Few Words About Myself Autobiography
My name is Gregory Testa. I was born in Brooklyn, New York. My parents, Mary and Nicolo Testa met in Brooklyn at a dance on 8th Avenue. I have only one sibling, an older brother. My family raised us in Brooklyn until we started elementary school. We then moved out to Long Island and have lived here ever since. Today I have built my entire personal life in Babylon and my workshop is in Deer Park.
I first started to gain interest in welding and fabrication by a popular tv show known as Orange County Choppers. It was really intriguing to me when I would see Paul Sr bend iron bars with heat and form the metal by pure force to make gas tanks and frames. I was hooked. It was surprising being a hands on guy, I wouldn’t say I am a big television person, but I did love the show. However watching those shows turned out to be a blessing in disguise, little did I know I would make a career out of it. At 16 years old, it was just the proper mixture of fuel and air to get my soul interested in such a fascinating trade. Even to this very day, I find my trade constantly challenging me.
Upon attending High School I attended Wilson Technology School for welding. My teacher was Mr. Vetter. I was fortunate enough to become very close to him and remained friends with him until his early death. He was truly a blessing in my life and I will always have a place for him in my heart. Since we were close, he really taught me everything he knew. I was a great student, whatever he told me to do, I did. He nominated me as the shop foreman. On the weekends he would offer me lessons in his personal shop for free. We always pick up a bucket of KFC chicken and we would eat chicken, talk and weld, great times.
Upon graduating high school I worked at an iron works shop in Bayshore. I was pretty much the grunt. My task involved cutting material to certain lengths, stacking material on racks, sanding and grinding welds and helping the lead fabricator complete his tasks. Although I felt undervalued, I was happy to get exposure to a real work environment. After approximately 2 years my mom unwillingly signed me up for a college trade school. Boy was I mad at her at first.
After working at the ironworks shop I went to college in Delhi, New York. It was a great experience. The stubborn 20 year old me wasn’t a fan of college or anything academic for that matter. I was and always have been a worker at heart. I walked into Delhi a boy and came out two years later a man. I learned responsibility, how to make my bed, how to clean up after myself, how to manage bills, how to stay away from trouble and what was right and what is wrong, I learned about life. In class I was taught the fundamentals of welding. Reading and interpreting blueprints, drawing blueprints, welding processes, welding positions and metallurgy.
Shortly after graduating Delhi I was eager to start working and making money. I got a job at Dejana Trucking Company in Kings Park. We built and installed truck bodies for almost every contractor on the eastern seaboard including every major municipality. They gave me an extreme amount of responsibility after about 3 months of testing my skills. I remember one of the biggest and scariest tasks of my life. I was a greenhorn still. We had a contract to build 10 trucks for the New York State Parks Department. The trucks were straight off the lot, the sticker price was in the window. These trucks were hybrid Kenworth trucks and for the time, a prius was rare. My foreman gave me a brief 45 minute lesson on how to properly cut a truck frame in half to extend the frame after. After he handed me a torch to complete the task, right then and there, I knew I was in the big leagues. Long story short, I learned an immense amount of knowledge and skill at Dejana because the volume of business was so huge that even if completely messed up, it didn’t matter.
About two years into working at Dejana I was offered a job at Wilson Tech, the same place I attended as a high schooler. Mr. Vetter mentioned to me that a welding teacher assistance position became available. Even though I would be losing money in terms of pay, I knew the school system was a better career choice at the time. I took the opportunity and left Dejana. After 3 years of working with Mr. Vetter as his assistant, he decided to retire. I was fortunate enough to become the full time welding teacher at Boces. I had a blast helping students learn everything Mr. Vetter taught me. My students loved me. I got a lot of fulfillment out of seeing students smile. Even though I felt many of my students probably wouldn’t really make it as a welder, I taught them everything. We had a lot of students that had issues within their homes and personal lives that I felt a sense of relationship to. I was not only there teacher but definitely a slight father figure as well. Upon working at Boces for 2 years I had a great amount of success building up the program enrollment and building up a good representation with my bosses.
Throughout working at Boces I was building my business. I started to do very well and I was constantly questioning if it was the correct career choice for me. I was working so many hours between juggling the two. In the mist of my thoughts on questioning my career choice, Mr. Vetter had passed away after only 3 years of retirement. It had a major impact on me. The man worked for retirement which was short lived. I didn’t want that. I didn’t want to work for 25 years to become a free man, to perish 3 years after. I put in my papers at Boces and decided to jump into my business full time. It would be a lie if I said I wasn’t afraid to fail, however I was more afraid to pass away while working in the middle of my career or like Mr. Vetter, shortly after retirement.
My business had early success do to Hurricane Sandy. I had two major contractors as my main accounts. They both got huge multi million dollar bids to clean up the town of Long Beach with the destruction left by Sandy. They had huge heavy equipment that they used to process the debris from the houses, boardwalk and commercial buildings that came down. That equipment was running for 24 hours a day with different shifts, the abuse on the equipment was high and demanding. It was a welders paradise and heavy equipment owners biggest expense. I was there 7 days a week for as long as 14 hours a day. After 4 months of constant work it slowly came to an end. I was smart enough to have saved that money and started to buy serious equipment in my shop. I grew fast. Since heavy equipment my business shifted itself naturally. Today we are a complete in house fabrication shop building high end railings, gates, one-off projects, signage and a lot of custom restaurant and ornamental fabrications for homeowners, contractors and architects from Montauk to Manhattan.
Today I feel confident and at peace that my journey though my career choices is finally here to stay. I love what I do and working with clients to achieve their vision is what really excites me.