(BRECKENRIDGE, Texas) – Bobby Gullick knew he needed an additional skill to accomplish a lifelong goal.
To help open a more diverse furniture-making business, Gullick needed to learn how to weld. His wife suggested that he enroll in the Welding Technology program at Texas State Technical College.
“I knew if I was going to get into that business, I would have to learn how to weld,” said Gullick, who is a candidate for graduation with a certificate of completion in August. “I never touched a welding torch my entire career. I was never in the position to pick one up.”
Gullick made a career working in the construction industry, but his passion to build furniture could become a way to open his own business.
“I started out in concrete with my family. That was the first skill I learned,” he said. “I realized quickly that was something I did not want to pursue.”
He then moved to home construction and found an area he liked more than any other.
“I learned early on that I loved framing houses,” he said. “That was one of the best experiences I had on the job.”
While framing houses, Gullick learned to make wooden furniture. He knew his skills would need to increase for one reason.
“Some people may not like wooden furniture. They want something made of metal,” he said. “That is when I decided I needed to learn how to weld.”
His wife asked him to look at TSTC’s program since she had completed the licensed vocational nursing program at the college.
“She knew all about TSTC and knew it would be a good fit for me, especially with our family situation,” Gullick said. “She is working long shifts, and I am watching our kids when I am not in school.”
His time at TSTC has been enlightening, thanks to welding instructor Stephen Hope.
“The instructors can teach you so much more than what you learn in a book,” he said. “They are very big with hands-on training. The instructors proved something to me — you can teach an old dog new tricks, but it just took a little longer for me to learn them.”
Hope said teaching Gullick different welding techniques in order for him to start a business is inspiring.
“Bobby has great determination,” he said. “He came in here to learn the ins and outs of welding to open his own business. That is something he should be proud of.”
Gullick’s TSTC journey began at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When the pandemic started, I was homeschooling my son while I was taking classes,” he said. “It was a challenge, but something I knew I would overcome.”
One way he overcame the challenge was working with his classmates.
“We have built a bond with each other,” he said. “We have some young guys in here that have welded their entire life. They help me out, and I try to help them out.”
Gullick said the last year has also shown him another purpose in life.
“I want to be able to show my young son that all options in life are open. I am hoping to show him that the more you know, the more you will get out of life,” he said.
According to onetonline.org, more than 54,400 welders were employed in Texas as of 2018. By 2028, the number of welders is forecast to be more than 61,000, a 13% increase. The average annual salary for welders in Texas is $45,250, according to the website.
TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Welding Technology, as well as certificates of completion in structural and pipe welding.
Registration for the fall semester is underway. Scholarships are available. For more information, visit tstc.edu.