(HARLINGEN) – Isaac Carrion was 10-years-old when he first knew he wanted to be a welder, and now the 46-year-old is an alumnus from Texas State Technical College, on the cover of a Victor Technologies welding catalog and has more than 53,000 followers on Instagram.
“I remember seeing sparks and light with purple, blue and orange hues in our garage as my dad welded a trailer when I was a young boy,” said Carrion. “That is when I knew I would become a welder.”
He went through middle and high school hoping to get some welding experience in the classroom, even joining the Future Farmers of America, but it was not until he enrolled at TSTC in 1991 that he got his first taste in welding.
“TSTC was a great training place for me,” said the Harlingen native. “The instructors acted like father-figures, always sharing their knowledge, experience and lending a helping hand. For me it was a life changer and gave me the foundation and stepping stone I needed to make my dreams a reality.”
Carrion earned his certificate in Welding Technology in 1994. He said it took him a little longer than most because he had to work full-time and take semesters off to save money for tuition and books.
He worked with a Rio Grande Valley construction company while in college, traveling across Texas installing gymnasium wood floors.
But immediately after graduating from TSTC, he received a job offer from an Austin aircraft company as an airplane frame welder and constructor.
“I said yes to the offer right away,” said Carrion. “This is what I had worked for and it was happening. I could not let the opportunity pass me by.”
So him and his wife, of now 24 years, moved to Austin and have been there since.
Carrion now owns a welding shop in Austin, “Welding Repair Services,” and works on heavy equipment mainly on construction sites. It was established in 2000.
“It was always a dream of mine to own my business and be my own boss,” he said. “It’s been a crazy adventure, but I couldn’t have done it without TSTC and the opportunities I received after.”
For the first decade of Carrion’s career, in addition to the aircraft company, he also worked as a welder constructing race cars, at a manufacturing center welding and installing waste water treatment pipes and at a welding shop that also required him to learn about sheet metal fabrication and machining.
“In all of my jobs I was the person who would weld off-site, so I got to meet a lot of people and learn about industry needs,” said Carrion. “It was then when I realized that my type of business was in demand and if I worked hard it could be successful.”
Not only has Carrion found success in the welding industry, but also in social media. He manages his own welding Instagram page called “icweld,” where many of his more than 53,000 followers are young welders from all over the world looking for guidance and a mentor in the industry.
It was his Instagram following that caught the eye of Victor Technologies, a welding supply company, and inspired them to put Carrion on the cover of their catalogue, on a calendar and to produce a podcast and video about Carrion’s welding career.
Since then other welding supply companies have also reached out to Carrion about being an honorary representative at their booths during FABTECH, North America’s largest metal forming, fabricating and welding conference, which Carrion attends annually.
“It amazes me to see how much of an impact social media has had on my career,” said Carrion. “It has allowed me to reach so many people and share my knowledge and love of welding.”
From time to time Carrion also hosts meet and greets during FABTECH so he can meet his Instagram followers and can have the opportunity to encourage and mentor young welders.
He has even visited TSTC in Harlingen and in Hutto to speak with Welding Technology students and is always surprised when they recognize him from social media.
“I hope to return to TSTC as a mentor for these students,” he said. “TSTC has grown and the technology has advanced so much that I want to encourage these students to take advantage of every opportunity offered.”
He added, “The average age of a welder is 55, and retirement is imminent, so the demand for welders is high and is increasing, and I feel TSTC is moving in the right direction in helping to fill that gap.”
Carrion said he hopes to begin hiring help at his shop, and when the time comes the first place he will recruit from is TSTC.
For more information on Welding Technology, offered at all 10 TSTC campuses across the state, visit tstc.edu.