“Everything is a rush nowadays,” he explained.
About five years ago, the company turned to laser
cutting to generate components that ultimately
worked their way down to welding, and as the material has gotten to welders more quickly, everyone
wants finished goods just as quickly. That means an
average lead time of about two weeks for most jobs,
rather than several weeks, which was the norm when
Janzen first got involved in contract manufacturing.
Janzen earned his early welding stripes on work
sites. He got his start in welding working for a dairy
equipment installer, which required a lot of gas
tungsten arc welding on the stainless steel components, but it also gave Janzen the opportunity to
tackle various fabricating jobs.
“It taught me a lot. We did everything under the
sun there. You got a feel for everything,” Janzen said.
About 10 years ago, Janzen was approached
about assuming supervisory duties when a position opened up. In typical fashion in a job shop, he
quietly assumed the new role, and he’s grown into
it since then. Each year he grows more confident
as a supervisor. He now oversees 23 welders, all of
whom work on the company’s one shi;.
Again, he sees hands-on experience, even just
simple hands-on training, playing a big part in the
success of any welder that joins the company. Janzen believes that an individual is going to learn a lot
quicker that way than by traditional schooling.
He’d also like to get back under the hood, but he
knows that his greatest value is helping guide the
other welders and staying on top of production
“Practice makes perfect,” Janzen said, “when it
comes to welding.”
Jesse Hartwell holds the title of welding supervi-
sor as well. But his responsibilities for The Welmar
Group, Guelph, Ont., Canada, go beyond the weld
“The way ouR company is set up, I run the heavy
welding shop, the paint shop, and shipping. I kind of
oversee quality control as well,” he said. “We have
another department that works with sheet metal
for ductwork, and somebody else looks a;er that.
Another department handles the building of hockey
boards and hockey board installation.
“There is a lot going on here, and I have my hands
in everything a little bit.”
The wide range of responsibility comes as a re-
sult of Hartwell being with the company since 1999.
He went from the kitchen of a nearby country bar
to working in Welmar’s fabrication department. He
literally started by sweeping floors and then worked
his way up to running equipment such as band
saws, drill presses, and ironworkers.
Within four years, Hartwell became a lead hand
in welding. By 2006 company management saw
enough in him that it paid for him to go through the
weeklong welding supervisor program at the Cana-
dian Welding Bureau. At the end of the classroom
training, Hartwell took the exam and became a cer-
tified welding supervisor. With that credential, he
was able to lead the company’s shopwide CWB cer-
tification e;ort for activities such as welding steel
(CSA W47.1) and aluminum (CSA W47.2).
Currently Hartwell oversees anywhere from 10 to
15 people working in the fabrication shop, depend-
ing on what’s going on.
“It can get pretty stressful because we are kind of
a smaller shop that is trying to be a bigger shop. We
are getting projects that are really large. For exam-
ple, we just finished building a 60,000-lb. silencer
for an industrial application,” he said.
He admitted that he’d like to spend more time
training some of the younger welders, but his broad
job responsibilities prevent him from spending that
kind of time with them, unless work is really slow.
For now he leans on his other lead hands to bring
the younger guys along.
Reflecting on his “challenging” job, Hartwell said
he’d probably go crazy if he didn’t have the variety
of work and responsibility.
“If I had to go to one of these factories and just be
a welding supervisor, I don’t know if I could handle
it,” Hartwell said.
Where the Supervisor Doesn’t Exist
Do you work where there is no welding supervisor?
You aren’t alone. As more shops look to empower
shop floor workers and decentralize the organization, middle management is disappearing just as it
has in other segments of the business world.
Rob Marelli, president, Seconn Manufacturing
Group, Waterford, Conn., said that his company
hasn’t had an o;icial “supervisor” in welding for
about 10 years, even if they do have “go-to” people
for certain jobs. All welders are cross-trained on gas
metal arc welding and gas tungsten arc welding and
on di;erent materials, and they are brought together when a production issue arises or a teaching moment occurs. Also, Seconn has standardized all weld
and grinding callouts on drawings so that everyone
sees the information the same way.
“Basically, any job can go to the floor to any
welder, and they are taught the same way to inter-
pret the drawing,” Marelli told The FABRICATOR. “All
knowledge is passed around laterally, and no tribal
knowledge is kept to oneself.”
Prinz said that the Hobart Institute o;ers the cer-
tified welding supervisor course only twice a year,
once in the spring and once in the fall. The certified
welding inspector course, meanwhile, is o;ered
every month. That gives you an idea of the formal
interest in the certification.
People do show interest, Prinz added. It’s a good
way for a welder to show management or a future
employer that he or she is interested in pursuing a
“These types of people are looking for the next
thing. They are always the forward thinkers: How
can I do this better, faster, and more e;iciently and
still do everything according to the specification?”
And they probably should know welding. The best
way to gain a welder’s respect is to know what they
are up to—even if you might not be able to match
them weld for weld.
The job dictates what type of welds are done, and
in the end, the shop determines what type of oversight is needed in the welding department.
Editor-in-Chief Dan Davis can be reached at
American Welding Society, www.aws.org
Canadian Welding Bureau, www.cwbgroup.org
General Metal Fabrication, www.generalmetal.ca
Hobart Institute of Welding Technology,
Seconn Manufacturing Group, www.seconn.com
The Welmar Group, www.welmargroup.com
“If I had to go to one of these factories
and just be a welding supervisor,
I don’t know if I could handle it.”
—Jesse Hartwell, The Welmar Group