The staff of Dejong Welding & Repair stand in front of the operational end of their CNC Plasma system. Left to right are: Connor Hanna, Leeroy, Willyan, Andia and Austin de Jong. Absent is Todd Mark. Morin Photo
CHESTERVILLE – Dejong Welding and Repairs in Chesterville is a fascinating example of what happens when a farmer with a passion for farming and welding combines the two very different areas of industry together.
When Willyan and Andia de Jong came to Canada in 1989, they knew that they wanted to farm. Farming was their goal.
They worked alongside John and Diniy Van Delst on their dairy farm just outside of Chesterville. In 1993 they bought the Delst farm and began expanding their farm operation. These days the farm has grown to around 750 acres.
Originally a dairy farm with 200 plus cows Willyan sold off the dairy cows in 2019 and converted the dairy barn into a well-appointed welding shop. He began cash cropping.
As much as Andia and Willyan liked being dairy farmers, the couple felt it was time for a change.
After 30 years of dairy farming they were ready for something different.
While most farmers have to be familiar with a number of mechanical skills including some welding in order to keep their necessary farm machinery operational, Willyan’s welding skills were beyond a typical farmer’s skill set.
His father and uncles were all welders, and back in Holland his father used his welding skills to help make large ships.
“When I was only 10 years old I was very familiar with welding,” he said.
Standing in his welding workshop that smells slightly of ozone from the welding, Willyan is surrounded by all kinds of specialized welding equipment from massive metal cutters and metal benders to a state of the art “CNC plasma” system. The equipment is arranged throughout what was once the large dairy barn.
Apart from the actual welding equipment most people are familiar with, and the kind of equipment that Austin takes with him when he goes out to do some welding in a farmer’s field, the computer controlled plasma table is the heart of Dejong Welding and Repairs.
Austin operates the plasma table when he is not out providing mobile welding services.
A large table is connected to a computer that Austin operates and uses to draw out whatever design he needs. The computer tells the plasma torch where to cut the steel sheet placed on the table and Austin can make anything he needs to out of metal. The CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control.
He can cut out intricate designs in a sheet of metal or something as small as a washer or fashion a metal part for a combine.
Willyan said the transition from dairy farmer to cash cropping and running a welding business was relatively easy as welding was his first love.
He works alongside his son Austin and employees, Todd Mark and Connor Hanna.
The couple’s two other sons, Brandon and Leeroy look after the farm side of the family business while their daughter Jennifer is a teacher in the United Kingdom.
One of the many aspects of the welding operation that Willyan enjoys is the variety of work he gets to do, and the challenge of not always knowing what a farmer might bring to him to be fixed or designed.
“Every day is different,” he said.
“Eighty per cent of our work comes from the farming community who brings stuff to me,” said Willyan.
For example they are currently working on a tractor where the owner wants to be able to get the bucket on the tractor on and off quickly. To do that, Willyan and his son Austin had to design a bucket attachment system at the front end of the tractor that would allow for easy bucket removal.
The welding they might do ranges from a protection shield for a hyhoe with wood mulcher attachment to a skit bucket, push in feed blade. They even take on more creative projects like a decorative old style gas pump for a client.
They have plated the inside of a TMR and installed six new custom-made stainless steel feed troughs just to name a few projects.
Dejong Welding & Repair is located at 13640 County Rd 43 in Chesterville.
Their phone number is 613-223-9624 email is firstname.lastname@example.org they have a Facebook page.