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Rob’s righteous rigs

image L-R: Caleb Rundle, Rob Neace (owner, Rob Rigs Welding Services), Eric Poovey and Dustin Rogers

HOUSTON - Houston native Rob Neace, frankly, “had no idea” what he wanted to do for a livelihood when he was 18. Good thing he stumbled up welding, “by accident, honestly,” he admits.

 

 

 

 

 

    Neace was working in a plant as a laborer when he saw some guys tacking some things. He gave it a try, but that was it. When Neace left there to work in a fabrication shop, he and two other new guys were asked who had any welding experience. The other two guys hadn’t, while Neace said he had done it a bit. But that was enough for the boss man to make Neace the welder and the two other guys helpers.
    Without the benefit of formal schooling, Neace learned on the job, eight hours a day for an oil field company, to be able to pass the test.
    During his 20s, Neace joined the pipeline welder’s union upon advice from his shop foreman and did a lot of traveling to Alaska, Minnesota, and Florida. The pay and benefits were great, but with caring for two young daughters, the traveling took its toll. Thus, he returned to Texas started Rob Rigs Welding Services in 2010.
    Unfortunately, that happened to be the time in America when the pipeline industry took a noticeable turn downward. Neace said that union welders would go many months between jobs.
    While Rob Rigs Welding stayed on as an official business, Neace decided to take a break from welding and further his education by enrolling in the University of Houston as a chemical engineering major. Since being a pipeline welder had paid so well, Neace only had to bartend on the side for spending cash.
    When the pipeline business improved, Neace re-entered the oil field welding business in early 2018, picking up Rob Rigs Welding where it had left off. This time, however, business was very much booming and Neace left his studies 28 hours short of earning his degree.
    “The work came in so fast and there was so much of it,” he said, that continuing with his degree didn’t make sense.
    Still, Neace added that “there [are] not a lot of welders out there who went to school for chemical engineering.”
    “The pipeline industry is great for the economy,” he said. Neace has one full-time welder under him to go out into the field, and one semi-retired welder who stays back at the shop, doing in-house work.
    “The economy’s amazing right now,” he said. Neace’s short-term goal is to get some more mobile welding rigs out to where the action is. His long-term goal would be to beef up his in-shop business and ship out the products. Neace said that, while mobile welding will never go out of style, it’s the shop welding that produces products faster, cheaper and much cleaner than out in the field.
    “The mobile part,” he said, “will always be a part of the company, but I would like to get into bigger stuff where I actually build high-pressure piping [in the shop].”
    The only negative aspect of this is the welder must be retested and recertified every three years, and the cost of the books he must buy in order to prepare for the test, as well as the test itself, are very expensive.
    At one point when he was younger and still searching, Neace’s mother suggested that he explore underwater welding. He gave it a go but found out that welding on the land paid as well as doing it underwater. Plus, he just didn’t like it.
    From there, he stumbled upon dry land welding, and, except for the years he was enrolled at the U of H, has never looked back.
    Rob has his righteous rigs ready to ramble down the road and repair, rehabilitate and reform whatever is requested.
    Rob Rigs Welding Service is a mobile welding contractor in Alvin. -dsz


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Dan Zulli dan@constructionnews.net