How This Guy Forged Business and Art Into a Welding Career and a Company

Drew Danecki arrives at a job sporting shorts and a T-shirt, wanting much more relaxed than Jennifer Beals’ hard-edged character within the ’80s film “Flashdance”. It isn’t till he dons thick, scorched gloves reaching as much as his elbows and a high-tech purple helmet paying homage to a Energy Ranger that you simply notice his model of welding is simply as tough as its big-screen portrayal.

The 40-year-old resident of St. Petersburg, Florida, is one among almost 405,000 welders in the USA, a quantity that’s anticipated to develop 6% by 2026, in keeping with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. He has spent 20 years within the enterprise, twisting, bending and shaping steel into his inventive imaginative and prescient.

Lugging instruments from his trailer to the entrance yard of a personal residence the place he’s ending the entrance step’s railing, Danecki nonchalantly lists accidents he has sustained, together with cuts, burns, pulled muscle mass, again accidents and one thing referred to as flash burn, which sounds a lot much less enjoyable than the film.

In case you’re not sporting a welding hood, it’s just about such as you’re wanting straight into the solar, and it burns your cornea,” explains Danecki, who has skilled the situation himself. He describes it as the sensation of sand pouring from his eyes. “It takes about 10 to 12 hours — just about an excellent evening’s relaxation — and then you definately’ll get up within the morning, and also you’ll nonetheless really feel type of sore.

“However you’ll recuperate, and you already know it’s time to get again to work.”

Yep, simply one other day of burning your cornea.

“Protecting gear is crucial,” emphasizes Danecki, who says he additionally wears prescription UV contacts to additional defend his eyes. “However intricate work typically requires you to take away [the gear].”

Additionally, working within the scorching Florida solar requires you to determine which is extra doubtless — an damage out of your gear or warmth stroke from sporting a kind of heavy welding fits.

As he grinds down stainless-steel railing joints to a easy end, Danecki doesn’t appear phased by the spraying sparks. He explains that, because of the path of the disc’s rotation, the sparks are unlikely to land on us.

However, I’ll nonetheless stand over there. Waaay over there.

Welding: Artwork vs. Perform

A welder gets his gear together to start working on a project.
Danecki will get his gear collectively to begin his work day. He began his personal enterprise, Maestro Metalworks, in 2013. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Danecki’s initiatives vary from industrial work to wonderful artwork, however he says he considers himself foremost an artist.

And identical to an artist, he has a ardour for his medium.

When you get into metal, that’s type of your life,” says Danecki, who holds a bachelor’s diploma in enterprise administration with an artwork minor from Saint Leo College in Florida. “That’s what you breathe each single day.”

He estimates quarter of his work is okay artwork sculptures, creating every part from tarpon fish to violins — a favourite since he performs the instrument. The violin can also be the origin for the identify of his enterprise, Maestro Metalworks, which he launched in 2013.

The remainder of Danecki’s initiatives are purposeful items, like staircase railings, indicators, fences and frameworks, which he nonetheless describes in inventive phrases, explaining every bit’s scrollwork designs and complicated detailing.

All in a Day’s (or Night time’s) Work

A welder works at a residential home.
Danecki welds aspect railing on an outdoor staircase at a residential residence. Welders put on a welding hood to stop their corneas from burning. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

When engaged on initiatives for locations that function within the daylight, Danecki adjusts his work schedule to satisfy the consumer’s wants.

For a job creating stainless-steel drink rails and bar accents for the Disney Springs leisure advanced, Danecki says he arrived in the midst of the evening to keep away from vacationers witnessing the work that goes into the Happiest Place on Earth.

“From 2 a.m., you’re on a ladder on high of the bar placing these items in,” says Danecki. “ you’ve a deadline earlier than the following morning.”

At one other job for Raymond James stadium, residence of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Danecki says he needed to coordinate with the schedules of different tradespeople as they accomplished their components of the challenge. He arrived round midnight to begin his work, which he did on a scissor raise that elevated him 50 ft within the air.

“You have got this massive, enormous piece of 6-by-6 [square], and also you’re simply suspended within the air,” says Danecki, describing the massive powder-coated aluminum items he was putting in above a soccer sculpture. “It’s shaking forwards and backwards a foot at a time.

“It was scary.”

Welding as a Profession

A man welds the side railing of a staircase
The median annual wage for a welder is $40,240, in keeping with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Whereas the tech trade will get many of the consideration, the expansion in welding reveals that there’s nonetheless a requirement for extremely expert tradespeople within the U.S.

And dealing as a welder pays fairly effectively.

The median annual wage is $40,240 ($19.35 an hour), in keeping with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics — higher than the U.S. median of $37,690 in Might 2017.

Danecki says he earns roughly $1,000 to $2,200 for stainless-steel items like enterprise signage, whereas railings can run about $100 to $800 per foot, relying on the kind of steel used and the intricacy of the design.

He says that he may make considerably extra money if he was prepared to take his commerce on the street — or the water.

“The welders offshore and with the oil trade — they’re manner up there,” says Danecki, who’s labored just a few offshore gigs himself after finishing extra certifications in 2014 by Falck Security Providers. “It turned on the market was extra work on land, for me, than to be gone for 3, 4, 5, six weeks at a time.”

Forging Your Profession in Welding

A man packs up his work gear after finishing a work project.
Danecki packs up after ending up his work at a residence. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Questioning if a profession in welding might be for you?

Technical faculties throughout the nation supply welding packages and certifications that cowl security procedures, manufacturing processes and numerous sorts of welding — there are completely different strategies based mostly on steel kind, use and design.

Danecki means that for those who’re however unsure you wish to make the funding simply but, you’ll be able to attempt your hand at welding through demonstrations and courses at artwork galleries that target steel artwork.

Even contemplating all of the work concerned with working his personal enterprise, Danecki says he feels lucky that he will get to do one thing he actually enjoys.

“It’s lengthy hours,” Danecki says. “However for those who love one thing, you don’t really feel such as you’re working a day in your life.”

Tiffany Wendeln Connors is a workers author at The Penny Hoarder. Knowledge Journalist Alex Mahadevan contributed to this story.

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