Superior finds an answer to the shortage of skilled welders

Kerry Clines

December 4, 2017

Welders at Work

Superior Industries in Morris, Minn., says it is solving the problem of finding skilled welders by training them through the company’s Weld Training Center, which has helped the company’s welders pass 250 certification tests in just one year. The program has allowed the company to certify welders on a dozen or so methods of welding, offering training that takes weeks instead of months and saving money while keeping its workforce current on the latest welding technology.

“You can’t just go and pull someone off the street and throw a gun in their hand and say weld me a couple pieces together,” says Dave Dybdal, the weld training instructor for Superior and its subsidiary, Westmor Industries, in a press release. “They have to know the basics and understand welding safety and blueprint-reading, and we were really having issues finding people who could do that.”

The program started 10 years ago in a corner of the company’s workshop, but soon moved to an on-site storage shed that was converted for the training. Today, the Weld Training Center has its own campus with 10 weld booths, two grind booths, and a classroom for instructing both new and veteran welders.

Welder Training

“Yeah, it costs a lot of money to invest up front,” Dybdal says in the press release. “But if you want to keep moving forward, there’s no better way to do it than by investing in your own people and learning how to train and certify them yourself.”

Completing the training program in weeks instead of months is not achieved by cutting corners in safety and quality, but by a personalized, job-specific training regimen, one-on-one instruction, and the elimination of waitlists and enrollment caps at institutions. Plus, new hires are able to earn a wage while they undergo their training.

From a quality-control perspective, the company is able to meet the specific needs of its clients by training workers on specialized weld bead patterns. The program also reinforces Superior’s stated “Culture of Opportunity,” which rewards hard work and initiative among its workforce and drives at a deeper point of pride among those who wield a welding gun for a living.

“I like being able to pass on to the younger generation that, to me, craftsmanship is not a thing of the past,” Dybdal says in the press release. “If we don’t teach that to the youth, they won’t know any better.”

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In an effort to combat the declining interest of young people willing to work with their hands, Superior donated welding equipment to the local high school to help jumpstart its welding instruction program, and the company hosts an annual welding competition for young people from across the state. The company also launched a new mentorship program, where juniors and seniors can earn high school credit by learning on the shop floor at Superior, Westmor, and the Weld Training Center, hoping to instill a passion and respect for skilled trade work.

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