Adam Deuling: Making Trades Cool Again

We met Adam Deuling at the Fabtech Expo in 2019 and will never forget it. Not only did he have a shining personality and the energy of a kid in a candy store, but he was handing out freebies in a shape we aren’t allowed to mention. Adam is a huge advocate for careers in the trades industry and wants to teach the younger generation that there’s more out there than traditional college.

We slid into Adam’s DMs and here’s what he had to share…

Getting to Know You

Let’s start off with your name, current age, and where you live

  • Adam Deuling
  • 28 Years Old
  • Muskegon, Michigan

What are you hobbies? What do you do for fun?

I enjoy going to the Silver Lake Sand Dunes as often as I have time. Both my wife and I have 80’s Chevy dune trucks and we host a Dune event every summer called CK5 Dunefest where we have people come from all corners of the country to attend. California, Maine, Texas, Jersey and many many others.

Other hobbies include hunting with family, trips up north with my wife and my little buddy Kevin (my dog lol), and time at the beach whenever possible. We have some of the nicest freshwater beaches in the country right on Lake Michigan a few minutes from my house.

What About Welding?

How long have you been welding? And, what got you interested in welding?

My grandpa showed me how to strike an arc with his Miller Bobcat welder back in early high school, adding layer after layer of 6010 or 7018 to the buckets on his Case Backhoes and other equipment. I think I laid 2 full boxes of rod to the buckets on my first day.

I worked at Lascko Plumbing here in town from 16-22, never doing much welding but I always got to help do the fitting and grinding with the Union Pipe Fitters which taught me a lot.

I also took probably 15-20 shop classes during high school. After high school I planned to be a shop teacher, but the lack of jobs made me realize that was a poor choice if I ever wanted to stay around home. So instead, I got a CAD degree, landed a drafting job at a local manufacturing facility that had all top of the line Bystronic sheet-metal equipment from multiple lasers to over a dozen cnc press brakes. I worked my way into a Product Engineering position and became pretty skilled at sheet-metal design for manufacturing.

What is your job now? And if welding is not a part of that, in what way do you use welding (what kind of projects, why do you weld, etc)?

I run my own design and Fab shop called Deuling Design LLC.

I started my own business part time in 2015/16 just playing with a cheap beadroller since it looked like fun. I spent a lot of time out in the garage learning and selling signs etc. I talked with quite a few good fabricators in the Industry such as Jamey Jordan, picking up tricks etc. I spent every dollar I made in the shop on new tools, and fast forward to today I have well over $80k in tools such as a Miller Multimatic 220 AC/DC, CNC plasma table, Hydraulic Press Brake, 2 other metal brakes, Fork Lift, Fab Benches and many many other tools.

I’ve landed some pretty incredible gigs in the last few years and thousands of small random jobs. The largest have been some pretty radical sand toys. Back Paneling full interior tin work on Frank Taylor’s Prerunner truck, putting I beam suspension under a Ford Raptor for my buddy Mark Johnson pulling large amounts of wheel travel. Also a lot of tin work on a 1200 HP Funco Sand Rail. All of these included a lot of welding and sheetmetal fabrication from scratch.

What has been your biggest career challenge to date?

April 2019 I walked out of my engineering job after a large corporate buy out where I couldn’t stand watching the employees turn into numbers on paper.

And on my birthday, last year I walked out and never looked back. It was the absolute most terrifying 2 weeks of my life after. I couldn’t sleep, I was constantly in a panic. I talked to my dad and former plumbing boss (who owns the shop I run my business out of) and they calmed me down and convinced me to get to work.

After that its just been pedal to the grind and I did more in sales than I would have ever imagined in my second year as an LLC.

Where do you see the Job opportunities in this industry? What’s the best path for success for both women and men, especially given the projected shortage of skilled welders?

I see jobs everywhere. No kids are going into Skilled Trades like plumbing, hvac, fab shops etc and I’m going to do everything in my power to change that. College is good but the era I grew up in of everyone preaching College as the only option needs to end. It should be a much better ratio because we need both highly educated and the ones that want to work with their hands. And the classes they take should be geared towards prep for either path, not just the college path.

People like Mike Rowe have really done a good job pushing the trades and I hope people like him can hear my message and help me help more kids to learn and see how awesome it is to make things with your hands. I’m literally still an 18 year old kid obsessed with waking up for shop class Senior year and I absolutely love every second of it.

What advice would you give your 15 year old self? And, what advice would you give young people interested in welding as a career?

I actually would give zero advice to my 15 year old self.

My dreams as a 15 year old kid were to be a shop teacher, and in the last week I have been asked by 3 separate school systems to pack some of my tools and come do beadrolling and fabrication demonstrations from 5th graders to High School kids that dont have access to this stuff. So to be honest, I’m currently living my childhood dream and every step good or bad along the way was exactly what I needed to get here.

I actually just made a YouTube video over the weekend called “Bring Back Shop Class” that explains in detail a lot of what I have been doing and my goals. I’m very excited to be an influence on young kids because my shop teacher was the first person to really push me into fabrication.

If you want to get into welding or fabrication in general, go seek out those around you, find tech centers that offer classes. Many actually have workshops open to the public for a fee which is awesome if you don’t have the room or money to purchase all of these tools on your own. Also just tell them to follow fabricators and welders online and learn from their posts. People like Jody from Welding Tips and Tricks have taught me so much more than I ever would have on my own.

Any other topics you’d like to cover, such as favorite project, favorite tools, music you listen to while welding, where do you get your inspiration for your projects, etc.

I generally have rock and roll playing in the shop. My one rule is it has to be positive type tunes. All up beat, no depressing stuff because people don’t realize how much it can affect your mood. I get a lot more done in a day when I’m jamming and in a good mood.

And you better believe I play air guitar a lot with my dog Kevin jumping around with me :)

Learn more about Adam and follow his journey on Instagram !!

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