The Journey from Metal to Retail – From the Welder’s Torch

I would like to share with you the journey that has led me to setting up my own shop and online business, within the industry that I originated from. Much of it stems from our mission statement below:

We strive to be the best Engineering Supplies Company in Ireland, both online and in-store. Using carefully designed systems we deliver the highest level of service every time, regularly measuring our systems to make sure we are fulfilling our promise. We build strong relationships with our customers, that are based on trust and will last a lifetime.”

With this firmly in my mind, I remember back to 2006 when I was running a very busy fabrication business, and to be honest it was chaos. I relied heavily on one supply company and even got them to source products I knew they didn’t carry in stock. Why? The sales rep was dynamite, that’s why! He did everything right, never over-promised, and always delivered.

This is the kind of service that the ProWeld team strives to provide, i.e. a reliable and trustworthy one! We feel that our company is achieving this (and hopefully our customers do too), and I will give an insight into my working history.

Metal, Steel and Welding

Growing up, metal-working was an important part of life in the North East of England, where both my father and my uncle worked in the industry. I got my first taste of working with metal as a teenager while helping my uncle. I can remember the first time, we were making up protective mesh panels for a forestry machine. I was really intrigued with how it all came together, the tools we used and even the smell of the metals and the welding.

In the small town where I lived the local industry was mainly agricultural, but it had two large general engineering companies. I already had an interest in metalwork, so I landed a job as an apprentice fabricator. I started at the bottom, drilling holes in plates on a huge Pillar drill all day long, eventually though I learned all aspects of structural steel work from welding, right through to erecting.

I bought an old 1977 Triumph Spitfire in this time and began restoring it in the evenings (not unlike the pic above), cutting out old panels and welding in new panels, all the while learning more and more. My trade eventually took me to Ireland where I joined a company in Crumlin, fabricating and welding bespoke products, such as balconies for apartments.

The Business of Steel

At Farleng Engineering, I worked initially as a steel erector. I became a lead foreman on sites, co-ordinating erectors, liaising with clients and meeting their strict deadlines. During this time I became a director of Farleng and the company grew to a strong workforce of over 20 erectors and welders. They were predominantly a sub-contractor for both large and small steel fabrication companies, which required site erectors and welders. This gave me a great insight into the steel business overall.

A New Career Path

On my return from a year out in Australia in 2002, my business partner and I completed the successful buy-out of a small steel fabrication business McAleese Manufacturing Ltd. In 3 years we achieved a 500% increase in turnover, as our strategy focused entirely on the construction industry in Ireland. With 15 full-time employees, a great in-house company ethos and good working environment, it all contributed to our success. Due to the downturn in 2007/08, I closed the manufacturing side of the business and invested in the long established Steel Stockist & Engineering Supplies company in Athlone, Colm Steel & Tools.

Colm Steel & Tools becomes ProWeld

For my own part, I decided to re-brand from Colm Steel to what we are known as today, ProWeld. I wanted to create a new buzz and focus around the business, and put my own stamp on it. We still supply the same products and services, but are now embarking on a digital journey, with a new retail website, along with a Dublin office, and are driving towards increasing our online market share. We are now a team of 7 people, committed to providing solutions for our customers, and we thrive on passing information from manufacturers to our customers.

We stock a complete range of steels cut to any size in a variety of different finishes. We stock over 11,000 different product lines, including Tools & Hardware, Welding Plants, Compressors, Paints, Fasteners & Fixings, Railing Clamps (Q-clamps), Safety Wear and many more Engineering Supplies. One of our Unique Selling Point is our knowledge base, coupled with the ability to offer all the products needed to complete any workshop or fabrication project. We provide advice on products and very importantly, best practices related to them.

ProWeld wants to save you time and effort sourcing from multiple suppliers, along with the cost of additional admin or carriage charges. Our aim is to offer a solution beyond our customer’s expectation.

by Paul Saxon.

ProWeld’s specialties are many, but we offer:

  • Welding consultant
  • End-to-end fabrication manufacturing processes
  • Welding training
  • Manufacture optimization
  • Huge product range
  • Import sourcing
  • Fast turnaround of delivery or service – nationwide
  • 5-Star customer service

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