A day in the life of a mobile welding business might involve repairing an excavator bucket, building a steel fence or fixing a wastewater system. The variety of the work — and the ability to apply problem-solving skills — is what many welders love about it.
It’s often a winding path that leads operators into field fabrication and mobile welding. Whether your background involves welding in oil fields, heavy equipment repair or building race car chassis, these experiences can provide a good foundation for a field fabrication business.
What are the most important things to consider when starting a mobile welding business, and what types of tools and equipment will you need most? Get some tips from three field fabrication professionals.
Varied backgrounds in welding
- Mike McAllister is a fabricator for a fisheries and wildlife agency in West Virginia. For many years, he’s had a side business taking on welding and field fabrication projects, mostly working on heavy and compact equipment. As a teen, he taught himself welding and mechanic skills to work on bikes and other projects.
- David DeMoise owns DeMoise Welding and Fabrication in Dallas. He took up welding in high school to work on his truck suspension. He later earned his associate degree and spent time welding stainless steel pipe in paper mills, working in structural construction and welding race car chassis. He got more into maintenance and repair when he worked at a crane company.
- Isaac Carrion owns Welding Repair Services in Austin, Texas. He started welding in high school FFA and then attended Texas State Technical College to study welding. He spent about a decade working in various welding shops before launching his business.
The range of work in mobile welding
Demand is often so high for mobile welding services that word of mouth is all that’s needed. McAllister, DeMoise and Carrion say they work with a lot of repeat customers.
“I work for probably five contractors, and I call them up or they call me up if they need work,” McAllister says.
DeMoise estimates he splits his time equally between shop and field work. He often repairs and modifies excavator buckets — putting on new ears or larger bushings so they can be used on different sized machines. He tries to book only one critical project per day to give himself flexibility.
Some jobs take a few hours, while others can last a week or more. That can be tough on scheduling, so it’s important to have flexibility in your schedule and good customer relationships when jobs need to be adjusted.
“Heavy equipment repair keeps me really busy. I work on bulldozers, large trenching machines, excavator booms, backhoes. I’d say 90% or more of my work is in the field,” Carrion says. “But I also do small repairs or fabrication on aluminum or stainless steel in my shop.”