Faculty Appreciation Month – Tim Holloway

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Tim, 36, from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is a senior welding instructor at Tulsa Welding School & Technology Center in Houston. Tim has been an instructor with TWSTC just shy of two years. 

Thanks for your time, Tim; how long have you been welding?

When I was a young kid, my stepdad had a sheet metal business, and he did a lot of welding. Every now and then I’d get to go play around with him. He’d teach me a little here and there, up to the point where I was building little vehicles, knight’s armor, just fun stuff like that. When I turned 17, I figured I had the choice to become a mechanic or a welder. I liked building stuff more, so I chose to be a welder. I did a semester in trade school and needed a job to finish that education. There was a pipe fabrication shop 15 minutes from my house, and I knew people that worked there. So, I called, asked if he was hiring, and he told me to come in. I told them what experience I had, and they started me out as a helper. I learned all the processes on the job. So, I never went back to finish that education, I just finished it on the job.

That’s cool. What kind of work were you doing?

We supplied the refineries and the pipelines. Junctions, skids, and stuff. We built it all in the shop and sent them out to the refineries and the pipelines. Eventually the company grew, and we had an alloy shop and a pipeline equipment shop, which is the one that supplied the pipeline. 

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Did you travel with them?

It was mostly shop based. After years of being there, I did get tasked to do little jobs here and there in the field, but most of it was close to home; I didn’t do much traveling. I worked there for 15 years. I got laid off once, so I went to work for a sheet metal union for about nine months, before I went back. 

What brought you to Texas in 2021?

I was with a girl I was aiming to marry, and she was the reason I moved to Texas. She had just graduated vet school from LSU and came out here; I figured I can move my career to Texas. Louisiana and Texas go pretty hand in hand as far as the oil industry and pipe welding. I struggled to find a job for a little bit before I finally decided to go ahead and move and be a local. I figured that would make it easier to get a job, but it was still rough. I found an ad to be a welding instructor at another trade school; I taught there for about six months, but they closed down. I then had a short stint at a refinery up in Conroe before I found Tulsa Welding School, and I’ve been here ever since. 

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

My dad was a firefighter, so I wanted to be a firefighter. And of course, my stepdad had that sheet metal shop and I liked building stuff. One of my bigger dreams, like any kid, was to be a hero in the movies, so I wanted to be an actor. I’ve actually got to do some acting work too, which has been cool. 

Did you consciously decide to go into teaching at that first school, or did you just need a job?

A little of both. During my career at the shop, I taught a lot of helpers how to weld. They became pretty good welders, and I liked doing it. I realized that my knowledge could really benefit people. When I moved to Texas, I had teaching in my mind as an option because I felt I was pretty good at it.

Tell me something most people don’t know about you.

About the time I moved to Texas, I had a new-found hobby doing movies, and I thought maybe that could take off, or maybe not. I figure if it does take off, it would be pretty cool. 

Do we have the next Brad Pitt over here? Tell us more…

I have a friend who was doing stunt woman work, acting, and she was doing stuff with her horses, which is how we met, I have horses as well. So, she got the lead role in this independent film project, they were doing 12 westerns in 12 months. I started following along. She got the lead role in the first film and for the second film, they wanted extras with horses and horse experience. So, I sent in a video and was accepted. The director liked my work ethic, and he wrote a part for me in one of the other films. I was an extra in Texas Red. I got a decent amount of screen time there, but you get to see my gun barrel more than you’ll see me. Another one is The Wilderness Road. I’ve got another one that’s coming out any month. I filmed it last May. It’s called Killin’ Jim Kelly. We filmed it all around Texas. You can find them on TubiTV.

Through a stroke of luck, I was going back to Louisiana to visit my family, and my grandmother sent me an ad where Disney were looking for extras for a series. I figured I’m in town, so why not do it? Disney paid better, even their extras! So, I sent in my little résumé, and they called me before I’d even set my phone back down. They asked me if I would do stand in work, which is where you’ll stand in for an actor whenever they’re changing around the cameras, lighting, and all that. So, I got to do that and some background work, and I got paid very well for that. Then a few weeks later I got called in to do wrangling work for that same project. You can see me in a couple episodes on Disney, it was called the National Treasure series.

Before you leave for Hollywood, what do you like best about teaching?

I actually enjoy doing the demos and explaining the welding. It was tough to get the hang of explaining it as I did it, but once I got into the groove, I can get really deep into detail sometimes. What I really enjoy is working with students who were maybe forced to come to welding school by mom and dad wanting them to get out of the house. They really didn’t want to do it, but once we get working with them, some figure out that they really do want to do this. Once they find a way to be successful at it, once they finally figure it out, they really take off with it. That’s one of the things that I enjoy about teaching. I’m having an impact on people, taking those folks with little interest, and turning them into successful welders.

If you could choose to have dinner with anyone, alive or dead, who would that be.

I’d have to say Lane Frost who was a professional bull rider. He was a big hero of mine growing up. He passed away at 25 before I could get to watch him. They made a movie about him called Eight Seconds, and that’s how I learned about him. He was the type of guy to be friends with everybody, never met a stranger. He was always willing to help. He had his struggles. but he kept coming back on top. He wasn’t the best bull rider, but he was remembered for who he was. I’d really like to have a conversation with him.

You get an unexpected day off, what would you do?

If it’s a nice day, I’ll go home, spend time with my family, and go ride our horses.

What was your favorite part of the industry when you worked in the field?

Just getting the job done. You work on something from start to finish and once it’s finally out the way, especially if you’ve done it under the estimated time, you’ve definitely got something to be proud of.

What advice do you have for new students just starting out at TWS? 

Get over that fear, just go ahead and get started. Anything new is scary, just go ahead and do it. Do that and you’re already one step ahead. Once you start seeing how tough it is to learn this trade, you’ll realize you’re not going to learn it overnight, but once you start picking it up, it is going to get easier. Don’t worry about the time it takes you to do something, just focus on doing it. The biggest thing is not to worry about the time crunch, just get in there and do it, and time will take care of itself. You will get faster. Time is kind of irrelevant when you’re first learning something.

If you could tell anyone “Thank you” for helping you become who you are today, who would that be?

I’ve learned all I know about welding from over a hundred different welders in my career, so a big thank you to them. But I’m going to say my grandfather, Don, he is my dad’s dad. He spent a lot of time in the pipe fitting union; he did a lot of pipe fitting and a little bit of welding. Whenever we visit, we sit and talk about different stuff on job sites, and how they used to do the processes versus how we do them now. 

He tells me whatever you do, keep every aspect of your life in mind, like family; whatever you want to do, you’ve got to be able to support it. I didn’t like to spend all my time at work, 40 hours was enough for me, so whenever the opportunity for overtime came, I just wanted to be home. There have been times when he’s talked to me about that, “Overtime’s going to come and go. Whenever you don’t want it, it’s going to be there and whenever you’re looking for it, it’s going to be gone. So, whatever comes your way, hit it head on and go forward with it.” He wants me to take every opportunity that comes my way.

Thank you, Tim for your contributions to TWS!