PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It’s called the Tech Shop in Bakery Square — and if that sounds familiar — President Obama was there last June to celebrate people who make things.
Now, Gov. Tom Wolf toured the shop to promote his commitment to jobs that pay.
“I’m going to take Gov. Wolf through and introduce him to a bunch of our members who are starting businesses, developing products, changing their lives, and eventually changing the world,” said Matt Verlinich, Tech Shop’s general manager.
For a monthly fee, Tech Shop members have access to all kinds of high tech equipment with which they make prototypes of their ideas — and products to sell — like wooden bottle carriers.
“They’ve given us the opportunity to start a business. We started doing a few of these and now we are pushing out hundreds a week,” said Gio Attisano of PuzzlePax.
“What’s the use? Who will buy these?” the governor asked him.
“Consumers will buy them to use in like Pick 6, bottle shops. We sell them to craft beer associations as gifts to all their members. We want to get them in every Giant Eagle,” Attisano responded.
The governor met a lot of makers with new ideas to bring manufacturing back to Pittsburgh.
“Companies come to us and say they need… they have certain weight requirements for their parts, and we’re telling them that if they include composites and use our manufacturing process, we can make this affordable for you,” said Mark Jreissaty of Rapid TPC.
Wolf saw many product ideas from water-processed jewelry to wooden cell phone covers.
What makes the tech shop different from a trade school where you learn a skill is that these folks are out to make money. And some of them are making a lot of money.
“The two locations that are the oldest in the Bay Area (California) have created over 2,000 jobs, $12 billion in shareholder value, $2 billion in annual sales, and close to $200 million in annual salaries,” noted Mark Hatch, the CEO of Tech Shop.
Only open for 18 months, it’s too early to predict that success here but, says Hatch, “We are unleashing the creativity that is already embedded in the Pittsburgh community.”