HGR In The Community

An HGR customer keeps The Stone Oven Bakery’s equipment running

Stone Oven Bakery bread

Have you ever gone to the Cedar Lee Theatre then headed to The Stone Oven afterward to have a bite to eat, coffee and discuss the movie? I belonged to an independent moviegoers group on Meetup.com that used to do just that. Little did I know that I would eventually work for a company (HGR Industrial Surplus) that supplied some of the parts to our customer Christopher Palda so that he could fix the bakery’s oven. You can read his story here where he explains this project. The oven was made in Italy, and they can’t get parts for it anymore. He had to manufacture the parts himself.

(Q&A with The Stone Oven’s Co-owner Tatyana Rehn)

When and why did you open Stone Oven Bakery?

In 1993, I had a craving for the crusty breads of my European homeland and could not find them in my new home of Cleveland, I began making my own bread then working all hours of the night to make loaves for family and friends. What started as a hobby turned into a business providing many Clevelanders with hearth-baked European bread.

In 1995, after several years of selling wholesale to restaurants and grocery stores, my husband and I decided to create a bread and pastry bakery with a European café. Our first location was in Cleveland Heights with two additional stores opening during the next 10 years in the Galleria at Erieview and in Eton-Chagrin Shopping Center. In addition to European breads and pastries, we offer soups, salads and sandwiches.

How many people work for The Stone Oven?

About 35 people in the restaurants, 11 in the bakery and three drivers

What is your favorite item on the menu?

Bread

What is your favorite style of bread?

Black bread, which is sourdough based

How did you meet Christopher Palda, HGR’s customer who has done your equipment repairs?

Through a mutual friend who worked with my ex-husband. We had a problem with our furnace at home and called the mutual friend to see if he could help. He said that he couldn’t fix it but he knew someone who could. That was 15 years ago. Since then he has repaired anything and everything at the bakery. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be in business. He has been my savior.

What happened to the oven and how was it fixed?

It wasn’t just the oven. It was the mixer and general repairs. He keeps it all running. There’s no permanent fix for the oven. It’s a constant maintenance.

What do you do when you are not baking and running the restaurant?

My partner runs the restaurant side. I run the bakery side and am in charge of bread production and the bread manufacturing business. In addition to supplying The Stone Oven, we sell wholesale to restaurants and stores. Outside of bakery time, I go to the gym, spend time with my Yorkie and travel. My next trip is to Ireland.

What inspires you?

Changing things up so that I don’t get bored, sometimes, something I’ve seen in a magazine or something that strikes my fancy. I’m not hands-on anymore and miss playing with the dough, but I turn to life and to customer feedback for inspiration.

After so many successful years in business, what advice do you have for other restaurant entrepreneurs?

Entrepreneurs often don’t come for advice but they should do it more often. Do not risk more than you can afford to lose. I hate to see people destroy themselves. It’s hard to pick up the pieces when you are emotionally and financially devastated. Know your stuff! For me, baking was just a hobby, and I didn’t know how to organize and run a business. I learned on the fly and don’t recommend it to anyone. I actually, was very lucky. It was serendipity at the time because we filled a void in the community, and I had a passion.

What has been your greatest challenge?

The employees, but not in the way you might think. Like most businesses, it is hard to get and retain good employees because without them we are nothing. I don’t have that problem, though. I have a group of committed people, and many have been with me for 17-20 years. They are dedicated. My main issue is dealing with my own guilt about trying to compensate them enough but still make sense for the business. I want to be fair to them so they can have quality of life and a good standard of living. I can’t wait for the day when I am not responsible for anyone but myself.

What has been your best moment at or favorite thing about The Stone Oven?

It has to be when we were in our former location on the corner. We were there for 10-12 years in a leased space when the rent tripled. The landlord had an inquiry from a bank who wanted to buy the space; so, he thought he would increase the rent to equal the offer or else sell it. My partner printed flyers that he put on the windows and doors. This got the community out. The mayor wrote to the bank president, “Stone Oven is the fabric of our community and has to remain where it is. We have plenty of other properties that we can show you.” They cocooned us and protected us. That’s a testament to how much we mean to the community. We are a neighborhood joint and want to be people’s home away from home. Shortly after that, the opportunity to buy our current location arose; so, we moved down a block and have owned our building for 13 years. We’re a family business and people know us personally. The items on the menu are named after members of the family, including my two daughters who worked here for years.

What does the future look like?

We’ve signed a five-year lease in Eton, but we have no plans to expand with new locations.

Tatyana Rehn, owner Stone Oven Bakery

Cleveland Institute of Art graduate and HGR customer works as industrial designer

Greg Martin recording paper cyanotype

 

(Q&A with Greg Martin, director of design, Kichler Lighting)

Why did you decide to go to school at Cleveland Institute of Art?

I went to a college-prep Catholic high school with not even a generic art class. In spite of this, all I knew is I wanted to go to art school. Despite the best efforts of my teachers, my parents, and the school counselor (whose career testing indicated I was best suited to be a farmer), I convinced my parents enough that they agreed to let me apply at CIA. CIA was the only choice as I knew it was a great school, and it was close to home (meaning I could save money and live at home). I started at CIA intent on going into illustration, but changed course last minute to industrial design.

 What is your best memory of CIA or what did you learn that got you to where you are today?

Best memory of CIA is being able to explore and delve into many different mediums, despite being an industrial design major — glass, sculpture, printmaking, and ceramics. All were amazing experiences. Back then the five-year program allowed for much “play” outside of your major, which had a great impact on me. I learned how to think and to ask “what if.” I also learned that the more you worked the more you got out of it. Richard Fiorelli, who I had the pleasure of having for sophomore design, was the most influential professor by far in my five years at CIA. I didn’t realize it until much later in my career. I just wish I had the foresight to have known it when I was back in school as I would have spent more time with him.

Do you consider yourself an artist or a maker?

Artist

 What do you create and with what types of materials?

Sculpture, furniture, decorative objects (functional and non-functional), ceramics, photographic images

 How long have you been an HGR customer?

Fellow CIA Student Matt Beckwith introduced me to HGR in 2005 or 2006.

 What have found at HGR that you incorporated into your work?

This list could go on for pages, literally. Everything from things I incorporated into sculptures (firehoses, chains, conveyor belts, tooling, robotic parts, electronics), to items used in the creation of art and furniture, but not incorporated into the final piece (cameras, microscopes, misc. lenses, clamps, etc.), to items that help me in preparing to create (mixing bottles, rinse trays, etc.) I also have used HGR for materials in creating for my work (old tools and hardware for creating NERF gun prototypes), as well as for inspiration for my design work in the toy and the lighting fields.

Would you recommend HGR to other artists and makers?

Not only would I recommend it, I would say it’s a must for all creative artists/makers.

What do you do when you are not creating art? Career? Hobbies?

I am an industrial designer/product designer; so, “creating” makes up the bulk of what I do. I have taken field trips with our design team at work to get inspiration from walking the aisles of HGR. I also play guitar and banjo when time allows.

What inspires you?

Just about anything/everything. I try to keep my eyes and mind open to seeing as much as I can and asking “what if.” Creative people and creative solutions inspire me.

Where can we find your work?

My website (in progress) is gmartinstudio.com.

Greg Martin share chair/bench Greg Martin brush coffee table

Euclid Chamber of Commerce Lunch by the Lake

Euclid Chamber of Commerce logo

 

Kick off the summer with lunch on June 21 from 12-1 p.m. on the terrace at Henn Mansion, 23131 Lakeshore Blvd., overlooking the lake. Bring your business cards for a chance to win a door prize (and, of course, to share with others).  Updated information on chamber member benefits and discount programs will be available. Please click here to register. The cost is $15 for members and $20 for non-members.

High school senior takes senior photos at HGR Industrial Surplus

John Willett senior picture at HGR Industrial Surplus

(Q&A with John Willett, Strongsville High School and Polaris Career Center graduating senior)

Where did you go to high school?

Strongsville High School and Polaris Career Center for precision CNC machining

Where are you future career plans?

I do not have college plans at this point.  I worked full time as a temp at Efficient Machine Products during summer 2017, returned through Polaris’ early placement program and am now working there full time.

What is your intended career path?

I want to become a CNC machinist.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not in school?

Tinkering and learning engineering, metal and woodworking through videos, especially about military application and armor. I don’t read much because it’s time consuming. I prefer to listen and watch videos. Currently, I watch a lot of gun and history-related content. I find the inner workings of guns to be fascinating.

How did you hear about HGR Industrial Surplus?

Through my step-dad who is an engineer for Ramco.

Why are you a customer?

I like the wide selection and varying things offered.  Great prices

What types of things have you bought at HGR and how have you used them?

Various.  My step-dad’s company buys and sells to HGR. I recently bought a blower fan and plan on making plate armor out of it.

What inspires you?

Creativity.  I have a lot of ideas that I like to explore in discussion and action. I pull most of my inspiration from video games, movies and YouTube.

What made you decide to do your senior pictures at HGR?

My mom asked me, and it was the first place I thought of. I also think it’s a neat place and would be something special for my photos.

John Willett senior picture at HGR Industrial SurplusJohn Willett senior picture at HGR Industrial SurplusJohn Willett senior picture at HGR Industrial Surplus

3D designer also creates sculptures with objects found at HGR

Matthew Beckwith, partner at Photonic Studio, and HGR Industrial Surplus customer

Why did you decide to go to school at Cleveland Institute of Art?

I originally wanted to be a car designer. CIA was a better fit for me than other schools focused on automotive design that were located in Detroit and San Francisco. After trying cars for a year, I decided product design was a better fit for me.

What is your best memory of CIA?

Some of my best memories from CIA came from classes taught by Richard Fiorelli. His classes had a hands-on approach to working with materials that delivered results I would otherwise not think to sketch out. This hands-on concept of “play” to iterate concepts is something that has stuck with me throughout my career.

Do you consider yourself an artist or a maker?

I guess I would say “designer.” For my day job (creative director /partner at Photonic Studio), I make things for other people to communicate and visualize their ideas. I suppose that I am a “maker” as a hobby because I love to tinker and experiment.

[editor’s note: Photonic creates 3D architectural renderings, product renderings 3D illustration, animation and interactive environments. These photos showcase some of their work.]

What do you make and with what types of materials?

With materials from HGR I have made some various sculptures. I have worked with everything from charts and thermocromatic graph papers, to conveyor belts and giant rubber bands. Often the bulk nature of materials at HGR lends itself to play and experimentation. I, generally, like to look for unique things that are on their way to scrap and can be purchased for as little as possible. I like the idea that we can upcycle things that were on their way to the landfill or scrapyard.

How long have you been an HGR customer?

My first trip to HGR was in 2005ish.

What have found at HGR that you incorporated into your work?

Unique chart and graph papers, thermocromatic papers, robot parts, conveyor chains, giant drill bits, refractory bricks. Too much to list, honestly.

Would you recommend HGR to other artists and makers?

Always. Aside from being super interesting to look around, it offers all sorts of things you just wouldn’t find at Home Depot or an arts store.

What do you do when you are not doing your personal work?

I am a designer at Photonic Studio. We are a creative and visualization agency that focuses on 3D modeling for animation and interactive. Lately, this means we are working on lots of exciting projects in augmented and virtual reality. Traditionally, we have worked with clients in design fields, as well as marketing and communications teams at all sorts of companies.

What inspires you?

I love being optimistic about the future. The ability to work with new technologies and create interactive experiences that could not happen in the physical world is exciting. I also have a love for manufacturing and find the process and tools of production to be beautiful. Often the limitations of a process or technology give me something to reach for as I develop concepts. Also science. I love NASA, SpaceX, JPL, LHC, NIF, and all sorts of amazing machines built for science.

Where can we find your work?

My day-to-day work can be seen at www.photonicstudio.com.

Ford truck rendering by Photonic Studio 3D illustration by Photonic Studio 3D illustration by Photonic Studio 3D architectural rendering by Photonic Studio 3D architectural rendering by Photonic Studio motion graphic by Photonic Studio

Rules for the revolution

clock with change

(Courtesy of Guest Blogger Alex Pendleton, Big Ideas for Small Companies powered by the MPI Group)

Alec Pendleton

In my last blog in March — “Time For A Revolution” — I described experiences I’ve had with organizations in need of major change. Now I’d like to look at principles I’ve found helpful in starting down the turbulent path ahead. Revolution is possible without them, but it runs a lot more smoothly when they are followed. I’ll focus on manufacturing, because that’s where I’ve had most of my experience, but the principles apply in any situation.

First, you’ve got to have a vision — and in the more detail, the better. Every factory runs on a variety of systems: to initiate orders, to schedule workstations, to store inventory, to measure efficiency, to assure quality, and many more. Some of these are clean applications of specific theories (Just-in-Time, Theory of Constraints, etc.), while others may have started clean, but have degenerated over time. Others were simply made up as the company went along. Typically, whatever symptom has triggered your need for revolution – bad delivery, quality problems, inventory issues – is the result of a breakdown of one or more of these systems.

It’s always tempting at this point to look for a silver bullet. You read an article (or a blog!), or go to a seminar, and you have an “Aha!” moment. “That’s it! Lean manufacturing [or whatever has caught your fancy] is the answer! All we have to do is install that, and our problems will vanish!” But “all we have to do …” is a dangerous statement.  If you leap into major change without fully understanding the implications —and potential unintended consequences — you’re likely to trade the old problem for a new one.

So: Think it through! Envision every step of the way, and how each step will affect everything around it. Imagine what might go wrong, and have a plan to fix everything. Obviously, you can’t do this to perfection, but the more thinking and planning you do before you go live, the better chance you’ll have of a smooth launch.

Next, clear the decks! STOP doing things that aren’t working. Early in my career, I struggled with a small company with three unrelated divisions. The largest was a perpetual headache, consuming most of management’s attention in exchange for occasional small profits. A second division was tiny, and an also-ran in its market, overshadowed by larger and more professional competitors. The third was starved for resources, but had potential — and was central to my vision of what the company could become. But before I could work on that vision, I had to get rid of the other two divisions. I sold the larger one, to a yet-larger and more professional competitor, and I closed the tiny one. Rid of those distractions, I was then able to concentrate on my vision. Sales quadrupled in seven years, and we turned a chronic loss into a perpetual profit.

Similarly, in another plant later in my career, there was a peripheral product line that we struggled to produce. Quality and efficiency were inadequate, and we invested enormous effort into trying to fix it. Our sales team felt that the product was important to our overall offering, so I arranged to simply buy the stuff, marked with our label, from a competitor. Profitability improved, but even more important, we removed a distraction — allowing us to focus on our primary business.

Before you start your revolution, ask yourself two questions:

  1. Do you have a detailed vision?
  2. Even more important, can you rid yourself of distractions so that you can focus on the vision?

I’ll have more rules for revolution in my next blog!

Bitesize Business Workshop: Exploring different learning styles

Euclid Chamber of Commerce logo

Join the Euclid Chamber of Commerce at Moore Counseling & Mediation Services, 22639 Euclid Ave., Euclid, Ohio on June 14 from 8:30-10 a.m. for an educational discussion. The workshop will be presented by Matthew Selker and Dr. Dale Hartz.

There is no cost to attend.  Membership is not required.

Please RSVP to Jasmine Poston at 216-404-1900 or jposton@moorecounseling.com.

Bitesize Business Workshop: Financial Workshop for Small Businesses I

Euclid Chamber of Commerce logo

Join the Euclid Chamber of Commerce at Euclid Public Library, 631 E. 222nd St., Euclid, Ohio, on June 12 from 8:30-10 a.m. for an educational discussion. Are you thinking of starting a business? Or have you been in business for several years? If so, this workshop was designed for you. It will cover:

  • Finances 101
  • Startup expenses
  • Cash vs. accrual accounting
  • Separating personal and business expenses
  • Budgets and financial planning
  • Q&A session

There is no cost to attend.  Membership is not required.

Please register here.

Waterloo Arts Juried Exhibition opening reception June 1

Waterloo Arts juried exhibition Damp by Katy Richards
“Damp” by Katy Richards

The annual Waterloo Arts Juried Exhibition is presented in partnership with Praxis Fiber Workshop and Brick Ceramic + Studio Design with artwork selected by 2018 Guest Juror Ray Juaire, senior exhibitions manager at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland. The work of 87 artists from the U.S. and Canada will be on display at Waterloo Arts, Praxis Fiber Workshop and Brick Ceramic + Design Studio. Awards are sponsored by Brick Ceramic + Design Studio, CAN Journal, Praxis Fiber Workshop, The Sculpture Garden, Waterloo Arts, and Zygote Press, Inc. Meet the 2018 juror and participating artists on June 1 from 6-9 p.m. during the districtwide opening reception at 15605 Waterloo Rd., Cleveland, featuring live music and light refreshments.

The show will run from June 1 to July 21, 2018.

Registration is open for youth summer arts camp on Waterloo Road

Waterloo Arts Round Robin summer arts camp

This summer, local nonprofit Waterloo Arts will be bringing back last year’s Round Robin summer arts camp. Waterloo Arts’ Board President Danielle Uva enrolled her two boys, 10 and 7, at the time in the camp last summer. Her children went to several camps that summer, but Round Robin she says, “was by far their favorite camp.” They found the time spent with professional artists in their own spaces and the galleries and studios around Waterloo where the camp is held to be intimate and, therefore, more engaging. The setup of the camp is such that students learn from professional artists about a new medium each day, such as ceramics or printing, and make a small project in the day’s medium.

Waterloo Arts itself is a community space, and the organization encourages a culture where the students to feel ownership over the space and freedom to experiment. The instruction and setting made the students feel like they were part of something bigger than themselves, and a year later, Uva’s children still talk about what they did at Waterloo. For instance, the students screen printed T-shirts last year, and the boys take great pride in wearing something that they conceived and made. Not only do they still wear the shirts though, they even reflect on what they would change about their design. They felt empowered to make something completely their own, and they self-reflect on the process.

There was one day of the camp last year when the students focused on fiber art and were taught at Praxis how to dye fabric and how to felt. Praxis is a nonprofit organization that functions as a cooperative textile studio, offering classes, studio space, and communal space for all fiber arts processes such as weaving, fabric design, and spinning yarn. Jessica Pinsky, executive director, expects students this year to focus on felting. Pinsky’s goal for the students is to get them thinking about where the fabric comes from and how it is made—how their blanket started out as fiber which was turned into cloth and then eventually a blanket their parents bought at a store. Pinsky hopes that students feel empowered by being able to create something. The process of having an idea and following it through the process of execution to create a tangible item gives people of any age the feeling of ownership.

This year, the two-week long camp will run twice, July 9-20 and July 23-August 3, on weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon and is only $200 for two weeks. It is open to children ages 6-13. This year’s iteration of the camp will be similar to last year’s: students will be taught daily by professional, local artists who specialize in fiber arts, ceramics, printing, street art, graphic design, woodworking, yoga, stained glass, and more. Each day of the camp focuses on one of these specialties, and the students get to know and use the different maker-spaces and galleries on Waterloo. They will visit and/or work with Praxis Fiber Workshop; Brick Ceramic + Design Studio; Agnes Studio; Rust, Dust & Other Four-Letter Words; Tattoo and Graffiti Artist Chris Poke; Azure Stained Glass; Pop Life Yoga Studio; and others.

HGR Industrial Surplus is invested in S.T.E.[A.]M. (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) education and engaging young people in activities that encourage them to choose career fields in these areas. To that end, we’ve made a donation earmarked for the art camp to Waterloo Arts. If you don’t have kids in this age bracket to send, you might consider another method of support as an investment in our community and our children.

For more information, to donate or to register for the camp, visit waterlooarts.org.

Community motorcycle garage owner invests in mobile shop for middle and high schoolers

Brian Schaffran of Skidmark Garage

(Q&A with Brian Schaffran, owner, Skidmark Garage, a community motorcycle garage)

When and why did you move back to Cleveland and buy your first motorcycle?

I moved back to Cleveland from Los Angeles in 2000 after going through a divorce and not being able to rent an apartment due to my abysmal credit. I was essentially homeless and moved from friend’s place to friend’s place for several months before biting the bullet and coming back home to live in my childhood bedroom and finish my teaching degree at CSU. On my way to school one morning in 2001, I spotted an old motorcycle for sale in some guy’s front yard. Like deep shag carpeting, it was 70’s ugly, but it beckoned. I had never owned a motorcycle up to that point, but for some reason I was drawn in immediately. I bought it, and because I knew nothing about it, I soon took it to the nearest Honda motorcycle dealer hoping to get it tuned up. Well, most dealerships won’t work on old bikes – and with good reason. When you fix something on an old bike, something else breaks soon afterward – something unrelated – and the timing of the next broken item points to the last person to work on it. So, a service department at a dealership begins losing its ass on having to fix and fix and fix because it all appears to be the dealership’s fault that things keep breaking.

What motorcycles do you now own?

Since buying that CB750, I have since acquired several more old Hondas – a CB350, a CX500, a Goldwing, a 1965 Dream, and a CB500. But who has time to work on a bike when trying to keep a business alive? Not only do I not work on other people’s motorcycles, but I don’t even work on my own. For starters, I am not allowed to work on anyone else’s motorcycle. Otherwise, Skidmark Garage can be reclassified as a traditional mechanic’s garage and subject to all kinds of city, county, and state regulations. Also, since I spend every waking moment trying to get the word out about this place, I not only have no time to fix my motorcycles, but I also have no time to ride. For the most part, I haven’t ridden in a good two or three years. I used to ride every day, rain or shine, from March until December. Back then, I needed it to remind me to enjoy life while working for The Man. Now, I’m The Man, and I don’t have that overwhelming urge to ride like I used to. I’m just as happy to see the members of Skidmark Garage ride out on something they built or fixed themselves.

What’s it been like to be a business owner?

Being a business owner means fighting to keep my dream a reality every single day. My girlfriend, Molly Vaughan, works very hard to keep me grounded and does her best to remind me that balance in one’s life is important. Skidmark’s published hours, as expansive as they may appear, are actually non-stop. It is a rare occasion these days to find nobody working on a motorcycle at any given hour of the day or night. This place is almost never empty of souls. I’ve poured my entire being into this business – a business that is so foreign to most that advertising is typically not possible. Owning this business has meant educating people about a business concept that simply does not exist in most Americans’ brains. Now that the concept is starting to catch on, traditional marketing might be able to actually do some good. I am here a LOT.

Why did you locate where you are now?

It’s important for Skidmark Garage to be located in the same building as other creatives and makers. Soulcraft Woodshop has virtually the same business model as Skidmark Garage (member-based and DIY), and we were in the same building previous to the current location. A few years ago, when Soulcraft spoke of putting together a collaborative that included Ingenuity Cleveland and ReBuilders Xchange, I insisted Skidmark be a part of it. This new location afforded Skidmark three times the square footage at a lower monthly rent than the previous location. The current owners of this building were sympathetic to all of our start-up statuses and seemed to buy into our effort for collaboration. Being in this building with so many creative people is important for those creative types. They feed off each other and help each other constantly. We’ve got quite the collection of oddballs in this building. I’m proud to be included, although I do not consider myself creative…at all.

Any plans for expansion?

Skidmark now has 10 fully stocked bays, but it will be 12 bays in another month or so. The membership plateaued at about 20 members for a year or two, and then doubled in the last few months since the motorcycle show at the IX Center in January. Climbing to 40 members has been eye opening with regard to space usage. There’s rarely more than 8 people working on their motorcycles at once, but if the trend continues, I may need to up the amount of bays to 14.

Where do you get items for your garage?

Key to the success of this place is access to used machinery, carts and shelving from HGR Industrial Surplus. When I opened Skidmark, I’d never heard of HGR. The guys from Soulcraft made me aware of it, and my outlook immediately changed. The tough thing about HGR is the tendency for me to drift toward hoarding. I want every machine in that place. I can convince myself that the members of Skidmark will benefit from an envelope-stuffing machine if you give me enough time. But with space being the premium here, shelving and carts are way more valuable than I would have ever guessed. I’m hoping to score a Bridgeport and a lathe sooner than later.

How do you deal with the disappearance of tools?

Years ago, when discussing my dream of opening a community motorcycle garage, EVERYONE’S first response was a question about how am I going to guard against theft of tools? So, I made plans to prevent it, plans to monitor everything, plans to replace stolen items…but none of it ever came to be. Nobody has ever stolen so much as a screwdriver from Skidmark Garage. The members feel ownership of everything in here and have no interest in stealing what they already feel is their own.

Do people help each other out?

The beauty of Skidmark Garage is the willingness of everyone to help each other. All members are expected to help and can expect to receive help. Between the Wi-Fi, the library of manuals that Clymer/Haynes donated, and the knowledge of the people in the garage, just about any problem can be solved. We have a few members here who are extremely knowledgeable about certain aspects of motorcycles, and even though they very well could ask for compensation for their assistance, they never do. It is a community in the truest sense of the word.

Are members allowed to bring guests or helpers with them?

I encourage members to bring their friends to help. Wrenching on a bike with a friend or two is a great way to hang out and be productive. It’s a great way to learn and meet other people. Some members bring their kids, some bring their spouse, some bring parents. The more the merrier.

Is there an insurance liability concern?

The liability on such a business was a huge concern – not only for Skidmark Garage, but for the other 40 community motorcycle garages around the world. Obviously, Soulcraft Woodshop had the same issue — What insurance company will insure all the tools AND the regular Joe off the street using potentially dangerous tools? Thankfully, Soulcraft found the perfect insurance company for them, and they were able to insure Skidmark, as well.

Has someone ever dropped a bike, not paid and not come back?

Since opening Skidmark in spring 2015, there have been a few people who have effectively abandoned their motorcycles. They are not reachable in any fashion; therefore, the bikes take up precious room, and I have no recourse. Maybe I’ll hang them from the ceiling just to get them out of the way. At this point, I don’t even want money from them. I just want the bikes gone.

I see that you offer beginner welding classes. What do students do in the classes?

Every month, Skidmark and Soulcraft jointly host a MIG welding workshop. So far, since the workshop is for beginners, nothing but scrap metal gets welded. Nobody is building any structures of any kind in that workshop, they’re mostly learning how to lay down a few different kind of welds. Recently, we’ve added a TIG welding workshop, which sold out before it was even advertised. MOTUL Oil is coming into Skidmark to offer free oil changes to the members of Skidmark, and during Fuel Cleveland there will be a few demonstrations/workshops in which to take part. I would really like to have a women’s only night that encourages the ladies to fix their own motorcycles and shows them not only the basics, but some of the more advanced functions and how to fix them when those systems fail. Women have not been encouraged to learn how to wrench on machines. This needs to change — not just for the survival of the motorcycle industry, but for the survival of everything. It’s crazy to say, but women are possibly this country’s largest untapped resource.

Skidmark Garage welding class

What inspires you?

I’m continually inspired by the process of learning. That feeling is life-changing. I did everything I could to get my students to experience it when I was a teacher, and I get all excited when I see someone in Skidmark Garage learning. More learning happens in Skidmark Garage than in ANY high school. Real and legitimate learning happens when you “do.” Sitting in a classroom forces a teacher to try and recreate the “doing” in order to wake up that internal motivation to learn. There are few things more difficult than trying to get kids to learn through abstract exercises. There is nothing abstract inside these walls. The learning, the doing, the experiencing, the community — it’s all real; it all matters; and it all makes a difference.

Any words of advice to motorcyclists?

If I could bend the ear of every motorcyclist on the planet, I would explain to them the importance of knowing your machine. When your car breaks down, you’re stranded. When your motorcycle breaks down, you might end up dumping it, and you are exposed to the elements once you have to stop. There are so many other factors that make motorcycling far more risky (and therefore rewarding) than driving a car. A motorcyclist, especially one riding a vintage motorcycle, MUST know how to troubleshoot and at least patch most issues to get him/her to the next safe spot. Every motorcyclist should know where the nearest community motorcycle garage is located, because the owners of these garages and their members are there to help.

What’s next?

My next move is to get a mobile shop class going. Through my non-profit, Skidmark CLE, I will be taking a large trailer to three high schools (or middle schools) per day, getting a dozen kids out to the trailer, and teaching them how to break down an entire motorcycle, take the engine apart, and then reassemble the whole thing. It will culminate in starting the motorcycle at the end of the semester. Shop class does not exist in most high schools, thanks to state-mandated testing. Too many kids are graduating from high school without being even close to well-rounded. The shop class is not intended to push the students toward a life of mechanics, rather it is to give them a real sense of learning — nothing abstract will happen in that trailer. They’ll learn how to use basic tools, how to use the metric system, how an internal combustion engine works, how to read an instruction manual, and how to work together as a team. I don’t think I can provide anything more important to these kids than giving them the confidence to manipulate a machine and to fix something that is broken. Once they experience real learning inside the Skidmark CLE mobile shop class, they’ll be eager to learn in other areas of their lives. I hope to have this program rolling by spring semester 2019. With this mobile shop class, the school does not need to invest in the tools, the classroom, or the teacher. I have a handful of schools willing to sign up; I just need more funders to make it possible. This program will have profound and long-lasting effects on Cleveland. Using the hands and the brains at the same time to accomplish real goals will positively change the life of every student that takes the class.

Skidmark Garage with bikes in the shop and customer working

 

Photos provided courtesy of Mark Adams Pictures

Fourth-generation metalworking shop works to generate student interest in manufacturing careers

Beverage Machine & Fabricators machined part
Part (convector plate) before machining
Beverage Machine & Fabricators part being machined
Part during machining
Beverage machine & fabricators finished machined part
Part after machining

In 1904, George Hewlett founded Cleveland Union Engineering Company in Cleveland’s Flats area. The company handled industrial metal manufacturing, welding, fabrication and steel erection. Hewlett’s daughter married John Geiger, who is the grandfather of the current owner, also John Geiger, and great-grandfather of Jake who also works for the company. In the 1920s, it began to develop and build equipment for the distillery and brewing industries to clean and pasturize milk jugs and beer bottles, hence a name change to Beverage Engineering. In the 1940s, it moved to its current location on Lakewood Heights Boulevard and transitioned its focus from beverage machines to machining for the war effort, and in 1957 it found its current incarnation as Beverage Machine & Fabricators, Inc. What do these changes signify? Adaptability! And, Beverage Machine has found its niche.

Though the company no longer is part of the beverage machine industry, it has continued its journey in the metalworking industry and now machines (cuts or finishes) hard-to-machine metal parts made from inconel, monel, stainless steel and titanium. It also has larger machines that can handle bigger, heavier pieces (up to 10 feet in diameter and 24,000 pounds) for the steel, energy, power, mining, nuclear, aerospace and defense industries. For example, it did a project for SpaceX last year, a company that designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft. Beverage Machine also only handles one-off pieces and smaller orders rather than high-volume production. Its orders range from one to 25 pieces at a time. Five years ago, it added waterjet cutting to its capability, which broke the company out of traditional metal machining. Using the waterjet, the company has done work for sign and glass companies and machined the glass awards for last year’s Tri-C JazzFest. With one piece of equipment, it expanded capacity and its customer base.

All of Beverage Machine’s customers are regional, and they are served by only 16 employees. The company mainly employees machinists and is looking to and is willing to train a suitable candidate. Josh Smith, Beverage Machine’s waterjet technician, says that the impact on today’s labor problem started years ago when schools did away with shop programs and put the focus on college prep. He’s worked for the company for 16 years, and his dad has been the plant manager for 25 years. He says, “When I went to school, the perception was that JVS [joint vocational school] was where the stoners and illiterates went and that everyone who can think goes to college.” He says that in five years everyone in the industry will be retiring, and there’s going to be a shortage of skilled labor. He adds that the industry has to reach students when they are 11 or 12 to show them that jobs in manufacturing are cool and innovative. To that end, he has started “ThinkSpark,” a grassroots movement to create a foundation in Lorain County to inspire and mentor youth to consider careers in manufacturing, to partner with schools and connect children with technical programs, to develop a makerspace for youth in the program, and to create a robotic competition similar to AWT’s RoboBots that takes place every April at Lakeland Community College.

John Geiger relates that the manufacturing industry in the area is healthy, but that his biggest challenge, which is the same for all manufacturers, is finding skilled labor or even unskilled labor who are interested in technical training. Recently, he met with representatives from Lorain County Community College about bringing students in for an apprenticeship training program.

From Founder John Geiger to his son, John Geiger, a machinist, to his son, John Geiger, a history major and sales specialist, to his son, John, aka Jake, Geiger, a business management major, the company has stayed in the hands of this capable family for four generations. John says about his business, “There is enough domestic need, and our niche gives us enough work. China can’t serve these industries because customers have a part dependency and need it today.” He shares, “I get satisfaction in seeing what we create every day. It’s a tangible result.” His son, Jake, adds, “It’s rewarding to have a part come in and see the finished part leave the shop.” As Josh Smith sums up, “What sets John apart is that he can see the greater good and a need. He sees what we can do for the next generation. It’s not about making money. It’s about family.

Beverage Machine & Fabricators shop with gantry crane
One of two shops and the gantry crane used to lift heavy parts

 

HGR’s 2017 scholarship recipient gives an update on his first year of college

HGR's 2017 STEM Scholarship Recipient Connor Hoffman

(Courtesy of Guest Blogger Connor Hoffman, HGR Industrial Surplus 2017 S.T.E.M. Scholarship recipient)

Since last August, I have been enrolled at the University of Cincinnati. During my time in college I have learned a lot both academically and about myself. It was difficult adjustment to live on my own and take responsibility for all aspects of my life. I didn’t have anyone to tell me to go to class, or when to do work or study. That meant I had to take it upon myself to schedule those tasks. Eventually, I got all that stuff figured out.

I also met a lot of new people during my time in college. I made friends with people from around both Ohio and America, and even people from other countries.  It’s a big change, but a welcome one, to go somewhere that is so diverse. Another new experience was living with three other people. What I call “tennis shoes” they call “gym shoes,” which is pretty shocking.

Since I am pursuing a degree in Information Technology, I took a wide range of technology-related courses, such as database management, programing, networking, and information security. Since these classes are in a STEM field, they require problem-solving and analytical-thinking skills. Programming for example, allows for problems to be solved in a number of creative ways. Problem solving and troubleshooting also are useful in life, in addition to being helpful in STEM classes.

As part of my degree, I have to intern each summer at somewhere technology related. The job search was a long process, and I went to a lot of interviews, but, ultimately, this summer I will be working at Progressive Insurance as a help desk specialist. I am excited to get some real-world experience and to put my skills to the test.

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