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Employee spotlight – Derek Crocker
By: Bob Buchanan
We here at bo-mar believe that our employees are our most important asset. Their knowledge and experience is the key to our success and we are grateful for the talents that they bring to bo-mar. We realize that behind every employee is an interesting story of how they came to us, why they’re doing what they’re doing, and how they like to spend their time – on and off the clock.
We welcome you to get to know us a little better!
Employee: Derek Crocker
Current Position: Welder/fabricator
Time at bo-mar: 3 years
Current City: Indianapolis, IN (Irvington)
How did you get to bo-mar?
I was actually recommended by one of Bob and Mark’s friends. I was going to welding school at the time, and I had met this guy through Craigslist. I had bought some vintage motorcycles off of him, and we became friends. I told him what I was going to school for, and he told me he had some buddies who owned a fab shop. He definitely helped me get my foot in the door.
Did we have an open position for a welder at the time?
Not really, and I didn’t hire on as a welder right of the bat. I started out just doing general labor around the shop for about the first year. Then I started doing some grinding and helping out the welding department.
What’s your specialty in the shop?
I would say all of us in the weld shop are pretty well rounded, but I really excel at aluminum welding. I got assigned to some longer production aluminum jobs for about a year straight, and got a lot of practice in on that. It’s definitely my favorite material to work with now. I really enjoy all of the artistic work that has been coming in lately, and I think they see that and try to put me on those jobs.
You seem to have grown quite a bit within your craft during your time here. Is that something you anticipated?
When I started here I was still going to school for welding. I knew how to MIG weld and Stick weld, but we didn’t really do a whole lot of that in the shop. I started staying late, and coming in on the weekends to learn how to TIG weld. Slowly they started to give me little welding jobs here and there. I kind of just cleared myself out a spot and brought my toolbox in, and told them I was their new welder. The other guys in the shop were super helpful, and have taught me a lot. I still learn new things every day. Bo-mar has been such a great place to learn and better my skills. Not a lot of places would teach someone like me with little to no experience.
So I heard you won a furniture making competition. Can you tell me a little about it?
A friend of mine, Mike Warner, who owns Warner Steel Sales decided to put on this little competition to showcase some local artists who are making furniture right now. His shop deals more person to person, so he gets a lot of artists and garage builders in the shop. A couple of furniture builders came in at the same time one day who had never met, and Mike introduced them. That’s when he got the idea to put on this event to let these people meet each other, and allow the public to see their work. I had never done anything like that before, but he asked me if I would be interested in giving it a shot. It sounded like a lot of fun, so I got a buddy of mine to team up with me to help me out with the wood aspect, something I had never worked with. The first round was about 20 builders, and the public voted on Instagram and Facebook for the top 3 to move onto the next round. The top 3 builders had to build a second piece at a live event over the course of 3 hours. We were allowed to do design and prep work beforehand, but all welding had to be done live on-site. I think we finished with about 15 seconds to spare. It was a stressful time, but I had such a blast.
Were you happy with the result?
Yeah, I was pretty happy with it for the most part. The table still needs some finishing touches that we just couldn’t get done in that amount of time. It’s been my coffee table in my living room since the event. Maybe I will finish it up one day. Haha.
I think everyone saw the amount of work and detail that went into the table at the live event. We were the only contestants to do any TIG welding, which I feel gave us a leg up. I used all of the skills and “Intention to Detail” I had learned at bo-mar over the last few years. When I started here we were doing a lot of aerospace jobs, with tight tolerances and standards. Applying that skill set to an artistic outlet really set us apart I think.
What else do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I enjoy wrenching on old motorcycles. I think that’s one of the main reasons I got into welding. I kept having to ask buddies to weld things for me, and thought that it looked like a career I might enjoy. When the weather is nice I like to skateboard, hike, camp, travel, and race dirt track with my friends.
Have you had a favorite project?
I really enjoyed all of the furniture we just made for Simon Malls. The industrial furniture is really popular right now, and it was fun to get my hands into that again. Also all of the sculptures we have made for Jeff Laramore over the years. The two we are working on right now, and the Sun at VOSS that we fabricated (with a general contractor) a few years ago. That was the first big job at bo-mar I was a part of, and my first time doing any aluminum welding. I’ve learned so much on those artistic jobs and it’s something I really feel good about making.
Have you seen them in person yet?
No, not yet, but I really want to. It’s really cool to see your stuff out in the real world. It’s a good feeling being able to show your friends and family something that you played a part in creating. That’s probably the most rewarding part of my job.