Meet Brian Nguyen, a self-made welder based in Phoenix, Arizona, with a level of dedication you don't often find anymore. Brian didn't take "no" for an answer when he decided which career he wanted to pursue. And there were a lot of no's along the way. Hear from him about how he overcame obstacles, learned new skills, and became a skilled ironworker.

Becoming a Structural Ironworker

Brian set out on a mission many of us are familiar with, to take care of himself and his family. But what really inspired him to get into ironworking was to have the ability to "create and leave my mark on the world." He shared, " I am inspired by all the men and women who work hard every day and wake up every day and not complain, but just go out and handle what needs to be done." That hardworking spirit is also what drives the Thorogood team to continue creating next-level gear that helps the men and women who wear our work boots succeed.

On the job, Brian does a little bit of everything. "I connect beams and fix miscellaneous things on site that require welding and/or fabrication," he told us, "I have to problem solve and walk beams." Structural ironworkers have to think on their feet and often work in dangerous conditions, fabricating heavy steel beams and columns for large construction projects. If you want to check out some of Brian's work on everything from naval weapons caches to resort casinos, you can find him on Instagram @atworkwiddit.

The Struggles

Brian got started in welding because he saw friends living a lifestyle he aspired to. Nice houses and nice cars, all afforded by the same hardworking career – an ironworker's salary was the motivation. So, he went to school in Dallas, Texas, and pushed hard to succeed. "During school, I went to multiple places for entry-level welding work and got turned down a lot because I was a student, green to the industry, and didn't know much," he told us. Luckily, someone decided to give him his first shot – a mom-and-pop shop willing to take a risk and see what Brian had to offer while teaching him real-world welding skills.

After 9 months at his first welding gig, Brian moved back home to Arizona and began pursuing structural welding due to its higher earning potential. But he heard even more nos there, telling us, "I got into a small production shop for exhaust headers because no structural fabrication shop wanted to hire me. Again, I had no structural experience." Brian kept applying anyway, and after three months, he got another chance.

After only around 3 months of working for that small structural fabrication shop, still learning the ropes and frustrated because "it felt like he didn't want or need to teach me," he was let go by the man who took a chance on him. Brian recalls a memory from early on in that role, when he accompanied his former boss to a job site and shared his hope of becoming an ironworker, "the old man told me 'you ain't gonna be no damn ironworker'." Still, that didn't stop him from chasing his dreams.

With the experience from that job, Brian landed work at a larger structural fabrication shop called Agate. "I'm so thankful for them because I stayed with them for three years and learned A LOT about structural fab – how clips and columns and beams go, how to fit them up and weld them with flux core. I fabricated for large government jobs like naval bases, and even casino resorts like one out in Tahoe," he shared about his time there.

Feeling confident in his knowledge and skills after his time at Agate, Brian took another leap and jumped into ironworking in April of this year. We admire the grit it took to be knocked down and keep getting up until he got where he wanted to be.

The Advice

Brian learned a lot of valuable lessons as he learned how to become an ironworker with no experience. He boiled them down into a few key pieces of advice for others pursuing the same career path.

  • "Never stop pushing" – As we've heard, there were a lot of bumps along the way for Brian. He encourages aspiring ironworkers and welders to keep at it, even when the going gets tough.
  • "Learn everything you can" – Brian owes a lot of his learning to peers and mentors. "Just learn, learn, learn and absorb all the knowledge you can," he told us, "and don't just say 'I know' (even if you do); let that person finish, take that information, and do what you please with it."
  • "Have confidence in yourself" – His advice for young go-getters is to know what they bring to the table. He says, "Don't let people tell you 'no' or talk down to you. One day when you aren't green anymore and have turned into a badass worker, all those people will be regretful that they didn't have you stick around."

The Boots

"Thorogood boots help with all the fabrication and ironworking I have done through my 3+ years," he shared. "We wear these every day. These are our money makers. I wear them because they are comfortable as hell when broken in, last a long time, and are also an American-made product." Learn why Thorogoods are some of the best boots for ironworkers.

We make our product functional and long-lasting to help support those who work hard, day in and day out, to achieve their American dreams. Brian Nguyen is an excellent example of this, and we're proud to have been a part of his journey.

To follow along with Brian and his work, check out his Instagram page by clicking the button below!

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