Inez Escamilla started Loose Cannon as a one-woman repair company; since then it’s grown into a thriving family business, serving the greater Austin, Texas area. She and her husband, Nick Josyln, co-run the fabrication shop, which they live next door to, while raising their son, Jace. “It’s a dream come true,” says Escamilla. “We searched for two years to find a property that had the benefits we finally got.”
Escamilla discovered her love of welding in college. “I graduated high school early, and I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life,” she says. After she completed her core requirements, a metal sculpture course ignited her passion for creating with a torch. “Getting dirty and playing with fire,” she remembers, “I found it fun and empowering.”
Putting herself through college, Escamilla worked as a bartender while pursuing experience in different areas of metal fabrication. She found a mentor who specialized in ornamental elements, furniture, and chandeliers. Meanwhile, she welded scaffolding and structural projects for another company.
Escamilla decided to launch her own welding business when she identified a market for repairs in the restaurant industry. She saw that problems are all too often “repaired” with duct tape—until they break again, and worse. “My manager at the restaurant’s bar asked if I would fix something, and I was like, ‘well, sure!’”
That “well, sure!” attitude and entrepreneurial spirit put Escamilla on the path to success. “I didn’t really have a plan. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do. But I’ve always kind of been flying by the seat of my pants, which is why Loose Cannon is the name of my business. My husband, he’s the responsible one,” she jokes.
Her leap of faith and hard work paid off: “I think my first or second year in business I got a really big job. Once I got that job and I had 3 or 4 employees underneath me, I realized what I was capable of doing.”
Escamilla’s dual passions for fitness and metalworking brought her husband, Nic Joslyn, into her life. While running her welding company, she started another business: a gym in Austin. One of her employees insisted to his brother, a traveling welder, “You need to meet my boss. She rides a motorcycle. She’s a welder. She owns a gym. You guys would love each other.”
And he was right. “Next thing you know we were dating and married shortly after that,” laughs Escamilla. This power couple even welded at their wedding.
Nic soon joined the team at Loose Cannon. As Escamilla explains, “We get along really well. It’s been really fun, because we bounce ideas off each other. I’m a little more creative and he’s more technical. So I can come up with an idea and he can work through the mechanics and make it happen. I’d say we’re a wonderful team. I’ve been really blessed to find someone who’s so supportive and down-to-earth and reliable.”
After Escamilla’s gym closed this year due to the pandemic, she’s found a silver lining in doing more hands-on work at Loose Cannon.
“I would be miserable if I had to do the same thing every single day,” she notes. “I think that’s what kept me in [fabrication] for so long.” These days she has the variety of projects that she relishes: “I would say it’s about 40% high-end home stuff, 50% doing structural stuff for commercial jobs, and maybe 10% repairs.”
Baileigh recently came onto Escamilla’s radar when Loose Cannon was shopping for a new band saw. “It’s been really hard for us to buy equipment brand new, because we’re such a small business,” explains Inez.
Nic suggested Baileigh’s Gear Driven Dual Miter Band Saw BS-350SA. As Escamilla says, “I kind of fell in love with the product.” She was particularly impressed by “how the saw rotates when you’re mitering, so you’re not constantly having to pull your material out, flip it, turn it around.”
The new investment is already proving a wise one: “We use [our Baileigh saw] every single day. [That includes] any of our last few projects that are on Instagram—tons of railing. The fact that it goes so wide means we can cut structural beams in there,” says Inez. “It’s been used for every single job since we got it.”
Escamilla enjoys using the saw to teach interns from high school and college. It feels like “getting to learn this stuff all over again.”
Loose Cannon will also be using the Baileigh saw for a project that’s giving back to their community. The shop recently announced that they’ve teamed up with Motorcycle Missions to help veterans and first responders with PTSD “find hope and healing through motorcycle therapy.”
According to Escamilla, Baileigh’s Atomized Cooling Fan BCF-3019 has made it much more pleasant to work in the Texas heat. “It showed up right when we were getting triple-digit days, and it made a complete difference,” says Escamilla. She estimates that the fan reduced the shop temperature by at least 20°. Plus, “I really love supporting American made.”
“We’re making our wish list and the company is growing. We’re trying to make purchases along the way.” Next up on Loose Cannon’s equipment wish list? A Baileigh ironworker.
In addition to offering quality equipment, Baileigh is helping to shine a spotlight on Loose Cannon on social media.“Baileigh’s been huge in growing our business. After Shane’s reposted on Instagram, we’ve gotten tons of followers. It’s been really helpful as a showcase. I appreciate it so much.”
At Baileigh, we’re proud to share Escamilla’s awesome content, which shows the day-to-day joys and accomplishments of working at Loose Cannon. “I enjoy creating little videos. Trying to pull stuff out of my husband is the hard part, because I can rarely get him to smile. He’s always so stoic,” she laughs. “It’s great when I’m in the shop and I have the guys there and they’re willing to participate and be playful.”
Escamilla’s 1-year-old son, Jace, adds to the playfulness of Loose Cannon’s vibe. “In the very beginning, my parents would come over and babysit whenever I had to be in the shop. So Jace would get to come through the shop and see mom and dad work.”
While she can’t be sure that Jace will follow in his parents’ footsteps, Escamilla is excited to raise him in a welding environment: “I hope that it helps him in life, gives him some good skills.”
Jace is already learning the daily rhythms and rituals of a fabrication business: “When dad gets home from work, Jace and I will go and sit on the forklift and watch dad unload. I’m really excited that he’ll get to grow up and see us working. Neither one of us clock out when we get home from work.”