When you first walk into the front door of Mainly Metals in Bristol, Vermont, you wonder if you’re in the right place. Instead of being an industrial warehouse-looking building, this high-end fabrication shop is located in a well-kept home. In place of a corporate lobby is a regular living room and kitchen. But look a little closer and you’ll see subtle hints that this is no ordinary home. A variety of custom-cut metal, wood, plastics and other materials start to give it away.
The real eye-opener occurs when you walk downstairs into an expansive work area filled with state-of-the-art waterjet cutting machines. These machines use water mixed with an abrasive at incredibly high pressure to cut through materials up to eight inches thick. The water pressure can reach 50,000 PSI (pounds per square inch) – compare that to your kitchen faucet at 70 PSI! To watch these machines work is an exercise in incredulity. Seeing water cutting thick metal is a mind-bending experience.
And who is behind the controls of one of these massive and powerful machines? 20-year-old Northlands student Bryant Goss. Bryant came to Northlands to study welding. His instructor realized his potential, and contacted Mainly Metals owner David Durgin, with whom Northlands has enjoyed a long-standing relationship.
“I’ve had eight different students from Northlands over the years,” Mr. Durgin said. “They come in with excellent training and are ready to work. Plus, it’s very convenient and cost-effective. Northlands brings the students here, picks them up, covers their insurance and more. It’s a great relationship.”
Bryant is grateful for the opportunity presented to him, and is doing his best to take advantage of it. “I came to Northlands to make my life better,” he said. “I want to get a good education and start my life.”
As Bryant deftly manipulated the controls of the massive waterjet, Mr. Durgin noted one other benefit. “Learning is a two-way street. It’s not just the students coming here that are learning. You’d be surprised at the skills they teach us!”