Our shop probably doesn’t look like most contractors’ shops. We’ve got a 4’ x 8’ computer numerically controlled (CNC) router in one corner , a 3D printer in another corner, and a pile of discarded prototypes in the other corners. Sure, we’ve got piles of wood and decking neatly organized and stacked, but that’s the necessary evil of operating a contracting business out of our space. And that’s where the “secret sauce” lies. We operate a deck and dock construction company full-time. This endeavor is our fount of innovation. Without being “in the trenches” on a daily basis, we’d lose touch with what the pulse of the industry feels like.
We take the concepts gleaned from hardships, difficulties, bursts of brilliance, and client interactions on job sites and make note of them. That’s the starting point. From there, the brainstorming sessions run rampant. Everything gets a turn on the white board. With a “no holds barred” viewpoint on all potential project paths, the board ends up with all sorts of possibilities. From there, it’s on to the modeling. We use AutoCad for our 2D design work and SolidWorks for our 3D modeling, allowing us to flesh out and vet concepts virtually. If things get beyond this stage, we put on the safety glasses and head into the shop to hack together a prototype.
Between the CNC router, the 3D printer and a cadre of traditional contractor tools, the proto eventually comes together to complete the proof of concept. Now it’s good enough to take it back into the trenches for some field verification. From there, we assess and determine the best path forward, often scrapping the project (thus creating the piles in the corners of the shop). At the end of the day, the Deccessories approach is about having fun with something that’s viewed as boring and bland by most.
What do you get when you toss a software engineer, an aerospace engineer, a general contractor, a mechanical engineer, and a patent agent in a room? It’s either Deccessories or a parade of pocket protecting nerds (we’re hoping you’re buying into the Deccessories answer...). The team is driven by Craig Rettew and Robin Lopez. Craig brings his experience with product development and circuit design from FLIR to rapidly develop prototypes. Robin provides a nearly endless supply of ideas and processes (the majority of which are mediocre, at best!). Robin’s flow of ideas comes from handling the day-to-day operations of the contracting business in addition to the prominent role as one of the Deccessories leaders. Additionally, depending on the specific project, we may bring in a variety of different resources to help with a given task. The team doesn’t lack in sarcasm, terrible puns or in nonsensical banter, but then again, those may be the glues that hold this oddball bunch together.