Welding Industry Booming

By KBJR News 1

August 6, 2010 Updated Aug 21, 2008 at 5:24 PM CDT

You've probably heard, the housing and automotive industries are not in good shape.

But as Tiffany Tarrolly explains, the steel industry is doing better than ever.

Rusty Hoglund, the owner of Superior Steel, says his business is booming.

"We've been in business for 21 years and the last 3, we had a record year in '06 we beat that in '07 and '08 we've already beat '07," Hoglund said.

What's his secret?

"If one section of the economy or area of the country is not so good, we just move to the other. It's been a strategy that's worked for us fairly well," said Hoglund.

And demand for people who can work in plants like Hoglund's, is huge.

"The welding right now is at such a premium that people are actually trying to hire from each other in this business and that, you know, it's not the way to do it," Hoglund said.

That's why he partnered with employment-oriented programs - including Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College in Superior - to develop an intensive 5-week program that trains people to become welders.

Gary Bergdorf and Colin Payton both recently went through this Welding Boot Camp in Superior.

"I needed more money I needed to have a career instead of having odd and end jobs," Bergdorf said.

"It was a quick five weeks, a lot was covered but it hit pretty much all the basics to kind of get you out the door and get you started," said Payton.

The best part about the program... it's free.

"I wouldn't have been able to do it myself with the work I was doing, I couldn't afford it, to go into a class like this and get trained to go to another job," Bergdorf said.

"I think it's a great program for building on your skills that you already have or if you're just getting started it's a good foot in the door," said Payton.

And, both men just got jobs in the welding industry.

U.S. Senator Herb Kohl of Wisconsin, stopped in Superior today to announce he helped secure funding for three additional Welding Boot Camps.

Two in Superior and one in Ashland.

Organizers expect to train 60 new welders.

If you're interested in participating in the program, you can call the Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College at 715-394-6677.