The creative vision behind Georgia Trade School, Founder Ryan Blythe has made welding sexy and bridged the gap between white and blue collar. In this role Mr. Blythe is the public face of the Georgia Trade School brand. Prior to GTS, Ryan worked at The Center of Industry and Technology for five years as the Director of Student Affairs. In that role Ryan achieved a high placement rate of CIT graduates with employers and developed relationships with workforce agencies and private industry. In addition to his experience in welding education, Ryan worked for eight years in the staffing industry, first with the Dutch giant Randstad and later with General Personnel Corporation. With these companies Ryan managed temporary personnel for such diverse clients as Rollins, Sports Authority, CIBA Vision and American Honda. Mr. Blythe also managed large event staffing for GPC at the Georgia Dome, Turner Field and the Georgia World Congress Center. A leading voice on “skilled trades”, Ryan has appeared in dozens of media forms including multiple appearances in the Wall Street Journal and the homepage of Yahoo! Other media appearances have included WAGA and WXIA television, The Marietta Daily Journal, Cobb In Focus, The Georgia Contractor, Maritime Professional, The Fabricator and Welding Journal. Ryan serves on Georgia Governor Nathan Deal’s Go Build Georgia Advisory Council and is a delegate with the Georgia Skills USA VIP team at the National Leadership and Skills conference. In 2013, Mr. Blythe was nominated for the Kennesaw Business Association Person of the Year award and is a three time finalist for that organization’s Business of the Year Award. In January 2014, Mr. Blythe was interviewed for the cover story in the Fabricator Magazine entitled “Where the best welders go, and why” highlighting Georgia Trade School’s position as one of the top welding programs in the nation. The recognition continued in May 2014 and 2015 as the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce named Ryan a Semi-Finalist for their Small Business Person of the Year award. Georgia Trade School also represented the city of Kennesaw in the 2013 Georgia Economic Development Association “Rock Stars” Award. In June 2016, the Cobb Chamber of Commerce awarded Georgia Trade School the prestigious Top 25 Small Business of the Year. A Mobile, Alabama native, Blythe attended Providence Christian Academy and Oglethorpe University, which adjusted for student body size trails only Stanford and MIT in producing entrepreneurs. Mr. Blythe previously served as the Vice President of the Kennesaw Business Association and is a Board Member of the Construction Education Foundation of Georgia (CEFGA). Ryan also is a member of the Cobb Chamber Chairman’s Club , the Gulf States Shipbuilders Consortium, the Associated General Contractors of Georgia, the American Welding Society and the Fabricator and Manufacturers Association. Ryan resides in West Midtown and attends Smyrna United Methodist Church.
Running point for Georgia Trade School, President and Owner Joanna Blythe is responsible for daily operations including recruiting, personnel, student affairs, administration and employment partnerships. Mrs. Blythe manages some of Georgia Trade School’s most prestigious partnerships including the Navy’s largest shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls and the iconic Peoria, Ill based giant Caterpillar.
Possessing the ideal blend of educational and business experience, Mrs. Blythe began her career in 1998 as a social studies teacher in the Marietta School District. In this role, Joanna communicated with students and parents and developed lesson plans.
Following her teaching career, Mrs. Blythe spent seven years with Randstad North America where she was responsible for closing and servicing multimillion dollar accounts with some of the most prominent companies in Atlanta. With a strong understanding of urban vertical markets, Joanna and her team consistently increased profits and regularly exceeded client expectations. By implemented effective and sustainable recruiting plans and inspiring and motivating her staff towards promotions her branches were consistently top performers. The confidence that Mrs. Blythe earned from the Dutch staffing giant placed her in one of the most visible territories in the company- Buckhead, Midtown and Downtown Atlanta.
Joanna’s advice to aspiring welders is to take opportunities to travel or relocate as there is much to see, do and learn.
A native of Milledgeville, Mrs. Blythe received a Bachelor’s Degree in Education at the University of Georgia, a Master’s Degree in Education from Georgia State University and an MBA from Kennesaw State University. Joanna is also a board member of the A.S. Mitchell Foundation in Mobile, Alabama and the Cobb County based Crime Victims Advocacy Council. Joanna is mom to three year old Palmer, and loves spending time together at the park and playground.
You can get social with Joanna on Instagram @georgiatradeschoolmom
The technical chair of the Skills USA Georgia Welding and Fabrication Competition since 2012, Sean Quinton is the Vice President of Georgia Trade School. Mr. Quinton’s career in welding education began in 2008 as the Director of Operations for the Center of Industry and Technology. In this role, Sean was responsible for increasing gross revenues by 152%, increasing net profits by 520% and student enrollment by 215%. A Certified Welding Inspector, Sean oversaw welding operations at CIT to insure quality assurance and to document all tests are conducted in accordance with industry standards. A member of the American Welding Society since 2009, Mr. Quinton has completed contract inspection and welding work for Rockdale Pipeline, McKinney Drilling, Work Installation Design Services and HEMI Systems. Prior to being named the Executive Chair of Skills USA Georgia, Sean served as a judge in the welding and fabrication sections from 2008 to 2012. In 2015 Mr. Quinton was named a National Judge at the Skills USA Welding and Fabrication Championship in Louisville, Kentucky.
With a love for fabrication and motorsports, Mr. Quinton has immersed himself in the welding industry and gets to wake up every day looking forward to what he gets to do! Sean has attended FabTech the trade’s largest convention in each market (Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas) that it travels to. At GTS, Sean is responsible for the welding laboratory, welding instruction staff, curriculum and certification testing. Mr. Quinton has also worked on some high profile projects right here in the city of Kennesaw. The Metro areas first whiskey distillery, Lazy Guy commissioned Sean and GTS instructor James Spinner to build their tanks and barrel holders. The Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History, A Smithsonian Affiliate had this combination build stairs for their attractions. Mr. Quinton has also starred in a national commercial for Jackson Safety’s Balder Welding Hood which was filmed at Georgia Trade School. Jackson Safety has also hosted Sean in their booth at FabTech in both the Chicago and Atlanta Markets where he performed welds in front of 25,000 plus convention attendees.
A Virginia Beach native, Sean is a graduate of Georgia State University and has lived in Atlanta since 1997.
The 2016 Practical Welding Today National Teacher of the Year, Elaine Waters serves as the Senior Welding Instructor at Georgia Trade School. A 1986 graduate of the Quality School of Pipe Welding, Elaine began teaching at her alma mater just two years later. One of the most impressive accomplishments in Mrs. Waters storied career is the number of her students who went on to achieve great success in the welding industry. Among her thousands of former students include fabrication shop owners, rig and pipeline welders, pipefitters and journeyman. No stranger to media attention, Elaine was originally featured in Practical Welding Today back in 2009 for her status as a leading woman in welding. Practical Welding interviewed Elaine again in January 2013 for their cover story on Shielded Metal Arc Welding techniques. At GTS Elaine leads our welding program and is available for private instruction for individuals or companies. Elaine’s most prominent client is the Army Corps of Engineers. Prior to her teaching career, Elaine worked for Lockheed Martin building fuel cells for commercial and military aircraft, pressure vessels and combustion liners for jet engines.
Certified in multiple Stick, Mig and Flux Core processes in both plate and pipe positions in accordance with the American Welding Society and the Association of American Railroads, Stephen Leone returns to his alma mater as an instructor after a stint at the nation’s largest railcar manufacturer. In the field, Stephen worked for Trinity Industries where he met railroad standard welding procedures, including pressure vessel testing up to 200 psi. Mr. Leone welded at heights requiring the use of safety harnesses and welded all pipe assemblies on tank cars used for crude oil storage. He also was responsible for pulling tanks down the production line with an overhead crane.
Prior to formal welding training at GTS, Stephen worked for a concrete construction company where he learned repair welding and fabrication. Some of the construction equipment he worked on included excavators, bobcats, concrete pump trucks, boom trucks and crane trucks. He also has fabricated steel for commercial buildings throughout Metro Atlanta and was made a shop foreman at just 21. Additional experience includes welding and repairing trailers, box trucks and tractors for a landscape company.
A Native of Tampa, Florida Mr. Leone is married and resides in Dallas, Georgia. He enjoys recreational sports including softball and flag football, fitness and hiking.
With 10 years of Marine Corps experience, Certified Pipe Welder Scot McKneely has returned to GTS to impart his knowledge to the next generation of welders. Scot left the Marine Corps as an E-6 Staff Sergeant after serving two tours of Combat, the Iraqi Invasion of 2003 and the Marjah operation in Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010. Following his distinguished military career Mr. McKneely worked as a Tig Pipe Welder in Port Allen, Louisiana for Performance Contractors. While at Performance, Scot welded on carbon Steel, stainless steel, monel, iconel and chrome. He built pipe sections for oil refineries including Exxon and Rhodia. Scot also worked as a Tig Welder and Fabricator for Frankie USA in Fayetteville, Tennessee where he built commercial kitchen equipment and stainless steel tables. Mr.McKneely worked as a MIG welder in Winchester, Tennessee where he fabricated farm and horticulture equipment including hoppers and augers. Scot also has worked on hydraulic systems, fabricating parts for companies such as Sunbelt Rentals, Apache Mill Rugs and Waste Management. A 2015 Graduate of Georgia Trade School where he was awarded student of the month for his dedication to the craft, Scot resides in Cobb County with his wife and three children.