Function Foundry Phase 2: Life on the Farm

 

We’ve been working hard to turn a couple of old hay barns into state of the art fabrication facilities. In a little over a year we’ve taken a former horse ranch and transformed it into a design, engineering, and fabrication workshop capable of creating just about anything.

Phase one of our headquarters in Issaquah was getting a little cramped so it was time to expand

To do that, we had to build from the ground up, literally. First, we decided to upgrade the barn’s original dirt floors and give ourselves a level work surface. In one shop we built raised wood floors, and in the other we poured a thick concrete slab strong enough to support heavy equipment. We have upgraded our electrical system by adding new outlets and hookups, and increased our fabrication capabilities by installing 3 phase power – a necessary upgrade to operate some of our new machinery. We installed a brand new, larger air compressor, and are making upgrades to our air purification systems.

 

Leveling out the dirt floor and prepping for concrete required some heavy machinery.

You may be wondering why anyone would go through the trouble of converting an old hay barn into a high-tech fabrication shop. This is a fair question considering nothing about these barns was built for the purpose we are using it for. The electrical system was woefully under powered, the lighting was too dim, there was no heat, no insulation, and bats were living in the walls. So, what could possibly drive us out of the bustling metropolis of Seattle, away from renting work space in a large, well lit building with amenities like floors, heat and insulation? Why would we choose to locate our business on a farm, in a valley nestled in the hills of Issaquah?
 

Atlas keeping careful supervision on a warm, overcast day at the Function Foundry

By far, the best part of setting up shop on the farm is being able to work in a peaceful, natural environment. From day one, we recognized the importance of creating a comfortable and spacious home for Function Foundry: a peaceful, creative haven with room to grow. We’re located in a valley surrounded on all sides by pasture, woods, and hillsides. The serenity and beauty of of it all is really something to behold. Time that would otherwise be spent in a stressful, crowded city is now enjoyed surrounded by tall pines and open pasture. It’s much easier to let go of day to day stress and workplace frustrations while working outside in a cool breeze. The farm has plenty of animal life that keep us entertained. We have resident cattle, goats, and chickens as well as daily visitors in the form of ducks, geese, and the occasional deer.
 

A local deer passes through our back pasture on a foggy morning

 While originally lacking in proper infrastructure, the farm has blossomed into a legitimate fabrication facility. Long term, we are better off investing in lasting improvements in the facility and our own capability, as opposed to renting at a commercial location.
By bringing in tooling capability and machinery, we can nimbly move through design and production without leaving the facility for most projects. This will keep our costs down as we spend less on transit and outside vendor fees. 
 

Shop doors are kept wide open on sunny days

Locating a fabrication shop and business in a place like this does have its downsides. It’s a bit farther to get to meetings and vendors, so we have to plan ahead more than we used to have to. But on the plus side, we have plenty of room to grow and expand, at a cost much more affordable than the cheapest business park. Plenty of parking, and lots of space to work on projects outside on sunny days. The barns and shop have given us quite a large facility to work with, and all the changes we’ve labored over this year will pay dividends for years to come.
 
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