SAFE Bet: How a One-Time Welder Forged a Unique Engineering Career Path

Safe BoatsWhen designer Jon Godbolt first swept the floor of a welding shop, he had no idea it was the first step on his own unique career path.

That path has led him to a lead-designer role at SAFE Boats, a 375-person company that designs and manufactures specialized boats for militaries and rescue services. (SAFE stands for Secure All-around Flotation Equipped.) But Godbolt’s career trajectory has been anything but traditional.

Back in his late teens, while attending community college in Edmonds, Washington, Godbolt hadn’t thought much about a career. But he knew he liked to work with his hands, and he needed a part-time job to stay afloat. So on a friend’s recommendation, he took a job sweeping floors at a welding shop. As he cleaned, Godbolt became interested in what the company was doing.

That welding business was part of SAFE Boats’ contractor network. And when Godbolt saw some welding in action, it was love at first sight for the then-19-year-old: He dropped out of school, took an entry-level fabricator position, and quickly became lead welder. When SAFE Boats stopped using contractors the following year, Godbolt joined the company, rising through the ranks until he was managing 60 welders.

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