Meet Full-Bore Co-Founder Mark Prosser
We recently sat down with Professional Instructor, Author and Full-Bore Co-Founder, Mark Prosser to answer some questions about himself, how he partnered with Bryan Fuller and to tell us about this Summer's upcoming Full-Bore LIVE! Workshops.
"Welding is one of the most misunderstood trades out there by most, it is a huge world and always more and more to learn and do."
- Mark Prosser
Tell us a little bit about yourself Mark:
I grew up in a family owned automotive business with three older brothers in Michigan. Since then, I’ve lived in Florida, Wyoming, Alabama and have been in Wisconsin for ten years. I teach welding and fabrication full time at a Wisconsin Technical College. In addition, I run a consulting business where I help companies with welder training, blueprint reading, process control, lean manufacturing techniques and code work.
I also travel the country with my Full-Bore partner Bryan Fuller, and perform training seminars of various types at shops and trade shows. For the last six years, I have written books, articles and educational curriculum for different companies and continue to learn and work to get better at what I like to do. I also have a small shop where I do metal and paint work. I work hard as well as play hard with my 11-year-old daughter, my wife and my German Shepherd dog named Nina.
I grew up surrounded by pretty much anything with a motor. We grew up in the woods with motorcycles, boats, dune buggies, snowmobiles and a particularly fun Volkswagen Bug that we stripped all the fenders off, raced it and eventually blew it up by crashing it in my grandfather’s 80-acre woods. My love for that stuff never went away, it is just a much more expensive love of power things now.
Why do you enjoy welding so much?
I love welding for a few different reasons; the biggest being that at one point in my teenage life things could have easily gone down the wrong road for me. I was the typical delinquent kid, skipping school to go play Frisbee at the park, getting in trouble and you know the rest of the story. I enrolled in a career opportunity center in Saginaw for welding. I needed this to earn enough credits to graduate from High School. At that point I dove deep into welding and it’s taken me on one hell of a journey for the last twenty-eight years.
I also love the self-pride and feeling of something special to lie down a nice critical weld, or better yet, teach someone to do it too. I love that fact that welding has been done for a long time and if you really take a good look at everything around you, welding was part of all of it in some related way. It has afforded me a comfortable life for many years and has taken me to places and done things that I never dreamed of when I got into it.
Welding is one of the most misunderstood trades out there by most, it is a huge world and always more and more to learn and do. Welders are like painters and everyone is a painter. Some paint fences, some do fine art, some paint houses or trim and some paint gulf streams and limos and million dollar hot-rods. It’s the same thing with welding, all different levels, all different skill sets and all different pay structures.
What have you personally built recently?
I always seem to have a project in my little shop or at the school. Time is the problem that is most challenging for me. Recently we built a school bus into a cannon hauler for a real deal Civil War re-enactment team. We basically cut the back of a full size school bus off and rebuilt it with a dovetail frame, track system and winch inside and a safety cage so the 8,000 lbs worth of cannons were secure in case of a wreck. It was a great student project that was featured in the Tube and Pipe Journal and The Fabricator.
My personal project over the last winter was building a custom pontoon boat. I have a place on a lake in northern Wisconsin and decided to build a little boat. All the material used was .90, which is much thicker than most pontoons. It’s 14 ft. long and 7 ft. wide. I cut, bent, fabbed and welded on that little sucker all Winter. I had over 150 ft. of TIG weld on it. I probably have $20,000 thousand worth of labor in it and you can buy them new for $8,000 but hey, education is expensive and 150 ft. of aluminum TIG weld will definitely keep the skills sharp.
I also work on bike projects here and there and recently restored all the sheet metal for a 37 Chevy Street Rod. I try to keep a project around the shop to maintain and develop skills and a little extra dough never hurts either.
How did you meet Bryan Fuller?
I was working as a Street Rod Body Fabrication Instructor at Wyotech in Laramie, Wyoming. The Overhaulin' show, which Bryan was on at the time, came to the school to build a '56 Chevy. I met him for a minute then about a year or so later he and his wife moved from L.A. to Atlanta and my wife and I moved from Wyoming to Alabama. The school I work for did a collaboration with Bryan to build a motorcycle. So long story short we built an Indian motorcycle, "The Big Blue Indian," with students and other instructors over nine months. We really hit it off and have been running together every since.
The Indian led to the Biker Build-Off show which I helped a great crew of dudes with over fifty straight hours of raging. That was awesome to be a part of and will always be a great memory. Shortly after that the school I worked at in Alabama closed and I moved to Wisconsin to begin teaching at a different college.
Since then we have traveled to many shows around the country together, done workshops, wrote two books together and have had a great deal of fun. At this point we are just getting started!
How important is welding to you?
It’s obviously pretty important; it’s what I do. I’ve made my living with it for most of my adult life. It has taken me places that simply make me smile. It’s important for others to learn too. Everyone wants to learn to weld even just to fix a broken trailer or weld up an old chair. We all have heard about the "Skills Gap" and it is very big in the welding arena. I train in a multi million dollar-welding lab all day; I train students of all ages, all social backgrounds, all economic backgrounds and all different skill levels. The good ones always get sucked up and put to work as soon as they finish school.
The companies have nowhere near as many welders as they need. We need more welders and there is a very real skills gap I see every day. But there is also another component to that trade and it’s called a wage gap. If employers want highly skilled welders they need to pay them accordingly. Young people say why would I go weld all day for $18 bucks an hour when I make $15 at the local grocery store? We all need to realize how important welding is to our economy.
What would you say about one of your FULL-BORE students and their experience at the workshops?
Teaching these workshops with Bryan Fuller is really quite an experience for all of us. Students come in from all walks of life. We’ve had doctors, lawyers, pilots, accountants, artists, and professional welders that don’t work with sheet metal. Most all of the students are there to learn to weld at home. They don’t come there with the aspirations of making their living welding. I am sure some have turned that corner and probably do make a change in their career.
Most of the students have very little or no welding experience at all and are very nervous for the first hour or so but then they realize this is completely laid back and we are there for them to learn. One student said “it’s not like a classroom, it’s like I’m just hanging out in the shop while we work and take it all in."
I think the majority of all of the people who have attended our seminars walk out feeling that they spent their money wisely and received some good value for it. We have had many great reviews and I have also kept in touch with several of the people, especially those who are continuing to grow their skills.
What’s the biggest benefit people get from the Full-Bore Workshops?
As Bryan has said one-hundred times, “If you want to build something out of metal you have to know how to weld”. I have either been a welding student or a welding teacher for the last twenty-five years and if you want to learn to weld how do you do it. I have taught hundreds and hundreds of people to weld on different materials, with different processes and different techniques and I am here to tell you, there are many different ways to learn and trial and error is at the bottom of the list. These weekend workshops give the students the theory and the technique to be able to go home, understand what they are doing and practice. These two-day workshops will teach you what would take you months or years to learn by trial and error. I work with professional welders every day that are really good at one thing. It doesn’t mean they can weld it all.
The other big advantage of the workshops is the fact that it’s fun. We do our best to make everyone comfortable, have a good time and teach them rock solid fundamentals to get them out in their shops and begin experiencing the feeling of pride when you build something with your own hands, tools and skills. We have performed these workshops at some pretty cool places and it is also the experience in addition to the training. If you are considering the workshops, the knowledge you receive won’t make you a good welder over the weekend, practice makes you a good welder but you have to practice correctly. The training will push you off with the confidence, the skills for you to go home and be able to make a competent weld.
What’s next for you?
Good question. This year I am going to push harder on my consulting business, it’s very fun for me and there is a big need for it. Bryan and I have several workshops this year including at this year's SEMA again. We are discussing some other ideas for the future of Full-Bore and all the possibilities. I will be doing a good deal of travel this year and will continue to do my best balancing everything I have on my plate. I am sure there will be more writing projects, curriculum consulting and a project or two in the shop on the back burner. I just keep my head down and keep it moving forward. It’s fun times right now and the workshops are definitely a big part of that fun.