Tell us a little about yourself?
I am 31 year old Russian born in Latvia. Moved to United Kingdom in the end of 2011.
What made you choose welding as a career?
I didn’t really picked up welding, welding picked up me. Life made me to do everything to keep food on the table and bills paid. Started at some little company in Latvia as a labourer, doing anything I’ve been told to. At some point, a welder wasn’t able to do as much as needed and he suffered from problems with alcohol. I just went for it, Just took a welding torch and started playing with different scrap metal off cuts. Management noticed that I am doing good enough for jobs they wanted to be done and I became a main welder at that company . Unfortunately after a certain period, business got in financial difficulties and I had to search for next job.
When I was at school, I used to spend my summer holidays working as a polisher at the shipyard, preparing and finishing other welders welding. After finishing school I went to that little business. So when they got struggling, I contacted people from shipyard to see if they could get some job for me, of course I said that I was a welder already, doing different odd jobs. When I got my welding test at the shipyard, I completely failed it. It was an absolutely and completely different level of welding. I been told by shop floor manager “no worries Alex, we will teach you.” My thoughts after failing was ” what should I do now, how do I survive with current rent and bills”.
I’ve been doing welding on scrap off cuts for weeks to get good results. Whoever tried to help me with advice, been telling me that I shouldn’t be worried about vertical or overhead welding, no one will let me doing these positions before me getting perfect welding at the bottom positions.
All the advice was different from all of them regarding welding. Only now I understand that we all have own ways to weld. So at some point, our department was short on welders and manager did set me to the ship wheelhouse welding deck from underneath, overhead but weld. That was an nightmare and challenge.
After a very bad welding for approximately one meter, somehow it did work in my head how to do it and I managed to get very good welding results. Further, further and further… I joined best welding team at the shipyard.
What type of projects are your currently working upon?
Currently, I am working on mainly bespoke and custom design projects for commercial catering equipment manufacturer in UK . Of course with amount of my skills and experience I do a lot more, I had to learn to fix cars, machinery, get into a CAD and more … I am a top welder with a full case of skills but unfortunately without paperwork and British qualifications… so I’m officially just a welder on the contract.
After main work, I do pizza delivery for Domino’s and at the weekends I do jobs on my own with own equipment, welding cars and other odd jobs whenever I get these jobs …
Can you describe on some of the mega projects you worked upon in the past?
Mega project was to build a military ship at our shipyard which now patrolling Baltic seas. Made out of aluminum, shape reminds catamaran.
I have also built walkway between two buildings and stairs, all made by myself, design, preparation welding / fitting.
The only day I had to hire my mate, was to lift support posts for that walkway…
(I have different pictures, they can also be found on my LinkedIn page)
What challenges did you come across when at work? How do you manage to cope up with the same?
Well, working mainly on custom and bespoke design products I have almost every week some challenges. How do I cope? I don’t know, there is no way how to. I’m just doing what I have to do to make things look good.
Can you tell us about a time when you disagreed with your senior’s decision made at work on Welding? Why? How did you manage to handle the same?
That is quite difficult question for me … majority of my life I was learning, in Latvia. I was working mainly with Russian people… even if they wouldn’t be right, I had no rights to disagree. It might sound rough but it did teach me discipline and respect. Now as a top man on the shop floor, when I disagree with some ideas, they get changed to suit me. When someone else disagrees with my opinion, my answer is, if we doing this your way, you are responsible for this job then and I am not touching it. If management wants me to do the job, it’s got to be done my way, straight forward.
Your say on Safety at Work. How do you consider the same when on site?
Currently I don’t work on sites at the company. So being inhouse, we all follow health and safety rules. It’s very, very strict in UK. There is nothing to complain about, it’s our life’s.
When I am working on my own, I don’t know how but, I just don’t do anything silly. Again, it’s a long way through the life that reached me to be careful…
Right from the time you started your career till date, what has been your learning so far? Any new skills you have learned?
I started as a joiner, when went into metal. Welding, fabrication, CAD, car mechanic / welder, ventilation system, ductwork, I do everything myself at home. if I didn’t have spare money to pay someone else to do something for me, I had to do it myself.
Now, I’m still doing everything myself because no one else will do it better than me. For example; recently I have been quoted on 1300£ British pounds to replace clutch and flywheel on my car, I did it myself and it cost me 400 pounds plus. I did replaced couple other parts that needed to be done while car stood on stands without gearbox. I will inspect it myself and replace other things.
I wish every welder, less wind, less rain! Clean steel and pay RISE!