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Crew | February 2024

Welder Michael’s inspiring story shows pure mettle

Welder Michael’s @garageboundllc using work boots
  • Michael Brandt became a professional welder and metal fabricator after tinkering with a welder in his garage
  • Having spent time in prison as a young man, the way he’s transformed his life is an inspiring story
  • Michael wears Steel Blue work boots because they’re comfortable and hold up under a welder’s working conditions.

Michael Brandt’s career in welding and fabrication started almost by accident.

“I wanted to build a couple rat rod bicycles for my son and I and, in order to make these crazy frames and fender skirts and stuff like that, I figured I needed to learn how to weld,” Michael said.

After a time spent scouring online ads at home in Tennessee, USA, and buying whatever equipment he could find, a friend eventually sold Michael a Miller welder. He never looked back.

“It was the first welding machine that would actually produce good welds and I was just hooked,” he said. “So, I just kept learning and creating things in my garage and experimenting.”

From hobbyist to professional

Pretty soon, Michael had a very well-equipped garage and some pretty big electricity bills, racked up enjoying his new hobby.

“I figured I needed to learn how to start making money welding so I could pay for all the stuff and the electricity!” he said.

The resulting business quickly outgrew the two-car garage, then outgrew a small workshop, and now fills a 7000-square-foot workshop. Michael chucked in his job as a forklift driver and Garage Bound LLC, his fabrication company, was born. He now has three employees.

“On any day we could be doing anything from building custom metal sculpture fine art for private residents to fixing a 53-foot aluminum tanker trailer,” he said. “Tomorrow we leave to go to Nashville to build railings onsite in a custom home.

“I figured if I did everything with metal, I’d never have a downturn.”


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On the straight and narrow

Michael’s belief in resilience is the secret to his success. Not just in metal fabrication and in business, but in life itself.

“I made every bad decision I could possibly make,” he said. “I got into a lot of trouble when I was younger, with drugs and alcohol addiction, and I ended up going to federal prison for five years for drug trafficking. I got out in 2006. I just was so unhappy doing what I was doing before I went to prison. When I got caught, I remember taking a deep breath and telling myself, ‘I don’t have to do this no more. This is my way out’.”

Michael rebuilt his life in prison.

“I can’t change the past that I feel really guilty for, but I can make a positive impact on the future,” he said.

Michael now works with kids and young people at events like car shows, mentoring them and sharing his passion for metal fabrication.

Work Boots used by @garageboundllc

Why Michael wears Steel Blue work boots

Michael first came across Steel Blue work boots in a hardware store in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

“I’m actually still wearing them and they work perfectly,” he said. “They’re amazing and I love the zipper on the side. I do a lot of hot work and surprisingly not even the shoelaces have burned up yet, which is usually the first thing to go. I’ve just been really impressed with them. They’re so comfortable, they’re holding up great.

“I’ll wear Steel Blue until I die.”

Head to your local Steel Blue stockist to discover work boots that are a mark of true skill, or shop online.

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