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Alumni Spotlight: Ryan Petroski

September 11th, 2018

U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant Ryan Petroski always wanted to be a welder, but he said that career path in the military is really small. When he was able to move to Rapid City two years ago, that all changed.

“I wanted to get back into trying to get certified and make [welding] a career choice for when I get out of the military,” Petroski says. He graduated as a welder in June. “Hands down, it was the best training I’ve had,” he continues. “Tommy Myers, the instructor, is very knowledgeable on everything to do with welding and fabrication and the whole welding career field.” Petroski felt comfortable immediately and started cutting steel from day one. “It wasn’t a whole lot of book work that a lot of other schools make you do,” he says. “It’s just a great school to go to.”

Loenbro Tech Welding

Petroski said when he first started looking at area welding programs, he initially registered at a different school that was more like a college that required a variety of coursework. “They kept telling me, ‘You’ll get your certifications,’” he says. He went through the financial paperwork, took the placement exams, and three days before classes began, he asked again about certifications. When he learned he would not be certified, he dropped out and discovered Loenbro. “I think it was 12 or 13 certifications I walked out with, in three months,” he says. “Throughout the course, Tommy would do one-on-one training. I’d say probably 98 percent of the time, you’re in the shop working in that trade. You gain a lot of skills really quick.”

“When I left there, I felt that I could go anywhere,” Petroski says. “I honestly can’t say enough about Loenbro.” He went straight from Loenbro to co-owning a business, Freedom Arc Welding & Fabrication, with fellow alum Randy Hoppe. “[Randy] would come by every day or every other day to help Tommy out if he had something else to do in the office,” Petroski says. “We kind of hit it off. He invited me out to his place one time, and we were looking at the firepit that he built.” It was then that the idea for Freedom Arc was born. “Building one of those firepits by yourself is very labor-intensive, so we just started brainstorming and decided to go into business together and it took off from there.”

Petroski and Hoppe are known for their firepits. “It’s very one-off from what a lot of people do, because when we started building them, we looked to see what was out there that was kind of like our stuff. From what we found, nothing had the same kind of detail,” Petroski says. “I would say it’s an art form. That was 100 percent Randy’s brainchild, really; he just brought me in on the mix.”

“The firepits are definitely our crown jewels with the logs and everything,” he says. “We also do rustic wine racks with horseshoes and then we add some of those [decorative things like pinecones].” In addition, they also do welding repair work on trailers or “pretty much anything that needs welding.”

Welder Alumni - Loenbro techWhat if he hadn’t met Randy Hoppe? “I probably would have tried working for myself, but probably more of a mobile aspect of welding,” Petroski says. “We offer that with Freedom Arc, too.” For example, if the bucket on a construction company’s excavator cracks, he and Hoppe will go out and fix it – wherever people need to have something fixed.

Does Ryan Petroski’s story inspire you? According to O*NET OnLine, the demand for welders, cutters, solderers and brazers is expected to grow up to 9 percent by the year 2026. In many states – including South Dakota, Montana and North Dakota – the availability of jobs and employers is more than the number of skilled welders, making now the perfect time to train for a welding career and a solid wage. Loenbro Technical Institute is the place to train.

By focusing training on specific skills with hands-on practice, Loenbro turns out students who are fully trained, educated welders ready to contribute to the workforce on day one. Rather than spending most of your time in a classroom learning the basics of English literature or zoology, you’re getting your hands dirty in the lab, learning what you need to know when you’re in the real world. With a 98 percent job placement rate, Loenbro delivers on the promise to train you for a career.

If you are ready to train for a career with a promising future and one that you can begin in less than 12 weeks, contact Loenbro today. New classes begin every two weeks.

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