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Ryan Badger (@badgerweldinginc)

Welcome to this week's #benchmarkspotlight (formerly the #weldershowcase) - we had the opportunity to sit down with Ryan from @badgerweldinginc and talk a little shop.
If you would like to be featured in our weekly spotlight (100% FREE) and have a chance at winning one of our Grinder Hoods please send us an email to to get you scheduled in an upcoming week. These spotlights are intended to highlight your skill, your business, and your tips and tricks.  Most of all it's to have a little fun!
Enjoy and Grind On!


Name:  Ryan Badger
Business Name:  Badger Welding, Inc. 
Location: Rutherfordton, NC
Socials: IG: @badgerweldinginc  FB: badgerweldinginc
Specialties:  Tig Welding - Stainless steel Sheet Metal Fabrication (Commercial Kitchen Equipment)
Tell us about yourself - what inspired you to get into your trade? And how long?
Badger Welding, Inc. was founded in 1985 by our father, Stan Badger. Dad began working on farm equipment locally while apprenticing under a friend. Eventually that friend retired and that's when our dad started Badger Welding, with a $600 pickup truck named "Gertie" and a used $300 Hobart Welding machine.

Nowadays, we work directly for restaurants providing mobile welding repairs, and custom fabricated products. March of 2023 was our 38th business birthday! Ryan is the head supervisor in the shop, operates our waterjet table, and is the lead installer for mobile projects. Randee (Ryan's sister) also works in the business, she runs the office and customer service and manages the projects.
  What keeps you motivated throughout the day?
We love our customers! Our dad ran the business while we grew up and that is how we were supported/provided for. Now we run the business to support our parents. We also love our co-workers. We really are like a "family" here - we have 6 employees and we each have a family to support, so we know that we have to succeed in order to provide for our families. Having a good co-worker family makes work more fun too.
What is your favorite shop tool and why?
Our favorite shop tool is our Waterjet Table! The Waterjet allows us to cut CNC parts repetitively and makes us more competitive to larger corporations who might produce hundreds of the same parts. Ryan operates our waterjet table, as well as designs new parts.
  What's your favorite piece that you've worked on?
That's a hard one. The most challenging item we have produced would be our line of "Commercial Chef Counters" for a long time customer. We visited our customer's restaurant to measure the kitchen space, then designed, fabricated, then installed the Chef Counters ourselves. They take 4 employees about 12-14 hours to install overnight. Each counter is customized for different equipment, and there are weeks of fabrication needed to produce one product. They look SO GOOD after they are installed though!
If you could have any job as it relates to question 1 what would it be and what would you do with that?
We already have our dream job. We get to work face-to-face with our customers, and be the "middle man" between the birth of an idea and the installed finished product. The goal now is to grow so we can provide to more customer, and more employees. We never do 2 projects alike, so every day is a new challenge. We would like to expand into online marketplaces more.
What BA product is your favorite and why?
We do a lot of cutting and grinding when fabricating, so we purchase our cutting discs and grinding discs from Benchmark Abrasives. The reason we purchase from BA is because the price beats every other supplier without cutting quality. 
What BA product surprised you in terms of quality - what about it set it apart from the competition?
BA provides a high quality product so we can produce high quality parts. The grinding discs hold up great when used with 16 ga stainless, and don't wear too quickly (like other products in the price range).
What tips and tricks do you have for us that might be different or eye opening for others to try with BA product?
If you are welding stainless, or aluminum (or both) we recommend using the Purple Rare-Earth tungsten. It does the job on both materials cleanly. Another trick for anyone wanting to get into tig welding is, when welding stainless sheets your tungsten needs to be ground to a sharp point for clean welds - however, with aluminum, your tungsten needs to be rounded for a good weld. It took some trial and error for us to perfect that.  
If there was one person you could collaborate with - who would it be and why?
If we had the opportunity to sit down and speak with our government representatives to discuss the importance of small business and their challenges,  face-to-face, it would be a game changer. 99.9% of all businesses in the US are small businesses - but the spotlight is generally on the larger corporations of America.
Do you have any advice for the next generation that you wish you had when you first started?
Do not let someone talk you into a project you aren't ready for. Knowing your skill set is the first step to running a business and providing a quality product. And always keep your word. Your reputation can build your business or destroy it. 
What are your future plans for your shop?
We just recently partnered with our local community college to create an apprenticeship program for new welders. We are also adding new offices to house more office employees so we can expand to new customers and products. Our goal is growth.
Thanks for sitting with us and sharing your story with the community - is there anything you'd like to add?  
We want to encourage young entrepreneurs who have a dream of starting their own business. It can be extremely challenging at times, but having a good support system can make a world of difference. It is also rewarding to be able to watch your designs, your products, your own handiwork become part of a larger project. Our dad likes to point out products he fabricated and installed years back, and it's always interesting to see his work hidden in plain site around the area.


A Note From Leo
Thanks for sharing your story with us, Ryan! Your answer regarding collaboration was a first but a really good answer as well. If you could get that one-on-one it would definitely be a game changer!
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Next article David Cisneros (@dnb_performance_fabrication)

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