Portland Made: New American Makers of the New Manufacturing Renaissance

The post below was originally on ADXPortland.com. Kelley Roy will be releasing a new book entitled Portland Made: New American Makers of the New Manufacturing Renaissance  in Fall of 2015. Read on to discover how manufactuers and makers can share resources through ADX.

It’s almost difficult to think back to a time before ADX was part of the Portland landscape, but just a few short years ago our industrial creative space did not exist. Influenced by an article in the New York Times describing the success of a Brooklyn based workspace called 3rd Ward that acted as an incubator for new businesses, I recognized the potential for something similar here in the Northwest.

I hoped to create a place for creative people from all industries to work on and craft their ideas and to provide the resources necessary to turn those ideas into actual businesses. I came from a business and community development background with deep values in sustainability, affordability and the power of the common man (and even the underdog to some degree). ADX seemed like just the sort of place where I could put my values to work.

Since opening in June 2011, ADX has facilitated a number of amazing fabrication projects from many of Portland’s most influential designers and makers—alongside new work from emerging talent. We’ve also established a wide network of local enthusiasts eager to participate in and support our endeavors. ADX’s membership base is a diverse cross-section of experiences, backgrounds, and skill levels: high-profile designers work next to students, retirees share their knowledge with novice builders, and professional projects come to life next to those of hobbyists. In short, ADX has become a Portland institution where independent builders, designers, and creators of all kinds can gather, share ideas, and develop new skills.

But ADX has a complex business model with a lot of overhead that includes space, staff and expensive tools. By diversifying our revenue stream across three distinct programs—Membership; Design, Fabrication and Manufacturing; and Education—we’ve reduced the risk somewhat and managed to create a stable business model. While other Makerspace models rely heavily on membership and education, ADX counts on a strong in-house design, fabrication and manufacturing department to bring financial diversity to the business model. This department also helps makers get their products to market in a cost effective way.

The ADX Design, Fabrication and Manufacturing team includes 3 full-time project managers and 15-20 part timer designers, fabricators and technologists. ADX is capable of fabricating a variety of goods for clients big and small nationwide, from tap handles for Hood River based brewery pFriem, to a four-story interactive, arduino controlled chandelier in a Denver apartment building, and privacy huts for the internationally renowned tech company, AirBnB. There is no limit to what the ADX Design, Fabrication and Manufacturing team can build.

While this business to business support is crucial to building a strong local economy, ADX also supports makers who are just starting out. This includes not only adults breaking into a new industry but programs for kids of all ages to engage them in entrepreneurial explorations.

Today, ADX offers hundreds of classes and workshops per year, has over 250 members, most of whom are small businesses and product developers, hosts people from around the world on tours of our space 3 days a week and works with clients from around the country on a wide array of products. Since 2011, we have seen over 75,000 people come through our space. We have helped dozens of crowdfunding campaigns, assisted over 200 businesses through their initial phases of growth, engaged over 1000 students aged 5-22 years in hands on learning, and hosted thousands of people for art exhibits, design shows, dinner events, live music shows, poetry readings and non-profit fundraising events.

We are a modern day version of Warhol’s Factory without all the drugs and pretentiousness. Our cool factor is our scrappy, hard working, get it done attitude. Stop posturing and start making!

–Kelley Roy, Founder and Owner of ADX Portland