Sparks will fly for new Gympie welding business
JAMIE Watkins said he has always been a welder, even though he only gained his qualifications two years ago.
"I spent 11 months out at Kalgoorlie getting qualified," he said.
Jamie has travelled from one side of the country to the other, working at the job he loves, from Gladstone to Kalgoorlie and back again.
He discovered his love for welding and fabrication at school both here in Gympie and at Morayfield.
"I love taking the raw materials and turning them into something useful," he said.
He has also worked on big projects including a custom built speedway trailer - a job that had a price tag of $2.5 million.
The opportunity to start his own business "fell into his lap" when a friend bought the property at the very end of Excelsior Rd, complete with a vacant shed.
"I already had all the tools," Jamie said.
So at the end of June he went into business for himself, doing steel fabrication and welding for rural and domestic clients, and has been flat out ever since.
"I do quality welding and fabrication at an affordable price in all metals, including stainless steel and aluminium," the young entrepreneur explained.
Even though his family is in northern New South Wales, they are all right behind Jamie's decision to create his own opportunities after the local company he was working for closed down.
"I spent about six months looking for work and in the end, when nothing came up, I thought I'd start up my own business," he said.
And he's certainly not in a hurry to go back to working for someone else.
"I really like working for myself and enjoy being my own boss. I'm really keen to make a go of it," he said.
Although he prefers heavy fabrication because it's easier and faster to work with, a lot of his work is with lighter materials, but he doesn't mind that either.
"That's probably the bulk of my work at the moment," he said.
Jamie is also keen to share his skills base and knowledge and has taken on a school based apprentice, Byron Schroeder to help him out.
Jamie said Byron comes in once a week to learn the trade, and often disappears on his lunch break to go and get in some welding practise.
"He's a good little worker. He's enthusiastic. That's exactly what I wanted," Jamie said.
With his sights set firmly on the future, Jamie is keen to grow the business, by moving into a bigger shed to start with.
"I'd definitely like to put some people on when more work comes in," he said.