What started as a hobby for David De Leon has turned into the start of a well-paying career as the Welding Technology graduate is one of eight from Texas State Technical College to recently get hired by Corpus Christi-based Turner Industries.
The eight start working on Monday and will be making between $20-24 an hour.
“I started off working on my Jeep at a buddy’s shop adding parts like the suspension and I really took a liking to welding,” De Leon said. “That was back in 2009 and it sparked an interest right away. I saved up to buy my own welder (kit) and worked on a few projects myself. But this place (TSTC) really opened up my eyes especially to the safety side of things.”
De Leon started out seeking more knowledge in the welding field in order to take his hobby to the next level. A couple of years later, De Leon walked away with associate degree and a new career.
“I came here to see if I could learn a little more,” De Leon said. “But once I started, I knew this was for me. I dedicated myself to finishing my Certificate I then my Associate of Applied Science. I decided to stay and in the end, it was a good decision for me.”
De Leon will be joined by Jose Ramirez, Krystal Guzman, Adrian Sanchez, Jose Garza, Pal Rangel, Mark Rodriguez and Estevan Cavazos. Macarena Garza was testing during the week and waiting to hear back from the company.
Operation Manager of the Pipe Fabrication Division Don Arehart was on campus last week to interview and hire the TSTC students. He said the make-up of the students from the Valley and TSTC, or what he calls “their DNA,” made it an easy decision to hire the entire group.
Turner Industries is a $2.3 billion privately owned company with more than 30,000 employees, Arehart said.
Turner Industries is the largest pipe fabricator in the United States with locations in Corpus Christi, Pasadena, Paris and Port Allen, La. and a main office in Baton Rouge, La., Arehart said.
Arehart said all eight hires would work as pipe fabricators and welders at some point.
“I’ve done a lot of work with school systems and there are some I refuse to do work with,” Arehart said.
“I like the DNA of the students down here and that includes their work ethic, their safety ethic and their attitude. At Turner, we value the whole person and not just their ability to weld. So we want to provide them a safe work environment where they can earn a good living to provide for their families.”
Guzman’s welding degree is her second from TSTC in the past two years. Guzman graduated as a Board of Regents Scholar (4.0 GPA) in Spring 2013 with an Automotive Technology degree. On Friday, Guzman graduated with honors (3.7 GPA) and a new career. Guzman will start at Turner earning $24.15 an hour.
“I’m extremely excited to start my new career,” Guzman said. “I’ve never had a job where i make more than $8 an hour so this is going to make a big difference in my life.”