Peterborough is a small town with a big arts and crafts community. Expedia even named it one of the “Best 10 Small Towns” to visit in the U.S. It’s no wonder, given Peterborough’s location alongside the Contoocook River and nestled amid the surrounding mountains of the Monadnock Region. The town’s intrinsic beauty has always attracted artists, composers and authors.

Peterborough’s Depot Square, with its walkable charm, unique shops and numerous dining choices, creates a perfect environment for creative people to live and thrive, and for visitors who are eager to share in their creative experiences. Not many small towns can boast they are home to two theater groups and The MacDowell Colony, the country’s oldest artists retreat. In fact, the town is so emblematic of a picturesque New England setting that Thornton Wilder’s 1938 Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Our Town, was modeled after Peterborough.

It’s in this creative backdrop that, in 2015, the The MAxT Makerspace was born. This unique hub serves the needs of a variety of craftspeople and small businesses, including woodworkers, jewelry fabricators, textile designers, seamstresses and fashion designers. In 2018, MaxT moved to an 8,000 square-foot space to accommodate its growing membership. The large, shared industrial space is set up with the necessary tools for the various trades, as well as 10 studio spaces that members can rent and a shared office/co-working space.

This is also the home of the Phaze Welding Technology Center, initiated and taught by Dan Guillou. His program offers training to hobbyists, those who are seeking a career in welding or people who are looking to change careers. Dan believes that everyone should have the opportunity for a rewarding way to earn a living; he’s deeply committed to providing young people with the necessary tools for a successful future. Dan hopes to entice those teens who are not college bound or may not be sure of what career path to pursue. The need for welders has not diminished—as our infrastructure is rebuilt and expanded, the demand for qualified welders will continue to grow. In fact, the industry is predicting a shortage of over 375,000 skilled welding professionals by the year 2023.

Women are also beginning to avail themselves of the opportunity to enter this field. In cooperation with American Steel, located in Greenfield, N.H., Guillou is now providing training for women to enter the industry.

Phaze Welding offers a variety of workshops, including a certificate program for those interested in becoming professional welders. At the end of the 130-hour course, which Guillou teaches, students take a test leading to AWSD 1.1 (American Welding Society) certification in construction and heavy equipment. The fee is $8,000 and payment plans are available; the classes are taken at the student’s own pace.

Keep in mind that qualified welders can make a comfortable income, and Guillou’s ultimate goal is to provide that opportunity to as many young people as he can. To that end, he is already working with schools and corporations to offer training for those interested in learning this trade. He is working with the Department of Labor and OSHA, too, to establish new policy guidelines to include his program. If established, this would provide a way for teenagers to incorporate vocational training into their regular school curriculum. They could begin apprenticeship studies as young as 16, and if they adhere to the requirements, they can enter the field at 19. They would be required to attend school full time, maintain a C grade average, have 10 hours of OSHA training per week, and would be able to work 23 and a half hours per week (up to 54 hours in the summer). Assuming all the details can be worked out, these new guidelines will require the Governor’s signature. Guillou is also seeking funds for scholarships. A charitable grant of over $12,000 has been contributed by 100+ Women Who Care Monadnock, to be applied to student tuition.

For more information about the various programs at the Phaze Welding Technology Center, call (603) 716-1982. For information about the The MAxT Makerspace, call (603) 554-2459. Both are housed at 49 Vose Farm Road in Peterborough.