March 4, 2021
From Mickey D's to Welding T's
Get to Know Charlie Watkins
What was your work experience prior to welding?
One of my earliest jobs was In high school, I was asked by a retired Air Force Major to help build a small RV-8 two seater single engine airplane. I also worked at McDonalds for almost 2 years as a Grill Lead, I trained new employees in the kitchen and oversaw the cleanliness of the grill in the kitchen. I quit when I discovered that I was training new employees with an hourly rate greater than mine. Following my McDonalds job, I had a short stint at Wal-Mart but quickly decided that none of these jobs suited me, and I needed to find a career. This was right before my 18th birthday, and I decided that I did not want to struggle to make a living my whole life.
What got you interested in welding?
I was interested in metal working in general. I had taken a machine shop class in high school and worked with metal there. As a kid, shows like Monster Garage and American Chopper that showed people welding and fabricating showed me how useful this could be. Skills like those seemed to offer limitless opportunities. A local company offered me the opportunity to go to welding school at no financial cost, so I trained in their shop for about 6 months. That experience essentially started my career in welding.
How long have you worked with ARC?
In 2010, I started at the inception of the company for a couple years on the road as a contractor, primarily in the field on various projects. Eventually an opportunity to work local from home came. I spent almost 5 years there until it ended. In 2018, a past acquaintance who was a manager with ARC offered me a permanent position in ARC's shop to work with their orbital welding equipment.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoy the challenge and doing unusual jobs. I also enjoy learning about the technical side and science behind welding. I don’t just weld but also work on and repair the automated welding equipment. I also spend much of my time in R&D, trying new things and finding unique solutions for customers' challenges.
What welding techniques do you enjoy performing most, and why?
TIG welding is my favorite welding technique. It is overall a quieter and less erratic process, with no smoke, sparks, etc. TIG welding is also cleaner compared to other processes. It definitely has its place though. It's not the best in all circumstances. They all have a place where each process might be superior in cleanliness, usability, efficiency, or cost.. Finally, it’s one of the more sought-after welding skills and one that I am pleased to have experience with.
Who has been your greatest mentor or motivation?
A large circle of welders and fitters have encouraged me along the way, so there are too many to name. Jamie Dillon is a stand-out fitter that has a lot of integrity and represents a lot of good Christian values. His beliefs were admirable. I appreciated working with him because he instilled in me his great attitude and way of treating others. In my earliest time in the industry Mike Miller was my supervisor. He constantly pushed me to increase my skill set, to do better. But there are many more, like my welding instructors Gabriel Zapata and Howard Beard.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I don’t have a lot of spare time, but with what I do have I enjoy spending time with my family. My daughter participates in competitive archery and I enjoy following her growth in the sport and supporting her whenever possible.