Expansion, Seattle Mini Maker Faire

First, a big announcement.

A month ago OpenBeam successfully acquired a lease on a commercial space.  We had to move quickly to secure the space, but it works well for our needs.

In the Seattle metropolitan area, warehouse space generally rents for about $0.95 per square foot, plus maintenance fees on the shared space of the property (in our case, the electricity for lighting the parking lot, for example, and various real estate taxes, the cost of hiring a gardener to mow the sidewalk grass, etc).  Unfortunately, in the Redmond / Woodinville / Kirkland area, spaces under 2000 sq ft is pretty hard to come by; and most commercial leases requires a 3 year lease.  OpenBeam as a company does ok, but we would still like to keep expenses as low as possible, and moving up from $400.00 per month for two storage lockers to $2000 per month is a bit of a steep jump.


We were able to find a warehouse space at 1260 sq ft (20 x 61 ft bay).  Not only that, they only required a one year lease.  The space is about 10 minutes from my current job, 5 minutes from Mike Z (the Z in ZT Automations) house, and with easy access to both I5 and 405.  It was also completely empty - they just put a bathroom in for us.  We don't need fancy offices; we just need a place to store pallets of extrusions and parts for both OpenBeam and ZT Automations.

As an entrepreneur, I've peed into a fast food beverage cup and discretely dumped out the contents a few times in my storage locker.  I considered it part of paying the dues; but I can't exactly ask hired staff to do the same.  The fact that we get a real bathroom now means I can actually hire staff / contractors and give them a decent place to work!

We've been running OpenBeam and ZT Automations out of garages, storage lockers and borrowing living space from family members.  It is AMAZING how much time this sucks up - on average, we spent hours per week ferrying materials and supplies from one place to another as they are worked on.  Our dining room tables have at various times been the shipping station, the receiving station, the engineering meeting table and occasionally, a place for the family to eat.  And as we found out the hard way time and time again with the Kossel Pro project, for the lack of a single part, single envelope, or label, the entire operation can shut down.  Both OpenBeam and ZT-Automations have also grown beyond what we can shuttle to the UPS store; an average order for OpenBeam and for Amazon replenishment now requires 2 SUV loads to the UPS depot; the last printer order to our distributor left Mike's garage on a wooden pallet.  

Here's our shipping station - the shipping and counting scales are already there along with one of the two label printers.  The shelves holds various USPS Flat Rate boxes, plus all the different pouches for various courier services, Customs declaration forms, etc.  It's really exciting not to have to repack everything up and spend 15 minutes unpacking every time I need to ship a package.  

Of course, with the new shop, one of the first things we are going to set up, once the bathroom is completed, is a photo / video studio.  A proper photo and video studio takes up a lot of room, and we have a nice white painted wall (perfect for those high-key pure white background pictures that we shoot for our technical documentation).  

Photo / Video studio will go on the other side of the bathroom wall.

Seattle Mini Maker Faire

With the birth of my son, Zachary, and the Kossel project stretching our resources thin, we have not been very active in our Maker Faire participation.  That being said, we've sponsored the Seattle Mini Maker Faire since our inception and since the SMMF's beginnings 3 years ago, and it wouldn't feel right for us to sit out.  We're happy to announce that we're sponsoring our local Maker Faire again, for the 4th  year in a row.  Not only that, we'll be having special discounts on OpenBeam merchandise at MakerFaire to help our local makers build cool things, and we'll be doing new product announcements at the faire!  See you there.

-=- Terence