Amanda Sotelo, Special to the Star
By Amanda Sotelo, Special to the Star
Yordan Rueda has gone from confused young man undecided about his future to successful business owner – all in a matter of three years.
The 24-year-old graduated from TSTC Welding Technology with a certificate in 2016.
“I had no idea what I wanted to do. I didn’t even have a prior interest in welding,” he said. “But after speaking with some TSTC advisors and doing some research I found that welders were in demand and making great money.”
Rueda enrolled in Welding Technology for the opportunities he knew lay ahead and said he is blessed to have found TSTC, because the college helped him find his way.
“The hands-on training and the program’s experienced instructors are what sold me,” said Rueda. “By the time graduation rolled around I had experience and I felt prepared and confident to enter the workforce.”
The Harlingen native worked with a metal structural construction company as a welder the year after he graduated, but then he joined forces with his best friend and opened up R&Z Welding in Dallas.
“This was a scary move. I was making good money already and I left it all behind to become a business owner,” he said. “I knew it would be a challenge, but also knew that the reward could be worthwhile.”
The first year in business was tough for Rueda, it wasn’t until the end of that year that the company landed its first contract.
“There wasn’t a lot of welding going on that first year,” said Rueda. “But because I was able to save and didn’t have any student loan debt I wasn’t too worried, I just worked hard at making sure our business would be successful.”
A welding certificate at TSTC costs about $12,300, an amount that Rueda said was affordable and he was able to pay with earnings from his night job as a cashier at a local convenience store.
Fast forward a couple of years and R&Z Welding is now making about half a million dollars a year and working with large contractors such as Ranchers Group of Companies, LLC, welding steel structures for the construction of Hilton Hotels and Resorts.
Rueda and his friend are now booked through next year for jobs in Dallas, Iowa, New Mexico, among other states.
“None of this would have been possible without the support and care from my TSTC instructors and the training they provide,” said Rueda. “I’m so accomplished at such a young age. There’s some pride in that.”
TSTC Welding Technology graduates can find careers as welding, soldering and brazing machine setters, cutters and pipefitters.
Upon graduating, TSTC students can make more than $40,000 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
But for Rueda the return of investment on his education has tripled.
“I owe so much to TSTC and the moment that our business expands and we begin hiring welders I plan on giving back and hiring TSTC grads,” said Rueda. “I know the quality of training they receive and I’d be proud to have them working for us.”
All 10 TSTC campuses statewide offer Welding Technology.
For more information, visit tstc.edu/programs/WeldingTechnology.