Essentially, ReFab Studio is a business whose mission is helping other businesses.
Founded by Dylan Paul and Levi Crumley in 2010, ReFab does a little bit of everything, from tool design and fabrication to creating custom storefront fixtures.
“We sort of specialize in the napkin sketch,” Paul says. “People will bring us their ideas and we help take them to the next step.”
ReFab is located within the Columbus Idea Foundry −a design/prototyping shop and small production run facility that provides design and manufacturing services to small businesses− and it’s not always easy to determine where the two begin and end.
“Levi and I are shop managers at The Foundry and we answer the majority of commissioned job requests, so the two of us are partners in many ways with the Idea Foundry,” he says. “But that’s part of what the Idea Foundry is about: small business incubation.”
Working on so many varied projects means the development process is rarely the same twice. To ensure everyone is on the same page, Paul and Crumley generally meet face to face with clients.
“We like to be there in person and brainstorm or sketch as much as possible,” Paul says. “So much of an idea can be lost and confused through email.”
Once the details of a project have been ironed out, Paul and Crumley do some research and estimate how long they think it will take to complete it. That information helps them come up with a quote for the client, and once they approve, the real work begins.
Since both men have day jobs at COSI, that work often begins at 7 p.m. and goes until 2 a.m., sometimes later if they have a deadline. Thankfully they have a 25,000 square-foot warehouse filled with tools (CIF) all to themselves during those hours.
“So far it is just the two of us, which can be hard, especially with the amount of work that we have been getting,” Paul says. “It takes a special person to work on the variety of things we do and the late hours we keep. If you know any insomniac welder/woodworker/CAD designers, we would love to meet them!”
Though most of their work is for fellow business owners, ReFab will also work with individuals on personal projects, even if it’s just prototyping an idea they might have.
As if all that weren’t enough, Paul and Crumley also have a spinoff business, Man Made Ohio, where they make custom furniture and artwork using reclaimed materials.
“It gives us a chance to exercise more of the creative side of what we do,” Paul says.
To learn more about ReFab Studio, visit ReFabStudio.com.