Harris Salutes Workshops for Warriors for Its Work with Veterans
The Harris Products Group and its parent company, Lincoln Electric, have long histories of supporting veterans, with established programs for recruitment, hiring, training, tuition reimbursement, and scholarships. The companies also proudly support several outside organizations that play significant roles in helping veterans.
One organization that is making a huge difference in servicemen’s and servicewomen’s lives is Workshops for Warriors® (WFW), a nonprofit organization that trains and certifies veterans and transitioning service members in welding and CNC machining for careers in advanced manufacturing.
Since its inception, Workshops for Warriors has trained over 700 veterans who have earned over 6,000 nationally recognized portable stackable certifications and are working in every state of our nation. Workshops for Warriors relies on private donations and grants to fund their intensive four-month programs. The organization is, “Rebuilding American Manufacturing, One Veteran at a Time®.”
Profile of a Workshops for Warriors Graduate
Gabriel Lara is one example of the hundreds of veterans who found a purpose with the help of Workshops for Warriors. Gabriel, 22, grew up near Los Angeles, often in the same room as his two siblings and mother. Because they didn’t have much, they moved around a lot, often renting one room of an apartment where they would all live together.
At 17, after a recruiter from the Marine Corps visited his high school, Gabriel enlisted. Eight days after receiving his diploma, he was in boot camp. “It was a shock, a really big shock,” he said. “But I knew I wanted to do something I could be proud of and my family would be proud of too.”
Gabriel served in logistics and maintenance management, where he was responsible for inventorying and instituting preventive maintenance for his entire unit’s gear. In 2017, he was chosen for a Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force, which put him in Kuwait and Afghanistan.
Near the end of his service, Gabriel began tossing around the idea of returning home to Los Angeles, maybe using his G.I. Bill to enroll in college. Almost immediately after transitioning out, however, his girlfriend found out she was pregnant and suddenly, his timeline for finding a job got much tighter.
“Everything changed all of a sudden. With a pregnant girlfriend and a baby on the way, I knew I had to find a way to support them,” Gabriel said. “I needed something I knew would give me financial security quickly. I needed my daughter to have more than I did growing up.”
After attempting community college for a couple of months, Gabriel found out about Workshops for Warriors. “Before Workshops for Warriors, I felt lonely, like I didn’t really have a purpose,” he said. “Here, everyone is a veteran. I feel like I got some of that brotherhood back, and we are all learning a trade that will give us financial security and a future as America’s manufacturing workforce.”
Though faced with unforeseen challenges and adjusting to remote learning due to COVID-19, Gabriel graduated from the welding program on April 23, 2020, earning 10 nationally-recognized welding certifications. Now married with a daughter, Gabriel plans to move with his family to Nevada, where he hopes they can buy their first home.
The Ironworker Outfits
A military history buff with several veterans in his family, Harris’ Industrial Sales Manager for North America Patrick Fagerquist learned about Workshops for Warriors several years ago. After spending time at their school in San Diego and seeing the significant contributions made by the organization, he suggested that Harris create a promotional program to draw attention to Workshops for Warriors and raise funds for its operations.
Fagerquist took his idea to Greg Barnes, a graphic designer at Harris and a fellow veteran. Having served four years in the US Navy before going to work at Harris, Barnes recognized firsthand that military training does not always translate to a civilian job. “I was a Damage Control Petty Officer in the Navy and was responsible for maintaining firefighting equipment on the ship,” he said.
“That doesn’t translate well into a civilian job so I decided to go to art school. I am like most veterans – good with my hands. What Workshops for Warriors is doing is amazing because affording a veteran the opportunity to have a career in welding can be a perfect fit. That is why I was excited to be a part of this project. I wanted to develop a product that would pay homage to our military personnel and what they mean to this country. We chose an actual US Government-issued 40MM ammo can to package the product in, and outfitted the regulators with a digital camo pattern that makes them totally unique and different from anything in the market. I wanted to design the kit in a way that would make it a collector’s item and I think we achieved that.”
Harris rolled out its new limited edition Ironworker outfit in June and, for every outfit sold, Harris will donate $5 to Workshops for Warriors, with a goal of raising $25,000. Harris is also encouraging its distributors to donate $5 per outfit sold.
Haun Welding Supply, a fourth-generation business that services most of Upstate New York, Western and Northern Vermont and Northern Pennsylvania, has already committed to supporting this effort, and Fagerquist expects many more distributors to follow suit.
“We are extremely proud to support the efforts of Workshops for Warriors,” said Fagerquist. “This organization is providing a valuable service to our industry, as well as helping those who have served our nation and are looking for new ways to help it succeed. We urge our distributors to get behind the Ironworker program. They’ll be supporting a great cause with long-term benefits for the veterans, as well as assisting their customers who are in need of skilled welders.”
The Ironworker outfit is packaged in a U.S. Government issued 40 mm metal ammunition can with side-carry handles and a removable lid. It features Model 25GX regulators with a special digital-camo pattern. These one-of-a-kind regulators are made in Harris’ Gainesville, Ga. facility, and come with an industry-best seven-year warranty. The outfits are available in Harris Series and V-Series with either 300 or 510 CGA fittings. They also come with a cutting tip, shade 5 safety glasses, ignitor and a 3/16” x 20’ twin grade “R” hose.
We greatly appreciate Harris’ contributions to Workshops for Warriors,” said Lyle Palm, Chief Academic Officer for Workshops for Warriors. “They are supporting our mission to train the men and women who served our country – America’s next generation of advanced manufacturing workers.”
The Harris Ironworker camo kit may be ordered online at: https://www.harrisproductsgroup.com/en/Products/Equipment/Torches/Oxy-Fuel-Kits/ironworker-camo-kit.aspx
About Workshops for Warriors®
The mission of Workshops for Warriors is to provide quality hands-on training, STEM educational programs and opportunities to earn third-party nationally recognized credentials to enable veterans, transitioning service members and other students to be successfully trained and placed in their chosen advanced manufacturing career field. To learn about enrollment or donating to help support the program and its mission, visit our website at: wfw.org.
About The Harris Products Group
The Harris Products Group, a Lincoln Electric company with headquarters in the U.S., is a world leader in the design, development and manufacture of cutting, welding, brazing, and soldering equipment, consumables and gas distribution systems. The Harris Products Group products are sold and used in more than 90 countries. For more information about The Harris Products Group and its products and services, please visit the company’s website at www.harrisproductsgroup.com.