Get to know a zoo vet tech turned fabricator: A Q&A with David D’Souza

David D'Souza with gorilla at the Los Angeles Zoo

   What do you do for a living?

I’m actually a veterinary technician at the zoo in Los Angeles. I’ve always been an animal lover, and I’ve worked with animals since I was 16. It’s such an exciting and often dangerous job that it keeps me sharp and motivated. Every day is an adventure. I would honestly do it for free, but luckily it pays enough for me to enjoy my other hobbies.

How and why did you get into welding, art and making?David D'Souza welding

Speaking of my other hobbies, many of them center around motorsports. I’ve always enjoyed building fast cars, trucks and bikes. Welding is a necessary skill in fabricating many high-performance parts and “one of” custom setups; so, I had to pick up welding both MIG and TIG along the way. Once I immersed myself in the metal fabrication hobby It quickly developed into a real passion and from it my creative side started to blossom.

What types of items do you design and make?

I typically design and create industrial-style items, as well as a few more delicate things. Custom tables are my favorite along with mobile carts and other heavy items. Almost everything I design incorporates a blend of heavy steel and wood. I particularly like building butcher block or farmhouse-style slabs and mounting them on industrial steel frames. I like playing with different wood finishes such as epoxy resins. I feel that wood has a warm, deep beauty that is brought to light if the correct finishing technique is used.

David D'Souza cartDavid D'Souza TableDavid D'Souza chicken feet potsDavid D'Souza book endsDavid D'Souza industrail coffee table

How do you market or sell your creations? Do you attend shows?

I haven’t focused on the marketing or selling aspect too much until recently. This is still mainly a hobby, and I’m constantly learning and improving. I recently started Red Dogs Crafts, and I currently only have an Etsy website as a marketing tool. I do plan on becoming a vendor at a few local flea markets here in Los Angeles to see if I can find a target audience for my style of fabrication. I plan on attending a few shows to get some ideas of what other fabricators are doing out there. I love seeing new ideas and techniques because it motivates me to learn more.

How did you learn to do this?

I’m 100-percent self-taught in everything that I do. I’ve never taken classes, had a mentor or worked in the industry to have someone show me the ropes. I believe I’m a fast learner in anything that I do, and I also know that I learn best when I do things on my own by making mistakes and doing my own research on different techniques. Nowadays, with the Internet and YouTube there isn’t anything that you cannot learn online. Heck, there’s even YouTube videos on how to do cardiac surgery for that first timer doing a valve replacement. LOL. My usual mode of action is to buy the tool first then figure out how it works and then practice until I’m proficient at it or at least achieve the end results that I can be proud of.

What artists, designers or makers do you most admire?

I like Kevin Caron’s work. I think he’s very practical and down to earth with his techniques. He’s also a wealth of knowledge and experience; so, I respect his abilities and his work because he’s constantly learning like the rest of us. He’s also on the WeldingWeb forum where I met HGR for the first time; so, he adds to the knowledge base, as do many other experienced guys.

What inspires you?

I think I’m inspired by the challenge of creating something that I visualize in my mind and having to physically take the steps to make it materialize to as close a rendition of what I see in my mind’s eye. I feel that many people love certain things but always feel that they’re unattainable either because it’s too difficult, it’s too much work or they just can’t figure out how to do it. I love figuring out how to do new stuff. That is what inspires and motivates me.

What do you do when you aren’t working or making art?

Whenever I have free time I spend my time pursuing my other hobbies. Typically, I’m out in the deserts of Southern California riding my dirt bikes or drag racing my cars. I think the feeling of being on two wheels ripping through our beautiful landscape gives me the exhilaration that I’m constantly chasing. I also enjoy spending time outdoors at the beach with my two dogs and my girlfriend. Sometimes, I just love my family time staying home with my girlfriend and the dogs just relaxing.

What advice do you have for makers?

My advice is that you can go as far in this hobby/profession as you choose. It’s all dependent on the effort that you put into it. I would advise anyone starting in the hobby to take classes first. I think this would set you up with a good fundamental foundation which would expose you to the different techniques, tools and options out there which would then allow you to make intelligent choices going forward with the hobby. Being that I’m self-taught, I feel that I’ve gone around in circles a few times and would have wasted less time had I gained the experience a class provides. Also, if you can work in the industry do so, even as a volunteer. It’s invaluable the skill you develop by immersing yourself into the industry.

What is your personal philosophy?

I’ve never been asked this question before so I’ll have to think of one now. I think of life as a journey that is based on choices or decisions. Every decision we make has an effect on the direction that our life takes. If we make good decisions early in life, we are started on a path to success or happiness. I realized the consequences of my decisions in my late 20s and it was at that point that I started in the direction that I’m headed now. My philosophy would probably be something along the lines that life is a constant test of your character. If you make good choices based on good character you’ll be on the path to success and happiness in whatever you pursue.

Anything that I missed? The two red dogs?

Ah, my babies. “ShyAnne” and her daughter “Lil Cheese.” These are my two red dogs. A mom and daughter pair that have been part of my life for the last 15 years. ShyAnne has been by my side through thick and thin and good and bad. It’s amazing how having a strong bond with your dogs can keep you positive through so many difficult times in life. These two are a part of everything I do. Hence, I decided to name the fabrication shop after them as they are a part of everything I build. I’m glad to have my workshop at home because it allows me to spend time with my two dogs while I’m building stuff. I take lots of breaks to play ball with them and build cool dog toys to keep them occupied. In return, they only ask for more of my attention, and treats, which I am always glad to give.

David D'Souza's two Red Dogs after which Red Dog Crafts is named

Hurricane-victim relief auction goes LIVE

44 Steel desk
Desk by Jason Radcliffe of 44 Steel
Rust Dust & Other 4 Letter Words lamp table
Lamp table by Larry Fielder of Rust, Dust & Other 4 Letter Words
3 Barn Doors table for HGR Industrial Surplus hurricane-relief auction
Table by Aaron Cunningham of 3 Barn Doors

 

You can own a one-of-a-kind piece of handcrafted furniture by one of Cleveland’s premier contemporary-furniture designers AND help hurricane victims at the same time.

You can reach the auction from a button on our home page at hgrinc.com or go directly to the landing page here to read about the arts organization that will benefit from the auctions. To learn more about 44 Steel’s desk, click here. For info about Rust, Dust & Other 4 Letter Words’ lamp table, click here. For info about 3 Barn Doors, click here.

Help hurricane victims recover, and gain a conversation piece for your home or office.

Industrial artist and welder started out making a statue out of popsicle sticks

Mike Ensminger Iron Image Design

(Courtesy of Guest Blogger Mike Ensminger, Iron Image Design)

I was always the kid in class who was doodling on a piece of paper. All my life I’ve been very artistic and was able to draw pretty well; so, later when I took an art class in college I was able to fit right in. When we started to do three-dimensional work I took it as a challenge. I created a sculpture of the Archangel Michael standing on top of the serpent with his sword pointed high. Using popsicle sticks and hot glue, the sculpture was fragile, to say the least. I ended up receiving an A in the class, and I was put into the college’s Tribune newspaper for my work, but to my dismay the piece fell apart on a hot day in the back of my car.

Right around that time I was getting a welding certificate from Lorain County Community College, and I decided to make a piece out of metal that would be permanent and never fall apart. My work started with little things and grew as I challenged myself more and more. The larger pieces excited me, the challenge and thrill of making something amazing. I’d find myself getting lost in a project. I’d work on it late into the night, as the job that I was working at grew less and less important.

The pieces that I made sold for good money, and I figured that if I could dive into my work full time I could make a living at it. The last three years have been a process of learning how to run my own business legitimately and keep the inspiration to make the pieces that I wanted to make.

Meeting the right people and getting into the corporate realm are key, and things have been moving forward. I’ve done decorative metal work within the food industry. One restaurant that comes to mind is the Foundry Kitchen and Bar where much of my work was featured on Channel 8 News. I’ve done various venues within the Cleveland I-X Center, as well as working with its owner, Ray Park. Since I, oftentimes, sell my art to private owners, the larger goal is to expose my work corporately.

I feel like art is in all walks of life, including how we choose to live our life, who we live our life with, and what choices we make in between. My work usually starts from a large jumbled pile of metal laying on the ground next to my garage. But somehow, I find a way to create symmetry out of chaos. It all starts with an idea or vision and then you apply effort to that vision and every step of the way, every move you make, you must take a step back and evaluate if it was the right move or not. Sometimes, you have to go back a couple steps to get forward in the long run. We have to keep ourselves inspired and remain diligent to complete the task. With that formula, we can all do great things.

To see more of his work, visit ironimagedesign.com.

Ensminger Iron Image Design running horseEnsminger Iron Image Design screenEnsminger Iron Image Design tableEnsminger Iron Image Design chair

Top 10 questions about HGR Industrial Surplus

HGR Industrial Surplus Showroom Aisle-way

We get questions all the time about what we do, and people are curious about what we sell. So, we put together this Top 10 list of interesting tidbits, trivia and fun facts about HGR for your enjoyment.

What do you do?

HGR Industrial Surplus buys new and used machinery, equipment, furniture, supplies, fixtures, shelving and more. You name it, we’ve sold it. Yes, even rugs, leather, wine glasses, printer ink cartridges, pottery molds, sinks, tile and more.

What’s the heaviest item that you’ve ever sold?

A large press that weighed 150,000 pounds!

What’s the most expensive item that you’ve ever sold?

A press for $89,999

What’s the oddest thing you’ve ever bought?

15,000 hammers

What do you sell the most of?

Electrical items

Who are your customers?

Makers, machinists, hobbyists, welders, manufacturers, engineers, maintenance employees, DIYers, woodworkers, contractors, store and business owners

Why did you locate in Euclid, Ohio?

Euclid had the building that would work for us. We were able to commit to the space we needed at the time, while also having options to grow. It was perfect for our short- and long-term plans.

Edwin Merced HGR Employee of the MonthWho was your most recent employee of the month?

Edwin Merced, showroom operator, was nominated and voted April’s Employee of the Month by his coworkers at HGR. He was nominated for “supporting everyone with openness, honesty, trust and respect while working as a team to achieve our common goals. He creates exceptional customer relationships by enhancing awareness and expectations of outstanding service with every interaction. Edwin does all of this with a smile on his face.”

Who’s the employee who’s been there the longest?

There are 11 employees who have been here since the beginning, 19 years ago: Founder Paul Betori, Buyer Jeff Crowl, Partner Rick Affrica, Buyer Jim Ray, Partner Brian Krueger, Showroom Floor Supervisor Rich Lash, Sales Rep Steve Fischer, Receiving Supervisor Chuck Leonard, Partner Ron Tiedman, Sales Admin Libby Dixon, and retired Buyer Doug Kopp.

Brian and Ron started in sales and now are part owners, while Rick started as a buyer and now is a part owner. Chuck and Rich started as forklift operators and are now supervisors. Jim, Jeff and Steve have retained and expanded our clientele with their wisdom and mentor our buy and sales staff. Libby has consistently been our dependable sales admin and customer greeter.

HGR employee Chuck Leonard
Chuck
Andrew Ciecerko HGR employee
Andrew

Who’s the employee who drives the furthest?

We have employees who drive in from all over, including Cuyahoga, Medina, Summit and Stark counties, the far eastern suburbs, as well as Pennsylvania.

Chuck Leonard, receiving supervisor, lives in Erie, Pa., and drives 93 miles to work on Monday morning and 93 miles home on Friday night. The rest of the week, he stays 40 miles away in Geneva at his mom’s house. He’s done this for 19 years! That’s dedication.

Andrew Ciecerko, inventory clerk, lives in Williamsfield, Ohio, near the Pa. line. He drives 70 miles each way every day.

HGR aerial view

Thanks for reading! Do you have other questions about HGR that you would like answered?

April is National Welding Month!

welder with shield and sparks

In support of the American Welding Society, we’re celebrating all the talented, hardworking welders who make many of the objects that we use and appreciate on a daily basis, especially those that get us where we need to go. Welding was discovered in the 1800s and has continued to make strides. Consider a career in welding and talk to your local community college or trade school, or let us know if you are a welder and what you weld. Thank you, welders!

If you’re looking for welding equipment, HGR Industrial Surplus has affordable new and used items to fit out your weld shop.