enthusiasts that answer the help-wanted ads has fallen tremendously. Could it be that high school auto shop class is a thing of the past in most schools, or could it just be a product of a poor economy that has forced them out of a shrinking market? Either way I think that if you are a skilled sheet metal fabricator it’s your duty to society to pass on your knowledge to someone younger. If you can whip an English wheel in to shape and make it spit out a perfectly formed piece of sheet metal, then I think it’s imperative you get a kid excited about it too. If you can walk up to a bare chassis table and by the end of the week have a fully functioning street rod frame sitting in front of you, then maybe you ought to get a buddy involved and help spark a little interest in him.
Heck, even the major car show event organizations know this and are constantly changing their criteria in order to attract the new crowds. We should ALL be taking notice of that. Passing on the tradition of building cars is the only thing that will keep them around. Car enthusiasts aren’t born, they’re taught.