A Brown County man traveled across the Pacific Ocean last month to show his skill in a welding competition.
Local Shawn Dickmeyer traveled to Takahama, Japan in December to compete in the Toyota Material Handling Group (TMHG) Global Skills Competition, an annual international competition held by the Toyota group.
In the competition, Dickmeyer competed in the welding category. He has been in several welding positions for TMHG spanning more than 12 years.
Most recently he has been in the training department for the company. For the past three years, he has been helping new hires learn the ropes and hone their craft.
At the same time, he has been going through training himself, in preparation for the Global Skills Competition.
“My responsibilities included processing material for the welding dojo, conducting weld test for potential new hires, helping with the training of the new hires, and when time allowed, helping (other competitors) prepare for their competitions,” Dickmeyer said last week.
“When my turn came around, I really focused on practicing.”
The years of hard work and dedication culminated in the nine days he spent in Japan, which he described as “the trip of a lifetime.”
Not only did he enjoy competing, but Dickmeyer said he enjoyed the opportunity to experience Japanese culture.
“They were very respectful and helpful. It is a beautiful place,” he said.
On the day of the main event, when he was face-to-face with other competitors from all over the world, Dickmeyer said he relied on listening to music and chewing gum to stay focused.
“Competing next to the other competitors in Japan created a lot more pressure than I had anticipated,” he said.
The competition itself lasted nearly an hour, and each minute was labor-intensive. Dickmeyer said there was also a lot of preparation before the timer even began.
“The vessel has to be laid out and tacked together as well as the butt joint tacked together,” he said.
“When the clock starts, the lid had to be tacked on, and then the welding begins.”
Dickmeyer said the goal was to weld the vessel and the joint in less than 40 minutes. After the welding was complete, the vessel and joint had to be placed on the floor and thoroughly cleaned.
He said a lot of emphasis was put on the cleaning phase, which made it the toughest part of the competition.
“Both pieces have to be cleaned for 15 minutes,” he said.
“It is very tough. Leaving just a single piece of spatter will cost you one-and-a-half points.”
His years of training paid off in the end — after reaching the end of the competition, Dickmeyer won gold.
Dickmeyer said he felt “incredible” after being announced as the gold recipient. He said that was his goal going into the competition, but he knew it would be tough to achieve.
“The flood of different emotions was pretty intense,” he said.
Kim Douglass, a Toyota associate from Seymour, also participated and won gold — becoming the first woman to ever do so.
Douglass has been with Toyota for 13 years, and she was selected as the company’s representative for the ‘Assembly’ category in the competition.
Because they competed in separate categories, Dickmeyer and Douglass weren’t around each other much during the competition.
But when they returned home after securing victory, they both received high honors from the company, along with kind words from other associates.
Toyota held special days in honor of their wins, where associates celebrated and congratulated them.
Dickmeyer said he was humbled to see the company create a special day for him.
“It really brought awareness to the program,” he said.
“I heard from lots of associates that day.”
Dickmeyer said what stood out to him most from all the interactions after the competition was the amount of people that had “total confidence” in him.
Following the victory, Dickmeyer said he is not sure what comes next, but he would like to remain in the program as a trainer. He said hE is ready to use his knowledge to help other welders as they prepare for the competition.
Dickmeyer said he is very grateful for the opportunity to travel to Japan and represent his company. He thanked all who helped him train and supported him along the way.
“They were instrumental in my preparation and success,” he said
“We spent a lot of time working on the small details and it paid off!”