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Kay Summers (@o.kay.welds)

Welcome to this week's #weldershowcase - we had the opportunity to sit down with Kay from @o.kay.welds and talk a little shop.
If you would like to be featured in our weekly showcase (100% FREE) please send us an email to 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:  Kay Summers

Business Name:  US 12 Speed & Custom (Work) + Koalesced Krafts (Self)

Location: Michigan

Socials: IG: @o.kay.welds

Specialties: TIG/MIG Welding and Fabricating

Tell us about yourself - what inspired you to get into your trade? And how long?
I’m originally from Elkhart, Indiana, A city referenced as the “RV Capital of the world” and the industry in which I started working. I worked on production lines, ran production, stocked production etc. and to be honest, I didn’t enjoy any of it. I remember one of the factories I was working in had just opened up a new welding/brazing department in the back of the building. I was so curious and asked one of the older guys if he could teach me. We started off brazing copper and then did a little welding and I was absolutely hooked, as cheesy as that sounds to say. Not long after that I went to my supervisor and (in short) asked if I could eventually be taught how to weld and be moved to the back to work. Without even the slightest hesitation he said, No. The answer No wasn’t uncommon for me to hear in any factory I worked in, unfortunately. I was told no a lot of times, for many things. What none of those employers knew about me though, is that the answer “no” was never a deterrent for me, and never actually stopped me from doing things I wanted. As a young child this was one personality trait my mom probably despised, but that “stubbornness” turned out to be the catalyst that would eventually impact my life for the better. Truthfully, in the back of my mind I never thought I’d get this far. I never thought I’d amount to much in life, I struggled terribly in school and dropped out of high school with a 1.0 GPA. But, remembering all the times I was told “no” ironically propelled me forward into taking a leap of faith and putting myself through the welding programs at Lake Michigan College where I maintained straight A’s, a 4.0 GPA, and made the Dean’s list, successes I mostly accredit to my amazing teachers (Kramb, and Riley, my TIG and MIG teachers and Kreitner, my machine and tool teacher). Eventually I landed my first job doing sanitary welding and built a lot of equipment for big name brands like Kraft, Smucker’s, and Starbucks, which was enjoyable but after some time I decided that I wanted to pursue one of my other passions, cars! A little over a year ago I landed my current job, welding and fabricating custom hot rods and dragsters at ‘US 12 Speed and Custom’ in New Buffalo, Michigan, and I truly couldn’t be happier. I’ve been welding and fabricating professionally since 2018, but I'm still considered pretty “green” in this industry. There’s just so much I want to learn and I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface.
  What keeps you motivated throughout the day?
My motivation throughout the day is always thinking of the end goal. No matter how difficult a project is, I try to envision what it will be like/ look like when it’s all said and done. The thought of the customer seeing it and being happy about the final product is what also drives me to do my best.
What is your favorite shop tool and why?
My favorite shop tool is one that isn’t even mine LOL. It’s a Sharpie DX tungsten grinder that I often borrow from my boss. It’s great for when you’re in tight spaces such as a roll cage and need to sharpen your tungsten but really don’t want to have to get out of position and out of the cage.
  What's your favorite piece that you've worked on?
My favorite project so far at US 12 was building/welding a beautiful 63 chevy truck chassis.
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 my dream job now but I’d like to be doing more art, like metal sculptures and participating in art shows.
What BA product is your favorite and why?
My favorite BA product has been the zirconia high density flap disk. They’re good quality, last a lot longer than most brands and work really well.
What BA product surprised you in terms of quality - what about it set it apart from the competition?
Literally all of the surface conditioning disks have been surprisingly impressive. Other brands of disks I’ve tried get gummed up quickly after trying to strip even a small area of paint or they are too abrasive and take off way more material than needed, leading to a much longer finishing process than needed. BA’s products are a perfect solution. They get the job done without compromise.
If there was one person you could collaborate with - who would it be and why?
One person I’d like to collaborate with would be Rae Ripple. I just adore her! Her story, energy, positivity. She’s just a great person all around and a wonderful artist that I’d love the opportunity to work with someday.
Do you have any advice for the next generation that you wish you had when you first started?
My advice for the next generation… just go for it, be fearless. Too many people are afraid of making mistakes and because of that never take chances. But those mistakes and chances are what will help you grow. Don’t be afraid of failure, don’t be afraid of looking stupid. Keep being curious. Keep wanting to learn. And lastly, stay humble!
What are your future plans for your shop?
Future plans for the shop are to just keep growing. We have an amazing team of individuals who are so passionate about what we do and we really make the effort to evolve our skill sets by taking classes, watching videos, reading books, talking to other people in our trade, etc. even in our own free time. So the goal right now is to just keep going, getting bigger, better, and really making a positive impact within our community.
Thanks for sitting with us and sharing your story with the community - is there anything you'd like to add?  
Thank You so much for this opportunity!


A Note From Leo
Thanks for sharing your story with us, Kay! We're glad to learn that you never took no for an answer and eventually got yourself into a dream job! Now, that's a success story!
Previous article Wil Smiley (IG: @_grumpy_gramps_

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