Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in skills development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jason Martin, owner, and president of Ready Arc Training and Testing, located in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Ready Arc is a welder training center focused on welder training at all levels. We have a 6-month pre-employment program for young apprentices. We upskill current welders looking to improve their standing in the trade and work with companies to improve the skill level of their current welders. Ready Arc works with welders from every skill level. We even volunteer at the local high schools. Working with the teachers and helping to develop their programs, and working with the students to show them the real-world relevance of the skills they are learning.
Tell us about yourself
I began in the trades the way many did back in the '90s. After successfully graduating from a two-year technology course and finding there was no work in my chosen field. I flopped around a bit until I got a job with a steel fabrication company. I discovered that building was something that gave me a lot of pride, and while it could be very hard, it made me happy. Ten years later, I was a project manager for the same company as a Red Seal Welder, Steel Fabricator, and Ironworker. As the years passed, I worked on many different projects. I was even able to find work overseas, which first introduced me to the "universality" of the skilled trades. I learned that it didn't matter where I was in the world, my trade skills would be transferable, and no matter how much I knew, there was always more to learn. Now, 25 years from the beginning, I am a journeyman in 3 trades with certifications as an inspector and welding examiner. I just got contracted to teach welding in South America for a multi-national company partnered with a local government to improve the trades training in their technical schools. After all this, I realized that I'm not special, and anyone in the trades can do it. So now I teach.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
The thing I'm most proud of as a business owner is our reputation and the relationships we've developed with businesses and trade unions across New Brunswick. Companies seek out our graduates and reach out to us regularly to see when we have another class graduating. Trade unions tell prospective members they need to train with us before they accept them as apprentices. Professionals in the field call for direction or advice on certifying or training their employees. All this is due to the knowledge and professionalism of our staff.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One of the hardest parts of being a small business owner is knowing our limitations and controlling growth. As a small business owner, I am accustomed to seeing opportunities at every corner. It takes discipline to look at something and see what it could become but to be able to say "thank you but no thank you" because it doesn't fit the long-term vision of the company.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
The first thing every business owner should know is, "what do you want?". This needs to be answered personally and is only truly known by the individual asking the question. The answer will often be a mixture of varying levels of different goals like financial benefits, independence or personal freedom, or perhaps control over your own future. This is important because it will be reflected in how you run your business and how you view your employees. Also, you will need to know what you're willing to risk or do to get "what you want." This is a hard question to answer and may change as time goes on. The answer you give yourself when first asked is just a good place to start because when things get difficult, truly difficult, that is when the solution becomes the truth.
Next is to pay attention. That is to pay attention to your customers' needs and not be afraid to pivot when they do. Pay attention to the needs of your employees and be willing to listen to them as they are the face of your company- people quit bosses, not jobs- this is the truth. Pay attention to the competition (but not too much) - in my situation, I couldn't compete with the deep pockets of my competition, so I went for product quality. Now, after 8 years of running this business, we are the only private welder training facility in the Maritimes. 3 other training companies were working in the same area.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Ready Arc is a small but high-quality welder training facility located in Saint John, NB. We pride ourselves on having intimate knowledge of our client's needs and delivering a quality product. Our staff comprises professionals from the industry with decades of training experience working with everyone from the high school student to professional welders working on exotic alloys in heavy industry.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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