What YBM is all about
Locally designed, prototyped and manufactured outdoor gear with locally sourced materials that provide solutions to problems that bigger brands ignore.
Who I am
My name is Pat Simpson. Making has always been a passion of mine. Like many kids, LEGOS were ever present in my bedroom from a young age. I’ve always appreciated the satisfaction that comes from creating something physical from my own hands.
This creative side led me to a career as a Professional Engineer (Mechanical) in the heavy industry for the last 25 years.
Outside of work, I love the outdoors and the mountain lifestyle that our little town of Fernie provides us. I love spending quality time with my wife, son and friends.
How it all started
I created Yellow Barn Makers in 2019 as a side hustle. Combining wood, leather, ceramic with traditional and CNC tools like laser cutters and 3D printers to build custom products for the local market.
At that moment, bikes were not in the picture just yet, but the pull was definitely there!
How everything changed
Someone called COVID-19 came to the party in 2020, uninvited. Yellow Barn Makers quickly switched to fulfilling immediate needs: faceshields for first responders, protection screens for local businesses and ear savers for nurses and dentists. We fabricated and sold over 200 faceshields in a 2 month period. It was an intense period!
It was hard times for most of us. Multiple health/human/social tragedies were happening across the globe. Luckily, my family and I managed to stay healthy by protecting ourselves and riding our bikes on our amazing local trails. Besides being a good time to hit the pause button and reflect on life in general, it gave me the space to think of some current and future business challenges/opportunities:
- My dream had always been to design, prototype and market my own product. But which one? In which industry?
- Being dependent on foreign manufacturing and suppliers is risky in many aspects. How can we be more self-sufficient? Still remember the car Micro-chip shortage? The TP crisis…
- Being a service company is rewarding, but also a hard business to be in. How do you combine a high quality service/deliverable, yet charge a reasonable price and still make a profit? Do I still want to do this?
So, from this intense period came my Core Focus
1- Make my own products
My first dilemma was a tough one. My brain was full of ideas and more confused than enlightened. Ideas ranged from snowmobile racks to coffee maker adapters, wear gauges, etc. Really all over the place.
Thankfully, I had the privilege to meet Cam Shute along the way. Cam worked for close to 20 years as a professional product designer with Outdoor manufacturer G3 (Genuine Guide Gear) and is named on multiple patents. He now runs his own design consultancy firm, Darkhorse innovations.
Besides solving a problem well, a good product design professional needs to recognize if the problem they are trying to solve is worthy of being solved. “Find what sucks” is a phrase that I still remember from Cam.
Your choice(s) also need to align with your values and preferences. In my case,
- Spending time in the mountains and outdoors
- Family time
- Freedom and flexibility
- Making quality products that I will use myself daily and can test in my backyard
2- Local design, sourcing, prototyping and fabrication
If anything, my experience of the last 4 years with laser cutters and 3D printers taught me that Industry 4.0 digital fabrication tools are professional grade and can to the job.
3D CAD (Computer assisted Design) also gives you infinite design flexibility and scalability.
For some specific applications, you do not need to be tied to a $20 000 injection mold anymore. A 3D printed mold can be quickly fabricated for short production runs.
We also strive to use local suppliers. As an example, all of our filaments are sourced from Matter 3D, located in Victoria British Columbia Canada.
Re-shoring and building a business model around those new tools is finally becoming a real possibility.
3- Serving others
For my third dilemma, it was clear to me that serving others was still something I wanted to do. But keep doing it in the form of one-of custom commercial projects was becoming more and more difficult.
So I decided to ramp down the quantity of custom projects I’m taking on.
I instead decided to serve others via volunteering at my local Makerspace. Twice a month, I teach others about 3D printing, 3D design, laser cutting during a Repair Café session at the Fernie Heritage Library. Nerding out on science and technology is a passion of mine that I love to communicate on a daily basis.
Where from here?
We are about to launch our first product. Stay tuned!
My intention is to launch other outdoor related products in the next 2-3 years.
Want to get in touch? Go to this page