Jessi Combs in Memoriam

Jessi Combs in Memoriam

Jessi Combs was more than just a TV star and an off-road racing fanatic. Her accidental death on August 27, 2019, cut short a life of creativity, ambition, dedication, and inspiration to many. Her career spanned a wide range from fabrication & metal artistry to racing to the entertainment industry. In the process Jessi became a hero and guide to many women looking to break out of gender-defined roles and discover their unique gifts and talents in traditionally male strongholds such as welding and motorsports.

Jessi Combs was born in South Dakota, where she participated in all forms of outdoor sports. Later, she attended the automotive fabrication training program at Wyoming Tech, which eventually led to her first TV gig on Overhaulin’.

In addition to that show, Jessi was known for her roles on Xtreme 4X4, All Girls Garage, The List: 1,000 Car Things To Do Before You Die, and filling in as a host and builder for Season 7 of Mythbusters.

Women in Welding

In 2015, Jessi co-founded The Real Deal Revolution, a non-profit dedicated to revolutionizing the perception of skilled trades – and women’s roles in them. The Real Deal is a dynamic collaborative of automotive and industrial women who empower and educate others by teaching the skilled trades through hands-on welding workshops, events, and adventures.

In addition to metalworking in her own custom fabrication shop, Jessi’s creativity found other outlets, including leather craft and photography. She also wrote a children’s book Joey and the Chopper Boys, to inspire girls to expand their horizons.

Jessi’s fame and experience in metal fabrication led to many sponsorship roles. IMS was proud to partner with Jessi Combs as her go-to metal supplier, providing her with tools and resources for her off-road racing projects. She was also a spokesperson for the American Welding Society (AWS) from 2008 to 2013. Beginning in 2008, Jessi acted as a spokesperson for Lincoln Electric and helped develop its line of women’s protective welding gear.

Love of Racing

But racing was her first love. Jessi entered and placed in some of the most grueling, multi-day off-road races, proving her mettle right along with the men. In 2011, she placed 2nd in Class 10 of the Baja 1000, considered the toughest race of its kind. Then in 2014, she became the first woman to place in King of the Hammers, the most brutal one-day desert race in the world. She was able to complete the entire Ultra4X4 season and won the national championship [spec class].

Jessi continued her winning spree in 2015 with a 1st Place in the First Participation category (10th Place overall) in the 9-day Rallye Aicha des Gazelles, an all-woman race through the Moroccan Sahara using only a compass and hand-drawn maps. In that same year, Jessi was part of an all-female driving team that took a 2nd-place Class 7 finish in the Baja 1000.

In 2016, a 1st-place finish in King of the Hammers re-earned Jessi the nickname “Queen of the Hammers.”

Fastest Woman on Four Wheels

Jessi was invited to be one of the drivers of the North American Eagle Supersonic Speed Challenger, a jet fighter remade into the fastest land racing machine in history. In 2013, Jessi drove the Eagle at a record 398 mph with a top speed of 440 mph, becoming the fastest woman on four wheels. Again in 2018, the team achieved a new top speed of 483.227 mph with Jessi in the driver’s seat.

Then tragedy struck. Thirty-nine-year-old Jessi was attempting to break her own record when the Eagle came apart and crashed in the Alvord Desert in Oregon.

A private memorial for family and friends celebrating the extraordinary life of Jessi Combs was held September 21, 2019, at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. A public exhibition to honor the “Fastest Woman on Four Wheels” followed immediately after. Any donations go to the Jessi Combs Foundation, with its mission statement: To Educate, Inspire and Empower the next generation of female trailblazers and stereotype-breakers.

Industrial Metal Supply and Jessi Combs were marketing partners for many years. Her diverse skills and determined desire to be among the best led to a mission of quality in everything she conquered.

Jessi Combs – We salute you!


Women in Welding

Women in Welding

Welding – the act of joining two pieces of metal in a permanent bond – has long been a male-dominated career. According to the American Welding Society, only about 5 percent of welding personnel are female, but that number may be growing.

More than ever before, women are breaking in to the welding trade. And it’s not just the “she-shed ideas” crowd looking for a new hobby. Women see the benefits of a career that provides steady work and good pay – and which does not require a college degree. 

In spite of popular conception, welding is not always a tough, dirty or dangerous job. Not all welding takes place outdoors or at great heights. In fact, welding is a creative skill, like art. Building something you can hold in your hand is satisfying work, and can be more gratifying than pushing paper or sitting behind a computer eight hours a day.

Great Need = Great Opportunity

On the employer’s side, there is a huge NEED for women in welding – and it’s not just to rack up diversity points. Manufacturing industry leaders, government statisticians, and CTE educators all agree that a wide gap exists between the number of open positions and the number of workers with the necessary skills to fill them. 

The American Welding Society (AWS) predicts there will be a shortage of over 450,000 skilled welders by 2022.  This follows along with a general “skills gap” in technical industries as older, more experienced employees retire, taking their knowledge with them. 

The crumbling infrastructure in the US requires repairs and replacement, and with promise of government funding, employment projections for welding jobs are positive – there is a shortage of welders. And because welding often must be done on-site, these jobs are not likely to be exported overseas. With all these factors in play, and more women being trained in welding every day, the US will continue to see more female welders building airplanes and working on bridges, highways and oil pipelines.

Women Wanna Weld

Getting women in the welding business hasn’t been easy in the past but now new initiatives are being pursued. There are exclusive classes for women, many taught by female instructors. Also, there are now several high profile women who have brought more attention (and great skill!) to the welding industry. One of those women is Jessi Combs, a television and off-road racing star who got her start in an automotive fabrication training program at Wyoming Tech (click here for more about Jessi’s career). 

In the past few years, Jessi has been joined by other women making a name and a career for themselves in welding and metal fabrication. It turns out there’s a large community of women welders on Instagram, following YouTube star Barbie the Welder, and Samantha Farr, who founded the Detroit non-profit Women Who Weld, and many others.

What You Should Know

Most welding careers don’t require a four-year college degree, but you do need training, either through a high school cooperative education program, privately owned welding school, a vocational-technical school, or a local community college. Manufacturing companies and unions also offer paid apprenticeships.

To help pay for training, you can apply for specific scholarships for women in welding, as well as a number of general scholarships through the American Welding Society (AWS), and other groups. Organizations like Women Who Weld, offer free or low-cost workshops, programs and classes for women taught by female instructors. Community colleges often offer welding classes and community metal shops like LA’s Molten Metal Works have both classes and open shop hours to practice.

Other organizations that are specifically tailored to teach women how to weld include:

According to Samantha Farr, sexual harassment of women in the welding field can still be an issue, though with more women entering the field and the awareness generated by the #MeToo movement, this should decrease. Women Who Weld teaches students how to respond to harassment, report & document incidents, and protect themselves. 

Welding is a skill that can take you many places – building construction, metal art sculpture, furniture manufacturing, welding inspection, training & education, auto repair – even working on the Space Shuttle for NASA! You can use welding as a way to finance college without debt. And as you develop your welding skill and gain specialty certifications, your take-home pay can dramatically increase.

Like Jessi, Barbie, and Samantha, women also can use welding skills as a jump-off point to many other careers, such as educator, business owner, project manager, or welding engineer. A career in welding is a great place for women!
Contact Industrial Metal Supply for all your welding equipment and supplies. Visit us online or at one of our six locations in Southern California and Arizona.


Generation Z Characteristics

The Future of Metal Fabrication: Gen Z

In just a few short years, the sheet metal fabrication industry has been rejuvenated, in part due to exciting new technologies like automation and the industrial internet of things (IIOT), 5-axis machining, co-bots, and robotic welding. 

While in the short term, the rise of industrial robots is projected by the consultancy firm Oxford Economics to result in a loss of 20 million manufacturing jobs by 2030, the firm notes that some of these lost jobs will be replaced by new ones requiring a new set of highly technical skills. Meanwhile, demographic changes are causing a dramatic loss in experienced employees, resulting in a “Skills Gap” in the industry. 

But on the horizon, the next cohort of tech-savvy young people to follow the Millennials, called Generation Z, may be a perfect fix to fill in the gap.

Generation Z Characteristics

According to the Pew Research Center, the Millennial generation consists of anyone born between 1981 and 1996, while the next group, Gen Z, covers those born in 1997 or later (date ranges sometimes vary). The influential factors affecting Millennials in their growing years included the rise of the internet, increased immigration, the 9/11 attack on the U.S., the birth of the smartphone, and a world-wide economic recession. 

As these factors appeared over time, Millennials adapted along with the culture. But by the time Gen Z came on the scene, 24-hour social connectivity through wifi and the mobile web fully permeated their daily lives. This makes the latest generation of young people the most tech savvy of all – even more so than their slightly older siblings.

A 2019 Brazilian study by Deloitte found that Gen Zers are more open even than Millennials to a variety of people and groups, and are more willing to engage in dialog to solve conflicts. In the increasingly global manufacturing industry, the ability to understand and accept people from many different backgrounds is essential to successful operations.

The study also found that Gen Zers place a high value on individuality. They seem willing to experiment with a range of identities, and prefer to avoid labels. These characteristics may make it easier for more Gen Z women to find their way into traditionally male occupations, including metal fabrication.

Changes in the way schools teach have created a generation that is very comfortable with team projects and online self-learning. Both these methods of gathering knowledge and solving problems will serve Gen Z well in the 21st century workplace.

Generation Z Career Expectations

How will today’s high-tech culture affect career aspirations for Gen Z? According to the Brazilian study, definite differences are emerging between Millennials and Gen Z. Though both groups grew up during periods of dramatic social change, Gen Z was deeply marked by the Great Recession. From childhood, they watched their parents struggle with unemployment and underemployment, and the resulting emotional and financial strains. As a result, the latest generation is looking for a more stable, financially comfortable life.

A McKinsey survey found that 56 percent of Gen Z versus 52 percent of Millennials seeks to earn a high salary and be wealthy. The newest generation wants the stability of having a “real job,” versus the Millennials’ affinity for freelance or the part-time gig economy. And fifty-two percent of Gen Z, versus 49 percent of Millennials, want to own their own home. Manufacturing jobs are some of the most stable and high-paying jobs available, which should make them attractive to Gen Z.

The Future of Metal Fabrication

As true digital natives, Gen Z members come fully immersed in the world of video controllers, tablets and smart phones – the same types of graphics interfaces used to control the most advanced metal fabrication equipment. Because of this, their ability to program and operate robotic manufacturing equipment and to translate 3D computer designs into metal components should be unsurpassed.

Their comfort with global connectivity through social media and internet gaming should allow them to shine in the integrated digital factories of Industry 4.0. And their inclusivity will allow Gen Z employees to feel completely at ease in the multicultural workplace of advanced metal fabrication. Manufacturers who seek out members of this generation will benefit greatly in the years to come.

Industrial Metal Supply Company is your one-stop-shop for all things metal! Visit one of our six convenient locations today.


Off Road Supplies For Race Teams

Industrial Metal Supply (IMS) supplies the metal and hardware used in many of the off road vehicles seen at racing events in the Southwest, like King of the Hammers, Baja 1000, Mint 400, and even on display at SEMA.

“Without metal, off-road vehicles are nothing,” writes Steven Olsewski at Off Road Extreme. “Whether it is from sheet or tubing IMS has helped teams stay on top.”

“IMS has formed partnerships in the off-road community in several classes including UTV, Jeep and Truck categories.” and “we are able support them by helping with their metal needs, like DOM tubing or sheet metal” says Megan Humpal of IMS.

For 2018, IMS’s offroad event schedule includes involvement in King of the Hammers, Lucas Oil Off-Road Regional Races and the Off Road Expo in Pomona, she said.

The Metal Before the Glory

Olsewski headed to an IMS store to take a closer look at where off-road rigs start and “see the metal before all the glory.”

Starting with the proper high-quality material is the first step to a successful project,” he says. “If you are a fabricator, walking into the warehouse at a metal supply place is where the wheels start turning. There are endless racks of tubing, steel plate, and aluminum to make all your wildest project ideas come true.”

In addition to the metal, IMS has machines to cut sheet and tube down to size, as well as a full line of fabrication accessories, Olsewski notes.

“Seeing a warehouse as large as IMS’s made our mind wander with endless thoughts and possibilities for future projects,” he says. “Taking a trip to your local metal supply store can also help figure out the type of material that could be used in particular areas of a build. Sometimes seeing it first-hand makes the decision that much easier.”

Convenient Hours and Locations

“With an enormous motorsport community in the Southwest, IMS is well positioned to help out the teams and weekend warriors with six locations that are open six days a week,” Humpal says. “Race teams often need to pick up material ‘right now’ whether they find themselves short on metal or need a repair.”

Customers can walk-in to our shop or call ahead to Will-Call material, whether they need one stick or two bundles of steel tubing, according to Humpal.

“We also have the ability to cut material to the size desired, whether it’s tubing, sheet or plate. There really isn’t any other distributor that stocks aluminum, steel and stainless in sheet, plate, bar and tube. Additionally we are the only solution that also supplies welding tabs, grinding wheels and even welders,” she says.

“Whether it’s a few pieces, or bundles and skids, IMS is the off-roaders’ solution for metal due to the simple convenience,” Humpal says. “We stock all the metal for same day purchase and can deliver large volume orders the next morning.”
Working on that off road vehicle and in need of a heim joint, spacers, steel bushings or DOM tube inserts? Contact IMS for a selection of various sizes in many specialty metals & these product lines.