A couple of weeks ago I had a great phone conversation with Andrew Wiloid, aka Andrew the Maker. Here's a guy who leaves a job as a Toyota Master Mechanic to become a stay-at-home Dad and make handmade products full time. He is a very personal guy, he prefers to talk to customers over the phone instead of just working over email or a faceless website. A guy who prefers making products in his own workshop instead of sending the work to a factory overseas. True to form, during our call he was taking his daughter for a walk and I could hear her babbling in the background. Andrew the Maker is a true family man.
Kansas is known for being pretty flat, what is some of the local riding that you do on the weekends?
That is very true about Western Kansas. However, Kansas City, Missouri, Johnson County, Kansas, and Wyandotte County, Kansas are full of river bluffs and rolling hills. There aren’t very many places you can go around here that are an easy ride for long.
There is a trail called the BuRP that is about 10 minutes from my house. It has a wide variety of surfaces. This single track trail can be flat, wide, chunky, rocky, and rooty depending on the section. This trail is awesome and hopefully in the next two years or so it will be connected to another local park trail that would give it a combined 50+ miles of urban single track. Recently they added an aggressive down hill portion to this trail, that I don’t have the balls to hit. Another great place is WYCO. This trail has some really good climbing segments. Parts of this trail averages 100 -150 feet of climbing every mile. Thanks to the amazing trail building groups and the dedicated trail builders we have a ton of trails all over the metro too.
What is your favorite post-ride beverage?
One of the awesome things about the trail near my house is there is a liquor store at one end of the trail! Honestly, I will drink just about anything but, I prefer pale ales, stouts, and belgian brews. I’ve been drinking a lot of Dale’s Pale Ale lately but, being from Kansas City I also drink my fair share of Boulevard products. I’m not a huge fan of IPA’s although, Pinner by Oscar Blues is a damn fine beer to take on the trail for a mid ride refreshment.
What was it that made you decide to leave your mechanic job to do ATM full-time?
The main reason was that my wife and I decided that when we had kid(s) one of us would stay home to raise them. We kicked around different options but always returned to one of us staying home. So after my daughter was born, we made the decision that I would stay at home and care for her and run ATM Handmade Goods. Previously, I had been working as a Master Toyota Technician and although the pay was good, the benefits, hours, and environment were horrible. My wife on the other hand, had great benefits, a flexible schedule, and more opportunity for growth. We recognized that I had this growing business that was becoming too much for the 10 - 15 hours I could dedicated to it a week. So, we decided to roll the dice and see what life would bring us!
Tell me about the equipment you use to make these bags
At first, I was using two consumer grade machines that we owned. After getting my first yard of Cordura, I quickly realized they were not going to work. Luckily, we have a store that specializes in commercial sewing machines in KC. I’m a bit of a gear junky and a tool hoarder so, I have 3 industrial machines for different operations (2 Juki’s and 1 Consew). I don’t really like to compromise when it comes to things like tools so, I continue to invest in machines that make high quality bags and products.
You recently went to NAHBS (North America Handmade Bike Show) in Kentucky. Anything you want to share from being at the show?
I went with a group from Kansas City called the “Kansas City Bicycle Collective” which was started by Vincent Rodriguez who owns Velo+ Bike Shop in Lenexa, Kansas. We represented 5 brands in one booth which was kind of crazy and awesome. The word was that the turnout was smaller than previous years. But, I barely got a chance to use the bathroom most days. It was a ton of fun! I got a chance to talk to a bunch of bike dorks, like myself and party with a bunch of frame builders and industry folks. The amount of press I received after the show was amazing! I would have never thought a frame bag maker would have been a highlight of NAHBS but, I was! The beer holding frame bag attracted a lot of attention and demonstrated my desire to make customized products that meet the requirements of my consumers.
What is the future for ATM Handmade Goods? Anything you want to share or things people should keep their eye out for?
I am expanding my accessory bag line. I plan on doing items that will appeal to more than just the bike packing crowd. Gravel riding is huge in the mid-west so, I’m trying to focus in that area now. There are a couple gear reviews that will hopefully make some waves this summer. Besides that I’m just trying to care for my daughter, keep my head above water making goods, and still ride from time to time.