Day 298: The Factory

Day 298: The Factory
The Awesome Mitten - The Factory
Photo courtesy of The Factory

We have all been there. The Boss comes by for the third time today, asking you about cover sheets and TPS reports, and you are about ready to go crazy. Sitting in your casket they call a cubicle, you dream about knocking down the walls and having a free open space to work. This dream can be turned into a reality at The Factory, in Grand Rapids.

Located on the 4th floor of 38 West Fulton (Yes, three floors up from the delicious San Chez) this 5,000 square foot entrepreneurial hub is the brainchild of Aaron Schaap. The idea started in 2009–in a smaller space, on the third floor of the same building–as a co-working space.

“It was a started as a place for people to work together and get things done,” General Manager Andrew Montpetit commented. “It started to grow and became so much more than that.”

When The Factory moved from the third to the fourth floor, it more than doubled the work space. The mission also shifted from a co-working space to an environment in which to share ideas, and rub elbows with fellow entrepreneurs.

Montpetit adds, “At anytime you have 12-15 people here. It is a place where spontaneous collaboration happens.”

Different local groups maintain memberships to The Factory, and meet there weekly. Members of the Grand Rapids Web Developers, GR Testers, and West Michigan Bloggers are just a few of the groups who use the space on a regular basis.

The membership structure has many levels: Ten-visit punch cards, for pay as you go entrance, all the way up to the “Resident” level–for place to call home. The facility has sweeping views of the city, many modern conference rooms and a cafe with unlimited coffee.The Factory also features forward-thinking work areas: high-top tables, comfortable couches, and a spacious, open floor plan.

“The Residents have really taken ownership of the space,” said Montpetit. “They really love working here and are here to help in many ways.”

The Awesome Mitten - The Factory
Photo courtesy of The Factory

When you walk in there is a wall of clipboards with faces of the members on them, like a crazy family portrait. That is, if your family portrait consists of people who do not look alike, who only share the common goal of attacking their dreams with passion and intensity.

The main banner on the website boasts that The Factory is like “Cheers” for work.

“Everyone here knows your name,” Montpetit said with a smile. “Why wouldn’t you want to work here? It is awesome here, ideas become real. I mean, it is like the American Dream right here.”

Forget the TPS reports, tear down the cubicle, and come down to The Factory. You can check them out online , on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter. Or, stop in and see Andrew. He would love to show you around.

Dominick Garrett, Feature Writer

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The Awesome Mitten was born when I moved back to Michigan from Nashville, TN in September 2010. Almost immediately, I became frustrated. I couldn’t figure out why there weren’t more Michigan residents singing our states praises! I was so irritated, I wrote a Letter to the Editor. Three weeks later, I had started a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and a landing page for the website, determined to do something to make Michigan residents aware of all the cool things going on in their own state. Email me: alex@awesomemitten.com