At first glance, Helen Scott, Joe Bertrand, and Mike Sacchetta form an unlikely triumvirate.
Scott has degrees in law and business, and has applied her legal expertise to social justice work for the last decade. Bertrand has a degree in social science and is on the cusp of retirement from a 30-year career in the civil service. Sacchetta holds a degree in music and a diploma in sound engineering, and built his own 3-D printer out of parts when one couldn't be had in Sault Ste. Marie.
Yet, together, the trio is embarking on Maker North, a new type of incubator and creative space seeking to support entrepreneurs and contribute to a sustainable economy.
"We have very few overlapping skills, but we fit together like a puzzle, and between us, we have all the skills we need to do this," Scott said.
The three partners had been providing 3-D printing, design and prototyping services from their respective homes, but as demand increased, the pace of work quickly outstripped room to operate.
They've designed and manufactured marketing products for organizations like Algoma University and Algoma Workforce Investment Corp., who had keychains printed as giveaways for events, and they've printed illusion puzzles for Science North in Sudbury. They've also created a number of prototypes for clients with unique ideas.
Gerry Richard, who invented the 'Marbite,' a kind of wall hook that employs a marble set in to wood to hold up towels, approached the group to help him design a plastic variation on his bestseller.
"We helped him do the design and the prototyping to build the plastic version, and worked with him to finesse the prototype to the point where he could take it to a funder and get the moulds made and start producing it through injection moulding," Scott said.
The Marbite now sells in Home Hardware stores across the country.
Conversation buzzing through the Sault Ste. Marie business community had been centred on the need for a maker space for some time, but the rate of development for the idea was "excruciating," Scott said.
Since she and her partners needed more room anyway, they decided to expand into a space that would meet both their needs and those of the community, inclusive of small and large businesses, tinkerers, inventors, and those who simply wanted a creative outlet to try new things.
Located just off the downtown core, in the same building that houses the city's Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre, the 4,300-square-foot space is being...