Evan Condron (ECON Welding & Fabrication)

December 11, 2021

Welcome to this week's #weldershowcase - we had the opportunity to sit down with Evan from ECon Welding & Fabrication and talk a little shop.
If you would like to be featured in our weekly showcase (100% FREE) please send us an email to leo.benchmarkabrasives@gmail.com to get you scheduled in an upcoming week. These showcases 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:  Evan Condron

Business Name:   ECon Welding & Fabrication, LLC

Location: Wauconda, IL

Websites: www.EConTableLegs.com

Specialties: Metal furniture bases and displays

Tell us about yourself - what inspired you to get into your trade? And how long?
I always loved taking things apart and trying to figure out how they worked. I grew up wanting to be an engineer so I could design and make stuff for a living. I started welding as a hobby while I was in college for mechanical engineering so I could make my own go karts and dirt bikes. I had a lot of fun with it, but it was an expensive hobby. That hobby ended up turning into a side job, advertised on Craigslist just doing simple repairs and fabrication projects. As I got older and farther along in my engineering education, I realized most engineers don't actually make anything, and the design portion is often not actually designing things, but more so just figuring out how to make someone else's design work for a particular application. As the welding "business" grew, I realized I didn't want to be an engineer any more. I still finished my degree, but decided a full time job as a welder was much more fulfilling to me. Fast forward 10 years, my company fell into the niche of metal furniture products. We sell metal bases that are meant to be paired with wood, glass, or stone tops that are used as dining tables, benches, coffee tables, conference tables, desks, etc. We are currently a team of 20 full time employees and our products are shipped all over the world! Our metal bases are featured in Starbucks, Google, the LA Dodgers Stadium, Dreamworks Animation Studios, Top Golf, and countless other restaurants, businesses, and homes.
  What keeps you motivated throughout the day?
Unfortunately my job doesn't include welding or fabrication any more. I still love doing that stuff, but my fabrication projects are pretty much limited to my own personal experiments and projects. However I still love watching the company grow, and managing the growth. Just about every order that comes through our shop is custom, made-to-order, and it's very fulfilling to me to see these projects go from drawing board to a finished product.
What is your favorite shop tool and why?
I'm torn between the CNC plasma cutter and my Kaltenbach KKS450H cold saw. The CNC plasma cutter is an amazing asset and has saved us thousands of hours of handing shaping/cutting and drilling. I think I love the cold saw so much because the first probably 5 years of business I was always struggling with getting straight, clean, and accurate cuts from bandsaws or abrasive cut-off saws, etc. The cold saw cuts clean, square, and quickly every time.
  What's your favorite piece that you've worked on?
One of the last projects I actually fabricated was for a local customer, they wanted a cool base for a wood top they had and had some inspiration pictures, but for the most part let me design the base how I wanted. I took some pictures of the completed base and it ended up being our most popular product by far! It's nothing super fancy or intricate like so many of the other pieces I've seen on the Welder Showcase, but there's just something about seeing a product I designed and fabricated be admired (and purchased) by so many people!
If you could have any job as it relates to question 1 what would it be and what would you do with that?
I'm doing it. I love what I do. I would like to be able to get under the hood more often, but I wouldn't change a thing.
What BA product is your favorite and why?
Bar none, the 4-1/2" High Density flap discs. We go through THOUSANDS of these per year. We've done case studies and tried dozens of other brands, and nothing can compete with the BA High Density flap discs. There are discs that stay sharper longer and last much longer, but they also cost 5x the price of the BA discs, and they definitely don't last 5x as long, especially when employees like to throw discs away halfway through their usable life!
What BA product surprised you in terms of quality - what about it set it apart from the competition?
Definitely the High Density flap discs. Compared to similar priced products from other companies, it stands out way above the competition. Trust me, when we're spending tens of thousands on abrasives per year, we take the time to test these products against others to make sure we're getting the best bang for our buck.
What tips and tricks do you have for us that might be different or eye opening for others to try with BA product?
It's not necessarily a "trick", but as a tip, we like to use a more worn flap disc to knock down the welds to be almost flush with the base metal, then once all the welds are knocked down we put on a fresh disc and use that for the final finishing. Usually when the final finishing is done, the "fresh" disc is now a more worn disc that can be used to knock down the welds on the next project. It's a good way to keep the flow going without the need for keeping multiple grit discs around. We use the 40 grit discs exclusively, and a fresh 40 grit flap disk leaves a smooth enough finish for painting or powder coating the base and not seeing the scratch marks through the finish.
If there was one person you could collaborate with - who would it be and why?
I would love to meet Jody Collier from Welding Tip and Tricks. His work is more on the industrial side of things, but his videos are what really got me started into welding. He takes pride in his work and shows a lot of attention to detail, which is something you don't see too much anymore.
Do you have any advice for the next generation that you wish you had when you first started?
I really wish I had sought out someone experienced to help train/teach me to at least get past the steep learning curve in the beginning. I was self taught 100%, and I wasted a lot of time, metal, and gained a lot of bad habits that I don't think would have happened if I had some proper guidance starting out. But on the flip side I'm also a big believer in learning things for yourself. I think there's only so much that can actually be taught, and beyond the entry level classes, I don't see much difference in the students who completed welding 101 vs the students who have taken every welding and metalworking class available. So my advice on that end would be to not waste too much time going to school. An internship, entry level job, or even building projects in your garage are much more valuable than school (in my opinion anyway).
What are your future plans for your shop?
I've been making a lot of effort to try and diversify our product offering. I would like to find another niche or two to expand into. Still trying to figure that one out though!


A Note From Leo
Thanks for sharing your story with us, Evan! Niche or not, having your product in so many cool places is pretty damn cool. Hope you find a couple more to focus on in the shop.

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