UPDATED: Jan 2019.
I’m a maker, I didn’t know this until 2014. Oh, I knew I liked to make stuff but I didn’t know that “Maker” was my descriptor until I read Mark Hatch’s book The Maker Manefesto. From an early age, my dad would introduce new parts of his woodshop to me. By age 10 I could use everything except the planer and radial arm saw without supervision. I loved the lathe and made a number of useless round “things” but I was so much fun to shave away the wood and see my shape taking form. In my late elementary years, I begged my dad for a rock grinder for Christmas, I spent hours cutting and grinding and polishing. As a junior in school I made a jewelry box for the girl I was sweet on for Christmas. The box was made out of walnut and the top was inlaid with various shapes I’d cut and pieced together on the jig saw. From an early age, I was a maker.
Before my junior year started, I went to MIZZOU for a FORTRAN computer programming camp. This was in the days of mainframes, punch cards and printouts. The MIZZOU computer lab had no screens to be seen until I was a college junior. I loved those punch cards and I loved the logic of programming and I was hooked. I began to “make” programs. In 1983, my dad bought a Tandy computer (floppy drives only, no hard drive) for the family farm and I wrote my first business application: adjusted calf weaning weights which took the birthdate of each calf and the weight on the day the calves were weaned and ranked them based on a calculation my dad would do by hand each year. What used to take hours each time, was done in a matter of 20 minutes.
During my junior year of high school I also began to “make” music, singing for youth groups on weekends and during the summer. Once I graduated from MIZZOU (EE & CompE) in 1985 I started singing Christian Rock full time. I “made” 3 records as an independent artist and then in 1989 I signed with a record label out of Nashville, Benson Music Group, and released two more CDs: Daring 2 B Different and No Longer the Wayward Son.
Though several of my songs were on the charts over the years, “Children of the Image” was the one that performed the best and held the #3 spot in the Christian CCM chart for 13 weeks behind Amy Grant’s “Baby, Baby” and Susan Ashton’s “Down on my Knees.”
I was in the studio making music when I met my wife of 28 years, Toni. She, too, is a maker. She’s a musician, songwriter, jewelry maker and now enjoys sewing purses and bags. You should check out her etsy shop.
When I wasn’t on the road singing, I “made” software for local companies in Southeast Missouri (SEMO). I wrote an accounting system for a locally-based transmission manufacturing company, a cabinet design program for a local cabinet maker, an auction-night processing service for an auto auction and a billing system for a local water department just to name a few.
In 1995, I decided to “make” internet access available in Southeast Missouri. I was the first local provider and grew quickly over the years. We went from 100 users in the first 3 months to over 15,000 in 50 communities and a staff of 52 employees in the first five years, part of that growth was from buying out a competitor in 2000. We trained our staff to be verbally helpful. The ability to help the frustrated user solve their problem by using words they understood and word pictures to help them comprehend what was needed to fix the problem was key to our success.
We survived the dot-com bubble, but had a steady decline since 2005 and now just have a couple thousand email addresses and some hosting clients which I take care of personally.
During in 2007, I solved a problem plaguing Internet search engines: the inability to search ancient and biblical references. My search engine recognizes over 1600 books with over 10,000 abbreviations. Prior to my software, it was impossible to search for a reference like “Avot 1:3” because search engines do not understand that 1:3 is a specific verse, not just 2 numbers. Additional, if an article referenced Avot 1:1-6, search engines do not see the implied reference. In 2019, my fourth version of the software was released. I moved Reference Indexer and Query search engine from Google App Engine to Amazon Web Services, completely redesigning the process.
In 2016 I decided to learn IOS iPad and iPhone programming with Swift language. I wrote and released two apps in the App Store: Gametime Announcer and Moneyball for Basketball. Gametime Announcer uses text to speak to the PA announcer at a high school or travel team baseball game including walk-up songs, DJing music between innings and specialty songs for players being hit by pitch, hitting home runs and more. Moneyball for Basketball is a new way to record and display stats. First, it stores stats by the 5-man squads so coaches can see which squads are more effective. Second, it uses a simple and fast game-style interface to record the game’s action.
When I first read Mark Hatch’s book, I fell in love with being a “maker” all over again. That fall, 2014, I took my two boys, Ben and Jack, out of school four days early before Thanksgiving break and we went to Techshop in Austin Texas (14 hours away). We spent 10 days taking classes and making Christmas presents for friends and family. Now, my kids are makers.
In 2015 it was announced that Techshop selected St Louis (2 hours away) as the next location for expansion. Techshop-STL opened August 27th, 2016. I was there 12 hours on that day and 18 hours the following day and logged 108 hours + 30 hours driving in the first month.
A year later, TechShop nationally went belly up. But the idea didn’t die as several St Louisans swooped in to save the day. They created a new company called M.A.D.E. in STL, bought all the equipment and opened in Nov 2018 on Delmar just west of Kingshighway.
I’m excited to once again be making. My first project at the new M.A.D.E. was a table lamp for their lobby.
I love M.A.D.E, I love Making. I’m a Maker.