Makers wanted: Manufactory opens its doors to creatives

The Krieg family, owners of Lee Corp Printers for three generations, has turned what was the headquarters of their business into a new venture called the Manufactory. Located on Mosteller Road north of Cincinnati, the Manufactory is a shared membership workshop that offers tools, equipment and workspace to turn ideas into reality.
 
The Manufactory had its soft opening at the beginning of 2014, with a formal ribbon cutting coming in the spring  It operates similarly to a gym membership, with daily, monthly or yearly membership plans. Inside the Manufactory are all kinds of machines for manufacturers including a 3D printer, vinyl cutter, various types of saws, lathes, welding tools, woodworking tools, plastics tools and more.
 
Lee Krieg, president of the Manufactory, had the idea for the business while researching a California-based company called TechShop.
 
“For the past 10-15 years, the printing company has seen a decline, mostly a result of the explosion of the internet,” Krieg says. “Eventually, we realized that we had too much space in the 35,000-square-foot building that we owned to justify that company occupying all of it. I was looking into 3D printing and I came across the TechShop, which also has all kinds of tools as well and a similar membership-based approach. I was hooked on that concept and pitched it to my family that week.”
 
Converting the space to its current state was a yearlong process that involved hauling off hundreds of tons of material, much of it antiquated equipment, and investing a significant amount into new, state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment.
 
“Safety is of paramount importance in our space,” Krieg says. “New members must participate in a brief safety orientation class. Additionally most of the major pieces of equipment have a safe use class that must be taken prior to a member operating the equipment. We also offer additional classes that members may take to learn more or just for fun. Some dive deeper into advanced ways of using a machine or performing special tasks.”
 
A large portion of the Manufactory’s clientele so far are engineers, but the venture also caters to artisans, tinkerers, teachers and anyone part of the emerging maker culture in Cincinnati. In fact, the Manufactory sponsored the Cincinnati Mini Maker Faire event at Washington Park this past October.
 
“Despite the terrible weather, our booth was packed all day,” Kreig says.
 
In the coming months, the Manufactory will be hosting a number of events, tours and classes open to members and non-members. To find out more, visit their site here.

By Mike Sarason