Factur is a community of over 50 members. Here we will be sharing profiles of our members, highlighting their interests, skills, and contributions to Factur and beyond. These profiles are taken from interviews with the subjects and do not reflect the positions of Factur as an organization.
John Vu is, essentially, a mixing pot of different talents, ones that wouldn’t normally work together; yet somehow he makes it work.
John grew up with an early understanding of how to work with wood; an understanding his father (a contractor) gave him while his mother (a seamstress) taught him her craft, all while both parents brought him up with a culinary-heavy background.
John got an early start in working with wood, and one of the first projects he remembers making was a fort he made with his dad’s not-really-scrap wood, some of his dad’s tools, and the help of a few neighborhood kids.
That fort planted a seed of interest that eventually, given a few decades, would sprout into a weekend hobby. John didn’t make his main living off his projects. No, during the week he was a chef, one that had been in the culinary industry for over twenty years.
But even a man at the top of his craft gets bored eventually, and that’s exactly what happened to John. He started “burning out,” losing the drive that had made an amazing chef.
And then, by some stroke of luck, his old high school friend Doug Brown (founder of Factur) heard of his projects and reached out to John and got him to take a tour of the facility.
Was John hooked about joining a facility with new minds, new opportunities, and resources he could never hope to obtain on his own? Yes. Was he letting go of his culinary dream? Nope. Not yet. His first project here at Factur was a cart for his catering company, which was launched in July of last year.
John’s been with Factur since late June, 2015, and he’s made a bit of a name for himself: he works mainly with reclaimed wood, the wood that you might find on the side of the road because some construction company’s just demolished a house. That’s free wood, ripe for the taking. Sure, it’ll take a little more time to get it into a workable condition, but it’s worth it once you see the things John has done: he’s made wine racks that are being shipped to Amazon and distributed, farm-style tables for a bar, and even barn-style doors for a redone home office.
So, now a recap: John, who was once a chef with a hobby in woodworking that he never expected to take off, is now making a decent amount of money off of the products he makes. His catering company is thriving even though he’s been forced to quit his job as a chef, and he couldn’t be happier.
In the future he hopes to develop his own signature line of reclaimed wood pieces, and hopes that Factur will keep growing and accepting new members because he likes the fact that he can bounce ideas off other creative minds just like his.
Richard Wardlow’s roots are simple; the kind of simple that just isn’t seen or understood by the younger generations today. He first started taking raw materials to make great things all the way back in middle school; shop class to be exact. His first product was the best kind: one from the heart, a jewelry box for his mother.
Shop class, at least as it was back then, has been cut from many curriculums for safety reasons, but that simple wooden box had sparked something bigger in Richard, something that set him on the path to where he is today.
Richard has been interested in makerspaces and maker fairs since he went to his first one in San Francisco back in 2009. When he moved down here to Orlando around 2012 and looked for something like what he had found, at first he found his local mini-maker fair. He didn’t stumble upon Factur until about 2014, where he soon went to an open house and subsequently joined on as a member in early 2015.
Why does Richard like Factur? Well, it’s simple, he says: it's a great place for learning and doing cool things, the people he has met have been amazing, the equipment he gets access to is great. Richard especially commended the collaborative nature of Factur; he likes that he can talk to people, learn from other people, and work with other people on amazing things.
Right now Richard is working on a robot kit that will help people learn about robots and learn to program, plus the bot can be driven remotely from your phone, therefore adding yet another amazing quality to the devices a lot of us can’t live without. This is a collaborative project with member Bill Ball, and both report that they can’t wait until it’s finished.
As far as the future is concerned, Richard doesn’t want much; just to help Factur grow and continue to grow as a maker with it, to keep continue learning more every day, work and share knowledge with others, come out with a few products here and there that he can sell to make a little money and hopefully solve some problems for people in the process.
Bill Ball is the perfect example of someone who can indulge in a hobby like making and still carry a steady job.
Bill is a college professor at nearby Stetson University, and if you think about it he seems to be a bit of the Indiana Jones type – college professor by day, amazing craftsman by night (and weekends).
Bill’s father and grandfather were both carpenters and furniture makers, so maybe you could say that making runs in his blood. He first got into computers when the Apple II was introduced, back in the 70’s. Bill was enthralled with PCs for several decades – ever more so after his introduction to the internet in the 80’s. Yet once Arduinos, Make magazine, and 3D printing came on the scene he got back into making things, not just simulations of things.
The details surrounding the start of his making enthusiasm are a little hazy, but the first project he can remember is working on a Kirlian Photography machine in high school, which was supposed to reveal pictures of personal auras. As it turns out, that was a hoax, but a spark was ignited nonetheless.
Originally, Bill didn’t even want to join Factur–-he looked into Familab since it was closer to home. However, he wanted to check out other options so he came to visit Factur. Bill found it pleasing that the organization was relatively new and he could play a part in helping it grow.
Bill, like a lot of the makers at Factur, likes how it works as a whole; with open minds and an open philosophy of innovative minds gathering with the best of resources to make outstanding things. Bill has described it as “the right mix of organization and anarchy” for his interests, quickly evolving and forming into something that will one day change the world.
Speaking of the future, Bill sees himself being active in starting up and mentoring small niche maker spaces, as he has done with Stetson’s Innovation Lab. Projects will primarily continue to be ways to grow his skills, have examples to demonstrate, and as teaching tools. He has had some success selling some circuit boards he designed and is working on a small educational robot with fellow maker Richard Wardlow that they may sell. But with that being said, he doesn't really see himself taking projects into a commercial realm full time because, like a lot of makers everywhere, he’s more interested in the process that the products.